Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee


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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 www.olmcwenty.org.au/themass.

The Mass: sacrifice and praise


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It’s Not Just the Job of the People Up the Front

Carmel Bulletin, 29 October 2013

In the celebration of Mass the faithful form a holy people, a people of God’s own possession and a royal priesthood, so that they may give thanks to God and offer the unblemished sacrificial Victim not only by means of the hands of the Priest but also together with him and so that they may learn to offer their very selves. They should, moreover, take care to show this by their deep religious sense and their charity toward brothers and sisters who participate with them in the same celebration.

General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), article 95

When we come together to celebrate Mass, a number of people contribute to the celebration by serving in a ministerial role.  They may proclaim the Scriptures, lead the music or assist with the distribution of Communion.  Yet it is easy to forget that there is a much larger group of ministers participating each time we gather.

Actions of the Assembly

Actions of the Assembly

The assembly or congregation itself fulfils an important role.  “The celebration of the Eucharist is the action of Christ and of the Church” (GIRM 91, emphasis added), which involves every one of us.  Celebrating the Mass is not solely the task of the priest, or of those who serve the community in a particular way.  All of us are called to full, conscious and active participation in the liturgy.

This requires some effort and understanding on our part.  We all need to understand what we are doing when we celebrate Mass, and commit ourselves to doing it well.

To help us all to understand this more fully, we have set aside a weekend at the end of next month when we will celebrate Sunday Mass, guided by brief explanations of the various rites of the Mass and our role within them.  While pausing for these explanations during Mass will seem unusual, we hope they will benefit us all and deepen our understanding.  More information will be provided in the coming weeks.


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18/7/10 – Unity, Hierarchy, Order and Ministry

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 third principle, namely:

Unity, hierarchy, order and ministry

This principle is a reminder to us that every person has a role; a part to play in the life of the parish community, especially in its liturgical celebrations.

The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (see article 28) insisted that in the liturgy, each of us should do all, but only those things that our role requires us to do.  In other words, there should not be one or a few people doing everything.  Furthermore, as we’ve emphasised recent weeks, the celebration of the Mass is not task of the priest, but is an action of Christ and his Church (AKA: us!)

This means that our parish needs to have a full range of ordained and lay ministers who are properly formed and prepared to carry out their duties.  To celebrate the Mass, we require a large number of people – sacristans, art and environment ministers, altar servers, acolytes, music ministers and projector/computer operators, ministers of the word, collectors and ushers, people to present the gifts, extraordinary ministers of communion and the like.  These are a very significant way in which lay people can participate in the life of our community.

It also means that when someone is engaging in one of these ministries during Mass, they should not be doing any other ministry.  In our parish, for example, a number of Ministers of the Word are also Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.  It is fine for these people to carry out these ministries on different occasions.  Yet, when they are required to read or commentate at Mass, they cannot minister communion during that same celebration.

The various liturgical ministries of our parish are necessary for the effective celebration of the Mass.  They reflect our belief that we, the entire assembly gathered to worship, celebrate the Mass in unity with Christ and with each other.  We all have particular ways in which we participate in the celebration of Mass, and we need to encourage others to find ways in which they can serve the community through liturgical ministry.


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10/7/10 – Actuosa Participatio

At present, we are exploring the liturgical principles which underpin our work in the Church Renewal Process.  Having considered the liturgical presences of Christ, we now consider the second principle, namely:

Actuosa participatio

The Second Vatican Council called for all members of the Church to be led to full, conscious and active participation in the liturgy (see article 14).  It reflected a desire for us to reclaim the sense that we all celebrate the liturgy as one body in Christ.  It reflected a desire for us to reclaim the understanding that Christ is made present not just in the Eucharistic elements of bread and wine and the priest, but also in the proclaimed Word of God and the entire assembly that gathers to celebrate.

The Second Vatican Council not only called for full, conscious and active participation, but also insisted that it was our right and duty as baptised Catholics.  We should not be denied the opportunity to experience the liturgy as the centre of our lives.

The phrase “active participation”, however, has been the subject of debate over more recent years.  It is not simply about outward actions that people can see, or about everybody “doing something” during the Mass.  Active participation, rather, leads to a deep engagement in the paschal mystery that we celebrate; the death and resurrection of Jesus.  We don’t simply just observe the liturgy taking place.  Through our singing, reciting of responses and prayers, our gestures, silent prayer, and attitude towards the celebration, we are transformed, and our faith and relationship with God deepens.

Finally, the transformation that full, conscious and active participation in the liturgy brings about should make a difference to our lives outside of the four walls of the church as well as within them.  Not only is the liturgy the summit of our lives, but also its source; it nourishes, sustains and inspires us to go out (as we are reminded by the priest each week) “in peace to love and serve the Lord.”


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4/7/10 – The Liturgical Presences of Christ

At present, we are exploring the liturgical principles which underpin our work in the Church Renewal Process.  Having considered how the whole body of Christ celebrates the liturgy, we now consider the second principle, namely:

The liturgical presences of Christ

Hopefully we all agree that Christ is present in the Eucharist.  When I make that statement, some people will hear “Eucharist” and immediately think of the consecrated bread and wine which, during Mass, become the Body and Blood of Christ.  In this case, Christ is present in the Eucharist.

Yet since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960’s, we have also come to understand the term “Eucharist” to mean the Mass itself.  Using the word Eucharist in this way, we then are saying that Christ is present in the entire celebration of the Mass, not just communion.  Is this statement equally true?

The bishops of the Second Vatican Council (see article 7) referred back to the teaching of the Council of Trent, as well as to the gospels themselves, to remind us that while Christ is made present especially through Holy Communion, this is not the only way.  When we celebrate the Mass, Christ is also made present through the liturgical assembly; the entire community gathered together to pray and celebrate.  Christ is made present also through the priest who leads the assembly and celebrates the Mass in Jesus’ name.  Christ is also made present to us at Mass through the proclamation of the Word.  This was quite a shift in understanding for us as a Catholic community who, before then, were very much focused on the sacramental actions the priest performed during Mass.

So it is through all that we say and do together as a worshipping community that Christ is made present within us and amongst us during the celebration of the Eucharist.


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13/6/10 – The Whole Body of Christ Celebrates the Liturgy

This weekend, our parish is having its second meeting with Fr Stephen Hackett MSC in regards to our Church Renewal Process.  We will be working together to develop guiding concepts to inform those who will work on developing plans for our church.

This work, as Fr Stephen informed us at our last meeting in March, is underpinned by some key liturgical principles.  Over the coming weeks, we will explore each one in turn.  Let’s take a look at the first one now.

The whole Body of Christ celebrates the liturgy

Liturgical celebrations are not private acts.  Every liturgical celebration is a public action of the Church.  Even celebrations where there may be few “regular parishioners”, such as baptisms, weddings or funerals are considered by the Church to be public celebrations.

So who celebrates them?  Is Mass something which the priest celebrates and we observe?  The Second Vatican Council very clearly disagrees with this.  In the past, we may have had a sense that we couldn’t see or perhaps even understand the priest, and thus he celebrated or “said” Mass in our presence… or without us present if he so desired.

The Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy stated that the liturgy is celebrated by the entire body of Christ – that is, by Christ and his Church.  That means that all of us gathered together celebrate the liturgy united in and with Christ.  Through this, the Church becomes the sacrament (or symbol) of unity.  This means that we represent through signs that we can perceive with our senses our belief that the liturgy unites all of us as members of the Church.  It is the Church that calls forth and ordains ministers to serve as leaders of the liturgical celebration.  Both the priest and all of us gathered together to celebrate the liturgy make Christ present amongst us.