Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee

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Receive the Holy Spirit


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).




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


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Church Renewal: The Shape of the Baptismal Font

Carmel Bulletin, 27 September 2015

Church Renewal ProcessFr Paul is currently sharing with everyone the design concept for the renewal of our church.  One feature of this design is the provision of a new fixed, dignified space for the celebration of baptism.

For if we have been united with [Christ Jesus] in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:5)


Baptismal font, Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland (California, USA; photo by Kenny Phung on flickr)


(photo by Daniel Kedinger on flickr)

Photo 30-04-12 12 30 35 AM

Baptismal font, Salisbury Anglican Cathedral (England)

Baptismal fonts have been formed in different shapes over the course of history, each revealing something of our belief in baptism being a sharing in the death and resurrection of Christ.

Round baptismal fonts are symbolic of the womb and remind us that through baptism, we are reborn into new life with Christ.  Square or rectangular fonts seek to evoke the image of the tomb; they teach us that sharing in the resurrection of Christ comes only through sharing in his death. Cruciform (cross-shaped) fonts also illustrate how our sharing in Jesus’ death leads to salvation and glory.

Baptismal Font and Paschal Candle

(photo by Alan Creech on flickr)

Another shape that has a long tradition in the design of baptismal fonts is the octagon.  The eight-sided shape is used as a direct reference to the eighth day which is Sunday, the Lord’s Day – the day of the resurrection.  Our proposed octagonal-shaped font with round bowl will be fabricated in stone and metal to specifically relate to the original design plans for the church, and to the proposed design of the altar and ambo.

You can read and view more about the design concept in the parish centre and at

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Church Renewal: The Baptismal Font and the Church Entrances

Carmel Bulletin, 20 September 2015

Church Renewal ProcessFr Paul is currently sharing with everyone the design concept for the renewal of our church.  One feature of this design is the provision of a new fixed, dignified space for the celebration of baptism.

Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people” (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.

 Vatican II Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, article 14 (emphasis added)

Whenever we enter the church, we bless ourselves with holy water.  It reminds us of our baptism; a baptism that initiates us into the death and resurrection of Christ and into the Christian Church.  The liturgical celebrations of the Church are celebrated in the name of the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Only those of us who are baptised can participate in them fully.

At our cathedral (St Patrick’s, Parramatta) the assembly enters through the narthex and arrives at the baptismal font. Here, people bless themselves with baptismal water before continuing into the cathedral

The blessing of ourselves with water becomes an even stronger and more obvious reminder of our baptism when we bless ourselves directly from the baptismal font.  We will be led directly to the proposed location of the baptismal font from whichever door we enter the church.  From here, we will bless ourselves with its water, reminding ourselves of our baptism; the same baptism by which we have not only the right, but the duty to participate in the public worship of the people of God.

You can read and view more about the design concept in the parish centre and at

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Church Renewal: The Placement of the Baptismal Font

Carmel Bulletin, 13 September 2015

Church Renewal ProcessFr Paul is currently sharing with everyone the design concept for the renewal of our church.  One feature of this design is the provision of a new fixed, dignified space for the celebration of baptism.

The font should be free-standing so that the family and ministers can gather around it.  It should be visible to the assembly who will frequently participate in the celebration of baptism.  The font located in the midst of the liturgical assembly speaks of the common priesthood of the faithful…

And when churches are to be built (national guidelines for the building of churches), article 394

Locating the baptistery at the intersection of the church aisles will make it clearly visible, and provide space for the celebration of the sacrament, and for those participating in baptism celebrations to sit to stand near the font (aided also by some reconfiguration of seating).  At the Easter Vigil, the elect will be baptised in the midst of the Church into which they are being initiated; the Church that shares in Christ’s death and resurrection and thus also in the priestly duty of offering sacrifice and praying to God for the needs of humanity.

Baptism is the first sacrament, the way by which people enter the Catholic Church.  The font will be clearly visible from each entrance, and those entering the church are led directly to the font.

A clear relationship between the font and the church entrance expresses the fact that this sacrament of Christian initiation brings the baptised person into the Church which celebrates the liturgy.

And when churches are to be built, article 395

You can read and view more about the design concept in the parish centre and at

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Church Renewal: Reflecting the Importance and Dignity of Baptism

Carmel Bulletin, 6 September 2013

Church Renewal ProcessLast weekend, Fr Paul shared with everyone the design concept for the renewal of our church.  This brings to completion a thorough period of parishioner formation, consultation and planning.

As articulated in the guiding concepts for this process, one intention within this process is to reflect as much as possible the liturgical principles of the Second Vatican Council.  We asked the architect, Jesse Mowbray, to ensure that a fixed, dignified space was provided for the celebration of baptism.

The Church’s General Introduction to Christian Initiation (no 25) states that

the baptistery or the area where the baptismal font is located should be reserved for the sacrament of baptism and should be worthy to serve as the place where Christians are reborn in water and the Holy Spirit.

The Book of Blessings affirms this, saying that

the baptistery or site of the baptismal font is rightly considered to be one of the most important parts of a church” (no 1080).

The importance of the Sacrament of Baptism as the first sacrament means that it should have a dedicated space for its celebration, which includes a fixed, gracefully constructed font.  Our current baptistery doesn’t work as the place where baptisms are celebrated, but rather where the (moveable) baptismal font is stored when baptisms aren’t celebrated.

The newly proposed space for the baptistery will provide dedicated space for the celebration of Baptism.  It will stand as a sign to all of the importance we give to this sacrament.  Next week, we will look at why we have proposed the specific location at the centre of the church.  In the meantime, you can read and view more about the design concept in the parish centre and at

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We Enter

Carmel Bulletin, 6 October 2013

[The] purpose [of the Introductory Rites] is to ensure that the faithful, who come together as one, establish communion…

General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), article 46

Actions of the Assembly

Actions of the Assembly

When we begin to celebrate Mass, we have already made a deliberate choice to be there.  We have entered the church, engaging in one of the first actions of the assembly that participates in the celebration.

We come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.  Our motivations for coming can vary as well.  Sometimes we come with a true desire to celebrate.  At other times we come seeking hope, comfort, or a sense of belonging.  Some of us may feel like our faith is strong, while others may be struggling, looking for answers or seeking reassurance.

Yet despite this broad diversity, we come together, united by our faith in Jesus Christ.  Whether we get here early, or scrape in just in time (perhaps having furiously fed and dressed the kids, and bundled them into the car, hoping we’ll get a parking spot somewhere near the church), we share “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5).  We remind ourselves of this when we bless ourselves with holy water; waters which we passed through at our initiation into the Church, passing like Christ from death to new life.

We come together as the Body of Christ in thanksgiving, to renew ourselves through the Eucharistic celebration that is the source and summit of our lives as Catholics.

At the end of this month, on the weekend of 26-27 October, we will celebrate Sunday Mass, guided by brief explanations of the various rites of the Mass and our role within them.  You can also learn more online now at

The Mass: sacrifice and praise

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27/6/10 – The Whole Body of Christ Celebrates the Liturgy, Part II

Over the coming weeks, we will continue to explore the liturgical principles which underpin our work in the Church Renewal Process.  A fortnight ago, we began to look at the first principle, namely:

The whole Body of Christ celebrates the liturgy

We discussed previously how the liturgy is an action of Christ and the Church.  All the people who gather together to celebrate form the Body of Christ and are called to participate fully, consciously and actively in the celebration.

We might understand this, and even believe that this sense of all the Church celebrating the liturgy is achieved at Sunday Mass.  There are other times, however, when this seems to be a greater challenge.

BaptismJust like the Eucharist, all the other sacraments and rites are celebrations of Christ and the Church.  Yet, when these celebrations occur at times when most of the parish isn’t present (Sunday afternoon, or a weekday morning, for example), there can be a perception that it is a “private” celebration.  This is especially the case at celebrations such as weddings, where many of the liturgical preparations are made by the families involved, and invitations and guest lists are prepared.

Wedding ringsThe Second Vatican Council was very clear in stating that none of the Church’s liturgical celebrations are ever private.  The challenge for us as a community then, is twofold.  Firstly, we need to be confident as a parish in fulfilling our responsibilities in these liturgical celebrations.  Are our parish liturgical ministers involved in areas such as music and art and environment, for example?  Secondly, we need to support those families directly involved in weddings, funerals, baptisms, confirmations and the like; inviting them into our community and assuring them that their “special day” is not only an occasion of great joy for them, but one of great joy for us all.