The Sundays of Lent begin each year with an account of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Temptations can be easy to come by, and hard to ignore!Continue reading “Resisting Temptation and Making Space”
Carmel bulletin, 12 March 2017
When arriving at Mass last Sunday, one of young parishioners observed that the church looked very bare.
Perhaps you noticed this as well. It may have been the lack of flowers or banners. It may have been that there was less music within the Mass than what you’re used to.
We’re well aware that during Lent, we as a Church (the people of God) are called to fast. This fasting sees us go without what is unnecessary in our lives and focus on what we really need. The first need, of course, is a deep and loving relationship with God who continually invites us to be closer to him.
Similarly, during this season, our church (the building) reflects our Lenten practice with its own fasting. It goes without the extra decoration. It goes without the extra hymns and without the instrumental music. It goes without the echo of Alleluia within its four walls for six and a half weeks.
All of this helps us to build in our anticipation and eagerness for celebrating the glorious resurrection of our Lord at Easter.
Lent is a time when we, among other things, celebrate the unconditional and boundless mercy of God. This is evident throughout the season, but is probably epitomised for many in the parable of the Prodigal Son, which we will hear in a couple of weeks’ time.
Jesus presents the father in this parable as the merciful face of God the Father. At the same time, we can relate to the father as one like us, called to respond compassionately; even though our natural response may be more akin to that of the older brother.
Pope Francis has called us all during this Year of Mercy, not just to remember that Christ is the face of the merciful Father, but that all of us are called to be a face of mercy to the world. This will be something that we will continue to reflect on over the course of Lent and Easter.
Speaking of reflecting, many people have already noticed and commented on the mirror in the narthex, with the Diocesan Year of Mercy caption, Mercy Has a Face. Mercy still needs a face in our world today, perhaps more now than ever, but who does God call to be that face of his mercy? We guarantee that if you take a look in the mirror this Lent, you’ll find the answer.
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.
In 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
Carmel Bulletin, 22 February 2015
The large banners have come down and the plants and flowers are all gone. There may be less music, and instruments should only be used to accompany singing, as opposed to being used for solo pieces:
During Lent the altar is not to be decorated with flowers, and the use of musical instruments is allowed only to support the singing… (Ceremonial of Bishops, no. 252)
All this is done for a greater reason than giving our florist, Sofie a break from arranging flowers for us every week (although with all her great work, she does deserve a rest). The “stripping back” of the space and even elements of the liturgy helps to focus us on the penitential nature of the season.
It is similar to what we are encouraged to do in our own lives. Lent is a time when we may fast, particularly on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays, or we may choose to abstain from particular things. Such abstinence may not be specifically from food, but may also be from other material goods or indulgences that we otherwise take for granted.
By taking the opportunity during Lent to do away with those preoccupations, we offer ourselves more time and space to focus on our relationship with God.
Through its twofold theme of repentance and baptism, the season of Lent disposes both the catechumens and the faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery… The faithful, listening more intently to the word of God and devoting themselves to prayer, are prepared [for Easter] through a spirit of repentance to renew their baptismal promises. (Ceremonial of Bishops, no. 249)