Trimming Time: Eucharistic Prayer vs. Sign of Peace

Say a priest wants to keep Mass a little shorter since it’s summer time. Should he 1) opt for Eucharistic Prayer II over, say, Eucharistic Prayer III, thus saving about a minute (see this chart showing the relative time it takes to say each of the Eucharistic Prayers), or 2) shave a minute off the sign of peace (which usually takes about two-to-three minutes–it’s a friendly place)? Does the choice you make (and, for the sake of argument, pretend that you have to choose) say something about your Eucharistic theology, your view of the primary mode of Christ’s presence in the liturgy, etc.?

Asking for a friend.

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63 comments

  1. 1)Omit the creed, or use the questions from the baptismal rite.

    2) Omit the Gloria

    3) EP II

    4) Instrumental music during Prep of Gifts

    5) Shorter homily?

  2. We can’t licitly omit the Gloria on Sundays outside Advent and Lent, but we can choose either to recite it or to sing it straight-through without refrains. I would strongly recommend the latter.

    And leaner homilies are typically better. But they require much more advance work. The bon mot of Woodrow Wilson (recounted by Colonel House) comes to mind: “If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.”

    One can also choose to start on time – if the time length of the anaphora is being used as a rationalization, that’s a double-edged sword that means other time-aspects become more relevant…. (A good rule of thumb: always consider how your rationalizations can work against you.)

  3. Last year, I gave into the mind set that, because it is summer, we need to shorten the Mass by reciting instead of singing the Gloria because “everybody” is on vacation and “nobody” will be at church. This year, I find myself rebelling against this idea that the local church is suppose to shut down and keep the liturgies short.

    I work in a rural/lakeside community. Some of the “regulars” might be away at different times during the summer but, we do have visitors. Our parish and music ministry facebook pages show an increase in new views which says to me that visitors are looking for Mass times.

    I am OK with shorter homilies, prayers and even instrumentals for Offertory but I think that it is important for those of us who serve in Liturgical Ministries to maintain our evangelistic energy when preparing the Liturgy even in the summer months.

    The summer time can be an opportune time to reach out to high school and college students to serve in the summer so the “regulars” can have some time off. I will hear frustration from adults who can’t serve during the school year but have some flexibilty during the summer only to find that music ministry has shut down until September.

    There is something else of which I remind myself any time that I prepare for Liturgy and that is the fact that, for someone in the pew, it very well may be, that the Liturgy which they are attending on any given day at anytime of the year, may be their first Mass, last Mass or only Mass. I strongly believe that we who serve in Liturgical ministries are only given a small window of opportunity, once a week, to effectively and properly prepare and present a Liturgy that enables all who enter, a sacred time and space to experience Christ truly present in Word and Sacrament. Some of the numbers in our parish go down one week and up another during the summer months but, from where I sit at the organ, I do see new faces but, more importantly, I hear the voices of the assembly in worship in prayer and song… even the Gloria!

  4. There isn’t much about the ritual that needs trimming, but I haven’t heard many homilies that I wish could just keep going. Had a visiting priest at our parish yesterday. He started his homily by saying he was going to keep it short and he then made a really nice point from the gospel that gave us a good place to reflect. 25 minutes of rambling later, when we had surely forgotten the original point, he said – and this is almost a verbatim quote – “I guess I better stop talking or we’ll never leave.” Oh well.

    My preference is for EP II not so much because it is short (EP III isn’t much longer) but because it is direct, clear, and understandable, dewfall notwithstanding.

    Good luck trimming the Sign of Peace. What seemed a little awkward when we first started doing it long ago, has now become a pew favorite. We now seem to like holding hands during the Our Father, and people are shaking, hugging, kissing, etc. on through about half of the Agnus Dei.

    Really, it all comes down to the Presider. He can control almost everything about tempo and cadence, but he has to be willing to do that and he has to be in control of himself. The homily is a good place to start, though.

    Liturgically, I don’t think ‘reciting’ the Gloria is appropriate, but the refrain ones are really annoying to me. There too are many reasons they annoy me to list here, but one of those reasons is that they are inherently longer.

  5. My vote is to keep the homily short. Opting for EP II over III may save a minute or two at most. As for the Gloria, the ICEL chant version takes approximately 2 minutes. How long does reciting it take? A minute? If that is true, you have saved a minute by reciting the Gloria.

    The homily, on the other hand, is easily subject to shortening. The youtube clips of my pastors homilies last about 11 minutes. I do appreciate his homilies. But if he wanted to shave time off the mass, he shorten them and still give a winning homily. One of the best homilies I have ever heard was at a convention where the time limit given the priest was under four minutes. He made his point and got out.

  6. It’s a very wrong question to ask. Probably a hill worth dying on. Or getting pink-slipped if it illustrates an ill-(in)formed pastor. But if we’re talking omission, everything the priest says that’s not a prayer or dialogue. Including the homily, which could well be expressed as a prayer in under a minute. Next up: the exit song.

    1. @Todd Flowerday:

      How can a priest be “pink-slipped”? tu es sacerdos in aeternum? Or is it a matter of being assigned to a “less desirable parish” or social ministry work, like a hospital?

      1. @Jordan Zarembo:
        Jordan

        I think Todd is referring to a parish director of liturgy/music eventually being pink-slipped for raising the question to a pastor who doesn’t like such questions being asked.

  7. Clock-watching doesn’t make for good liturgy. But keep the homily short and eliminate the rambling, extempore mini-homilies some priests insist on inflicting on us.

  8. Drop the introductory remarks after the sign of the cross/greeting and the closing remarks and announcements before the blessing. Those changes, reining in the sign of peace, and keeping the sermon to 5-7 minutes should greatly reduce the length of Mass. As Charles Day said above, it really does come down to the celebrant to control the length and the easiest thing that he can control is his talking.

  9. None of the above! The best place to trim, I think, is the creed. The Apostles’ is always an option. It’s shorter, and it’s a better translation in my opinion. I always do it when I get to choose, so if we’re trimming at a parish that regular does the Nicene my first choice way to do it would be Apostles’ Creed. My second place would be the closing hymn. Instrumental music would be fine, or maybe one verse, or a Taize refrain that just covers the exit of the ministers. If the prayers of the faithful have more than four petitions, I’d trim those too, allowing some silence for people to offer their own intentions for their hearts (that way, if anyone complains, “but you didn’t pray for X,” I could reply, “How do you know if I did? Did you?”).

    1. @Adam Booth, C.S.C.:
      The Apostles’ Creed is a local Western creed, whereas the Nicene (minus the Filioque) is an ecumenical creed. In my book that warrants the extra minute.

      Also, I know it’s a bad question, but it’s a question that’s on lots of people’s minds.

      Finally, everybody seems in favor of shorter homilies, but the question I was trying to get at was what it might reveal about our theology if we choose to use EP II in order to add a minute or two to the sign of peace versus using EP I (or III or IV) and shortening (or eliminating) the exchange of peace.

      1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt:
        I’m not sure it’s really on people’s minds. Not as much as quality in liturgy.

        Also, your suggestion to eliminate the sign of peace is a serious misunderstanding. The invitation to peace may be lawfully omitted, but the actual rite not. Saving five seconds isn’t worth the pause of confusion, and if I’m at your Mass next to a friend, especially my wife, I don’t need a cleric’s permission or invitation to share peace.

        Your thought experiment might say more about ideology than theology.

      2. @Fritz Bauerschmidt:

        Pope Francis, if I remember correctly, used EPII when he concelebrated mass with cardinals in Rome for the 25th anniversary of his episcopal ordination.

        It’s very possible that he did it to make the mass shorter, and if so, what do you suppose it says about his Eucharistic theology?

        @Michael Slusser:

        Agreed. That was hardly a sermon. At best, it was a greeting — like saying Good Morning at the beginning of the mass.

      3. @Elisabeth Ahn:
        The fact that he used the shorter Eucharistic prayers for that particular Mass may have no reflection at all on his Eucharistic theology but may indicate his awareness that most of the attendees, by and large cardinals who work as heads of Vatican departments, needed to get to their jobs after that Mass in the morning.

      4. @Reyanna Ruce:

        yes, that may well have been the case.

        But, since Deacon Fritz said:

        “…the question I was trying to get at was what it might reveal about our theology if we choose to use EP II in order to add a minute or two to the sign of peace…”

        and since no one has offered any comments in this regard, I was (and still am!) curious about his thoughts.

      5. @Elisabeth Ahn:
        I guess i was wondering what would lead someone to choose the shortest Eucharistic prayer and yet have the sign of peace go on for 2-3 minutes. Now it may be that choosing a short Eucharistic Prayer and a long(ish) sign of peace says nothing about how one views the Eucharist. Or it could reflect the theological judgment that the Eucharist is primarily about the presence of Christ in the assembly and secondarily about the presence under the forms of bread and wine. Or it could reflect the pastoral judgement that long presidential prayers are tedious and largely meaningless to the assembly, whereas the sign of peace is interactive and meaningful.

        You could also flip things around if a priest chose the Roman Canon and eliminated the exchange of peace.

      6. @Fritz Bauerschmidt:
        It might also be that for parishioners who latch on to the Peace, they value not the relative amount of time spent on it, but the expression of familiarity, affection, etc.. And a reminder: omitting Peace is on the same level of liceity as singing the Gloria for entrance. Limits on this, sure. But one has to know the liturgy and one’s community well before applying such limits.

        It’s never been up to me, but if I were choosing the EP, I think #1 works for major feasts. The only summer Sundays I’d suggest it would be the white observances.

      7. @Todd Flowerday:
        “It’s never been up to me, but if I were choosing the EP, I think #1 works for major feasts. The only summer Sundays I’d suggest it would be the white observances.”

        And nuptial Masses. There’s a lovely sacramental integration in that instance.

        I miss EP4.

      8. @Fritz Bauerschmidt:
        You keep mentioning a 2-3 minute sign of peace. Would you be kind to describe a practice that would make that rite so long? I mean no disrespect. I am genuinely interested.

        I don’t think many people have ran into that kind of practice, but are used to the rite lasting 20 seconds or so, and they see no point in opting out of it to conserve time, so the question just runs over everybody’s heads.

        About revealing the eucharistic theology of the celebrant. Well yes. Everything some priest does reveals his own theology. Although one shouldn’t deny the presence in the assembly, the Church teaches that Christ is present “maxime sub speciebus eucharisticis”. So one who would do something at the expense of eucharistic presence, would not be in line with the Church.
        But i don’t think that choosing a shorter EP equals treating the eucharistic presence as less valuable or less important. In Croatia (or at least in my diocese), we almost always get the EP II. Most people know it by heart, so when a priest chooses some other EP it is a surprise.

      9. @Marko Ivančičević:
        It involves the celebrant going all around the church, shaking the hands of the last two or three people on every row. People tend to move around the church a fair bit, and sometimes conversations break out, ranging from “how’s you’re mom doing since she got out of the hospital?” to “are you going to the Ravens’ game later?”

        Yes, I know that the celebrant isn’t supposed to leave the sanctuary, but enforcing that rubric is not the hill I want to die on.

        I would add that by my estimate about 1/3 of the people there love it, 1/3 can take it our leave it, and 1/3 start rolling their eyes after the first 20 seconds or so.

      10. @Fritz Bauerschmidt:
        I don’t think that choosing one or the other of your options says too much about a priest’s Eucharistic theology as it does about his style of celebrating. Allowing a lot of time for the kiss of peace can lead to disruption as people will then tend to move out of their seats and around the church (and then run to get back as the Agnus Dei begins). It turns into greeting and glad-handing as opposed to offering peace to those around them or recognizing Christ in their fellow parishioners. Allowing a long peace rite stops the liturgy. All four Eucharistic prayers do the same thing: they make the Body and Blood of Jesus present on the altar, regardless of their brevity or length. I am all for shortening Mass in the hot weather in a church that is not air-conditioned. But it’s the celebrant who can ultimately effect that shortening.

      11. @Elisabeth Ahn:

        I may have been too obscure in my walking through my thought process; I had thought I’d addressed that concern. My theology of worship prioritizes (some will say too heavily, I’m sure) what is unique about worship. While the sharing of the peace is not inherently about glad handing, when it takes that form, it interjects something into our precious time gathered together for worship that by its very nature can be done elsewhere. In many contexts, we may hug, shake hands, and wish each other well. For the most part, only in gathered worship will we say the creed of our faith together, pray the Lord’s prayer together, kneel before the Lord together, hear the Eucharistic prayers together, etc. I am therefore more reluctant to cut those, especially for the sake of expediency. When the sharing of the peace is done reverently, then it joins all of these other events that we only do in public worship, and I should hate to remove it.

  10. I’ve seen the passing of the peace done in less than fifteen seconds, but it’s very much a cultural thing which the celebrant models. In this particular parish, I had enough time to shake three hands as the celebrant passed the peace to the other members up at the altar, and then he pressed on with the liturgy. A priest has more direct control over the choice of Eucharistic Prayer, but I wonder at choosing one for the sake of expediency, especially when we’re only talking about one minute on a Sunday.

    Folks can shake hands and carry on before and after the service and all week long, if they’re so inclined. I’m not equating the passing of the peace to carrying on as in inherent feature, but it does often happen. Having said that, folks can pass the peace whenever and wherever they like. They only hear the Eucharistic Prayer during the Eucharist. By that logic, then, I would prioritize the Eucharistic Prayer over the passing of the peace.

    Having said that, as others have said, I’d sooner lop off the post-communion and/ or recessional hymn, if one is sung, make the homily shorter, or, perhaps, keep the offertory prayers sotto voce.

      1. @Karl Liam Saur:

        Yikes. If we’re plotting this on a graph of “Time Invested” and “Reverence Displayed,” that has to be the worst quadrant to be in — low time, low reverence. Back home, that sort of thing happens so we can beat the Baptists to lunch. 😉

      2. @Shaughn Casey:
        I don’t disagree. The parish where I normally worship is in the urban core about 25 minutes away from where I live and doesn’t do The Pax – Wave Edition.

        I am not a fan of the glad-handing form of the Pax, and never have been, having been catechized decades ago that the Peace of Christ is not at all a shallow, worldly peace and is not a feel-good moment.

  11. Funny, I was just thinking yesterday, during a packed & crowded Sunday Mass: “I love that no one here cares that Masses last 1 hour and 15 minutes year-round!”

    In fact, I think “trimming” during the summer actually sets a poor precedence for the rest of the year. If people expect Mass to be 75 minutes each & every week, 52 weeks a year, they’ll adjust the rest of their schedule to it. I think it’s sort of unfair to people to alternate wildly between 55 minutes and 75 minutes (says my very Germanic upbringing).

  12. I’m with Lee Bacchi’s option #5 on this one: shorten the homily. Far too many priests prattle on, saying the same things we hear at least once every three years, usually more often.

    The most memorable sermon I ever heard was on Easter Sunday when I was about 10 years old. The celebrant, who we didn’t know had the flu, got up, looked at the congregation, and said, “For those I’ve not seen since, and won’t see again until, Merry Christmas.” The end.

  13. Regarding: “Say a priest wants to keep Mass a little shorter since it’s summer time. ”
    – Increase the number of extra-ordinary Eucharist ministers so that the added stations of cups / plates allow the communion to proceed more quickly and without an undertow of haste.

  14. Since I am only a fan of the kiss of peace in the early modern form, I see no need for the congregational pax. At the least, the priest and congregation need only say

    pax domini sit semper vobiscum / et cum spiritu tuo.

    without censure or opprobrium.

    I would suggest this as an optional guide. On weekdays no pax is necessary. On Sundays, the congregational and lay pax should be fully optional. On an episcopal visit both the clerical pax and lay pax should be near mandatory, save perhaps if the bishop would rather reserve the pax to the clergy.

    If the laity wish to offer the peace even if not invited to do so, they may do so at the beginning of the Agnus Dei.

    At no time a trifle of Mass such as a congregational pax should disturb a homily. Discard the congregational pax if preaching is imperiled.

  15. Todd Flowerday : @Fritz Bauerschmidt: I’m not sure it’s really on people’s minds. Not as much as quality in liturgy.

    Todd’s gets to the root of the issue, once again.

    Sometimes the best answer to a question is a non-responsive one, as Jesus often demonstrated.

    But since you asked, …
    I think the answer is: “It depends.” I know a pastor who bases his selection of the EP in part on the readings and his homily, considering the reconciliation and special occasion ones as well as the standard ones. As a result, people seem to connect more to the entire liturgy rather than just going on autopilot from the Creed through the Our Father.

    After that choice is made, then you can adjust other elements as may (mistakenly?) be judged necessary.

  16. I’d have the priest choose EP I regardless, as I think it should always be used for Sunday – and don’t use the short version. It has the added bonus of being the only EP I’ve heard average Mass goers say is their favorite, or even quote from. I know it was my favorite, far and away, before I even knew it was the “traditional” one.

    I would have the priest cut the exchange of peace only if the congregation was used to doing so (the time spent explaining the change – and he had better explain it if he has never skipped it before – would cancel out the time saved by dropping it). Otherwise, just start the Agnus Dei a moment after introducing it. There’s no reason it should be going on for two minutes, and I’ve been at plenty of Masses where people simply continue to shake hands for a moment after the Agnus Dei has started if they feel they didn’t have enough time.

    I agree with others about shortening the homily, and cutting all the extra words and bad jokes some priests like to add. Pick shorter musical settings that don’t have refrains. I looked up the Jubilate Deo Mass on YouTube and the Kyrie/Gloria/Sanctus/Benedictus/Agnus Dei takes a combined total of six or so minutes to sing. Do a single, simple, chanted “Amen” instead of repeating it 3-9 times for the “Great Amen.” Choose hymns that have a lot of short verses so you only sing enough to cover the ritual actions. None of these things cut the quality of the Mass, but all of them can save time.

    And if we’re going to go totally nuts and do illicit things, then I say have the priest and servers pray the Greeting and Penitential Rite kneeling at the foot of the altar while the congregation sings the processional hymn and kyrie. That’d probably save a couple minutes 🙂

  17. The quickest way through Mass is for the priest to take the old Latin Mass, rattle through it with his back to the congregation and finish in 20 mins or just under. Though a biretta will slow him down by a few seconds.

    Not my preference, but I know some priests who would like to do this, and some parishioners who would prefer it, winter and summer.

    1. @Mary Wood – In my experience this would only lead to people complaining it isn’t a Missa Cantata and forming a schola.

      1. @Jack Wayne:

        Jack, I have been a few times to twenty minute EF Masses. All Mary says is true. Do not discount her testimony. In fact, the priest who said Mass in twenty minutes barely had time to genuflect before speed-mumbling the next phrase of the Canon. Yes, it’s fine to like the EF today. Today’s EF is not a reflection of the past, as elders I have spoken to have amply confirmed.

      2. @Jordan Zarembo:
        I did not mean to discount her testimony. I’m aware that rushed Masses were a rather common problem before, and perhaps that some can still be found today. However, it is also more common *today* for people at the EF to want music.

  18. Goodness me. This takes me back 50 years to the days of “half hour Harry” who used to promise quick masses.
    I thought we had got beyond that.

  19. There are many rural & urban parishes without air conditioning, so brevity at Mass can be an act of charity and a necessity.

    A parish could place the collection baskets at the entrances and collect the donations prior to the service. This could shorten the Preparation of Gifts and with an appropriate hymn, the rite can be prayerful instead of people juggling hymnals and envelopes.

  20. My only experience with shorter Masses: in 1972, the much-loved pastor of my baptismal parish died very suddenly. The bishop sent someone who timed out in 22 minutes. When I went to the 12:15 Mass, I was used to missing part of the 1pm NFL start. But for three months, I made it home for kickoff with time to make lunch. And eat it.

    The previous pastor liked good music and often had the “liturgical” seminarian assigned for the pastoral year. The parish was unaccustomed to what they saw as the ill-treatment of the reformed liturgy. There may have been other reasons (and likely were) but the guy was gone in 3 months.

    But yes, KLS is right; I was thinking the lay staff person raising the issue with the pastor.

  21. Like many here, I don’t think a “summer shortening” is necessary or desired. One of the first things our pastor did when he got to our parish was stop the “choir vacation” in the summer; his very valid point, God’s not taking a vacation, the laity aren’t taking a vacation, so the choir shouldn’t need one either. This reinforces the point that summer isn’t different from winter in terms of Liturgy.

    As a choir director, I can watch what is going on at the preparation of gifts, and end the hymn with proper timing. If it’s early there is nothing wrong with some silence. Likewise with the Sign of Peace, when the priest goes to the altar for the fraction rite, I begin the Agnus Dei, regardless of whether the congregants have made it back to their seats.

    If trimming the length of time is vital then I like many here would suggest any trimming be done in the homily, or perhaps in the announcements to the parish.

    1. @Chip Stalter:
      Well, in old churches that become furnaces without modern climate control and the ability to open windows (which are sealed shut to conserve heating in the winter), I fully understand the choir summer vacation in such a context.

  22. Why not use the Gloria for the gathering song? Our exchange of peace is fulsome but ends abruptly as the accompanist and cantor launch the Lamb of God. I like the suggestion for instrumental music at Prep. Of Gifts. When there’s a song it can go on at least a verse too long. I oppose anything that would make the Liturgy seem hurried. None of us spends anything like too much time in communal prayer. I stand with those who suggest that we all accustom ourselves to a different understanding of time in which getting people out in under an hour is not the prime directive.

    1. @Jack Feehily:
      Because, of course, the Gloria is not an entrance song and no one below the Pope possesses sufficient authority to make it so. (Power being different than authority.) At least for present.

      You can, of course, recite the Missal introit if you want to skip a gathering song.

      1. @Karl Liam Saur:
        Any idea how the Gloria got positioned in what we now call the entrance rites of the Liturgy of the Word? We can be sure that at the time it was originally given its present place there was no parish assembly of priestly people being expected to sing the ordinary of the Mass along with a gathering song, a responsorial psalm, and songs at the preparation of the gifts and during communion. As recently as 1997, it was proposed that the entrance rite be given more flexibility. The “powers that be” nixed that of course. A gathering song of four or five verses followed soon thereafter by the Gloria can be a bit much.

      2. @Fr. Jack Feehily:
        As I said, if you find that too much for your taste, you can recite the Missal introit…. (As for the proposal of the 1990s you mention, it was not very persuasive to me at the time and hasn’t grown in its persuasiveness since. I have my issues with how things went down in the late 1990s, but that particular idea was a solution in search of a wrongly framed problem.)

        Does your parish avoid settings of the Gloria with refrains?

        And a chanted Gloria (vernacular or Latin – having simple and festive settings of both in the congregational repertoire helps mightily – the PIPs can also sing them without instrumentalists) doesn’t take much time.

      3. @Fr. Jack Feehily:
        Changing the Ordinary of the Mass around makes the congregation into a captive audience rather than a priestly people expected to participate. I’d have no idea what was going on if I happened upon a Mass where they just started singing the Gloria as the processional hymn.

      4. @Jack Wayne:
        You mean rather than lifting your voice in praise of God’s glory you would spend time thinking about whether the practice is licit? Hmmm.

      5. Jack Feehily :

        No, how did you get that idea? Are you trying to guilt me for daring to question?

        No, I would be confused as to why they were seemingly skipping over the entrance hymn, sign of the cross, greeting, penitential rite, and Kryie (and later wondering why they did it out of order). Had I never read this blog post, I would never have heard of making the Gloria a processional hymn. I also wouldn’t have had any idea that it was a time saving trick. I would actually assume it was a mistake by the choir director.

      6. @Jack Wayne:
        Jack, I was certainly not trying to guilt you. I believe we come at this from differing understandings of what becomes possible within specific communities when they have been well catechized concerning the liturgy. How do you suppose the varying rites came about (where byzantine, Ambrosian, or Dominican). They initiated practices which did not alter the substance of the rite which eventually became customary. I detest the practice of “reciting” the gloria. It is a hymn and should be sung. The people I serve know that this is an important part of the Gathering Rites and don’t regard moving it to the beginning of Mass on particular occasions as something confusing or illicit. The Mass continues (it having already begun) with the sign of the cross, greeting, penitential act, and opening prayer. During Lent, I begin Mass from the bapistry with the sign of the cross and greeting. Then we sing a beautiful Kyrie as the ministers process with me to the altar. There follows the absolution and opening prayer. Simple, clean, and it does not in any way touch the substance of the Gathering Rites. Is it disturbing when an Easter season Mass begins with the sprinkling rite or when a funeral Mass begins with the opening prayer after the gathering song?

  23. I visited a parish this past Sunday in which the mass ran, start to finish, in less than 50 minutes. And the priest gave a homily of average length (probably at least 7-8 minutes), and it was quite a large church and reasonably full, and as per usual these days, virtually everyone over the age of six came forward for communion.

    But the priest spoke quickly. Too quickly for my taste. I’ve concluded that the pace of the priest’s speech is the single thing that most can be done to speed up the mass.

    Perhaps the 2nd thing would be to have very few communicants come forward for communion. But of course that’s neither desirable nor (we hope) possible.

    They did recite the Gloria (I’m not a fan, but hey), and I’m sure that did shave a couple of minutes. But it was the speedy pace of the presider that made all the difference.

    1. @Jim Pauwels:
      I have never understood why any priest when addressing God in prayer would speak at a rapid pace. Could it be that some priests believe that speaking to God is fundamentally different than speaking to any other person? A pet peeve of mine.

      1. @Jack Feehily:

        “I have never understood why any priest when addressing God in prayer would speak at a rapid pace. Could it be that some priests believe that speaking to God is fundamentally different than speaking to any other person?”

        Fr. Jack – the experience I had has spurred me to think about it a little bit. I wonder if there is something about the fact that it is words of a ritual rather than spontaneous conversation that somehow induces him (or perhaps gives him permission) to speak in this manner. FWIW, his style of speaking during the homily was not the same – it was a bit slower, and a bit more inflected. It was during the “priest’s parts” of the missal that he tended to push it forward at a brisk clip.

  24. There are no reasons to trim what’s actually in the missal but given variant tendencies among celebrants I’d say the following: 1) the Gloria should be chanted or spoken without turning into a song with a refrain. 2) on Sunday’s the full creed should be stated 3) homilies should be concise and instructive, not auto biographical. 4) limit introductions at beginning of mass. 5) option for short presentation song/instrumental and priest could say offering prayer to himself 6) Roman canon is beautiful and so much more catechetical than others 7) no speakers after communion. 8) no intros to the readings (we aren’t children, that’s what a homily is for) 9) sign of peace can easily be done in 10 seconds

  25. The fact that the prayer occurs within the context of a sacramental rite such as the Mass should not make any difference in my view. It is interpersonal communication between me as a presider and the Lord. Why would I not inflect and vary my tone in terms of the words actually being prayed. I think the practice of adopting a “ritual voice” different from any other goes back to priests reading the prayers of the missal as if they effected something automatic regardless of the voice level or intonation. Should we suppose that when Jesus taught his disciples how to pray he shifted into a different, more formal or ritualistic voice?

  26. The most common variable, with a wide range in terms of minutes, must be the homily. I always liked the anecdote of the lady who said after Mass to her pastor that he should consider preparing his homily between leaving the sacristy and arriving at the chair rather than his current practice of doing so between putting down the lectionary and opening his mouth.

    The most memorable homilies are briefer. If you don’t strike oil in under ten minutes, stop boring.

    1. @Chaim Barak:

      And, whatever you do, don’t pad your homily with:

      1. Talking about how difficult/awkward the readings are to preach on and seek sympathy for your task; or

      2. Talking about how you came up with your homiletic idea.

  27. I definitely don’t think that the most memorable homilies are briefer–I can recall today 15 minute homilies that I heard over ten years ago and there are many 2 minute weekday homilies that I have forgotten.

    That said, I think 75% of homilies could be improved by cutting out the first 4-5 minutes—but that is a matter of content (including the kinds of things Liam mentions above), not length.

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