A short liturgical season such as Advent can be easily lost in Australia amidst the pre-Christmas hype and end-of-year rush to the summer holidays. As such, its symbols, prayers and music can help us to hold on to this time of joyful expectation.
Lent is a time when we, among other things, celebrate the unconditional and boundless mercy of God. This is evident throughout the season, but is probably epitomised for many in the parable of the Prodigal Son, which we will hear in a couple of weeks’ time.
Jesus presents the father in this parable as the merciful face of God the Father. At the same time, we can relate to the father as one like us, called to respond compassionately; even though our natural response may be more akin to that of the older brother.
Pope Francis has called us all during this Year of Mercy, not just to remember that Christ is the face of the merciful Father, but that all of us are called to be a face of mercy to the world. This will be something that we will continue to reflect on over the course of Lent and Easter.
Speaking of reflecting, many people have already noticed and commented on the mirror in the narthex, with the Diocesan Year of Mercy caption, Mercy Has a Face. Mercy still needs a face in our world today, perhaps more now than ever, but who does God call to be that face of his mercy? We guarantee that if you take a look in the mirror this Lent, you’ll find the answer.
OK, so if you’ve been to Mass at OLMC this weekend, you may be wondering why there is a mirror in the parish centre….
The role of the sacristan, or of the group of volunteers who attend to the work of the sacristy, is an important ministry in any parish. These ministers not only assist the priest, but support the entire assembly to participate fully, consciously and actively in liturgical celebrations.
One responsibility sacristans have is to prepare for specific liturgical times and celebrations. While music ministers will organise and rehearse music for different seasons and special occasions, the priest will prepare a homily, and other ministers will hang banners and arrange flowers, sacristans are reviewing previous practices and the requirements outlined in the liturgical books for each season and major feast.
It will mean, for example, that sacristans are attentive to the fact that the sanctuary cannot be decorated with flowers during Lent. They will often prepare a checklist for a major occasion such as the Easter Vigil Mass, remembering that it has additional requirements such as firewood, candles for the entire assembly, incense nails, and all the items for the baptismal liturgy. They will be prepared for the fact that additional seating is required in the sanctuary when the Mass will be concelebrated by several priests.
Attention to these details is essential to ensuring that there isn’t a frantic rush to organise something minutes before Mass begins, or an awkward, embarrassing “break in the program” once it is realised that something crucial is still out the back in a cupboard. With all aspects of the celebration well prepared, the entire assembly, as well as those leading them, can focus their minds and hearts more deeply on prayer and an encounter with Christ himself.