Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee


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Reverence

Carmel Bulletin, 15 February 2015

In time past, going to church looked different to what it does today.  Certainly a lot of that has to do with how the church looked and how the Mass was celebrated.  But it also has something to do with the “little things” that we do.

Dressing up in our “Sunday best” was just the beginning of a whole collection of gestures and actions that were considered signs of reverence for our God who we worship and who is present with us when we worship.

Photo © 2014, Alphonsus Fok, 321 Photography

Photo © 2014, Alphonsus Fok, 321 Photography

Some people comment that such reverence is lost today, or at least not what it used to be.  Yet within our rituals, acts of reverence are still present and encouraged.  Genuflecting to the real presence of Christ in the tabernacle; bowing to the altar upon which Christ is made present, also to the Blessed Sacrament before we receive it; signing ourselves with the cross at the proclamation of the Gospel; the postures of standing and kneeling; observing periods of silence before, during and after Mass.  These are just some of the acts of reverence that we are asked to observe.

Now some people may rightly point out that observing such external acts of reverence doesn’t mean that a person is necessarily committing themselves to a reverent attitude or manner internally.  Only that person and God will ever know for certain.  That doesn’t mean, however, that they are irrelevant or unnecessary.

Parish Vision StatementMindful and well-informed encouragement of reverent actions from a young age helps to shape a reverent attitude.  Furthermore, movements, actions and visuals (for all, but especially for children) can instantaneously communicate a profound meaning that is often harder to successfully articulate in words.

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9/10/11 – Standing Up (and bowing… and genuflecting) for What You Believe In

Recently we have been looking at the postures and gestures that we engage in during Mass.  Each is intended to help us direct our minds and hearts more intently towards what we are celebrating.

Last week, we looked at some of the gestures and postures that are used during the first part of the Liturgy of the Word, primarily the scripture readings.

After the homily, we stand for the Profession of Faith and the Prayer of the Faithful.  This is another time during the Mass where we stand as an assembly because we are actively engaged in the role of praying.

Given that we are often told to “stand up for what we believe in”, it seems to make sense that we stand when we profess our faith.  Outside of the Church, standing is a posture used for important occasions related to our beliefs and values, such as the national anthem or a minute’s silence on Anzac Day.  To sit for such things (unless we are unable to stand, of course) is considered inappropriate and disrespectful.  Standing can be interpreted as a sign of commitment, resolve and pride – all feelings that should exist within us when we profess our faith through the creed.

The creed has within it another gesture to acknowledge an important element of our faith.  Again, this is a gesture that has always been included in the missal, but has fallen into disuse.  During the Profession of Faith, when we recall the incarnation and Jesus becoming man, we bow.  Like other times when we bow, this is a sign of reverence, and is included in the rubrics of the missal for both the Niceno-Constantinopolitan and Apostle’s Creeds.  Furthermore, when we celebrate this aspect of our faith at Christmas time, the missal asks us to genuflect instead; thus requiring of us an even more profound sign of reverence on such an important occasion.

Finally, much of what I’ve written in Liturgy Links this year has been related to the introduction of the new English translation of the Roman Missal, which has gradually taken place since January.  This week, our parish finally received its copy of the new edition of the Missal, meaning we can now celebrate the Mass in its entirety according to the new translation.  You will notice differences to the Collect (Opening Prayer), Prayer over the Offerings and Prayer After Communion from now on.  Use of the new translation is mandatory in Australia from All Saints Day.


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19/7/09 – The Real Presence: Giving Due Reverence

Last time, I began to discuss the concern one correspondent raised of the seemingly diminishing sense of the “real presence”, that is, our belief that Christ is fully present in the bread and wine we consecrate at Mass, and thus consume as his body and blood. It is a belief that Catholics have held for many centuries, although different Christian Churches have different theological viewpoints and understandings. Some Christian Churches do not believe in Christ’s presence in the Eucharistic elements.

Bishop Manning has written on this topic many times, and has also noticed a change of attitude towards the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. A sense of the mystery of this great gift of Christ has been lost for many. As I said last time, I believe there are a number of factors that have contributed to this.

The first centres around the practices we teach our children from a young age around giving reverence to the Eucharist.

TabernacleWhenever we enter a church or a Blessed Sacrament Chapel where there is a tabernacle, we should genuflect towards it. We need to teach those learning about our faith about the lamp that burns alongside the tabernacle and its purpose of indicating the presence of Christ. During Mass, when we are next to receive communion, we should bow to acknowledge the presence of Christ in the Eucharist we are about to receive.

AltarWe also need to show appropriate reverence to the altar as the place where this mystery is realised. In churches where the tabernacle is in a separate Blessed Sacrament Chapel (as at Greystanes, Toongabbie, or Parramatta for example), the appropriate reverence upon entering the church is a bow to the altar. The altar should only be used for the celebration of the Eucharist, and only hold those things required for it. It is not merely a table where we rest things for the sake of convenience! When we celebrate the Eucharist, the altar is the centre around which we gather and is a key focal point, whereas the tabernacle would be a focal point at other times of personal prayer, devotion and adoration.