Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee


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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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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.