Initiation is Our Job

Carmel Bulletin, 30 March 2014

We continue to celebrate the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults throughout Lent with the scrutinies that lead to the initiation of Rodger, Sally, Leoni and Domonic at the Easter Vigil.  Like any liturgical rite, there are a variety of ministerial roles that must be fulfilled to ensure its proper celebration.

In naming and commenting on the various ministerial roles in the Christian Initiation of Adults, you might expect that the priest or the bishop might be considered first.  In fact, the introduction to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) starts elsewhere, stating that:

… the people of God, as represented by the local Church, should understand and show by their concern that the initiation of adults is the responsibility of all the baptised.  Therefore the community must always be fully prepared in the pursuit of its apostolic vocation to give help to those who are searching for Christ.  (article 9)

Just as the people of God in Moses' time were led by a pillar of fire, a true contemplative today can be guided interiorly as if by a strong sweet fire. It teaches and consoles in just the way that Christ does.Through the RCIA, adults are initiated into the Church – a Church which is not merely a building or an institution, but a community of people bound together by their faith.  We share in the responsibility of leading and welcoming people into our faith community.  Christ’s command at his ascension to “make disciples of all the nations” is not one that is entrusted to a select few to carry out, but to all of us.  We are the disciples of today, who must entrust this same mission on to those who will be the disciples of tomorrow.

What’s more, it’s not enough to simply hope it will happen, or assume that by our implicit support of the need to call and form disciples that we’re doing enough.  We need to be deliberate and purposeful in our “[giving] help to those who are searching for Christ.”  As we also consider how we as a parish implement the Diocesan Pastoral Plan, we will find that this is essential to achieving the goals to Grow in Faith and to Share Our Faith.

 

Image Credit: Just as the people of God in Moses’ time were led by a pillar of fire, a true contemplative today can be guided interiorly as if by a strong sweet fire. It teaches and consoles in just the way that Christ does.  Elizabeth Wang, from Radiant Lightcode T-04296-CW.

Liturgy Committee Meeting Report

Carmel Bulletin, 23 March 2013

Liturgy, Our Lady of Mount Carmel WentworthvilleThe Liturgy Committee met on Tuesday evening.

This year is the first that a weekday evening Mass has been provided during the season of Lent.  The initial attendance has been promising, and feedback suggests that the Stations of the Cross preceding Mass have been well received.  Over the coming Sundays, the Scrutinies will be celebrated as part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.  The first will be celebrated at 9:00 am Mass this weekend.

The committee reviewed and considered the ritual preparations for the Easter season.  Sunday Masses will again be marked by the celebration of the Blessing and Sprinkling of Holy Water as a reminder of our baptism, our sharing in the death and resurrection of Christ which we particularly celebrate in the fifty days to Pentecost.  This will take the place of the Penitential Act.

Since his arrival in the parish, Fr Paul has gone to some length to ensure the more regular provision of music at our Sunday Masses.  Some Masses are blessed with music on a weekly basis, while at other times, this is a goal still to be realised.  Progress, however is being made, and we thank Fr Paul for his efforts, as well as the music ministers who have agreed to take up new or different roles in order to best meet the needs of the parish.  Parishioners are always welcome to assist as new music ministers at any of our Sunday Masses, either with singing or musical accompaniment.

Progress continues to be made within the new scope of work in the Church Renewal Process, with investigation of various matters essential to the broader master plan underway.  Both the sacramental processes for adults (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or RCIA) and children are continuing under Paola Yevenes’ leadership, with the current focus for each being Initiation at the Easter Vigil and the Sacrament of Confirmation respectively.

Comments, questions and feedback about our parish’s liturgical life and practice are always welcome.  Please send a message to the committee in writing, care of the parish office, or email litcomwenty (at) gmail (dot) com.

27/6/10 – The Whole Body of Christ Celebrates the Liturgy, Part II

Over the coming weeks, we will continue to explore the liturgical principles which underpin our work in the Church Renewal Process.  A fortnight ago, we began to look at the first principle, namely:

The whole Body of Christ celebrates the liturgy

We discussed previously how the liturgy is an action of Christ and the Church.  All the people who gather together to celebrate form the Body of Christ and are called to participate fully, consciously and actively in the celebration.

We might understand this, and even believe that this sense of all the Church celebrating the liturgy is achieved at Sunday Mass.  There are other times, however, when this seems to be a greater challenge.

BaptismJust like the Eucharist, all the other sacraments and rites are celebrations of Christ and the Church.  Yet, when these celebrations occur at times when most of the parish isn’t present (Sunday afternoon, or a weekday morning, for example), there can be a perception that it is a “private” celebration.  This is especially the case at celebrations such as weddings, where many of the liturgical preparations are made by the families involved, and invitations and guest lists are prepared.

Wedding ringsThe Second Vatican Council was very clear in stating that none of the Church’s liturgical celebrations are ever private.  The challenge for us as a community then, is twofold.  Firstly, we need to be confident as a parish in fulfilling our responsibilities in these liturgical celebrations.  Are our parish liturgical ministers involved in areas such as music and art and environment, for example?  Secondly, we need to support those families directly involved in weddings, funerals, baptisms, confirmations and the like; inviting them into our community and assuring them that their “special day” is not only an occasion of great joy for them, but one of great joy for us all.

1/2/08 – St. Paul Writes on Baptism

Baptismal font at the entrance of St. Patricks Cathedral, Parramatta; leading to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and cathedral
Baptismal font at the entrance of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta; leading to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and cathedral

When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life. (Romans 6:3-4)

In this Year of St. Paul, we remember that one of Paul’s great gifts to the Church were the letters he wrote for the early Christian communities.  They are rich with inspiration and theology, as this small excerpt from his letter to the Romans shows.

This quote is part of the epistle reading read at the Easter Vigil Mass each year.  This night is the night when we celebrate Christ’s passing from death to new life, and thus this reading’s relevance to that Mass is obvious.  The reading, therefore, also shows us how the rites of baptism and Christian Initiation are integral to the Easter Vigil.

This reading from Romans (6:3-11) encapsulates the Church’s baptismal teaching.  Given this, it is no surprise that the baptismal font in a church is described as being both a “tomb” and a “womb”; a place where we both die and live; a place where one’s former life ends, and where their life in Christ begins.

Church artists and craftspeople over the centuries have made places of baptism that are truly beautiful and speak of the value we place on Christian Initiation.  St. Paul led the cause for baptism to be the rite of initiation into the Church, mirroring the practice of John the Baptist and Jesus himself.  Many have risked death, both in years past and even today, so that they may pass through the font.  Given all this, it is not surprising that the Church says the following of the baptistery:

The baptistery or the area where the baptismal font is located should be reserved for the sacrament of baptism and should be worthy to serve as the place where Christians are reborn in water and the Holy Spirit. The baptistery may be situated in a chapel either inside or outside the church or in some other part of the church easily seen by the faithful; it should be large enough to accommodate a good number of people. After the Easter season, the Easter candle should be kept reverently in the baptistery, in such a way that it can be lighted for the celebration of baptism and so that from it the candles for the newly baptised can easily be lighted. (Christian Initation: General Introduction, no. 25)

2/3/08 – The Presentations

In addition to the scrutinies, our elect Mechelle celebrates engages in liturgical celebrations where she is presented with the creed and the Lord’s Prayer.

The presentations take place after the celebration of the scrutinies… Thus, with the catechumenal formation of the elect completed, the Church lovingly entrusts to them the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, the ancient texts that have always been regarded as expressing the heart of the Church’s faith and prayer. These texts are presented in order to enlighten the elect.

(Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, no. 147)

The Creed and Lord’s Prayer are texts that we can recite by heart and can even at times take for granted. Yet for the catechumens and the elect, those we introduce to the Church in the way a master tradesman introduces work and skills to an apprentice, they are not taken for granted. They can often be prayers that our catechumens and elect do not know.

It is quite important that we ritualise the sharing of these prayers with the elect. Mechelle has already been presented with the creed and will be presented with the Lord’s Prayer on Monday evening. As she becomes fully initiated into the Catholic Church, she will learn these prayers and commit them to her heart and mind through regular recitation with the rest of the assembly at Mass.

Yet these presentations lead the elect once again to the Easter Vigil. The elect will be called upon to profess their faith in order to declare their readiness for baptism. At the Easter Vigil, before receiving communion for the first time, they join the assembly in praying the Lord’s Prayer. Let us pray that Mechelle may have the courage to profess her faith and pray the words Jesus taught us on the most holy night on which she will be initiated into our community and Church.