Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is a time to focus on our baptismal life and how we are living our baptism day in and day out. We renew our baptism every time we celebrate the liturgy, especially Eucharist. The depth of that renewal is commensurate to the depth of our participation in the liturgy. Let’s begin to ponder that.
The Season of Lent is almost upon us and parishes and many other groups are busy organising Lenten Groups so they are in ‘ready, set, go’ position by the time Lent starts. The associated promotion of these groups leads me to reflect on whether our Lenten groups gather and pray according to the wisdom of our liturgical year. Let’s reflect together.
Last week I was looking for singers. This week I am inviting everyone: those who are Catholic and those seeking to become Catholic, whether adults through the RCIA process, or parents presenting their children to complete the Sacraments of Initiation, to come to the Cathedral and join in the feast of liturgies that begins tonight.
When the Church of Maitland-Newcastle gathers for significant liturgical events we are looking to expand the Cathedral Choir with members from the whole diocesan Church who would like to be part of the choir for any or all of these events. This year I am particularly keen to expand the Choir for the Project Compassion Liturgy (Feb 25) so that the choir is representative of the whole diocese.
Pope Francis encourages Catholics to deepen their understanding and love of the liturgy through continuing formation, stating that ‘liturgy is a life that forms, not an idea to be learnt’. The National Biennial Liturgy Conference will offer such formation, in line with Plenary Council discernment, with an aptly titled theme of ‘Liturgy: Forming a Prayerful and Eucharistic Church’.
On Tuesday December 10, in 42 degree heat and while smoke filled the air, the Lochinvar community – sisters, students, colleagues and friends – gathered to bless the Lochinvar Chapel that was destroyed by fire in November 2018. The presence of the smoke added a poignancy to the celebration as Fr. Andrew noted in his introductory remarks. Within the context of Mass the primary focus of this liturgy was the dedication of the altar. I have been thinking a lot about our altars since then. So let us ponder together.
The holidays are fast approaching and I am beginning to look with delight at the pile of books I am waiting to read. Many of them theological – not just liturgy but also church and associated things. Tragic I know but I enjoy it! Throughout the year, thanks to Fr. Andrew, Liturgy Matters has included a number of reviews of books we suggest are good reads. Here is one more. I haven’t read this one, but I am a fan of other books by Timothy O’Malley. At the end of Andrew’s review I have added links to his other book reviews. Enjoy your holiday reading!
The theme of the Synod Gathering Day on Saturday November 23 was ‘Building the Kingdom of God Together in the Church of Maitland-Newcastle.’ What a day it was. At the Mass at the end of the day celebrating the Feast of Christ the King, Bishop Bill presented each Regional or Parish Office with two wonderful new Australian documents which focus on our church buildings. It was fitting to present these to the community at our Synod Mass because the church building is designed for those critical liturgical celebrations which shape the church community for ecclesial and missionary life. These documents belong to us all so it is important that we all know about them. Following is the letter from Fr. Andrew and the Diocesan Liturgy Council which begins to explain their importance and provides advice from Bishop Bill on a relevant local issue.