Serving Others

Carmel Bulletin, 4 June 2017

You may have heard the saying:

You can please some people all of the time, or everyone some of the time, but you can never please everyone all the time.

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Photo: Alphonsus Fok, © 321 Photography

Imagine, then, trying to consider the needs and desires of a parish community as diverse as ours when it comes together to celebrate the liturgy.  Pleasing everyone starts to become a monumental task!

Certainly it is important for those who prepare liturgical celebrations (such as liturgy committees, priests, musicians, sacristans, artists…) to consider what will draw people into prayer and shape and form them as disciples of Christ.  Trying to define a ‘typical parishioner’, however, and make choices to suit their particular tastes will result in a celebration that may appeal to some, but ultimately alienate others who don’t fit that mould.

While liturgical ministers have a responsibility to prepare and lead good liturgical celebrations, it is up to all of us to give a little as well.  Sacrificing some of what we ‘like’ during Mass so that everyone finds something that moves and engages them in the liturgy can be a challenge, but is ultimately an act of service where we seek to be mindful of the needs of others.

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.

We Enter

Carmel Bulletin, 6 October 2013

[The] purpose [of the Introductory Rites] is to ensure that the faithful, who come together as one, establish communion…

General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), article 46

Actions of the Assembly
Actions of the Assembly

When we begin to celebrate Mass, we have already made a deliberate choice to be there.  We have entered the church, engaging in one of the first actions of the assembly that participates in the celebration.

We come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.  Our motivations for coming can vary as well.  Sometimes we come with a true desire to celebrate.  At other times we come seeking hope, comfort, or a sense of belonging.  Some of us may feel like our faith is strong, while others may be struggling, looking for answers or seeking reassurance.

Yet despite this broad diversity, we come together, united by our faith in Jesus Christ.  Whether we get here early, or scrape in just in time (perhaps having furiously fed and dressed the kids, and bundled them into the car, hoping we’ll get a parking spot somewhere near the church), we share “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5).  We remind ourselves of this when we bless ourselves with holy water; waters which we passed through at our initiation into the Church, passing like Christ from death to new life.

We come together as the Body of Christ in thanksgiving, to renew ourselves through the Eucharistic celebration that is the source and summit of our lives as Catholics.

At the end of this month, on the weekend of 26-27 October, we will celebrate Sunday Mass, guided by brief explanations of the various rites of the Mass and our role within them.  You can also learn more online now at www.olmcwenty.org.au/themass.

The Mass: sacrifice and praise

It’s Not Just the Job of the People Up the Front

Carmel Bulletin, 29 October 2013

In the celebration of Mass the faithful form a holy people, a people of God’s own possession and a royal priesthood, so that they may give thanks to God and offer the unblemished sacrificial Victim not only by means of the hands of the Priest but also together with him and so that they may learn to offer their very selves. They should, moreover, take care to show this by their deep religious sense and their charity toward brothers and sisters who participate with them in the same celebration.

General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), article 95

When we come together to celebrate Mass, a number of people contribute to the celebration by serving in a ministerial role.  They may proclaim the Scriptures, lead the music or assist with the distribution of Communion.  Yet it is easy to forget that there is a much larger group of ministers participating each time we gather.

Actions of the Assembly
Actions of the Assembly

The assembly or congregation itself fulfils an important role.  “The celebration of the Eucharist is the action of Christ and of the Church” (GIRM 91, emphasis added), which involves every one of us.  Celebrating the Mass is not solely the task of the priest, or of those who serve the community in a particular way.  All of us are called to full, conscious and active participation in the liturgy.

This requires some effort and understanding on our part.  We all need to understand what we are doing when we celebrate Mass, and commit ourselves to doing it well.

To help us all to understand this more fully, we have set aside a weekend at the end of next month when we will celebrate Sunday Mass, guided by brief explanations of the various rites of the Mass and our role within them.  While pausing for these explanations during Mass will seem unusual, we hope they will benefit us all and deepen our understanding.  More information will be provided in the coming weeks.

22/8/10 – The General Plan of the Church

At present, we are exploring the liturgical principles which underpin our work in the Church Renewal Process.  Having considered active participation, we now consider the sixth principle, namely:

The general plan of the church

Over the centuries, many Catholic churches have been built.  Very rarely is one church building identical to another, and the layout, design and style of the buildings has changed immensely over the period of almost two thousand years.  So what, then, are the basic requirements for the general plan of a church?

Firstly, the liturgical documents since Vatican II focus on the church being arranged so that “it in some way conveys the image of the gathered assembly” (Rite of Dedication of a Church and Altar, Ch 2, No 3; General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 294) It is a reminder to us once again that it is the whole Church, each of us gathered together that becomes one body in Christ and celebrates the liturgy.  There needs to be, therefore, spaces for each of the various ministries to be carried out.  Once again, the arrangement of the church should encourage full, conscious and active participation of everyone in the liturgy.

Considering the matter of participation further, the most recent General Instruction of the Roman Missal encourages the provision of seating for the assembly, as well as ensuring good lines of sight to focal points such as the ambo, altar and presidential chair.  It encourages us to provide adequate sound amplification, and space to allow us to move as necessary during the Mass – both to sit, stand and kneel as required, but also to move in procession to communion (GIRM, 311).

Also, while the church is a liturgical space, we are also challenged to think about how our place of worship also provides the usual comforts that people come to expect when they gather in public buildings.  This could include facilities such as toilets and parking, but also extend to other areas such as suitable climate control (GIRM, 293).

Finally, our Guiding Concepts Committee met last weekend to draw together the material and feedback gained from parishioners during our meeting with Fr Stephen Hackett MSC in June.  A draft of the guiding concepts has been prepared and is being reviewed by the committee before it is presented to all parishioners in due course.