Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee


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14/10/12 – Fifty Years Since Vatican II – Noble Simplicity and Scripture

On Thursday, the Church marked the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.  During this Year of Grace, we have been invited to revisit the constitutions of Vatican II.  The first of these constitutions was on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium.

After addressing general principles that were to underpin the constitution’s understanding of the liturgy, it began to articulate some general norms that were to be observed when implementing the liturgical reforms the constitution would subsequently propose.

The first was that the liturgical rites were to be marked by a “noble simplicity”, that they be clear and generally comprehensible.  It should not, for example, be necessary for there to regularly be lengthy explanations needed during a liturgical celebration for people to understand that is taking place.

Gospel According to MarkAnother general principle was that of the importance of sacred scripture in liturgical celebrations.  Sacrosanctum Concilium called for an increased use of a wider range of scripture texts.  It emphasised the importance of good preaching, helping people to come to a better understanding of the scriptures and the liturgical rites.  Finally, the constitution also encouraged an more frequent use of what it called “Bible services”, especially on more important occasions during the liturgical year, and in places and on occasions when a priest is not available.

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5/2/12 – The Ambo

The Church is nourished spiritually at the table of God’s word and at the table of the eucharist: from the one it grows in wisdom and from the other in holiness. In the word of God the divine covenant is announced; in the eucharist the new and everlasting covenant is renewed. The spoken word of God brings to mind the history of salvation; the eucharist embodies it in the sacramental signs of the liturgy.

(Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass, article 10)

The amboRecently we looked at the increased use of scripture in liturgical celebrations since the Second Vatican Council.  The ambo, then, as the place where the scriptures are proclaimed, needs to be a permanent, prominent place suitable for its liturgical function.  Its use is reserved to the proclamation of the readings, the responsorial psalm and the Easter proclmation.  It may also be used for the homily and the prayer of the faithful.

There must be a place in the church that is somewhat elevated, fixed, and of a suitable design and nobility. It should reflect the dignity of God’s word and be a clear reminder to the people that in the Mass the table of God’s word and of Christ’s body is placed before them. The place for the readings must also truly help the people’s listening and attention during the liturgy of the word. Great pains must therefore be taken, in keeping with the design of each church, over the harmonious and close relationship of the lectern with the altar.

(Introduction, article 32)


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22/1/12 – The Year of Mark

Gospel according to MarkDuring much of Ordinary Time this year, we will listen to readings from the gospel according to Mark.  For Sundays we have three years worth of readings.  Year A is comprised mostly of Matthew; Year B, Mark; and Year C; Luke.  Parts of John are proclaimed during the Easter Season, and on other feast days and occasions across the three-year cycle.

It has not always been this way, however.  For a long time the same readings were proclaimed every year.  In the first half of the 20th century, biblical scholarship began to develop once again in the Church.  This was reflected in the proceedings at the Second Vatican Council, which began fifty years ago this October.  The Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy spoke of the importance of scripture in liturgical celebrations, and called for the larger, more extensive collection of readings we use today.

Sacred scripture is of the greatest importance in the celebration of the liturgy. For it is from scripture that lessons are read and explained in the homily, and psalms are sung; the prayers, collects, and liturgical songs are scriptural in their inspiration and their force, and it is from the scriptures that actions and signs derive their meaning. Thus to achieve the restoration, progress, and adaptation of the sacred liturgy, it is essential to promote that warm and living love for scripture to which the venerable tradition of both eastern and western rites gives testimony… In sacred celebrations there is to be more reading from holy scripture, and it is to be more varied and suitable.  (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, no. 24, 35)


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15/5/11 – What Happens at Mass, Part VIII – The Collect and Readings

The introduction of the new translation of the Roman Missal is not just a chance to learn new words, but will hopefully be an opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of the Mass.

Opening PrayerAfter the Gloria, we conclude the Introductory Rites with the Opening Prayer.  The opening prayer is also referred to as the collect.  As this name suggests, the prayer serves the purpose of collecting together the intentions of all the people who are assembled to celebrate the Mass together.  It then also helps us all to draw our minds towards what we are to celebrate.  After the priest invites us to pray, there should be a brief period of silence to allow us to bring our intentions to mind.

In the new English translation of the Roman Missal, each of the opening prayers has been revised.  We will more than likely be able to tell when the revised opening prayers are used, because their language and structure will change.

Deacon proclaiming the gospelAfter the opening or collect prayer, we then move into the Liturgy of the Word.  The scriptures are proclaimed and we participate by listening.

The main part of the Liturgy of the Word is made up of the readings from Sacred Scripture together with the chants occurring between them. The Homily, Profession of Faith, and Prayer of the Faithful, however, develop and conclude this part of the Mass. For in the readings, as expounded by the Homily, God speaks to his people, opening up to them the mystery of redemption and salvation, and offering them spiritual nourishment; and Christ himself is present in the midst of the faithful through his word.  By their silence and singing the people make God’s word their own, and they also affirm their adherence to it by means of the Profession of Faith.  Finally, having been nourished by it, they pour out their petitions in the Prayer of the Faithful for the needs of the entire Church and for the salvation of the whole world.

General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 55


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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.