Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee

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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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Celebrating the Diamond Anniversary of Our Church

The original interior of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (then St Columba's) Church, Wentworthville, 1955

The original interior of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (then St Columba’s) Church, Wentworthville, 1955

This weekend we celebrate sixty years since Cardinal Gilroy blessed and opened our parish church.

From early times the name “church” has also been given to the building in which the Christian community gathers to hear the word of God, to pray together, to celebrate the sacraments, and to participate in the eucharist.

Ceremonial of Bishops, no. 864

We call our building a church because it is the place the Church prays and worships.  In this way, the church building is both the “house of God” and the house of the people of God.  Christ is present in both the building and the people; thus our church should be both a place that is fitting for the praise of God and reflective of the parish community that gathers here.

The Introductory Rites of the Mass

Photo © 2014, Alphonsus Fok, 321 Photography

Much of our parish’s history and life has been played out within the walls of this building.  Unlike many parish churches, all seven sacraments have been celebrated here over the past sixty years, including the ordinations of deacons and priests.  The rest of our parish’s story, which has taken place beyond the walls of the church, has been nourished and sustained by our prayer and worship within the walls.  The celebration of the Eucharist forms us and leads us out to mission.

Building Faith in Our Future - Our Church: 60 YearsThe past sixty years has seen our building grow and change as we have as a Church.  Looking back over photos of the church shows that it is noticeably different to what it was when it opened, and has in fact changed in almost every one of the past six decades.  Perhaps the courage of those who went before us, who built this church and shaped it to serve our community and its worship, can serve to remind us that we too must be courageous in our faith as we look ahead to the sixty years to come.

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Reflecting the Penitential Nature of Lent

Carmel Bulletin, 22 February 2015

lent_enviro_08 005Hopefully things look and feel a bit different at Mass this weekend than they did last weekend.

The large banners have come down and the plants and flowers are all gone.  There may be less music, and instruments should only be used to accompany singing, as opposed to being used for solo pieces:

During Lent the altar is not to be decorated with flowers, and the use of musical instruments is allowed only to support the singing… (Ceremonial of Bishops, no. 252)

All this is done for a greater reason than giving our florist, Sofie a break from arranging flowers for us every week (although with all her great work, she does deserve a rest).  The “stripping back” of the space and even elements of the liturgy helps to focus us on the penitential nature of the season.

It is similar to what we are encouraged to do in our own lives.  Lent is a time when we may fast, particularly on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays, or we may choose to abstain from particular things.  Such abstinence may not be specifically from food, but may also be from other material goods or indulgences that we otherwise take for granted.

By taking the opportunity during Lent to do away with those preoccupations, we offer ourselves more time and space to focus on our relationship with God.

Through its twofold theme of repentance and baptism, the season of Lent disposes both the catechumens and the faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery… The faithful, listening more intently to the word of God and devoting themselves to prayer, are prepared [for Easter] through a spirit of repentance to renew their baptismal promises.  (Ceremonial of Bishops, no. 249)

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30/9/12 – Liturgy Committee Report

Liturgy CommitteeThe Liturgy Committee met on Thursday 20 September.  As Advent is now only two months away, the committee considered the preparations that would be made for the upcoming liturgical season.  One of the challenges with the season of Advent is to ensure this short season of preparation (a little over three weeks this year) is not lost amidst the insistent Christmas promotion in the commercial world.  Advent remains an important time when we focus once again on preparing ourselves not only for the celebration of Christ’s birth, but also for Christ’s return at the end of time.  Additional elements of art and environment will be included in the parish centre this year to help sustain the Advent focus. Christmas decorations and the like may be included from the beginning of the Christmas novena on 17 December.  Taizé-style evening prayer will be celebrated weekly during Advent.

Work on revising the parish guidelines for the Liturgy of the Word for Children continues, with these guidelines to be finalised by the end of the year.  The implementation and evaluation of these guidelines will begin next year, beginning with a formation workshop for all ministers in early February.  The commencement of the Liturgy of the Word for Children next year will be delayed until the First Sunday of Lent (17 February 2013) so that ministers may participate in the workshops and be formally commissioned prior to commencement.

Parishioners are welcome to raise matters with the Liturgy Committee at any time by emailing litcomwenty (at) gmail (dot) com, or by speaking to Fr Paul or any member of the committee.  If you are corresponding in writing, please ensure your correspondence is signed and return contact details are provided, so that we can respond appropriately.

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26/8/12 – Liturgy Committee Report

Liturgy Committee, Our Lady of Mount Carmel WentworthvilleThe Liturgy Committee met this week.  The first matter the committee considered was last month’s celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  There were many positive aspects to the celebration of the Parish Feast Day.  We wish to continue with the practice of welcoming new parishioners on this special occasion, with improvements to be made with having new parishioners register with the parish office throughout the year.  The lunch remains a positive social occasion for the parish, but we hope that in the future, more can be done to include children, as well as a broader range of parishioners.

Fr Paul and the Liturgy Committee formally thank all those who contributed to the preparation and celebration of the day.

The second matter discussed at the meeting was the celebration of the Liturgy of the Word for Children at Sunday Mass.  This is a worthwhile and long-standing practice here in Wentworthville, which has been supported by hard-working, dedicated volunteers.  As it does with all aspects of the liturgy from time to time, the committee revisited for its own benefit the intended purpose and structure of the Liturgy of the Word for Children.  Reading material was distributed prior to the meeting to assist with our own learning and formation.  The committee then revisited and proposed revisions to the parish guidelines for these celebrations, which were first developed in 2006.  A draft of these revised guidelines will be prepared for consideration at the next meeting.  Once they are finalised, the committee will then consider how best to support and assist Ministers of Children’s Liturgy of the Word through formation, training and resources.

Parishioners are welcome to raise matters with the Liturgy Committee at any time by emailing litcomwenty (at) gmail (dot) com, or by speaking to Fr Paul or any member of the committee.  If you are corresponding in writing, please ensure your correspondence is signed and return contact details are provided, so that we can respond appropriately.

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22/8/10 – The General Plan of the Church

At present, we are exploring the liturgical principles which underpin our work in the Church Renewal Process.  Having considered active participation, we now consider the sixth principle, namely:

The general plan of the church

Over the centuries, many Catholic churches have been built.  Very rarely is one church building identical to another, and the layout, design and style of the buildings has changed immensely over the period of almost two thousand years.  So what, then, are the basic requirements for the general plan of a church?

Firstly, the liturgical documents since Vatican II focus on the church being arranged so that “it in some way conveys the image of the gathered assembly” (Rite of Dedication of a Church and Altar, Ch 2, No 3; General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 294) It is a reminder to us once again that it is the whole Church, each of us gathered together that becomes one body in Christ and celebrates the liturgy.  There needs to be, therefore, spaces for each of the various ministries to be carried out.  Once again, the arrangement of the church should encourage full, conscious and active participation of everyone in the liturgy.

Considering the matter of participation further, the most recent General Instruction of the Roman Missal encourages the provision of seating for the assembly, as well as ensuring good lines of sight to focal points such as the ambo, altar and presidential chair.  It encourages us to provide adequate sound amplification, and space to allow us to move as necessary during the Mass – both to sit, stand and kneel as required, but also to move in procession to communion (GIRM, 311).

Also, while the church is a liturgical space, we are also challenged to think about how our place of worship also provides the usual comforts that people come to expect when they gather in public buildings.  This could include facilities such as toilets and parking, but also extend to other areas such as suitable climate control (GIRM, 293).

Finally, our Guiding Concepts Committee met last weekend to draw together the material and feedback gained from parishioners during our meeting with Fr Stephen Hackett MSC in June.  A draft of the guiding concepts has been prepared and is being reviewed by the committee before it is presented to all parishioners in due course.

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15/8/10 – Designing Churches for Liturgical Celebration

At present, we are exploring the liturgical principles which underpin our work in the Church Renewal Process.  Having considered active participation, we now consider the fifth principle, namely:

Designing churches for liturgical celebration

In some religious traditions, sacred buildings are constructed (at least in part) to provide a place for their god to dwell.  The very existence of the building is enough to make it sacred, and to invite the sacred being to live within it.

In the Catholic tradition, we often refer to the church building as “the house of God”.  It is also, equally “the house of the people of God.”  This draws out a clear distinction between us and those other traditions.

Does God dwell within our church buildings?  Yes.  How?  Because of what we, the Church, do within our buildings.  It is through the celebration of the liturgy that Christ is made present amongst us; through the gathered, worshipping assembly, the priest, the proclaimed word, and the Eucharist.

God doesn’t need us to build church buildings any more than God needs us to celebrate the liturgy.  These both reflect our desire to give thanks to God and rejoice in the glory of the Paschal Mystery – Jesus’ life, death and resurrection that open up to us the gift of eternal life.

Our churches, therefore, need to be, first and foremost, practical buildings that allow us to carry out our work (the word “liturgy” comes from the Greek leitourgia – “the work of the people”).  The first criteria for determining how they are designed should always be how the design supports the liturgical celebration.

It is possible to design an exquisite, beautiful church which is nothing more than a landmark – to effectively celebrate the liturgy in such a place can be almost impossible.  On the other hand, there are very simple, plain churches which are laid out and designed in such a way that the community is nourished and enriched by the liturgy it celebrates there.  Hopefully we can ensure we have a beautiful church which allows us to celebrate the liturgy well.