We Too Might Have a New Life

Carmel Bulletin, 1 April 2018

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:3-4

These words from St Paul, proclaimed each year at the Easter Vigil, remind us of the centrality of baptism to our Christian faith.  Baptism draws us into the Paschal Mystery – that is, the mystery of Christ’s passover from death to new life.

It is little wonder, therefore, that the rituals of the Easter season draw particular attention to our baptism.  We renew the promises of baptism on Easter Sunday.  Each Sunday, we are encouraged to put aside the usual Penitential Act and instead participate in the sprinkling of blessed water.  Baptism is the primary sacrament by which we are freed from sin, again through sharing in Christ’s death and resurrection.

25320897818_a85d3d4b9f_b_dOur new baptismal font also serves to remind ourselves of the centrality of this sacrament as our entry to the Church (hence why every entrance now leads to the font); a Church that celebrates the Paschal Mystery every Sunday and is brought to the fulfilment of, and sustained in its Christian life through the eucharist to which baptism leads.  Blessing ourselves directly from the font as we enter the church helps make this all the more powerful.

While on the topic of the baptismal font, we have received some enquiries about our new font since it was installed.  While the bowl can be removed for emptying and cleaning, it is not possible to accidentally tip it over.  Keeping the font clean is important, and the water is replaced and the font cleaned with disinfectant on a regular basis.  The green patina that has developed on the bronze in places is a natural result of contact between the bronze, water and air.  It also happens on similar metals such as copper (think of old copper pipes, or the Statue of Liberty, which also gets its green colour from the natural patina that has developed on the copper over time).

Let Him Easter in Us

Carmel Bulletin, 14 May 2017

Paschal Candle 2017Throughout the season of Easter, the paschal candle is given a prominent and special place near the ambo or altar of the church.  The candle is lit at the Easter Vigil Mass each year as the primary symbol of the light of Christ breaking through the darkness of death and sin.

Each year our paschal candle is crafted by nuns of the Benedictine Abbey, Jamberoo, where Carmelite Fr Paul Gurr serves as chaplain.  The design on this year’s candle has been prepared by the nuns, with artwork by Josephite Sr Dorothy Woodward.  The nuns offer this commentary on the candle design for 2017:

It features the Risen Christ bursting forth from the tomb in glory! Artists down through the centuries have used the image of the tombstone shattering to symbolize the energy, passion, power and sheer joy of the Resurrection moment for Christ and all humankind.
Easter Sunday shatters many things –
Gone is darkness and death!
Gone hopelessness and despair!
Gone fear and dread!
Gone our Lenten fast and discipline!
And from all that “gone-ness” and shattering,
NEW LIFE bursts forth, filling the void with light, joy, feasting, celebration and the singing of Alleluias!

As we light our Paschal Candles in 2017,
may Christ, the Risen One,
“Easter in us” … Easter in our world! Alleluia!

Let Him Easter in us,
be a dayspring to the dimness of us.
Gerard Manley Hopkins

Sprinkling with Holy Water

IMG_6354One way in which we mark the Easter Season in the celebration of the Sunday Mass at Wentworthville is by using the rite of sprinkling of holy water.  When it is celebrated, it takes the place of the usual Penitential Act in the Introductory Rites.

As the texts used for this rite make clear, sprinkling holy water is intended to remind us of our baptism.  Through baptism, we are freed from sin and share in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which we celebrate particularly during this season.

Alleluia, alleluia

The Second Sunday of Easter brings to an end the Easter Octave; an eight-day period of particular celebration of the Resurrection.

The first eight days of the Easter season make up the octave of Easter and are celebrated as solemnities of the Lord.

General Norms of the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, no. 24

confirmationOLMC1_125
Then-Bishop of Parramatta (now Archbishop of Sydney) Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP giving the final blessing at the parish celebration of Confirmation, 2014.  Photo © Alphonsus Fok, 321 Photography

One difference in the liturgy of the Easter Octave is in the dismissal at the end of Mass, which includes a double alleluia:

Go forth, the Mass is ended, alleluia, alleluia.
Thanks be to God, alleluia, alleluia.

The dismissal with double alleluia also concludes the Mass on Pentecost Sunday.

When’s Easter This Year?

Lent and Easter are very early this year.  In fact, Ash Wednesday is only a week and a half away, on 10 February.

Easter Sunday, and consequently the weeks of Lent and Easter either side of it, is obviously not determined by a fixed date.  It is set by looking to the cycles of the earth and skies.

Full moonIn the Roman Catholic tradition, Easter Sunday is the Sunday that follows the first full moon after the autumn (for us, or spring, for those in the northern hemisphere) equinox, with the Church setting 21 March as the approximate date for that equinox.  This was determined at the Council of Nicaea in 325 (the same council that began to formalise the Creed we pray most Sundays).

That “first full moon” this year is on 23 March, so Easter Sunday will follow on 27 March.   It is often different to the date for Jewish Passover, which is determined according to the Jewish calendar.  It also varies often to the date for Easter in the Orthodox tradition, where the Julian calendar is still used (rather than the Gregorian calendar that is used in our Church and secularly in Australia).  On some occasions, however, we have the fortunate coincidence of two, or all three of those dates aligning.

Of course, an early Easter also means that our younger parishioners will have another two weeks at school after Easter before their next holiday break!

Image credit: Full moon by Jose Manuel Podlech on flickr, used under Creative Commons licence