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).

Walking the Walk

liturgical space 022Our Judeo-Christian tradition includes many long journeys towards a unique encounter with God.  The Israelites’ search for the Promised Land, Elijah fleeing to Mount Horeb, and Joseph and Mary travelling to Bethlehem are some example.  Jesus’ own long journey of his public ministry ultimately leads to his final journey to Golgotha.

Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, looking towards the Dome of the Rock
Looking into the old city of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

Many Christians since have been inspired to seek encounter with God through pilgrimage.  It may be to sacred places abroad like the Holy Land, or walking in the footsteps of saints.  The processions of our liturgy enrich our worship by drawing us physically into the journey of encountering God.  They are, in their own way, pilgrimages into the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and our upcoming Holy Week celebrations are full of them.

Fr John and Severs showing the cross, Good Friday 2009Beginning with the procession at 9:00 am Mass on Palm Sunday, we continue with the processions of oils, gifts for the poor, and the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Thursday.  The cross is the focus of procession on Good Friday, as it is brought into the church, and as we approach it in adoration.  Finally, the Easter Vigil brings with it the procession of the light that dispels the 25320897818_a85d3d4b9f_b_ddarkness, and the procession to the font where we will not only renew our own baptism, but celebrate the baptism of five new Catholics – Thippi, Mathanki, Lucy, Song and Alan – who will then go on to process to the altar for the first time in Holy Communion.

Let us take the opportunity to participate in these processions prayerfully and place ourselves within the saving act of Jesus that is not just a historic event, but something that the liturgy makes real and present for us here and now.

As the Church fasts, so does the church fast

Carmel bulletin, 12 March 2017

lent_enviro_08 005When 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.

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.