Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee


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We Taste

Carmel Bulletin, 16 March 2014

Actions of the Assembly

Actions of the Assembly

When we look at the actions we engage in as an assembly, tasting is a rather specific one.  It is one of the few actions that relate to one part of the Mass.

The action of tasting reminds us that “in the liturgy the sanctification of humankind is signified by signs perceptible to the senses” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, article 7).  Christ makes himself present to us through our simple gifts of bread and wine.

These gifts change in substance, that is, they become the Body and Blood of Christ, but to our senses of touch, taste, smell, taste and hearing, they bear the appearance of the food and drink Christ shared with his disciples at the Last Supper.

Communion from the ChaliceDespite the fact that it becomes holy food for us, it should not lose its sense of being food.  The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states that “by reason of the sign, it is required that the material for the Eucharistic Celebration truly have the appearance of food” (article 321).  The Eucharistic bread should appeal to the senses and look and taste like bread.  Furthermore, “the wine for the celebration of the Eucharist must be from the fruit of the vine (cf Lk 22:18), natural and unadulterated…” (article 322).  We are also called to taste Christ’s self-giving to us in all its fullness:

“Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it takes place under both kinds.  For in this form the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is more clearly evident and clearer expression is given to the divine will by which the new and eternal Covenant is ratified in the Blood of the Lord, as also the connection between the Eucharistic banquet and the eschatological banquet in the Kingdom of the Father” (article 281).

Again, while we acknowledge our limitations before receiving Communion, saying “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…”, Christ, through his grace, invites us to receive him under the ordinary forms of bread and wine; to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).


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4/9/11 – What Happens At Mass, Part XVII: The Dismissal

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 communion, all in the assembly are invited to engage in silent prayer, or a thanksgiving hymn can be sung.  The Liturgy of the Eucharist then concludes with the Prayer After Communion.  The Concluding Rites then bring our celebration of the Mass to a close, sending us forth to proclaim the gospel to the world.

The Concluding Rites of the Mass typically include a blessing and a dismissal of the people.  The dismissal contains some new forms which previously did not exist.  Before the latest edition of the missal, the Latin edition had only one dismissal, “Ite, missa est.”  In the new translation, this is conveyed in English as “Go forth, the Mass is ended.”  The current translation guidelines, which insist on a word-for-word translation, would have resulted in this one form of the dismissal being included in the new English edition.

In 2008, three new options for the dismissal were added to the Latin edition of the Missal.  This was one recommendation from the 2005 Synod held in Rome for the Year of the Eucharist.  The desire of the synod bishops was to communicate more clearly the fact that we are sent forth from the Eucharist to be Christ to the world.  These were added to the Latin edition, and subsequently translated into English for our new edition of the missal.  The four forms for the dismissal are now:

Go forth, the Mass is ended.
Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.
Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.
Go in peace.

And then, motivated by the word, and nourished again by the Body and Blood of Christ, we can boldly and courageously move out into the world, responding fervently with the words, “Thanks be to God.”


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21/8/11 – What Happens At Mass, Part XVI: The Invitation to Communion

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.

The Invitation to CommunionWhen the priest invites us to enter into communion, we respond by saying we are unworthy to receive Christ in the eucharist, but will accept God’s desire to heal us of our human frailty.  This response has been revised in the new translation, and probably sounds the strangest of the Mass texts to those who haven’t heard it before or are not aware of its origins:

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

While we are about to receive communion, the “roof” in this response has nothing to do with the roof of our mouths!  Like other texts that have been revised in the new translation of the Missal, this response bears a scriptural image that has been restored in this edition.

This response to the invitation to communion finds its origins in chapter 8:5-13 of the gospel according to Matthew.  A Roman centurion appeals to Jesus to heal his servant, who is ill.  Despite the centurion being symbolic of the “enemy” is this occupied Jewish territory, Jesus is willing to fulfil the request, and intends to visit the servant at the centurion’s home.  The centurion responds, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.”

As such, when we respond to the priest’s invitation to communion, we echo the thoughts and the words of the centurion’s servant.  We are not worthy to receive the body and blood of Christ in holy communion.  Yet this is also a reminder and acknowledgement of the remarkable gift we receive.  We are truly healed, strengthened and nourished for the Christian journey.  As St Augustine once described it, we “become what we receive”, or “say ‘Amen’ to that which we are”, the body of Christ.

And as Jesus explains at the end of this encounter with the centurion, God’s will is done within us because of our faith.


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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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31/7/11 – What Happens At Mass, Part XIV: The Memorial Acclamations

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.

While the priest leads much of the Eucharistic Prayer on behalf of us all, there are three points where we add our own voices to this prayer of thanksgiving: the Sanctus (Holy, holy), Memorial Acclamation (“the mystery of faith…”) and the Great Amen.

In the previous English translation of the Missal, we had four memorial acclamations.  In the new translation, there are three.  If you have looked over the revised Order of Mass, you will see similarities between the past and present translations, but notice that the most commonly used acclamation, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” no longer exists.

Each of the three memorial acclamations we have now corresponds with one in the Latin edition of the Missal.  The former acclamation, “Christ has died…” was an additional acclamation, loosely based on the first Latin acclamation.  It was unique to the English edition of the Missal.

The current expectation that liturgical texts be translated according to the principle of formal equivalence (that is, a word-by-word translation as much as possible) means that there cannot be additional texts that do not exist in the Latin edition.  Yet there is another difficulty with the former “Christ has died…” acclamation that should cause us to question its suitability.

The entire Eucharistic Prayer is an act of thanksgiving addressed to God the Father.  In each of the revised Memorial Acclamations (and the former three apart from “Christ has died…”), we acclaim the mystery of faith by praying to God.  The acclamation “Christ has died…” did speak about God, but not to God.  The other former acclamations, as well as all of the new translations, allow our prayer to be directed to God, as is evident in the personal pronouns.  For example:

We proclaim your Death, O Lord,
and profess your Resurrection
until you come again.


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17/7/11 – What Happens at Mass, Part XIII: The Eucharistic Prayer

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.

The Eucharistic PrayerThe Eucharistic Prayer begins with a Preface specific to the season or feast (as we discussed last week), then continues with one of the prayers proper.  In the Missal we used prior to Vatican II there was one Eucharistic Prayer, the Roman Canon.  This is what we now know as Eucharistic Prayer I, for three more prayers were included in the Missal as part of the reform of the liturgy.  Since then, we have seen the introduction of additional Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation and for Various Needs and Occasions, amongst others.  Three Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with Children were also composed; these are in the process of revision and will be released in a separate book to the rest of the Missal.

Several of our present Eucharistic Prayers find their origins in much older ones.  While our Missal nowadays has a set number of Eucharistic Prayers which are used by the entire Church, the ancient Eucharistic Prayers of the past typically belonged to particular regions (such as a diocese) or group (perhaps a religious order).  It wasn’t until the invention of the printing press that it became possible to produce a single edition of the Missal for all parts of the world (in Latin, of course).

Each Eucharistic Prayer may have the following in a slightly different order, but each consists of the following components.  Listen carefully next time at Mass to see if you can identify them:

  • Epiclesis: we call upon the Holy Spirit to sanctify the offerings so that they may become the Body and Blood of Christ
  • Consecration: also referred to as the Institution Narrative, when we specifically recall the blessing and sharing of the bread and wine by Christ at the Last Supper, following his command to “do this in memory of me”
  • Remembrance: or anamnesis; we remember Christ’s death and resurrection, and the Church, in the hope that we may be all be united in that same death and resurrection
  • Intercession: we ask that those who have died, as well as all of us still living, may share in the eternal life Christ gained for us.

Through these elements of the Eucharistic Prayer, we recall the work of God throughout the history of salvation, we give thanks for the presence of God here and now, and we look forward to the promise of the resurrection.


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10/7/11 – What Happens At Mass, Part XII: The Preface

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 Prayer Over the Offerings, we enter into the Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer.  As I touched on last week, this always begins with three-fold dialogue between the priest and the people:

            The Lord be with you.                                            And with your spirit.

            Lift up your hearts.                                                We lift them up to the Lord.

            Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.           It is right and just.

The priest greets us, and invites us to join him in the Eucharistic Prayer.  Our desire to share in the Eucharistic Prayer and sacrifice, as indicated by our response “it is right and just”, must be expressed so that the priest may continue with the Mass.  After all, the Mass is not the work of Christ and the priest, but of Christ and his Church – all of us incorporated into Christ through baptism.

Bishop Anthony Fisher leading the PrefaceWhile there are only a relatively small number of options for the Eucharistic Prayer, with some only permissible on specific occasions, there is a larger collection of prefaces.  The Preface leads us into the Eucharistic Prayer by declaring to God (and at the same time reminding ourselves) the reason we celebrate the Eucharist at this particular time.  On most days, they typically reflect the liturgical season we celebrate.  There are, however, also prefaces for particular feast days, for saints, for the dead, and for a range of other needs and occasions.

The Preface then concludes with our prayer of acclamation, the Sanctus (or Holy, Holy).  In the new translation of the Sanctus, the opening phrase has changed from “Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might” to “Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts.”  This, like other changes, reflects a closer match with the Latin text.  It also reflects what the priest proclaims immediately before; that what we do in celebrating the Eucharist is not done alone, but in communion with the angels and saints – the entire “heavenly host”.