Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee


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We Stand

Carmel Bulletin, 27 October 2013

Actions of the Assembly

Actions of the Assembly

We Catholics are often known for our tendency in liturgy to never adopt a single posture for too long.  We are, though, people who pray with our whole bodies, not just with words, and the postures we adopt at different times during the Mass are part of this.

Basilica of St Mary Major, Rome

Basilica of St Mary Major, Rome

For many centuries, our church buildings lacked any form of seating.  At most, there may have been some benches, or places around the perimeter of the space for those whose age or health prevented them from standing for the whole celebration.  It seems hard to believe now that standing for the whole celebration would be our regular practice.

Standing remains the posture that we adopt to pray.  We stand as the children of God.  While a sense of unworthiness may have been more common in later centuries, in earlier times there was a sound understanding and belief that God’s grace makes it possible for us to stand before the Lord and pray for our needs.

We also stand for the proclamation of the Gospel, reflecting the importance of this proclamation as the high point of the Liturgy of the Word, when Christ particularly speaks to us.  We are also stand as people ready to respond to what we have heard; the call of the Gospel.

The Mass: Sacrifice and Praise


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16/10/11 – “The people rise and reply”

Recently we have been looking at the postures and gestures that we engage in during Mass.  Each is intended to help us direct our minds and hearts more intently towards what we are celebrating.

A few years ago now, a new edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal was introduced.  When it was implemented, it required us to make two changes to our practice as a liturgical assembly during the Mass.  One of these involved our posture after the priest has prepared the gifts of bread and wine.

After the priest prepares the gifts, he invites the assembly to pray.  Although it seems to be a routine action, this invitation is not without its significance.  The priest invites us to pray.  Our affirmative response makes clear our wish that the priest continue to lead us through the Eucharistic Prayer and the rest of the Mass.

Nowadays, we are required to stand immediately after the priest says “Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the Almighty Father.”    For many people, it seemed to be far more practical to do as we did previously, and stand after we responded to the priest’s invitation.

To stand immediately after the invitation, and then respond, makes our posture more consistent with other times of the Mass.  Standing is generally the posture the Church adopts when it prays.  While we also kneel at times, the Church does not pray sitting down – at least not during its liturgical celebrations.  We stand because we accept the invitation to prayer and now pray together once again as the body of Christ; this time in certain hope that Christ that is present within each of us will make himself present to us once more through the bread and wine that become his body and blood.


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9/10/11 – Standing Up (and bowing… and genuflecting) for What You Believe In

Recently we have been looking at the postures and gestures that we engage in during Mass.  Each is intended to help us direct our minds and hearts more intently towards what we are celebrating.

Last week, we looked at some of the gestures and postures that are used during the first part of the Liturgy of the Word, primarily the scripture readings.

After the homily, we stand for the Profession of Faith and the Prayer of the Faithful.  This is another time during the Mass where we stand as an assembly because we are actively engaged in the role of praying.

Given that we are often told to “stand up for what we believe in”, it seems to make sense that we stand when we profess our faith.  Outside of the Church, standing is a posture used for important occasions related to our beliefs and values, such as the national anthem or a minute’s silence on Anzac Day.  To sit for such things (unless we are unable to stand, of course) is considered inappropriate and disrespectful.  Standing can be interpreted as a sign of commitment, resolve and pride – all feelings that should exist within us when we profess our faith through the creed.

The creed has within it another gesture to acknowledge an important element of our faith.  Again, this is a gesture that has always been included in the missal, but has fallen into disuse.  During the Profession of Faith, when we recall the incarnation and Jesus becoming man, we bow.  Like other times when we bow, this is a sign of reverence, and is included in the rubrics of the missal for both the Niceno-Constantinopolitan and Apostle’s Creeds.  Furthermore, when we celebrate this aspect of our faith at Christmas time, the missal asks us to genuflect instead; thus requiring of us an even more profound sign of reverence on such an important occasion.

Finally, much of what I’ve written in Liturgy Links this year has been related to the introduction of the new English translation of the Roman Missal, which has gradually taken place since January.  This week, our parish finally received its copy of the new edition of the Missal, meaning we can now celebrate the Mass in its entirety according to the new translation.  You will notice differences to the Collect (Opening Prayer), Prayer over the Offerings and Prayer After Communion from now on.  Use of the new translation is mandatory in Australia from All Saints Day.


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2/10/11 – Postures, Gestures and the Gospel Proclamation

Recently we have been looking at the postures and gestures that we engage in duringMass.  Each is intended to help us direct our minds and hearts more intently towards what we are celebrating.

While some of the gestures of Mass have fallen into disuse, one that has not been lost is the gesture prior to the proclamation of the gospel.

Once the priest announces the gospel reading, each of us signs ourselves with the cross three times; once each on the forehead, lips and chest as we say (or sing) the response, “Glory to you, O Lord.”  Signing ourselves with the cross these three times serves as a prayer or petition in itself.  Through signing ourselves with the cross we ask that the word of Christ be always in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts.  In other words, we pray that all that we say and do in our lives may make the gospel of Jesus something very real for us today.

Posture is also an important part of the Liturgy of the Word.  During the Introductory Rites we stand, united as the Body of Christ that has been gathered and formed to share in the ultimate act of thanksgiving that is the celebration of the Eucharist.  Standing is also the typical posture for any time that the assembly prays during the liturgy, and the Introductory Rites include several different forms of prayer.

For the first and second readings, as well as the responsorial psalm, we sit and listen to the word of God.  The role of the assembly has changed here from praying, to listening to the scripture proclamations.  We stand again for the gospel, but not because we resume the role of praying.  We stand because the gospel is the high pointof the Liturgy of the Word.  God speaks to us through all of the readings, but Christ is particularly made present to us through the proclamation of the gospel.  The introduction to the Lectionary for Mass (book of readings) reminds us that “Christ himself is the centre and fullness of all of Scripture, as he is of the entire liturgy” (article 5).  Our standing for the gospel is a sign and acknowledgement of the particular importance of the gospel both in the celebration of Mass, and in our lives as Christians.


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13/4/08 – Everybody Stand Up

Those of you who have been reading this column since Easter will now be aware that there are some small changes occurring in the celebration of Mass from Pentecost Sunday.  In fact, there are only two changes that will affect the entire assembly; both have to do with our posture during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

After the gifts are prepared during Mass, the priest invites us to pray by saying:

Pray, my brothers and sisters, that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God the almighty Father.

We then respond with “May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands…”, and stand for the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer.

Starting from Pentecost Sunday, we will need to stand before we make this response.

Why?  We will now stand before we respond because the priest is inviting us to pray, and the Church always stands or kneels when it prays during Mass.  Our posture of standing or kneeling says something about our relationship with God.  When we stand at this time, we show our importance for the Eucharistic Prayer; the most important prayer of the Mass.

When we stand, we not only show how important the prayer is, but that we are ready, with the priest, to pray this prayer.  Our affirmative response to the priest’s invitation to pray allows him to proceed with the celebration of the Eucharist.

On the Sunday before Pentecost, we will remind you of this and the other change that will occur.  As you can see, the first change is simple; we’re just standing one sentence sooner.