Metropolitan Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge
Catholic is Back
In sunny, sub-tropical Brisbane any Catholic cleric who fails to take account of the " signs of the times" is in for a hard time. For many the culture shock will be a rude one indeed. Brisbane's new Catholic Archbishop Mark Coleridge is a Catholic not only in Faith but in practice as well. Without using the same words, like another famous Australian cleric, he " teaches what the Catholic Church teaches and does what the Catholic Church does and lets the chips fall where they may".

In a recent letter to the Clergy of the Archdiocese, His Grace opened the second year of his episcopate by reflecting on the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the need for Liturgical " stock-taking". His Grace reminded his clergy of his proper role as moderator of the liturgy in the Archdiocese, and of the fact that " we are servants not masters of the Liturgy." He urged them to read the revised General Institution of the Roman Missal in the corrected translation, and to remember that the Liturgy is not the property of the celebrant or the congregation , but of the whole Church and that it is the action of Jesus Christ Himself which the Catholic people have the right to see celebrated as the Church requires.

Archbishop Coleridge lists eight specific points or prompts to strengthen the liturgical life of the Archdiocese:

1. All Celebrants should use the corrected translation of the Roman Missal and thus accord with " liturgical discipline" and " ecclesial communion".

2. All celebrants should " respect the texts and rubrics" of the Mass as set down in the Missal. Creativity should be limited to speaking the ritual words and performing the ritual actions as well and as prayerfully as possible.

3. "In preaching, no Priest or Deacon should dissent from the teaching of the Church nor offer personal opinions or political convictions rather than the Word of God. He recommends the United States Bishops Conference document " Preaching the Mystery of Faith : The Sunday Homily".

4. All Celebrants of the Eucharist must wear the Chasuble even if concelebrants wear only alb and stole.

5. All sacred Vessels are to be of worthy non-corrosive metal and NOT glass or any breakable material. Patens should preferably be of matching material.

6. Decanters should NEVER be used to consecrate the wine. The wine should be poured into the Chalices at the time of the Preparation of the Gifts . - (That is the Precious Blood is NEVER to be poured.) 

7. The washing of the Celebrant's hands ( Lavabo) should NOT be omitted at the Preparation of the Gifts.

8. The Celebrant must always take Holy Communion" before other ministers, not at the same time or after. If there is a Deacon he is to receive the Host immediately after the Priest and the Precious Blood immediately after the Priest. Then the Priest or Deacon distributes Communion to the other ministers.
His Grace goes on to make some more general points :

a. Services of the Word and Holy Communion without a Priest, are NEVER to become normative. Whilst they may become necessary in some rural settings, in urban or quasi urban areas " it is hard to see how they could ever be justified except in a case of emergency."His Grace points out the close proximity of other Parishes in urban settings.

b. Silence is emphasised for its great value in the liturgical setting. Before Mass, after the First Reading, the Homily and  after Holy Communion. His Grace urges a Silence between the announcement of each General Intercession and before the " Lord Hear us".

Archbishop Coleridge concludes by reminding his Priests that at the annual Chrism Mass :

" We have promised that we will celebrate devoutly and faithfully the mysteries of Christ for the praise of God and the sanctification of the Christian people , according to the tradition of the Church, especially in the Eucharistic sacrifice."

How very different the Archdiocese would have been if its Priests had been similarly led through the past decades, God Bless Archbishop Coleridge and grant more strength to his arm. His letter has not met with universal joy , as on might imagine - given that it was necessary to write in such terms. But even a symbolic shot across the bows will produce a salutary effect - especially now that it is known that there are broadsides in reserve - whose effect is now known.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               


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