Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee


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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.

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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.

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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.


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Music and Hospitality

Carmel Bulletin, 14 August 2016

The Second Vatican Council’s instruction on music said: “One cannot find anything more religious and more joyful in sacred celebrations than a whole congregation expressing its faith and devotion in song” (Musicam Sacram, no. 16).  That, of course, is easier said than done!

While it may take effort to encourage everyone in the church to sing, it can also be easy to discourage singing.  Different factors can contribute to people feeling that they are not encouraged to join in the music that is being led by the music ministers.  In turn, we now have in the Church plenty of statistical and anecdotal evidence that proves that people’s engagement and connection with the music in liturgical celebrations is a key factor in them wanting to return to a particular parish community.

Parish Vision StatementAs part of our parish vision that all families feel supported, connected and valued as they live and grow in their faith, and our strategy to welcome all who come to worship, our Liturgy Committee and music leaders have been working on a way to develop a more focused and consistent music repertoire.  As it is developed and implemented, we hope this repertoire will help everyone in our parish know what we’re singing.


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Receive the Holy Spirit

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Quote inscribed on the side of the baptismal font in our church

Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday and the giving of the Holy Spirit to the apostles.  As Catholics, we first receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism.  St Peter calls on those who witnessed the twelve speaking in tongues to “be baptised… and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

 

Our Baptism is quite literally confirmed by the bishop (or his representative) in the Sacrament of Confirmation – it is from the historical action of the bishop confirming baptisms across his diocese that this rite developed.  In this sacrament, we are “enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1285).

 

 

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Then Bishop of Parramatta (now Archbishop of Sydney) Anthony Fisher OP celebrating Confirmation in our parish.  Photo: © Alphonsus Fok, 321 Photography

By signing us with the gift of the Spirit, confirmation makes us more completely the image of the Lord and fills us with the Holy Spirit, so that we may bear witness to him before all the world and work to bring the Body of Christ to its fullness as soon as possible. 

Christian Initiation: General Introduction, no. 4