Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee


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Making a grand entrance

Carmel Bulletin, 11 February 2018

01 - Before Mass 1One of the tasks we sought to achieve when renewing our church was to improve the entrances into the building.

There were practical reasons for this – the space under the choir gallery was dark compared to the rest of the church, and we knew that glass doors would appear more inviting to those passing by outside.  Realigning the doors from the parish centre into the church has improved the flow of movement between the two spaces.

Church doors and entrances also bear the important task of helping us make the transition to prepare our hearts and minds for celebrating together in a house of prayer.  We pass back out through them again renewed with the task of taking Christ to the world.  Church entrances are also part of a number of liturgical celebrations where entering the church forms a symbolic part of the ritual; some of these include the rites of initiation of adults and children, marriages and funerals.

Baptistery-Grille-for-BooklThe design of our new doors not only serves the various liturgical needs and functions, but also honours our past.  Our architect, Jesse Mowbray, used the architectural drawing of a grille for the baptistery from the original 1950’s plans as inspiration for our current door design.

We hope that as we continue to celebrate in our renewed church, we can appreciate how our new doors contribute to an enriched life of prayer.

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Getting to Know our Renewed Church

Carmel Bulletin, 24 December 2017

Welcome to our first weekend of Masses since our new altar was dedicated and new parts of our church blessed for use.  To help you become familiar with our renewed church, please take note of the following:

03 - Blessing of Font 1

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv blesses our new baptismal font, 17 December 2017

We bless ourselves with holy water as we enter the church to remind us of our baptism.  We encourage you to bless yourself directly from the baptismal font in the centre of the church.

The front pew in each section of the church is kneeler-free, which may be of help to those who are unable to kneel, and to those who need easy access in and out of their seat.

Many people use the devotional spaces around the church for their personal prayer.  Please feel free to pray at the shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, but only before or after Mass.  Stopping at the shrine after receiving communion causes difficulties and disruption for others.  The seats in front of the shrine are the perfect place to stop and pray after Mass, while keeping walkways clear.  We look forward to the other devotional spaces around the church being completed early in the new year.


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Altars and Relics

Altar stone

Altar stone that was kept within the altar of our church from approx 1975 to 2017

Some people may remember a time when altars had set into the table an ‘altar stone’.  The stone often had set into it the relic of a saint.

In early times, churches were often built over the tombs of martyrs, whose sacrifice reflected and honoured Christ’s own sacrifice.  St Peter’s Basilica and the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, for example, are both built over the tombs of the respective saints.

From this practice, the Church has had a long tradition of placing relics of saints beneath altars.  Many other saints, even if they are not martyrs, came to be interred in crypts below the sanctuaries of churches and cathedrals.  In other churches, a reliquary has been placed beneath the table of the altar.  While there was a time where relics were set into the table in an altar stone, the altar itself is a symbol of Christ, the living stone.  Relics, if they are to be kept at an altar, are to be placed beneath the table, which better reflects the traditional custom.

1401-altar-021.jpg

Architect’s impression of the new stone altar to be installed in our church as part of our Church Renewal Process

Our new altar will include a compartment beneath the table for the relics of a saint, which will be placed there by Bishop Vincent when the altar is dedicated on Sunday 17 December.


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Hear the Difference

Carmel Bulletin, 1 October 2017

Church Renovation 1The visual difference to our church since demolition work began is obvious, but have you noticed any aural (sound) difference?

The removal of the carpet has changed the acoustics of the building.  Soft furnishings, like carpet, absorb sound, while sound bounces off hard surfaces like brick, timber and stone.  The result is an increased resonance of sound throughout the church, which enlivens the output from the sound system, organ and musical instruments.

Good acoustics are also important so that we can hear each other.  Being able to hear those around us pray and sing gives us confidence and reminds us that the liturgy is a communal, rather than individual act.  If we can’t hear others, it feels like we’re cheering on our team at home in front of the TV, rather than at the stadium with thousands of other fans – there’s a big difference in terms of sound and experience.  Feeling like you’re the only person in the church singing is not very encouraging!

While our renewed church will have some carpet, there will be less of it.  Some spaces that were carpeted will be tiled instead.  This means the acoustic feel of the church will change again, but will not be as dull as what it was before.  We’ll need to wait and see what the difference will sound like.


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Serving Others

Carmel Bulletin, 4 June 2017

You may have heard the saying:

You can please some people all of the time, or everyone some of the time, but you can never please everyone all the time.

communion140922_216

Photo: Alphonsus Fok, © 321 Photography

Imagine, then, trying to consider the needs and desires of a parish community as diverse as ours when it comes together to celebrate the liturgy.  Pleasing everyone starts to become a monumental task!

Certainly it is important for those who prepare liturgical celebrations (such as liturgy committees, priests, musicians, sacristans, artists…) to consider what will draw people into prayer and shape and form them as disciples of Christ.  Trying to define a ‘typical parishioner’, however, and make choices to suit their particular tastes will result in a celebration that may appeal to some, but ultimately alienate others who don’t fit that mould.

While liturgical ministers have a responsibility to prepare and lead good liturgical celebrations, it is up to all of us to give a little as well.  Sacrificing some of what we ‘like’ during Mass so that everyone finds something that moves and engages them in the liturgy can be a challenge, but is ultimately an act of service where we seek to be mindful of the needs of others.


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Let Him Easter in Us

Carmel Bulletin, 14 May 2017

Paschal Candle 2017Throughout the season of Easter, the paschal candle is given a prominent and special place near the ambo or altar of the church.  The candle is lit at the Easter Vigil Mass each year as the primary symbol of the light of Christ breaking through the darkness of death and sin.

Each year our paschal candle is crafted by nuns of the Benedictine Abbey, Jamberoo, where Carmelite Fr Paul Gurr serves as chaplain.  The design on this year’s candle has been prepared by the nuns, with artwork by Josephite Sr Dorothy Woodward.  The nuns offer this commentary on the candle design for 2017:

It features the Risen Christ bursting forth from the tomb in glory! Artists down through the centuries have used the image of the tombstone shattering to symbolize the energy, passion, power and sheer joy of the Resurrection moment for Christ and all humankind.
Easter Sunday shatters many things –
Gone is darkness and death!
Gone hopelessness and despair!
Gone fear and dread!
Gone our Lenten fast and discipline!
And from all that “gone-ness” and shattering,
NEW LIFE bursts forth, filling the void with light, joy, feasting, celebration and the singing of Alleluias!

As we light our Paschal Candles in 2017,
may Christ, the Risen One,
“Easter in us” … Easter in our world! Alleluia!

Let Him Easter in us,
be a dayspring to the dimness of us.
Gerard Manley Hopkins


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As the Church fasts, so does the church fast

Carmel bulletin, 12 March 2017

lent_enviro_08 005When arriving at Mass last Sunday, one of young parishioners observed that the church looked very bare.

Perhaps you noticed this as well.  It may have been the lack of flowers or banners.  It may have been that there was less music within the Mass than what you’re used to.

We’re well aware that during Lent, we as a Church (the people of God) are called to fast.  This fasting sees us go without what is unnecessary in our lives and focus on what we really need.  The first need, of course, is a deep and loving relationship with God who continually invites us to be closer to him.

Similarly, during this season, our church (the building) reflects our Lenten practice with its own fasting.  It goes without the extra decoration.  It goes without the extra hymns and without the instrumental music.  It goes without the echo of Alleluia within its four walls for six and a half weeks.

All of this helps us to build in our anticipation and eagerness for celebrating the glorious resurrection of our Lord at Easter.