Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee


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The Sign of Peace

Part 4, Carmel Bulletin, 12 October 2014

The Sign of Peace

Photo © 2014, Alphonsus Fok, 321 Photography

The Rite of Peace is described in the Missal as an action that symbolises “peace, communion and charity” (Roman Missal, Order of Mass, no. 128).

When we look closely at the text for this rite, we can see the gift of peace that this rite symbolises:

Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles: Peace I leave you, my peace I give you… (no. 126)

Here we quote the gospel according to John, more specifically a part of this gospel’s account of the Last Supper:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I am coming to you.” If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I.  (John 14:27-28, NRSV)

There is no greater sign of Christ’s presence with us than his presence in the Mass, particularly in the sharing of his own Body and Blood.  The Eucharist binds us into unity with Christ and with each other – all of us who share in one bread and one cup.  How appropriate, then, that we prepare for this communion by recognising Christ as the source of true peace, peace the world cannot give, and pray that God will “graciously grant [the Church] peace and unity in accordance with [God’s] will.”


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The Sign of Peace

Part 3, Carmel Bulletin, 5 October 2014

The Sign of Peace

Photo © 2014, Alphonsus Fok, 321 Photography

The Sign of Peace leads us into the breaking of the bread and reception of Holy Communion.  Previously, however, suggestions had been made that it could be better celebrated elsewhere during the Mass.

One suggestion that is made sometimes is to move the Sign of Peace after the Prayer of the Faithful, before the gifts of bread and wine are brought forward.

While this is not the practice in the Roman Catholic Church, it is followed in some other Christian traditions.  The placement of the Rite of Peace at this time is connected directly with a teaching from the Sermon on the Mount as given in the Gospel according to Matthew:

The Presentation of the Offerings

Photo © 2014, Alphonsus Fok, 321 Photography

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. (Mt 5:23-24, NRSV)

Like the placement of this rite in the Introductory Rites of Mass, the focus shifts to that of reconciliation.  While this could be one way of understanding the rite, the focus of the rite as we celebrate it is somewhat different.  When we look at the words the priest says within the rite, they are not about forgiveness and repentance, even if we ask God to “look not on our sins” (Roman Missal, Order of Mass, no. 126).

As an action that symbolises “peace, communion and charity” (Roman Missal, Order of Mass, no. 128), the Rite of Peace continues to remain in place as part of the Communion Rite.


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The Sign of Peace

Part 2, Carmel Bulletin, 14 September 2014

The Sign of Peace

Photo © 2014, Alphonsus Fok, 321 Photography

The Sign of Peace leads us into the breaking of the bread and reception of Holy Communion.  Previously, however, suggestions had been made that it could be better celebrated elsewhere during the Mass.

One suggestion that is made sometimes is to move the Sign of Peace to the Introductory Rites of the Mass.  If this had happened, however, it would change the meaning of the ritual.

The Introductory Rites of the Mass

Photo © 2014, Alphonsus Fok, 321 Photography

The Introductory Rites are focused on gathering the assembly together and preparing us for the celebration of the Eucharist.  Is the Rite of Peace, however, about welcoming?  There is certainly a place for acts of welcome, but there are more appropriately fulfilled in the hospitality we provide as people arrive at the church, and in introductory comments that may be made before Mass begins.  Furthermore, the priest’s greeting (such as “The Lord be with you”) is in itself an act of welcome.

If the Rite of Peace was to be placed later in the Introductory Rites, then it would sit more closely with the Penitential Act.  This may seem to make sense at first.  Yet this then gives the Rite of Peace a character and tone that is related to penance and forgiveness, which again wasn’t originally anticipated.  It would potentially draw out the penitential aspect of the Introductory Rites even further and may give the sense that this is the primary focus of the beginning of the Mass.


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14/8/11 – What Happens At Mass, Part XV: The Communion Rite

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.

After the Eucharistic Prayer, we enter into our celebration of the Communion Rite.

This begins with the Lord’s Prayer, the words that Christ himself gave us.  Amongst the petitions this prayer makes, we ask God to give us our daily bread, just as we are about to receive the bread that has become the body of Christ.

Following the Lord’s Prayer is the Rite of Peace.  Just as we are about to partake in the communion which binds us together as one body in Christ, we are reminded in this profound symbol of our unity as the people of God in this community.  The profound impact of this symbolic ritual comes when we truly commit ourselves to sharing a sign of peace to all those around us – not just those people who we consider to be our friends.  The peace that only Christ can give is offered to all, and the true challenge of the Christian life is to pray that this peace is experienced by all we encounter.

The FractionAfter the Rite of Peace is the Fraction (or the Breaking of the Bread).  Just as the bread of the last supper was blessed, broken and shared, so too is the consecrated bread and wine that is given to us as a gift.  Even though we (and most other parishes) use individual hosts for the sake of practicality, these should be shared out into the patens that are to be used, and a large host should be consecrated that can be broken up and shared amongst some of the gathered assembly.

Although it happens in many parishes, the Fraction Rite is not a time to be filling patens with hosts taken from the tabernacle.  In fact, the Missal and its introduction (the General Instruction of the Roman Missal) do not make any mention of going to the tabernacle before communion.  Rather, the General Instruction makes clear that the communion we receive should have been consecrated at that Mass.

It is most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the instances when it is permitted, they partake of the chalice, so that even by means of the signs Communion will stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.

General Instruction of the Roman Missal, article 85


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21/6/09 – Swine Flu Measures

You may have noticed last weekend that some of our common practices at Mass changed. Unlike last year, these changes are only temporary, and are not prompted by rewritten liturgical documents.

Rather, they have been brought about by the current spread of H1N1 influenza (also known as swine flu). Given that there are reported cases in Western Sydney, and we all need to do what we can to minimise the risk of infection, Bishop Manning made several recommendations to minimise physical contact and the transfer of germs.

Therefore, for the time being, the following measures will be in force:

  1. The holy water stoups at the church doors will be empty
  2. Communion will only be offered under the form of bread
  3. Communion will only be given on the hand, not on the tongue
  4. The sign of peace will not be given by shaking hands

As we would all agree, none of these measures are desirable, but are necessary until the risk of infection passes.

Furthermore, we advise Communion Ministers to wash their hands with soap and warm water before and after communion. This can be done in the sacristy during the Lord’s Prayer and immediately after ministering communion.

These measures will take some getting used to, and it will feel strange to go without blessing ourselves with holy water, shaking hands, or receiving communion from the chalice. We all hope and pray for the health of all, and that the risk of this influenza passes as quickly as possible.

You may have noticed last weekend that some of our common practices at Mass changed. Unlike last year, these changes are only temporary, and are not prompted by rewritten liturgical documents.

Rather, they have been brought about by the current spread of H1N1 influenza (also known as swine flu). Given that there are reported cases in Western Sydney, and we all need to do what we can to minimise the risk of infection, Bishop Manning made several recommendations to minimise physical contact and the transfer of germs.

Therefore, for the time being, the following measures will be in force:

1. The holy water stoups at the church doors will be empty

2. Communion will only be offered under the form of bread

3. Communion will only be given on the hand, not on the tongue

4. The sign of peace will not be given by shaking hands

As we would all agree, none of these measures are desirable, but are necessary until the risk of infection passes.

Furthermore, we advise Communion Ministers to wash their hands with soap and warm water before and after communion. This can be done in the sacristy during the Lord’s Prayer and immediately after ministering communion.

These measures will take some getting used to, and it will feel strange to go without blessing ourselves with holy water, shaking hands, or receiving communion from the chalice. We all hope and pray for the health of all, and that the risk of this influenza passes as quickly as possible.