I Am the Bread of Life

Carmel Bulletin, 5 August 2018

The usual semicontinuous reading of Mark’s gospel during Ordinary Time in Year B is always put on hold at this point of the year while we listen to chapter 6 from John.  John chooses not to repeat the recount of the Last Supper that we see in the other gospels.  Instead, John the chapter 6 reflection on the Eucharist that begins with the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand.

The connection of this event with Jesus’ teaching that he is the bread of life reminds us that the Eucharist is a meal.  Like the miraculous feedings of the gospels, the Eucharist is for us food and drink given to us by God.  It is both thanksgiving and nourishment for those who follow Christ.  It shows us that there is no limit to God’s giving – we will all receive what we need, with plenty to spare.

Jesus also explains to the people, however, that the manna their ancestors ate, however, did not give eternal life.  Eternal life is the gift offered to us through the death and resurrection of Christ.  Sharing in the Eucharist, therefore, is also to share in the sacrifice of Jesus.  Jesus ends the sacrifices of the Old Testament by offering the one new and eternal sacrifice of his own body and blood.

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Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv anoints our new altar at its dedication, 17 December 2017

The design of our new altar seeks to reflect both the twofold nature of our Eucharistic celebration.  The shape makes it recognisable as a table; a table which the entire community of the baptised are called to gather around to feast at the meal that leads us to the heavenly banquet.  Its stone fabrication alludes to the sacrificial altars of the past, and communicates to us that the altar represents Christ himself, who sacrificed his own life for the redemption of all humankind.

None Equals Thee

OLMC Statue landscape 2Sometimes people of other faith traditions think that we worship Mary.  While they can clearly see that Mary holds a special place in our faith, all our worship is directed toward God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Collect Prayer for our celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel reminds us of this:

All gracious God,
may the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
Mother and Queen of Carmel, protect us,
and bring us to your holy Mountain, Christ our Lord…

(Carmelite Lectionary)

Mary is certainly the most blessed of all women, and a person without equal.  As our mother and sister in faith, she intercedes for us, and leads us to the divine mystery in which we believe.  This echoes through a number of the prayer texts we use on our feast day today.

While we certainly honour Mary at different times throughout the liturgical year, the liturgy is still focused on giving thanks to God for the Paschal Mystery – the life, death and resurrection of Christ in which Mary played a crucial role.  It is why, for example, that prayers to Mary (such as the Hail Mary) don’t form part of the proper texts for Mass.  It is also why Marian devotions, such as the rosary, or private prayers at the Marian Shrine, have their own time and place.

So as we give thanks for Mary’s patronage and protection, let us remember her first and foremost as a woman with deep faith who embraced the will of God.  Let us pray that by her prayers and example, our faith and love will become like hers.

Silence Please

Carmel Bulletin, 13 May 2018

When we look back through the Bible at different people’s encounters with God, we come to see that some crucial encounters occurred in silence.  Moses found the burning bush in a moment of silence and solitude.  Elijah sensed God’s presence in the silence on Mount Horeb after retreating in fear of his life.  Before beginning his mission, Jesus seeks the silence of the wilderness; setting him on the course to our salvation.

The Mass offers us a moment of encounter with God here and now, and silence remains a crucial part of that.  It provides us time for reflection, for silent prayer, and for (as one Carmelite who used to live here in Wenty used to explain it) ‘allowing the word of God to find a place within our hearts’.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which explains how the Mass is to be celebrated, particularly calls for periods of silence before Mass, after the readings and homily, and after communion.

So that we can ensure that we have those silent moments of reflection, prayer and encounter, we’re asking all parishioners and liturgical ministers at Sunday and weekday Masses for your support with the following:

  • homilyProviding a brief period of silence after the first reading before beginning the responsorial psalm
  • Starting the Gospel Acclamation only once the priest rises from the presidential chair to proceed to the ambo
  • Waiting until the priest sits down in the chair again before starting the first collection on Sundays

We hope that everyone will be able to support us with these small things during Mass, which are all intended for your benefit.  Hopefully by stopping for even a relatively brief period of time, we can give ourselves the chance to let God in and make himself known to us.

Getting to Know our Renewed Church

Carmel Bulletin, 24 December 2017

Welcome to our first weekend of Masses since our new altar was dedicated and new parts of our church blessed for use.  To help you become familiar with our renewed church, please take note of the following:

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Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv blesses our new baptismal font, 17 December 2017

We bless ourselves with holy water as we enter the church to remind us of our baptism.  We encourage you to bless yourself directly from the baptismal font in the centre of the church.

The front pew in each section of the church is kneeler-free, which may be of help to those who are unable to kneel, and to those who need easy access in and out of their seat.

Many people use the devotional spaces around the church for their personal prayer.  Please feel free to pray at the shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, but only before or after Mass.  Stopping at the shrine after receiving communion causes difficulties and disruption for others.  The seats in front of the shrine are the perfect place to stop and pray after Mass, while keeping walkways clear.  We look forward to the other devotional spaces around the church being completed early in the new year.

Serving Others

Carmel Bulletin, 4 June 2017

You may have heard the saying:

You can please some people all of the time, or everyone some of the time, but you can never please everyone all the time.

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Photo: Alphonsus Fok, © 321 Photography

Imagine, then, trying to consider the needs and desires of a parish community as diverse as ours when it comes together to celebrate the liturgy.  Pleasing everyone starts to become a monumental task!

Certainly it is important for those who prepare liturgical celebrations (such as liturgy committees, priests, musicians, sacristans, artists…) to consider what will draw people into prayer and shape and form them as disciples of Christ.  Trying to define a ‘typical parishioner’, however, and make choices to suit their particular tastes will result in a celebration that may appeal to some, but ultimately alienate others who don’t fit that mould.

While liturgical ministers have a responsibility to prepare and lead good liturgical celebrations, it is up to all of us to give a little as well.  Sacrificing some of what we ‘like’ during Mass so that everyone finds something that moves and engages them in the liturgy can be a challenge, but is ultimately an act of service where we seek to be mindful of the needs of others.