Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee


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Saying Amen

Carmel Bulletin, 8 November 2015

It is the shortest response that we make at any time during the Mass.  It is the most common response.  It is also, I believe, the most important.

The word Amen is a word by which we give assent or affirmation to what has been said.  Often it is described as meaning “so be it”.

Priest leading the Collect Prayer

© Alphonsus Fok, 321 Photography

The response Amen allows the assembly to give its voice to its prayers that are led by the priest.  We confirm that we worship in the name of the Trinity.  We affirm our profession of faith.  The Eucharistic Prayer, with its praise, petition and thanksgiving, comes to its completion with the Great Amen; a response considered so important that it should be sung.

Receiving communion from the chalice

© Alphonsus Fok, 321 Photography

It is interesting, therefore, that some people seem reluctant to respond to the priest, deacon or Extraordinary Minister when they receive communion.  The declarations “The Body of Christ” and “The Blood of Christ” deserve our heartfelt response.  To say Amen is to declare our belief that we are receiving Christ himself.  Not only that, but as St Augustine once explained, we declare our belief that Christ is present within us, and that we say Amen to both what the Eucharist is, and what we are.

To say Amen when we receive communion is a powerful expression of our faith.  So don’t be afraid to speak up!  Say Amen.


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Communion of the Sick

Carmel Bulletin, 15 June 2014

Communion of the SickLast week, Fr Paul wrote about the small change that will occur to the sending forth of ministers taking Communion to the sick.  This change comes into effect next weekend.

The intention is that this sending forth of ministers will now form a part of the blessing and dismissal rites at the end of Mass.  We are all sent forth at the end of Mass to be the Body of Christ to our brothers and sisters and we, as a community, send forth those ministers to go out into the world to serve in a particular way.

It is important that those taking Communion to the sick participate in this rite, and be entrusted with the Eucharist at the end of the Mass, rather than coming to request Communion from the tabernacle afterwards.  There may be rare occasions where this is unavoidable.  The practice of being sent forth from the Mass, however, is to be the norm in our parish.

The practice of calling the ministers forward to receive Communion for the sick is not about drawing attention to those ministers.  Rather, it is about drawing our attention to those who they will visit.  We all have a responsibility to keep the sick and housebound of our parish in our thoughts and prayers.  We should take the time to enquire occasionally about their ongoing health and offer support and assistance.  Finally, we have a duty to ensure that we support those who care for the sick, and keep them in our thoughts and prayers as well.


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Ministry to the Sick

Carmel Bulletin, 8 June 2014

An important aspect of our pastoral care of each other is prayer for and outreach to our fellow parishioners who are unwell.Communion of the Sick

It is heartening to see that many parishioners are certainly mindful of others who are unwell and assiduous in commending them to our prayers.  A number of parishioners also take Holy Communion to those who are unwell.  At times, spouses or other family members perform this service for each other.  In other cases, a parishioner functions as a “Special Minister of the Eucharist” and takes Holy Communion to the sick who request it.  Please be aware that either means of taking the Eucharist to the sick is appropriate and encouraged.  If you would like to know more about providing the Eucharist to a sick family member or fellow parishioner, please speak about it to one of the Priests in the first instance.

It is most desirable that those who take the Eucharist to the sick are seen to do so as an extension of the community’s celebration of the Eucharist and are commissioned by the worshipping community, through the Priest, at the end of Mass.  This is why we have a special commissioning of Ministers of the Eucharist to the Sick at the end of Mass.  To emphasise the link between the worshipping community’s celebration of the Eucharist and the taking of the Eucharist to the sick after Mass, we will be slightly repositioning when this commissioning takes place.  Beginning from the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (the special feast in honour of the Eucharist) on the weekend of 21 & 22 June, Special Ministers of the Eucharist to the Sick will be commissioned after the Notices and the Prayer after Communion (rather than before, as is currently the case) – and immediately before the Final Blessing and Dismissal.  These Ministers will be invited to process from the Church with the Priest and servers, as a way of symbolising that they are taking Holy Communion to the Sick as an extension of the community’s celebration of the Eucharist.

Fr Paul


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We Taste

Carmel Bulletin, 16 March 2014

Actions of the Assembly

Actions of the Assembly

When we look at the actions we engage in as an assembly, tasting is a rather specific one.  It is one of the few actions that relate to one part of the Mass.

The action of tasting reminds us that “in the liturgy the sanctification of humankind is signified by signs perceptible to the senses” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, article 7).  Christ makes himself present to us through our simple gifts of bread and wine.

These gifts change in substance, that is, they become the Body and Blood of Christ, but to our senses of touch, taste, smell, taste and hearing, they bear the appearance of the food and drink Christ shared with his disciples at the Last Supper.

Communion from the ChaliceDespite the fact that it becomes holy food for us, it should not lose its sense of being food.  The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states that “by reason of the sign, it is required that the material for the Eucharistic Celebration truly have the appearance of food” (article 321).  The Eucharistic bread should appeal to the senses and look and taste like bread.  Furthermore, “the wine for the celebration of the Eucharist must be from the fruit of the vine (cf Lk 22:18), natural and unadulterated…” (article 322).  We are also called to taste Christ’s self-giving to us in all its fullness:

“Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it takes place under both kinds.  For in this form the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is more clearly evident and clearer expression is given to the divine will by which the new and eternal Covenant is ratified in the Blood of the Lord, as also the connection between the Eucharistic banquet and the eschatological banquet in the Kingdom of the Father” (article 281).

Again, while we acknowledge our limitations before receiving Communion, saying “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…”, Christ, through his grace, invites us to receive him under the ordinary forms of bread and wine; to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).


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4/3/12 – CommUNION

Recently, Fr Paul has written in Carmel reminding us of some matters concerning the celebration of Communion during Mass.

Communion ProcessionAsking all of us to be consistent in how we process to the front of the church and receive communion is not simply about efficiency, safety and the like.

A common bodily posture, to be observed by all those taking part, is a sign of the unity of the members of the Christian community gathered together for the Sacred Liturgy, for it expresses the intentions and spiritual attitude of the participants and also fosters them.

General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 42

As Fr Paul has also reminded us, when approaching to receive communion, we are asked to bow towards the Blessed Sacrament being given to us as a sign of reverence.  This allows us to offer a common sign of reverence whilst maintaining the flow of the communion procession.

Once we have received communion, the procession continues as we return to our seats.  Everyone is encouraged to spend time in silent prayer after receiving communion, and people may choose to do this whilst kneeling or sitting.  It is only at our seat, however, that this silent prayer should take place.

Praying at the Marian Shrine or at the images of the saints, and asking for their intercession is something that many people find spiritually nourishing, but this is only appropriate before or after Mass.  During Mass, our focus is rightly upon Christ, whose death and resurrection we celebrate, and whose body and blood we receive in holy communion.


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21/8/11 – What Happens At Mass, Part XVI: The Invitation to Communion

The introduction of the new translation of the Roman Missal is not just a chance to learn new words, but will hopefully be an opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of the Mass.

The Invitation to CommunionWhen the priest invites us to enter into communion, we respond by saying we are unworthy to receive Christ in the eucharist, but will accept God’s desire to heal us of our human frailty.  This response has been revised in the new translation, and probably sounds the strangest of the Mass texts to those who haven’t heard it before or are not aware of its origins:

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

While we are about to receive communion, the “roof” in this response has nothing to do with the roof of our mouths!  Like other texts that have been revised in the new translation of the Missal, this response bears a scriptural image that has been restored in this edition.

This response to the invitation to communion finds its origins in chapter 8:5-13 of the gospel according to Matthew.  A Roman centurion appeals to Jesus to heal his servant, who is ill.  Despite the centurion being symbolic of the “enemy” is this occupied Jewish territory, Jesus is willing to fulfil the request, and intends to visit the servant at the centurion’s home.  The centurion responds, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.”

As such, when we respond to the priest’s invitation to communion, we echo the thoughts and the words of the centurion’s servant.  We are not worthy to receive the body and blood of Christ in holy communion.  Yet this is also a reminder and acknowledgement of the remarkable gift we receive.  We are truly healed, strengthened and nourished for the Christian journey.  As St Augustine once described it, we “become what we receive”, or “say ‘Amen’ to that which we are”, the body of Christ.

And as Jesus explains at the end of this encounter with the centurion, God’s will is done within us because of our faith.


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14/8/11 – What Happens At Mass, Part XV: The Communion Rite

The introduction of the new translation of the Roman Missal is not just a chance to learn new words, but will hopefully be an opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of the Mass.

After the Eucharistic Prayer, we enter into our celebration of the Communion Rite.

This begins with the Lord’s Prayer, the words that Christ himself gave us.  Amongst the petitions this prayer makes, we ask God to give us our daily bread, just as we are about to receive the bread that has become the body of Christ.

Following the Lord’s Prayer is the Rite of Peace.  Just as we are about to partake in the communion which binds us together as one body in Christ, we are reminded in this profound symbol of our unity as the people of God in this community.  The profound impact of this symbolic ritual comes when we truly commit ourselves to sharing a sign of peace to all those around us – not just those people who we consider to be our friends.  The peace that only Christ can give is offered to all, and the true challenge of the Christian life is to pray that this peace is experienced by all we encounter.

The FractionAfter the Rite of Peace is the Fraction (or the Breaking of the Bread).  Just as the bread of the last supper was blessed, broken and shared, so too is the consecrated bread and wine that is given to us as a gift.  Even though we (and most other parishes) use individual hosts for the sake of practicality, these should be shared out into the patens that are to be used, and a large host should be consecrated that can be broken up and shared amongst some of the gathered assembly.

Although it happens in many parishes, the Fraction Rite is not a time to be filling patens with hosts taken from the tabernacle.  In fact, the Missal and its introduction (the General Instruction of the Roman Missal) do not make any mention of going to the tabernacle before communion.  Rather, the General Instruction makes clear that the communion we receive should have been consecrated at that Mass.

It is most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the instances when it is permitted, they partake of the chalice, so that even by means of the signs Communion will stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.

General Instruction of the Roman Missal, article 85