Hear the Difference

Carmel Bulletin, 1 October 2017

Church Renovation 1The visual difference to our church since demolition work began is obvious, but have you noticed any aural (sound) difference?

The removal of the carpet has changed the acoustics of the building.  Soft furnishings, like carpet, absorb sound, while sound bounces off hard surfaces like brick, timber and stone.  The result is an increased resonance of sound throughout the church, which enlivens the output from the sound system, organ and musical instruments.

Good acoustics are also important so that we can hear each other.  Being able to hear those around us pray and sing gives us confidence and reminds us that the liturgy is a communal, rather than individual act.  If we can’t hear others, it feels like we’re cheering on our team at home in front of the TV, rather than at the stadium with thousands of other fans – there’s a big difference in terms of sound and experience.  Feeling like you’re the only person in the church singing is not very encouraging!

While our renewed church will have some carpet, there will be less of it.  Some spaces that were carpeted will be tiled instead.  This means the acoustic feel of the church will change again, but will not be as dull as what it was before.  We’ll need to wait and see what the difference will sound like.

A Carmelite Family Church

Carmel Bulletin, 1 September 2013

The many and various embodiments of the Carmelite charism are for us a source of joy; they confirm the rich and creative fruitfulness of our charism, lived under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit…

Carmelite Constitutions, article 28

Photo 27-04-12 1 56 40 AMWentworthville is a Carmelite Family Parish.  The presence and charism of the Carmelites makes our parish unlike any other in the diocese.  We have something unique to share with those around us.

At the same time, we belong to a global family.  We share a common bond with religious and lay people who are drawn to Carmel around the world; from East Timor, to the newly constituted Filipino province, to the Carmelite parish church that is literally ‘down the road’ from St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Our church already reflects our particular character as a Carmelite Family Parish.  Much of this is visual and obvious – we can see images of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the prophet Elijah, of Carmelite saints, and even a Carmelite shield here and there.  While such a visual culture is important, we also have the opportunity now to shape the church so we do not just look like a Carmelite parish, but live like a Carmelite parish: with genuine hospitality, with a stronger sense of community, with times and places for contemplation and solitude, and with a commitment to humble and dedicated service of God and neighbour.

15/8/10 – Designing Churches for Liturgical Celebration

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 fifth principle, namely:

Designing churches for liturgical celebration

In some religious traditions, sacred buildings are constructed (at least in part) to provide a place for their god to dwell.  The very existence of the building is enough to make it sacred, and to invite the sacred being to live within it.

In the Catholic tradition, we often refer to the church building as “the house of God”.  It is also, equally “the house of the people of God.”  This draws out a clear distinction between us and those other traditions.

Does God dwell within our church buildings?  Yes.  How?  Because of what we, the Church, do within our buildings.  It is through the celebration of the liturgy that Christ is made present amongst us; through the gathered, worshipping assembly, the priest, the proclaimed word, and the Eucharist.

God doesn’t need us to build church buildings any more than God needs us to celebrate the liturgy.  These both reflect our desire to give thanks to God and rejoice in the glory of the Paschal Mystery – Jesus’ life, death and resurrection that open up to us the gift of eternal life.

Our churches, therefore, need to be, first and foremost, practical buildings that allow us to carry out our work (the word “liturgy” comes from the Greek leitourgia – “the work of the people”).  The first criteria for determining how they are designed should always be how the design supports the liturgical celebration.

It is possible to design an exquisite, beautiful church which is nothing more than a landmark – to effectively celebrate the liturgy in such a place can be almost impossible.  On the other hand, there are very simple, plain churches which are laid out and designed in such a way that the community is nourished and enriched by the liturgy it celebrates there.  Hopefully we can ensure we have a beautiful church which allows us to celebrate the liturgy well.