Liturgical Ministers for Christmas

Carmel Bulletin, 29 November 2015

As the season of preparation for Christmas is now upon us, we are beginning to invite liturgical ministers to serve at our Christmas Masses.

Christmas Ministry Sign Up SheetYou will find sign-up sheets as usual in the parish centre today.  We need assistance in the following roles:

  • Greeters
  • Computer operators for the data projector
  • Head collection wardens
  • Offertory procession
  • Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion

Altar servers can sign up to help on the sheet in the work sacristy, while Ministers of the Word should have received an email this week asking whether they will be available at Christmas time.

This year at our Christmas Masses, we will be posting a sheet on the whiteboard in the parish centre of all the volunteers who have signed up.  When ministers arrive at Mass to serve, we ask that you “sign in” on the sheet so that we can quickly check that ministers are present, and if we need to find replacements.  This will help us ensure that our Christmas Masses go as smoothly as possible.

I thank all our liturgical ministers for their continued commitment to our community.  Please consider serving at what is a very important time in the Church’s year, and a crucial time for welcoming parishioners and visitors alike.

Liturgical Ministry Has a Spiritual Side

Carmel Bulletin, 30 August 2015

Commentator at MassOften when we consider the skills and gifts that a parishioner brings to liturgical ministry, we think of very practical things.  Music ministers obviously need to be able to sing or play an instrument.  Ministers of the Word need to be able to project their voice and speak clearly.  Altar servers need to be observant, aware of what is happening around them, and able to act and respond calmly and quietly.

Such skills that we see our ministers demonstrate each week are what we might describe as “technical” skills.  They are what are required in order to fulfil the functional elements of their role.  These, however, are only one part of a minister’s skill set.

We also need to consider what we might describe as “spiritual” skills.  These may not be as clearly measurable, but are equally important in exercising one’s ministry fully.  Recently, our Liturgy Committee began considering how our parish ministers express hospitality; how they make people feel welcome and encourage prayer and participation within their role.  Other traits as well, such as reverence, prayerfulness, humility and gratitude can all be found in ministers whose contribution to our community is motivated not by self-interest, but by their faith, their love of God, and their desire to be of service to others.

This week our community lost someone who dedicated himself to liturgical ministry (to say nothing of the many other ways he served our parish) for decades.  Those of us who served with Brian Flynn learnt much from him.  He showed us all that good liturgical ministers need to be both technically skilled and spiritually grounded.  Our parish has been enriched by his remarkable contribution.  May he rest in peace.

Roles of the Sacristan: Preparing for Mass

Carmel Bulletin, 16 August 2015

The role of the sacristan, or of the group of volunteers who attend to the work of the sacristy, is an important ministry in any parish.  These ministers not only assist the priest, but support the entire assembly to participate fully, consciously and actively in liturgical celebrations.

The most typical responsibility of sacristans is to prepare what is required for the celebration on Mass.  In our parish, with Mass celebrated every day and five times on Sunday, a team of people take responsibility for different Masses.

lectionary
The Lectionary for Mass contains the Scripture readings used at Mass

So that everything is in place to celebrate the Liturgy of the Word, sacristans will check to see that the Lectionary for Mass is open to the correct readings for the day and is left where the Minister of the Word can look over the texts before Mass.  They ensure that the commentary and commentator’s lectern are ready on Sundays, as well as the Book of Gospels.

IMG_3884
The credence table prepared for the Mass of the Supper of the Lord on Holy Thursday

So that the Liturgy of the Eucharist can be celebrated, sacristans prepare the bread and wine and the sacred vessels such as chalices (cups) and patens (plates).  The credence table at the side of the sanctuary is prepared with purificators (linen cloths for wiping the chalices), the corporal (white cloth the bread and wine are placed on for the Eucharistic Prayer) the water cruet, the lavabo bowl (for the priest to wash his hands) and towel.

The missal and other texts the priest needs to refer to need to be prepared for the day.  Candles, incense and other requirements may also need to be prepared by the sacristan (servers may also assist).

As you can see, there is a lot of crucial “behind the scenes” work that sacristans do, even for the regular daily Mass.

Learn more about Preparing the Church for Mass, the vessels, linens and other items used at the Together at One Altar website

Roles of the Sacristan: Preparing for Liturgy

Carmel Bulletin, 9 August 2015

The role of the sacristan, or of the group of volunteers who attend to the work of the sacristy, is an important ministry in any parish.  These ministers not only assist the priest, but support the entire assembly to participate fully, consciously and actively in liturgical celebrations.

One responsibility sacristans have is to prepare for specific liturgical times and celebrations.  While music ministers will organise and rehearse music for different seasons and special occasions, the priest will prepare a homily, and other ministers will hang banners and arrange flowers, sacristans are reviewing previous practices and the requirements outlined in the liturgical books for each season and major feast.

Candles prepared for the assembly’s use at the Easter Vigil Mass

It will mean, for example, that sacristans are attentive to the fact that the sanctuary cannot be decorated with flowers during Lent.  They will often prepare a checklist for a major occasion such as the Easter Vigil Mass, remembering that it has additional requirements such as firewood, candles for the entire assembly, incense nails, and all the items for the baptismal liturgy.  They will be prepared for the fact that additional seating is required in the sanctuary when the Mass will be concelebrated by several priests.

Attention to these details is essential to ensuring that there isn’t a frantic rush to organise something minutes before Mass begins, or an awkward, embarrassing “break in the program” once it is realised that something crucial is still out the back in a cupboard.  With all aspects of the celebration well prepared, the entire assembly, as well as those leading them, can focus their minds and hearts more deeply on prayer and an encounter with Christ himself.

Roles of the Sacristan: The Calendar

Carmel Bulletin, 2 August 2015

The role of the sacristan, or of the group of volunteers who attend to the work of the sacristy, is an important ministry in any parish.  These ministers not only assist the priest, but support the entire assembly to participate fully, consciously and actively in liturgical celebrations.

There are many responsibilities that are carried out by sacristans.  Books like The Sacristy Manual (by G Thomas Ryan) outline their tasks and give advice regarding the traditions, customs and practices they need to be familiar with.

One responsibility of the sacristan is to ensure that the liturgical calendar for the parish is observed and implemented on a daily basis.

Ordo
The liturgical calendar gives details on the feast days to be observed throughout the year, and specifies the readings, prayers, liturgical colours and specific rituals to be used

This will often require some coordination with the parish priest and the parish office.  Sacristans use the liturgical calendar issued by the Australian Bishops (and in our parish, the Carmelite calendar issued by the Province as well) to ensure that the correct prayers, readings and coloured vestments are arranged and prepared for the celebration.

Ashes prepared for Ash Wednesday Mass

Some feast days allow for, or even require the celebration of particular rituals.  These need to be noted and considered well in advance, as sacristans may need to ensure that items are prepared for them.  Imagine celebrating Ash Wednesday without ashes!  As crazy as it sounds, it can easily happen if sacristans are not paying attention to the liturgical calendar and are caught unawares.

Other sacramental celebrations, events and unexpected celebrations such as funerals are inevitably added to the liturgical schedule of a parish.  Some are known well in advance, others come with only a few days’ notice.  Sacristans need to be aware of these as well to ensure that all is ready.  These are often occasions that bring many visitors to our church, and good preparation helps ensure that visitors feel welcome.