Saying Amen

Carmel Bulletin, 8 November 2015

It is the shortest response that we make at any time during the Mass.  It is the most common response.  It is also, I believe, the most important.

The word Amen is a word by which we give assent or affirmation to what has been said.  Often it is described as meaning “so be it”.

Priest leading the Collect Prayer
© Alphonsus Fok, 321 Photography

The response Amen allows the assembly to give its voice to its prayers that are led by the priest.  We confirm that we worship in the name of the Trinity.  We affirm our profession of faith.  The Eucharistic Prayer, with its praise, petition and thanksgiving, comes to its completion with the Great Amen; a response considered so important that it should be sung.

Receiving communion from the chalice
© Alphonsus Fok, 321 Photography

It is interesting, therefore, that some people seem reluctant to respond to the priest, deacon or Extraordinary Minister when they receive communion.  The declarations “The Body of Christ” and “The Blood of Christ” deserve our heartfelt response.  To say Amen is to declare our belief that we are receiving Christ himself.  Not only that, but as St Augustine once explained, we declare our belief that Christ is present within us, and that we say Amen to both what the Eucharist is, and what we are.

To say Amen when we receive communion is a powerful expression of our faith.  So don’t be afraid to speak up!  Say Amen.

Communion of the Sick

Carmel Bulletin, 15 June 2014

Communion of the SickLast week, Fr Paul wrote about the small change that will occur to the sending forth of ministers taking Communion to the sick.  This change comes into effect next weekend.

The intention is that this sending forth of ministers will now form a part of the blessing and dismissal rites at the end of Mass.  We are all sent forth at the end of Mass to be the Body of Christ to our brothers and sisters and we, as a community, send forth those ministers to go out into the world to serve in a particular way.

It is important that those taking Communion to the sick participate in this rite, and be entrusted with the Eucharist at the end of the Mass, rather than coming to request Communion from the tabernacle afterwards.  There may be rare occasions where this is unavoidable.  The practice of being sent forth from the Mass, however, is to be the norm in our parish.

The practice of calling the ministers forward to receive Communion for the sick is not about drawing attention to those ministers.  Rather, it is about drawing our attention to those who they will visit.  We all have a responsibility to keep the sick and housebound of our parish in our thoughts and prayers.  We should take the time to enquire occasionally about their ongoing health and offer support and assistance.  Finally, we have a duty to ensure that we support those who care for the sick, and keep them in our thoughts and prayers as well.

Ministry to the Sick

Carmel Bulletin, 8 June 2014

An important aspect of our pastoral care of each other is prayer for and outreach to our fellow parishioners who are unwell.Communion of the Sick

It is heartening to see that many parishioners are certainly mindful of others who are unwell and assiduous in commending them to our prayers.  A number of parishioners also take Holy Communion to those who are unwell.  At times, spouses or other family members perform this service for each other.  In other cases, a parishioner functions as a “Special Minister of the Eucharist” and takes Holy Communion to the sick who request it.  Please be aware that either means of taking the Eucharist to the sick is appropriate and encouraged.  If you would like to know more about providing the Eucharist to a sick family member or fellow parishioner, please speak about it to one of the Priests in the first instance.

It is most desirable that those who take the Eucharist to the sick are seen to do so as an extension of the community’s celebration of the Eucharist and are commissioned by the worshipping community, through the Priest, at the end of Mass.  This is why we have a special commissioning of Ministers of the Eucharist to the Sick at the end of Mass.  To emphasise the link between the worshipping community’s celebration of the Eucharist and the taking of the Eucharist to the sick after Mass, we will be slightly repositioning when this commissioning takes place.  Beginning from the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (the special feast in honour of the Eucharist) on the weekend of 21 & 22 June, Special Ministers of the Eucharist to the Sick will be commissioned after the Notices and the Prayer after Communion (rather than before, as is currently the case) – and immediately before the Final Blessing and Dismissal.  These Ministers will be invited to process from the Church with the Priest and servers, as a way of symbolising that they are taking Holy Communion to the Sick as an extension of the community’s celebration of the Eucharist.

Fr Paul

We Taste

Carmel Bulletin, 16 March 2014

Actions of the Assembly
Actions of the Assembly

When we look at the actions we engage in as an assembly, tasting is a rather specific one.  It is one of the few actions that relate to one part of the Mass.

The action of tasting reminds us that “in the liturgy the sanctification of humankind is signified by signs perceptible to the senses” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, article 7).  Christ makes himself present to us through our simple gifts of bread and wine.

These gifts change in substance, that is, they become the Body and Blood of Christ, but to our senses of touch, taste, smell, taste and hearing, they bear the appearance of the food and drink Christ shared with his disciples at the Last Supper.

Communion from the ChaliceDespite the fact that it becomes holy food for us, it should not lose its sense of being food.  The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states that “by reason of the sign, it is required that the material for the Eucharistic Celebration truly have the appearance of food” (article 321).  The Eucharistic bread should appeal to the senses and look and taste like bread.  Furthermore, “the wine for the celebration of the Eucharist must be from the fruit of the vine (cf Lk 22:18), natural and unadulterated…” (article 322).  We are also called to taste Christ’s self-giving to us in all its fullness:

“Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it takes place under both kinds.  For in this form the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is more clearly evident and clearer expression is given to the divine will by which the new and eternal Covenant is ratified in the Blood of the Lord, as also the connection between the Eucharistic banquet and the eschatological banquet in the Kingdom of the Father” (article 281).

Again, while we acknowledge our limitations before receiving Communion, saying “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…”, Christ, through his grace, invites us to receive him under the ordinary forms of bread and wine; to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).

4/3/12 – CommUNION

Recently, Fr Paul has written in Carmel reminding us of some matters concerning the celebration of Communion during Mass.

Communion ProcessionAsking all of us to be consistent in how we process to the front of the church and receive communion is not simply about efficiency, safety and the like.

A common bodily posture, to be observed by all those taking part, is a sign of the unity of the members of the Christian community gathered together for the Sacred Liturgy, for it expresses the intentions and spiritual attitude of the participants and also fosters them.

General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 42

As Fr Paul has also reminded us, when approaching to receive communion, we are asked to bow towards the Blessed Sacrament being given to us as a sign of reverence.  This allows us to offer a common sign of reverence whilst maintaining the flow of the communion procession.

Once we have received communion, the procession continues as we return to our seats.  Everyone is encouraged to spend time in silent prayer after receiving communion, and people may choose to do this whilst kneeling or sitting.  It is only at our seat, however, that this silent prayer should take place.

Praying at the Marian Shrine or at the images of the saints, and asking for their intercession is something that many people find spiritually nourishing, but this is only appropriate before or after Mass.  During Mass, our focus is rightly upon Christ, whose death and resurrection we celebrate, and whose body and blood we receive in holy communion.