When I tweeted up my surprise at the brevity of my composition, a confrere replied to remind me of chapter nine of the Rule:
Moneo quoque et exhortor eosdem fratres, ut in praedicatione, quam faciunt, sint examinata et casta eorum eloquia (cf. psalm 11:7 and 17:31, Vulgate), ad utilitatem et aedificationem populi, annuntiando eis vitia et virtutes, poenam et gloriam cum brevitate sermonis; quia verbum abbreviatum fecit Dominus super terram. (cf. Romans 9:28, Vulgate) Rule IX: 3-4.
"I warn and exhort the brothers that in the preaching that they do, their words be considered and chaste, for the usefulness and edification of the people, announcing to them vices and virtues, punishment and glory with a brief word; for the Lord made a short word on earth."
So I was comforted by the reminder. After all, nobody ever faulted a priest for preaching short. In fact, to be reliably brief in homilies is one easy way to endear yourself to the people.
This brings up a larger question which is of great interest to me: is there a particularly Franciscan way to preach? Is there a particular style or approach that distinguishes the Sunday preaching of a Franciscan from, say, a Dominican or a Jesuit or a secular priest? It seems to me that this is an especially important question for us male religious in the United States, where historical accident, missionary conditions, and ministerial design have pushed so many of us into the parish ministry. Do we operate and minister in a parish in a way that is particular to our charism? Or are we secular clergy in habits, allowing the life of parish to eclipse the observance of our religious life, as often happens? People will often say that they very much appreciate the Franciscan approach to ministry, and I presume that folks in parishes of other sorts of religious say the same thing about them. But when you try to narrow down and articulate exactly what it is that constitutes this particularly, I have often found both friars and parishioners a little stumped.
I think this question is a matter of health and survival for us, and theologically interesting besides.