During COVID-19, do we watch the Church, or be the Church?

In many parts of the world now, including our own Diocese, the global COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it something that we have never experienced before in our lives – the complete suspension of liturgical celebrations in our church buildings, including the Eucharist.

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Sunday of the Word of God

While it is Australia Day here in this part of the world, universally today the Church celebrates its first ever Sunday of the Word of God.

Last September, Pope Francis decreed that “the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God.” (Apostolic Letter Aperuit Illis, no. 3).  It fulfils a proposal that he made at the end of the Holy Year of Mercy.

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The Presentation of the Lord

Carmel Bulletin, 9 February 2014

Last Sunday, we celebrated the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.  It is celebrated each year on 2 February, so it only occasionally falls on a Sunday.

CandlesAs we arrived at Mass last Sunday, we were invited to take a candle as we entered the church.  Mass then began with the blessing of these candles, a tradition that has been part of the Mass for the Presentation of the Lord since the eleventh century.

In the Gospel of the day, Simeon declares:

Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.
(Lk 2:29-32, NRSV)

It is this that the candles on this day symbolise.  Furthermore, this scripture excerpt, the Canticle of Simeon, is a daily part of the Night Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours (also known as the Divine Office).  We pray that the light of Christ fills our own hearts, and that we will one day experience the light of Christ in all its fullness.

1/4/12 – Easter Sunday Evening Prayer

The Easter Triduum begins on Holy Thursday evening with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.  The liturgical celebration of the Triduum continues with the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday and reaches its high point with the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening.

The liturgical celebration of the Easter Triduum then continues with the Easter Sunday Masses and reaches its formal conclusion with the celebration of Evening Prayer on Sunday.  For the first time this year, we invite everyone to celebrate Evening Prayer as a parish on Easter Sunday.

Evening Prayer (or Vespers) is part of the Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office as it’s also known.  Its key aspects include the praying of psalms, listening to the proclamation of a passage of scripture, and interceding for the needs of the Church and the world.  Once something that was rarely prayed outside of religious communities and clergy, this traditional way of prayerfully marking the passage of time is something the whole Church is called to rediscover.

We encourage you all to come along on Easter Sunday at 6:00 pm and pray with us to conclude what is a great day of celebration for all of us who hold firm in the hope in the resurrection.