Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee


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We Pray

Carmel Bulletin, 16 February 2014

THE_LORD__S_PRAYER_by_navalatanjjnnLast year, we began to look at some of the things we do as a liturgical assembly when we gather together to celebrate the Mass.

It seems to go without saying that one of the things we would do, perhaps the thing that we do, is pray.

Our prayer in the Mass takes on particular forms, words and patterns that have been shaped over centuries.  There are times where we are invited to pray collectively, each of us giving our voice to the communal prayer of the Church.  There are times when the priest gives voice to our communal praise and thanksgiving; the Eucharistic Prayer being the best example.

There are other times when we call to mind our own prayers and intentions.  Such times include the collect prayers of the Mass when the priest invites us: “Let us pray”.  In the Prayer of the Faithful, after the intention is named by the minister, we take a moment to make own prayer, before we ask God to hear us.  It is these personal prayers that we, the faithful, make that are “The Prayer of the Faithful”.  Silence in the Mass is important for those moments of personal prayer and recollection.

Actions of the Assembly

Actions of the Assembly

Silence is also important for us to be open to God’s response to us.  Prayer is not a one-way communication from us to God.  It is a dialogue between the human and the divine.  We are fortunate in our parish to be able to learn from the Carmelite example, where silence and contemplation are so highly valued as a means of allowing us to speak to God, and for God to speak to us.

Photo credit: The Lord’s Prayer by navalatanjjnn


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6/2/11 – What Happens At Mass, Part I

During the course of this year, we will gradually begin to use the texts of the revised translation of the Roman Missal.  This is not just a time when we need to learn new words, but will hopefully be an opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of the Mass.  Here we will take a closer look at what happens at Mass.

Obviously, before Mass begins, we have to come to the church.  Some people arrive quite early and prepare for Mass by taking time to pray, perhaps moving around the church for a time to pray before the images of saints and perhaps to pray before the Blessed Sacrament at the tabernacle.  Others arrive closer to starting time.  In any case, there should be some time for silent prayer before Mass.  What Fr Paul has encouraged us to do in recent months is not simply a matter of personal preference.  The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (no. 45) states that:

Even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner.

To arrive even a short time before Mass and engage in some silent prayer helps all of us to prepare for fulfilling our role as participants in the Eucharistic celebration.  It is an important role which requires the focus and attention of us all from beginning to end.

As such, arriving on time for Mass is very important.  There can be an unexpected situation that causes someone to be late on a rare occasion.  To be regularly late, however, means that you’re not ready and able to fulfil your role as a member of the liturgical assembly.  For better or worse, the concept of being “fashionably late” doesn’t apply to Mass!


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31/10/10 – More on Silence After Communion

We have been looking at the place of silence within the celebration of Mass over the past few weeks.  Last week, we looked at the place of silence during the Liturgy of the Word. 

We now conclude by returning to where we started – the period for silent prayer after communion.

During the Act of Penitence and Opening Prayer, the purpose of the periods of silence is to allow for the recollection of our thoughts and intentions.  The silent periods during the Liturgy of the Word allow us to reflect on the scriptures that are proclaimed and the message offered to us in the homily.

The period of silence after communion comes almost at the end of the Mass.  We have just received the Body and Blood of our Lord in the Eucharist.  As such, the period of silence after communion is a time for thanksgiving.

Sometimes after communion, we may also join together in singing a hymn of praise.  This allows us to collectively join in thanksgiving for the profound gift we have received, and for all the blessings we have been graced with.


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24/10/10 – Silence During the Liturgy of the Word

We have been looking at the place of silence within the celebration of Mass over the past few weeks.  Last week, we looked at the place of silence during the Act of Penitence and the Opening Prayer.

Another time during Mass when silence is encouraged is after each of the readings and the homily.

During the Act of Penitence and Opening Prayer, the purpose of the periods of silence is to allow for the recollection of our thoughts and intentions.  The silent periods we should observe during the Liturgy of the Word, however, have a different purpose.

After each of the readings, and again after the homily, we are encouraged to take time to reflect on what we have just heard.  We believe that when the scriptures are proclaimed at Mass, God speaks to us.  Furthermore, Christ is particularly made present to us through the proclamation of the gospel.  It is important, therefore, to meditate briefly on just what is the message that God has for us today in the readings.  Even if we are familiar with the story, each time we hear it we have the chance to pick up on something we haven’t focussed on before.

After the homily, we should take some time to consider what has been said to us, and how the scriptures proclaimed to us today may help to guide us as we go forth into the next week.

Some parishioners may recall some of priests of years past inviting to take a moment “to allow the Word of God to find a place within our hearts.”  This is a helpful way of understanding the purpose of silence within the Liturgy of the Word at Mass.


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17/10/10 – Silence During the Introductory Rites

Last week, we began to look at the place of silence within the celebration of Mass. 

One of the times during Mass when silence is encouraged is during the Act of Penitence (also known as the Penitential Rite) and after the invitation to pray.

At the Act of Penitence, the priest invites us to pray silently.  One example provided in the missal of how he may do this is: “My brothers and sisters, as we prepare to celebrate the sacred mysteries, let us call to mind our sins.”  The priest should then pause to allow us to pray.

The invitation makes clear to us the focus of our silent prayer at this time.  We are asked to be aware of our human frailty and limitations.  We are asked to recall those times when we have failed to live up to the example of Christ.  Conscious of our faults, we can then ask for the blessing of, and graciously acknowledge, the gentleness and compassion of God.

The Opening Prayer is preceded by the very simple invitation, “Let us pray”.  Again, the priest should allow us some time for silent prayer.  We come to the eucharistic celebration full of the joys and hopes, challenges and difficulties of the past week.  We have our own intentions, petitions, and causes for praise and thanksgiving.  This moment of silence allows us to bring these thoughts to mind as part of our own offering at this Mass.  The prayer the priest leads, which is often referred to as the “Collect”, can literally serve to collect together the prayers of each of us into the unified prayer of the Body of Christ gathered to celebrate the Eucharist.


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10/10/10 – Silence After Communion

Last week, Fr Paul advised us that the timing of the collections would change from this weekend.  Fr Paul’s main reason for doing this was to provide an uninterrupted period of time after communion.  Some people may recall that Fr Laurie doing a similar thing during his time as parish priest.

One of the things we can do after communion is engage in a period of silent prayer and reflection.  This is a very worthwhile practice, and I am sure that you will appreciate the opportunity to do this without having to stop for a collection.  After communion, however, is not the only time we are called to pause for silent prayer and reflection during the Mass.  The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (article 45) says the following:

Sacred silence also, as part of the celebration, is to be observed at the designated times. Its purpose, however, depends on the time it occurs in each part of the celebration. Thus within the Act of Penitence and again after the invitation to pray, all recollect themselves; but at the conclusion of a reading or the Homily, all meditate briefly on what they have heard; then after Communion, they praise and pray to God in their hearts.

Hopefully, as we get used to this change of collection times, our attention will be drawn again to the need to pause for silent contemplation during the Mass, and not just because the liturgical documents call for it.  As a Carmelite parish, time for silent prayer and reflection is important as it is part of who we are.

Quiet contemplation has always been part of the charism of the Carmelites.  Perhaps take some time before or after Mass to focus on our tabernacle and its artwork, inspired by the prophet Elijah’s encounter with God in the sheer silence on Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:11-14)