Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee


Music and Hospitality

Carmel Bulletin, 14 August 2016

The Second Vatican Council’s instruction on music said: “One cannot find anything more religious and more joyful in sacred celebrations than a whole congregation expressing its faith and devotion in song” (Musicam Sacram, no. 16).  That, of course, is easier said than done!

While it may take effort to encourage everyone in the church to sing, it can also be easy to discourage singing.  Different factors can contribute to people feeling that they are not encouraged to join in the music that is being led by the music ministers.  In turn, we now have in the Church plenty of statistical and anecdotal evidence that proves that people’s engagement and connection with the music in liturgical celebrations is a key factor in them wanting to return to a particular parish community.

Parish Vision StatementAs part of our parish vision that all families feel supported, connected and valued as they live and grow in their faith, and our strategy to welcome all who come to worship, our Liturgy Committee and music leaders have been working on a way to develop a more focused and consistent music repertoire.  As it is developed and implemented, we hope this repertoire will help everyone in our parish know what we’re singing.



Liturgical Ministry Has a Spiritual Side

Carmel Bulletin, 30 August 2015

Commentator at MassOften when we consider the skills and gifts that a parishioner brings to liturgical ministry, we think of very practical things.  Music ministers obviously need to be able to sing or play an instrument.  Ministers of the Word need to be able to project their voice and speak clearly.  Altar servers need to be observant, aware of what is happening around them, and able to act and respond calmly and quietly.

Such skills that we see our ministers demonstrate each week are what we might describe as “technical” skills.  They are what are required in order to fulfil the functional elements of their role.  These, however, are only one part of a minister’s skill set.

We also need to consider what we might describe as “spiritual” skills.  These may not be as clearly measurable, but are equally important in exercising one’s ministry fully.  Recently, our Liturgy Committee began considering how our parish ministers express hospitality; how they make people feel welcome and encourage prayer and participation within their role.  Other traits as well, such as reverence, prayerfulness, humility and gratitude can all be found in ministers whose contribution to our community is motivated not by self-interest, but by their faith, their love of God, and their desire to be of service to others.

This week our community lost someone who dedicated himself to liturgical ministry (to say nothing of the many other ways he served our parish) for decades.  Those of us who served with Brian Flynn learnt much from him.  He showed us all that good liturgical ministers need to be both technically skilled and spiritually grounded.  Our parish has been enriched by his remarkable contribution.  May he rest in peace.

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Welcome and Hospitality

Carmel Bulletin, 14 June 2015

Parish Vision StatementRecently, the pastoral council facilitated a parish forum that was focused on our parish vision that all families feel supported, connected and valued as they live and grow in their faith.  At that forum, some people recalled the practice of a former parish priest, Fr Laurie, who encouraged us to greet each other once we had gathered for Mass.

I have written here previously about the timing and meaning of the Rite of Peace at Mass, and about hospitality at Mass.  What the reflections of those who were present raised, however, was the obvious need for hospitality as part of our liturgical ministry to each other, and as a part of extending welcome and support to those who, for whatever reason, find themselves at our church even though they are not a regular participant in our celebrations.

One of the strategies that the pastoral council has identified from the feedback given at the forum is to extend welcome to new parishioners and to all who come to worship.  Over the coming months, the Liturgy Committee will begin to look at this in greater depth, examining what genuine welcome and hospitality look like in the context of the liturgy and ministry, and what steps we can take to strengthen this aspect of our parish life.

Of course, however, that doesn’t leave everyone else off the hook!  The vision is not the pastoral council vision, or the liturgy committee vision, but the parish vision.  It is still up to every one of us to work together to make people feel like they can truly belong to our faith community.

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Carmel Bulletin, 8 February 2015

There’s a hardware retailer that has large, green stores all over the country that clearly trains its staff to do a very simple task.  Almost every time you pass an employee in the store, they make a point of saying hello.

The whole point of this is that people feel welcome.  If they feel welcome, then they’re more likely to return. That’s why many churches and parish communities have turned their attention to the hospitality they provide when people come to worship.

We certainly do our part; there may be people at the door handing out the Carmel and saying hello.  There may be tea and coffee available after Mass in the parish centre.  Yet this is only one part of the hospitality we need to provide.

Proclamation of the Word

Photo © 2014, Alphonsus Fok, 321 Photography

The manner by which the priest leads the community in prayer, the way the Ministers of the Word prepare their readings and proclaim them well, and the way musicians support the assembly in the singing of acclamations and hymns are just some ways our liturgical ministers provide hospitality to those who gather to pray.

The Sign of Peace

Photo © 2014, Alphonsus Fok, 321 Photography

Yet we are all called to show hospitality to others.  It can be as simple as moving a little further down the pew to let someone else take a seat.  It’s the warm smile that comes with the words “Peace be with you” at the sign of peace.  If a visitor has a question, can we answer it, or direct them to someone who can help them?  Making sure that the church is clean also helps contribute to hospitality.

Parish Vision StatementHospitality, therefore, is everyone’s business.  It’s not just a job a few people volunteer to do, but something that is part of the culture of vibrant, welcoming parishes.  Not only does it encourage people to participate fully, consciously and actively in the liturgy, but it’s also crucial to us achieving our vision to help families feel connected, supported and valued.

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Formation Workshop for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion

Carmel Bulletin, 2 November 2014

Over the past week, thirty-four of our Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion participated in the annual formation workshop.

Parishioners coming forward to receive communion

© Alphonsus Fok, 3.2.1 Photography

We reflected upon the participation on everybody in the liturgical celebration.  The Mass is the celebration of Christ and his Church – the Church present at this time and place, united in prayer and faith with the Church universal and those gone before us marked with the sign of faith.

The focus of this workshop was to consider some of the qualities that our Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion possess.  Blessed (Pope) Paul VI, in his 1973 instruction, Immensae Caritatis, described those suitable for this ministry being people “whose good qualities… recommended them”.  We shared a number of qualities that are displayed by our ministers, and focused on four in particular:

  • Humility
  • Hospitality
  • Gratitude
  • Reverence

Parish Vision noticeboard in narthex - with reflections from formation workshopWe will discuss these qualities in greater detail in the coming weeks.  We also considered how these qualities, displayed and modelled by our ministers (and hopefully by all our parishioners), allow us to contribute in a small way to the realisation of our parish vision that all families feel connected, supported and valued as they live and grow in their faith.  That is why you will find some of our discussion recorded and displayed on our parish vision board in the narthex today.

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18/11/12 – Church Renewal Committee Report and Name Tags

Church Renewal Process

Church Renewal Committee Report

The Church Renewal Committee met this week with architect Jesse Mowbray.  Jesse outlined to the committee the terms of the Client and Architect Agreement and responded to questions.  The committee passed the motion that Fr Paul sign the agreement, which formally commissioned Jesse to develop three possible design concepts for the internal renewal of the church.  After completing exploratory work on the building, and spending time within the parish community during the rest of this year, Jesse will spend the first half of next year developing proposals of how the church can best be arranged to realise the vision articulated by parishioners through the consultation process.

Name TagName Tags

Following the recent formation workshops, Ministers of the Word and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion have been issued with name tags.  As time goes on, name tags will be provided to other ministers and parishioners who request them.

Your name tag, of course, is only useful if you wear it!  Fr Paul would like to see everybody who has a name tag wearing it so we can all get to know each other a little more, and at least be able to call people by name more often.  It’s a simple way of strengthening our relationships with each other and building up our parish community.  So please remember to bring your name tag with you to Mass.

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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.