Welcome to our first weekend of Masses since our new altar was dedicated and new parts of our church blessed for use. To help you become familiar with our renewed church, please take note of the following:
We bless ourselves with holy water as we enter the church to remind us of our baptism. We encourage you to bless yourself directly from the baptismal font in the centre of the church.
The front pew in each section of the church is kneeler-free, which may be of help to those who are unable to kneel, and to those who need easy access in and out of their seat.
Many people use the devotional spaces around the church for their personal prayer. Please feel free to pray at the shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, but only before or after Mass. Stopping at the shrine after receiving communion causes difficulties and disruption for others. The seats in front of the shrine are the perfect place to stop and pray after Mass, while keeping walkways clear. We look forward to the other devotional spaces around the church being completed early in the new year.
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”.
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.
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.
Last year, we began to look at some of the things we do as a liturgical assembly when we gather together to celebrate the Mass.
It seems to go without saying that one of the things we would do, perhaps the thing that we do, is pray.
Our prayer in the Mass takes on particular forms, words and patterns that have been shaped over centuries. There are times where we are invited to pray collectively, each of us giving our voice to the communal prayer of the Church. There are times when the priest gives voice to our communal praise and thanksgiving; the Eucharistic Prayer being the best example.
There are other times when we call to mind our own prayers and intentions. Such times include the collect prayers of the Mass when the priest invites us: “Let us pray”. In the Prayer of the Faithful, after the intention is named by the minister, we take a moment to make own prayer, before we ask God to hear us. It is these personal prayers that we, the faithful, make that are “The Prayer of the Faithful”. Silence in the Mass is important for those moments of personal prayer and recollection.
Silence is also important for us to be open to God’s response to us. Prayer is not a one-way communication from us to God. It is a dialogue between the human and the divine. We are fortunate in our parish to be able to learn from the Carmelite example, where silence and contemplation are so highly valued as a means of allowing us to speak to God, and for God to speak to us.
One matter the committee considered was that raised at the previous Pastoral Council meeting, namely the concern that parishioners are not able to participate in the prayers and responses of the Mass due to an inability to remember and access the texts. For those who find the print of the pew cards too small, copies of booklets with the prayers and responses of the Mass in larger print are now available for you to take from the literature stand in the parish centre. The committee also discussed the importance of everyone making an effort to learn and remember the texts of the Mass. Every parishioner, including liturgical ministers and members of the assembly, is encouraged to commit themselves to participate as fully, consciously and actively as possible in the liturgical celebration.
The Liturgy Committee also began to examine the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on sacred art. As we continue to progress towards adopting a design for the renewal of the church, it will be necessary to consider how the different elements that make up the church, such as artworks, will contribute to the overall makeup of the building. The Council Fathers remind us that the Church has adopted artistic styles from every period over the centuries, and that the Church continues to have a responsibility to support artists and encourage truly beautiful, sacred art that adorns the church building with reverence and honour.