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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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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26/2/11 – Fasting and Abstinence

This week we celebrated Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of the season of Lent.  Ash Wednesday is a day of fast and abstinence.  In the past, rules about fasting and abstinence in the Church were clear and very well known.  Nowadays they are often not as well known as they used to be.  Are we required to fast?  Who should fast and when?  The following statements are from the Church’s Code of Canon Law, and are the key point of reference on the matter.

The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Fish Market, © FreeFoto.comAbstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.

Code of Canon Law, 1250-1253

Photo credit: FreeFoto.com


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19/2/12 – Lent and the Apostle’s Creed

AshesThis Wednesday the Church enters once again into the season of Lent.  During the season of Lent, the catechumens (those preparing to belong to the Church) enter into the final period of purification and enlightenment.  The journey of these elect during Lent is marked by more intense spiritual preparation, interior reflection and penance.

For those of us already baptised, our observance of Lent is an opportunity to journey in solidarity with the elect.  We commit ourselves again to our baptismal calling.  Our works of prayer, fasting and almsgiving allow us to focus intently once again on our relationship with God; the same relationship upon which the elect are focused at this time.  As such, both baptism and penance characterise the Lenten season.

The new English translation of the Missal, which we began to use last year, now allows for either the Nicene or Apostle’s Creeds to be prayed for the Profession of Faith during Mass.  The Apostle’s Creed is recommended in the Missal for the seasons of Lent and Easter, due to its connection with baptism.  As such, we will pray the Apostle’s Creed at Mass during the seasons of Lent and Easter.


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10/2/08 – “Giving Up” During Lent

What did you give up for Lent?

It’s a common question at the beginning of this liturgical season. Yet sometimes we can become preoccupied for forty days about what we won’t do again until Easter.

This doesn’t mean that we should not abstain from things of our choosing during Lent. We must, however, do so with a clear understanding of why we are doing so. The gospel reading for this First Sunday of Lent provides us with the example of Christ himself.

It’s a story we hear every year: Jesus retreats to the desert for forty days and is then tempted. Jesus’ purpose? To focus himself intently on how he will serve his Father. This is shown not only in the fact that this retreat precedes his public ministry, but also in the great commitment and resolve he shows against the devil.

So it must be when we engage in the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We do these things not simply for the sake of doing so, or because we believe others will think poorly of us if we don’t. Rather, we do so in order to remove the distractions that keep us from focussing intently on God and how we will be Christ to the world. By removing those distractions through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we create our own “desert”. Like Jesus, Elijah, and many others, this “desert” is a place where we step away from life’s temptations and allow God to speak to us.

It is such a retreat, a period of focussing intently on God that our catechumens also enter into during this Lenten season before their initiation. Please keep Mechelle in your prayers as she is elected by the Bishop and the Diocese to celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil. Don’t forget that all are welcome to come to the rite of election this Sunday, 10 February at 2:00 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

photo: Desert Leader