Fr Stephen Smuts

Archive for July 3rd, 2011

Wedding of the Prince of Monaco: Holy Communion

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Via The New Liturgical Movement:

… these pictures of the Prince and Princess receiving Holy Communion at their nuptial Mass:

Photographs via

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 3, 2011 at 20:11

Church Services (and Sermons) Need to be Shorter?

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With most people torn between using Sunday mornings to go shopping or lie in bed, the prospect of spending 90 minutes in church has an increasingly limited appeal.

There is a simple answer to this problem, according to one senior bishop who has urged clergy to cut the length of services in an effort to reverse declining levels of attendance.

The Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill, the Bishop of Lichfield, said worship has become too complicated and time-consuming, leaving people who are not regular churchgoers feeling confused and excluded.

He said that services have become too long, recommending clergy should aim to keep them to no more than 50 minutes and make sure they are careful not to preach for too long.

Research conducted over the last year by anonymous worshippers for the church website Ship of Fools found some Anglican clergy preaching for as long as 42 minutes.

“One of the reasons for our recent decline in churchgoing is we are not making the occasional worshipper feel welcome,” he said.

“You have got to be quite tough to come to some of our services if you are not a regular attender.

“We’re praying for longer and we’re singing for longer.”

In a speech to clergy in his diocese, which has seen growth in recent years, Bishop Gledhill said there had been a tendency to devise “more and more intricate and beautiful services for our own use – forgetting those who might come if we made things simpler for them to start with”.

He said services, which used to last for 50 minutes are now taking an hour and a half, adding: “Sometimes I find myself thinking that this is a good way of saying ‘Go away’ to young people who come to visit us.”

The bishop said that clergy need to make sure that their sermons are not too long, arguing that people’s “attention spans aren’t what they used to be”…

There’s more here.

And also in the Telegraph today related to the above is:

The Bishop of Lichfield thinks he has worked out why people don’t go to church: it takes too long. He has urged vicars to slash the length of services – and of their sermons. The Catholic Church, too, has taken against prattling prelates, asking priests to limit their lectures to eight minutes, since people now find it hard to concentrate for any longer…

Personally I don’t think that there is much that can be said – at least not of any real substance or depth – theologically in just eight minutes. Moreover, the problem isn’t really with the length of the service (or sermon) more than it is with the abandoning of the received Faith and with it, sound Biblical teachings. As a result of some rather wishy-washy pulpit teachings, stemming from a position of compromise with the world and its ways, the Church in many parts is becoming more than a little irrelevant. Without that voice of relevance, edifying, guiding and leading the people in truth, they simply are not growing; instead, becoming indifferent, they choose to stay away. Unless that changes, the length (or brevity) of the service (or sermon), will not make any difference.     


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 3, 2011 at 18:25

The Jesuit and the Franciscan

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For a laugh:

A Jesuit and a Franciscan were involved in a car accident. Hurriedly they got out to make sure the other person was OK, each insisting that it was probably his own fault.

Then the Jesuit, very concerned for his fellow religious, said, “You look very badly shaken up. You could probably use a stiff drink.” At that he produced a flask, and the Franciscan, who was indeed a bit shaken up, took it gratefully.

“One more and I’m sure you’ll be feeling fine,” the Jesuit said, and the Franciscan took another. Then the Jesuit took the flask and put it safely away.

“You look a bit shaken up yourself,” the Franciscan said. “Are you sure you don’t want to take a bit?”

The Jesuit replied, “Oh, I certainly will; but I think I’ll wait until after the police arrive.”


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 3, 2011 at 15:37

Posted in Church

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Jerusalem Underground

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No longer just standing next to the Wailing Wall, the only visible reminder of what the Temple was, but further down as well. At the level at which real life in Israel took place two thousand years ago. Before the year 70 a.C., when this sacred place was destroyed by the Roman legions of Titus after the Jewish revolt.

The underground vaults of the Old City has been one of the most talked about issues in recent weeks in Jerusalem, after the Israel Antiquities Authority – the agency that oversees archaeological excavations – announced its intention to open a new tunnel to the public by this summer in the Wailing Wall area. As you may recall that back in 1996 it was already possible to visit a section of the Wall extending less than 500 meters, starting from the Kotel (as the Jews call the Wall) and continuing north passing under the houses of the Muslim quarter.

Now – therefore – the idea is to add a new south facing section to the Wailing Wall square, passing under the walls of Jerusalem. This is actually an old drainage ditch that ran under the main road two thousand years ago. A road partially excavated in nearby Ir David, the archeological park which stands on what, according to archaeologist Eilat Mazar, is the ancient palace of Kind David. Where – apart from the entrance to the new underground passage – a third tunnel is already open to the public that reaches the pool of Siloam, the ancient water reservoir of the city of Jerusalem. The path in the gutter, therefore, would make it possible to bring together all three sections forming a unique underground tour of nearly two kilometers. It would run under one of the most politically hot areas of modern Jerusalem (the Arab neighborhood of Silwan) offering a kind of full-immersion into the Herodian age, an era of great splendor for ancient Jewish Jerusalem. The same era in which Jesus lived. Bearing all this in mind, it is understandable that the conditional should be used when speaking of the impending opening: even archaeology, in fact, has obvious political fallouts in the Holy City…

Read the rest in the Vatican Insider here.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 3, 2011 at 11:09

Come Unto Me

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From the Gospel:

Come to Me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest – St Matthew 11:28. 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 3, 2011 at 10:04


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