He Descended Into Hell

Carmel Bulletin, 10 May 2015

At Masses during the Lent and Easter seasons, we pray the Apostles’ Creed instead of the usual Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.  This is recommended in the Missal as it is the ancient baptismal creed of the Roman Church, and these seasons are very much focused on baptism; through the initiation of adults and the renewal of our own baptismal commitment.

When the English translation of the Missal was revised, the line “he descended to the dead” in the Apostles’ Creed changed to “he descended into hell”.  It can still seem strange to us to say it.

On reflection, I would suggest that many of us found this difficult (at least at first) because of the image that first comes to mind when we think of “hell”.  Pictures of some scary, fiery place, home to “the devil” and eternal damnation prevail in within popular culture.

Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, looking towards the Dome of the Rock
In Jerusalem, many graves are located close to the outside of the wall of the old city, in anticipation in Jewish tradition of the coming of the Messiah who will raise the dead from their graves.

Yet the word “hell” (Sheol in Hebrew, or Hades in Greek) has traditionally held a broader meaning, referring also to the place where just people who died awaited their Redeemer and thus their entry into heaven (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 633).  According to Jewish tradition, this is yet to happen.  We believe, however, that Christ the Redeemer entered into this realm of the dead, proclaiming the Good News and leading them to their eternal reward through his death and resurrection.

St Paul speaks of this in the excerpt that we will hear as the Second Reading next Sunday (the Solemnity of the Ascension):

It was said that he would:

When he ascended to the height, he captured prisoners, he gave gifts to men.

When it says, ‘he ascended’, what can it mean if not that he descended right down to the lower regions of the earth?  (Ephesians 4:8-9)

Read more about the Creeds in the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Liturgy Committee Meeting Report

Carmel Bulletin, 15 September 2013

Liturgy | Our Lady of Mount Carmel, WentworthvilleThe Liturgy Committee met at the end of August.

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.

21/10/12 – Fifty Years Since Vatican II – Language

During this Year of Grace, we have been invited to revisit the constitutions of the Second Vatican Council, which began fifty years ago this year.  The first of these constitutions was on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium.

CredoOne of the most significant liturgical reforms of the past fifty years has been the translation of the liturgical texts into vernacular languages.  When addressing the matter of language, Sacrosanctum Concilium began by stating that Latin was to be preserved.  It did go on, however to say that use of vernacular languages could be extended, as it could be of advantage to the people.

It then stated that territorial authorities (such as the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in our case) were to determine whether other languages were to be used and to what extent, which would then be confirmed by the Vatican.  Bishops’ conferences would also be responsible for approving the translations that were to be used.

The matter of language highlights the fact that the Constitution laid a foundation for the liturgical reforms that were to come, but that later work and documents would become necessary to “nut out the details”.  Already in the past half a century, the Vatican has released two differing instructions on liturgical translations.  In some cases, additional requirements have been added to what Sacrosanctum Concilium proposed.  For example, English translations for the liturgy have to be approved not only by the local bishops’ conference, but reviewed by Vatican committee prior to approval by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

25/3/12 – Approaching Holy Week and the Easter Triduum

Palm SundayNext Sunday is Palm Sunday.  The Mass commemorates the actual “Palm Sunday” events in its unique introductory rites which include the blessing of palm branches, and the proclamation of a gospel account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.  This typically takes place at the entrance to the church, or may even take a simple form with the priest leading from the sanctuary.  One Mass on the Sunday, however, should commemorate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem by means of a procession from a location outside the church.

As such, we will celebrate Palm Sunday in a similar fashion as in previous years.  9:00 am Mass will begin with a procession beginning under the shade structures in the school playground (outside the parish hall).  All other Masses will begin with a solemn entrance beginning in the narthex.

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, which leads us to the Easter Triduum.  This will be the first time we celebrate the Easter Triduum according to the new English translation of the Missal.  There are some changes to texts that we may only use once a year, such as the showing of the cross on Good Friday and the Litany of the Saints.  Please be mindful of this.  We will do our best to prompt and assist you with any changes.

Please take note of the times of the various Holy Week and Easter Triduum celebrations, and make sure you pass the timetable on to others (perhaps there are people in your neighbourhood) who may be interested in participating, but don’t get a Carmel bulletin.

8/1/12 – New Year’s Resolution

The New English Translation of the Roman MissalI hope everyone’s enjoyed the first week of 2012.  If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution, I hope it’s managed to last at least the past seven days.  I’m typically not one to make resolutions, but I am going to ask all of us to make one together.

This year, I ask every one of us to work on getting the new responses to Mass right.  It’s clear that we’re trying to remember them, but there are still some parts where the assembly’s collective response is a mix of old and new, sounding something like “It is right and just to give you thanks and praise”, or “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you enter under my roof…”

It does take some effort to try and learn new words when we’ve used the old ones for decades, so we need to be proactive!  Pick up a pew card on you way into the church, keep it on hand in case you need it, and let’s work on making sure we’re speaking with one voice once again in 2012.