Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee


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Serving Others

Carmel Bulletin, 4 June 2017

You may have heard the saying:

You can please some people all of the time, or everyone some of the time, but you can never please everyone all the time.

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Photo: Alphonsus Fok, © 321 Photography

Imagine, then, trying to consider the needs and desires of a parish community as diverse as ours when it comes together to celebrate the liturgy.  Pleasing everyone starts to become a monumental task!

Certainly it is important for those who prepare liturgical celebrations (such as liturgy committees, priests, musicians, sacristans, artists…) to consider what will draw people into prayer and shape and form them as disciples of Christ.  Trying to define a ‘typical parishioner’, however, and make choices to suit their particular tastes will result in a celebration that may appeal to some, but ultimately alienate others who don’t fit that mould.

While liturgical ministers have a responsibility to prepare and lead good liturgical celebrations, it is up to all of us to give a little as well.  Sacrificing some of what we ‘like’ during Mass so that everyone finds something that moves and engages them in the liturgy can be a challenge, but is ultimately an act of service where we seek to be mindful of the needs of others.


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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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Roles of the Sacristan: Preparing for Mass

Carmel Bulletin, 16 August 2015

The role of the sacristan, or of the group of volunteers who attend to the work of the sacristy, is an important ministry in any parish.  These ministers not only assist the priest, but support the entire assembly to participate fully, consciously and actively in liturgical celebrations.

The most typical responsibility of sacristans is to prepare what is required for the celebration on Mass.  In our parish, with Mass celebrated every day and five times on Sunday, a team of people take responsibility for different Masses.

lectionary

The Lectionary for Mass contains the Scripture readings used at Mass

So that everything is in place to celebrate the Liturgy of the Word, sacristans will check to see that the Lectionary for Mass is open to the correct readings for the day and is left where the Minister of the Word can look over the texts before Mass.  They ensure that the commentary and commentator’s lectern are ready on Sundays, as well as the Book of Gospels.

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The credence table prepared for the Mass of the Supper of the Lord on Holy Thursday

So that the Liturgy of the Eucharist can be celebrated, sacristans prepare the bread and wine and the sacred vessels such as chalices (cups) and patens (plates).  The credence table at the side of the sanctuary is prepared with purificators (linen cloths for wiping the chalices), the corporal (white cloth the bread and wine are placed on for the Eucharistic Prayer) the water cruet, the lavabo bowl (for the priest to wash his hands) and towel.

The missal and other texts the priest needs to refer to need to be prepared for the day.  Candles, incense and other requirements may also need to be prepared by the sacristan (servers may also assist).

As you can see, there is a lot of crucial “behind the scenes” work that sacristans do, even for the regular daily Mass.

Learn more about Preparing the Church for Mass, the vessels, linens and other items used at the Together at One Altar website


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Roles of the Sacristan: Preparing for Liturgy

Carmel Bulletin, 9 August 2015

The role of the sacristan, or of the group of volunteers who attend to the work of the sacristy, is an important ministry in any parish.  These ministers not only assist the priest, but support the entire assembly to participate fully, consciously and actively in liturgical celebrations.

One responsibility sacristans have is to prepare for specific liturgical times and celebrations.  While music ministers will organise and rehearse music for different seasons and special occasions, the priest will prepare a homily, and other ministers will hang banners and arrange flowers, sacristans are reviewing previous practices and the requirements outlined in the liturgical books for each season and major feast.

Candles prepared for the assembly’s use at the Easter Vigil Mass

It will mean, for example, that sacristans are attentive to the fact that the sanctuary cannot be decorated with flowers during Lent.  They will often prepare a checklist for a major occasion such as the Easter Vigil Mass, remembering that it has additional requirements such as firewood, candles for the entire assembly, incense nails, and all the items for the baptismal liturgy.  They will be prepared for the fact that additional seating is required in the sanctuary when the Mass will be concelebrated by several priests.

Attention to these details is essential to ensuring that there isn’t a frantic rush to organise something minutes before Mass begins, or an awkward, embarrassing “break in the program” once it is realised that something crucial is still out the back in a cupboard.  With all aspects of the celebration well prepared, the entire assembly, as well as those leading them, can focus their minds and hearts more deeply on prayer and an encounter with Christ himself.


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Roles of the Sacristan: The Calendar

Carmel Bulletin, 2 August 2015

The role of the sacristan, or of the group of volunteers who attend to the work of the sacristy, is an important ministry in any parish.  These ministers not only assist the priest, but support the entire assembly to participate fully, consciously and actively in liturgical celebrations.

There are many responsibilities that are carried out by sacristans.  Books like The Sacristy Manual (by G Thomas Ryan) outline their tasks and give advice regarding the traditions, customs and practices they need to be familiar with.

One responsibility of the sacristan is to ensure that the liturgical calendar for the parish is observed and implemented on a daily basis.

Ordo

The liturgical calendar gives details on the feast days to be observed throughout the year, and specifies the readings, prayers, liturgical colours and specific rituals to be used

This will often require some coordination with the parish priest and the parish office.  Sacristans use the liturgical calendar issued by the Australian Bishops (and in our parish, the Carmelite calendar issued by the Province as well) to ensure that the correct prayers, readings and coloured vestments are arranged and prepared for the celebration.

Ashes prepared for Ash Wednesday Mass

Some feast days allow for, or even require the celebration of particular rituals.  These need to be noted and considered well in advance, as sacristans may need to ensure that items are prepared for them.  Imagine celebrating Ash Wednesday without ashes!  As crazy as it sounds, it can easily happen if sacristans are not paying attention to the liturgical calendar and are caught unawares.

Other sacramental celebrations, events and unexpected celebrations such as funerals are inevitably added to the liturgical schedule of a parish.  Some are known well in advance, others come with only a few days’ notice.  Sacristans need to be aware of these as well to ensure that all is ready.  These are often occasions that bring many visitors to our church, and good preparation helps ensure that visitors feel welcome.


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Those Who Minister in the Sacristy

Carmel Bulletin, 26 July 2015

When we gather for Mass, there are people who have ensured that everything that is needed for that celebration has been prepared and is ready for our worship.

Sacristy

The sacristy is a room that is part of the church, specifically for the purpose of storing and preparing items that are required for liturgical celebrations

Enter the behind-the-scenes world of the sacristan…

Those who serve in the role of sacristan in a church can be responsible for a wide range of tasks and duties.  The General Instruction of the Roman Missal simply states that the sacristan “… diligently arranges the liturgical books, the vestments and other things that are necessary for the celebration of Mass” (no. 105).  Arranging these things will also mean that work needs to be done to ensure that what is required for Mass is clean, well-maintained, and in good supply.

As such, the role the sacristan can be quite extensive.  In cathedrals, there is often someone who is appointed and paid to work in this role.  In parishes, there may be a number of volunteers to assist as sacristans.  Some may prepare the church for a designated celebration each Sunday, while some others take the responsibility for tasks such as washing linen, cleaning the sacred vessels, or checking the supply of requisites such as bread and wine.

All of this is necessary to ensure that things are in order when we come together to celebrate.  Those who minister in the sacristy and help maintain liturgical items perform a valuable and necessary role for the good of our parish community.


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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.