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.

Humility

Carmel Bulletin, 7 December 2014

When we recently met with Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, we discussed the qualities they bring to their ministry.  One of these was humility.

The quality is closely linked with service.  We must be prepared to put aside our own interests and place ourselves at the service of Christ, with whom we are united in our worship.

The liturgy also unites us with each individual who worships with us, and in whom Christ is present.  It is only when we recongise the presence of Christ in others, and we place ourselves at the service of our brothers and sisters that we truly and completely place ourselves at the service of Jesus.

Stool, bowl, jug of water for the Washing of FeetThe great example Christ gives us of humble service is his washing of the feet of his disciples. Peter originally refused to have his feet washed because he realised what Jesus was doing – placing himself in the position of a servant or slave, someone who would never have been considered ‘great’ in the society and culture of the time.  When we think about it more deeply, Peter’s refusal may not have only been to the confronting act of Christ’s humility, but also to the confronting realisation that Jesus would expect the same from him.

We can find words in the liturgy to express our humility; the Penitential Act and our response to the invitation to Communion (Lord, I am not worthy…) being probably the most obvious.  Yet for us as Catholics, both within our worship and within our daily lives, we are challenged to make humility part of our way of being.

Formation Workshop for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion

Carmel Bulletin, 2 November 2014

Over the past week, thirty-four of our Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion participated in the annual formation workshop.

Parishioners coming forward to receive communion
© Alphonsus Fok, 3.2.1 Photography

We reflected upon the participation on everybody in the liturgical celebration.  The Mass is the celebration of Christ and his Church – the Church present at this time and place, united in prayer and faith with the Church universal and those gone before us marked with the sign of faith.

The focus of this workshop was to consider some of the qualities that our Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion possess.  Blessed (Pope) Paul VI, in his 1973 instruction, Immensae Caritatis, described those suitable for this ministry being people “whose good qualities… recommended them”.  We shared a number of qualities that are displayed by our ministers, and focused on four in particular:

  • Humility
  • Hospitality
  • Gratitude
  • Reverence

Parish Vision noticeboard in narthex - with reflections from formation workshopWe will discuss these qualities in greater detail in the coming weeks.  We also considered how these qualities, displayed and modelled by our ministers (and hopefully by all our parishioners), allow us to contribute in a small way to the realisation of our parish vision that all families feel connected, supported and valued as they live and grow in their faith.  That is why you will find some of our discussion recorded and displayed on our parish vision board in the narthex today.

20/9/09 – A Model of Humble Service

Have you ever wondered who makes sure the holy water fonts at the doors are filled and cleaned?

Until recent times, it was one of the many important but often taken-for-granted jobs performed by Pat Le Mottee.  Pat passed away on 9 September, and her funeral was celebrated on Tuesday.

Pat was very much engaged in liturgical ministry here in Wentworthville.  Despite her reservations, she served as a Minister of the Word and Minister of Communion.  She performed many tasks belonging to sacristans, such as washing linen, polishing brassware and keeping plants and flowers topped up with water.  Even though she disliked the task, she was ever-diligent in recording the use of overheads for our copyright records and filing them away so music ministers could find them the next weekend.  After Mass, on Saturday mornings, Pat would lead parishioners in praying the rosary at the Marian shrine.  There is probably even more that she did that I cannot recall, or am simply not aware that she did.

This brings me to the point of my writing about Pat.  For those of us in liturgical ministry, Pat gave us an example of humble service.  Everything she did was done for the honour and glory of the God she so dearly loved and whom she knew loved her.  Never at any time did she draw attention to herself.  No matter how seemingly insignificant the task, no matter how much she liked or disliked it, Pat did it humbly out of dedication and love.

Pat’s liturgical ministry and her faith serve as a model for us all.

May the angels lead you into paradise;
may the martyrs come to welcome you
and take you to the holy city,
the new and eternal Jerusalem.

from the Rite of Committal, Order of Christian Funerals