From the Director

Aquinas taught that being itself is derived from the beautiful, which is God, the goal, the summit and cause of everything that exists. (In librum beati Dionysii de divinis nominubus, Caput IV, Lectio V). Beauty as an aspect of God intrigues, attracts and fascinates humanity, and has inspired centuries of artists, musicians, and architects to produce sacred worksof art, which at the service of liturgy offer witness to “our public gratitude that God is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.” [Nathan Mitchell, “BeingGood and Being Beautiful,” Worship 74/6 (Nov. 2000): 557-8.] Experiencing beauty in liturgy offers us an opportunity to encounter the beautiful in Christ.Our newsletter focuses on how the sacred arts can provide access to experiences of God’s beauty. Dr Angela McCarthy explores the beauty of illuminated books emphasising art’s capacity to enlighten the minds of people of faith drawing them more deeply into God’s mystery. Caroline Field introduces ACU’s art collection and explores how displaying sacred art in public places can take the Christian message into the marketplace in engaging and challenging ways. May an experience of beauty challenge and inspire you daily.

Professor Clare V. Johnson

Director, ACU Centre for Liturgy Professor of Liturgical Studies& Sacramental Theology, Faculty of Theology & PhilosophyNew Liturgy Unit at ACU— THCT607: Liturgical Theology

John F. Baldovin,

From our board of advisors

The great 19th c. opera composer, Richard Wagner, used the term Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art or complete work of art) to describe how opera pulled together all of the aspects of art.

Gesamtkunstwerk also serves as an appropriate term for the experience of liturgy. When I teach the introductory course on liturgy to our ministerial students, one of the assignments is to compare the Sunday Eucharist at a Latin Rite Catholic church with one from another tradition (Eastern, Anglican or Protestant). They have to take the total experience into account: art and architecture, music, ritual and text. It is a daunting task, but it helps one to see that the liturgy is a holistic experience, not justa series of religious texts. It’s a good reminder for people with academic degrees like me that liturgy is an experience not just a set of ideas. Thank you, Richard Wagner.

Professor John F. Baldovin

S.J. Professor of Historical & Liturgical Theology, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

ACU Centre for Liturgy – March 2019

News and recent events

Liturgy Nexus for Schools


In time for the new school year, ACU Centre for Liturgy has launchedthe Liturgy Nexus for Schools. It is vital that children and young people in Catholic schools experience rich liturgies to nurture their spiritual and liturgical life. Teachers and those tasked with the responsibility of preparing liturgies often need enhanced liturgical training. TheLiturgy Nexus for Schools is a resource to offer support and information and to be a ‘go to’ place when teachers have questions/queries about celebrating liturgies in Catholic schools. For more information go to the following link:

Speaking Awesome Words: Lector Ministry Training

Hearing the Word of God proclaimed well during celebrations of the Eucharist can be a source of great spiritual nourishment. When a Lector performs their ministry with grace and dignity, God speaks to God’s people.A good Lector conveys the meaning of the text with correct intonation, pace and voice projection, whilst considering the congregation with eye contact and brief, meaningful periods of silence. Learning how to be a goodLector entails careful preparation well in advance, praying with the text and practice in the knowledge that the people of God are hungry for God’s Word. Speaking Awesome Words isa two-hour workshop which seeks to hone the skills of Lectors so that the Word of God can be proclaimed well. Bring the program to your parish! For more information see:

Workshops and professional development

Lay Liturgical Ministry Formation: In June Ms Sharon Boyd and Dr Jason McFarland will present a liturgical formation weekend in Hay, NSW,for the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes. The focus of the weekend will be layliturgical ministry, including sessions on the baptismal foundations of ministry, Order of Christian Funerals, Morning and Evening Prayer, Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest, and the ministry of Lector. This important work is possible thanks to a generous donation to the ACU Centre for Liturgy for the support of our work in rural and under-resourced dioceses.Please consider making a similar donation, large or small, to support our work, so that the Centre can continue to offer pastoral formation in dioceses like Wilcannia-Forbes. Information on how to donate can be found on page 4.National Church Architecture Symposium: From 6-8 February the ACU Centre for Liturgy co-sponsored and facilitated the National Church Architecture Symposium ‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’ on Catholic liturgical heritage at the ACU campus in Melbourne. The event was a great success, with over 110 participants. Dr McFarland served as the liturgical expert on a panel presentation called ‘The Confessional: Rite, Room, Royal Commission’on the design needs for reordered liturgical space for the sacrament of Reconciliation. Professor Johnson served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the Symposium.

Liturgy Spotlight

Sacred art

For millennia human beings have expressed their relationship to divine entities through the arts. In Christian tradition, following our Jewish heritage, the arts have been employed to move us in our worship of God and help us to express our understanding and experience of God.

Music has been a crucial way of engagement, as has the architecture of the places in which we gather to give praise. There are, however, many other aspects of art that are included in this sacred area.Vestments have developed in various Christian traditions to be richly ornate and resplendent for the worship of God. Garments from both the Byzantine and Roman Church have many beautifulexamples. However, some are not at all appropriate for our current liturgical practices but the beauty of the handwork and the expression of faith by thosewho faithfully sew and embroider the vestments speaks of a relationship with God.Texts are another example. Up until the invention of the printing press there were many scriptoria where monks and lay people would labour to provide liturgical texts and illuminated bibles for theuse of the faithful. This is a wonderful area to explore and since there is much available on the World Wide Web, digital versions can let us see the magnificence of examples such as the Book of Kells, the Grimani Breviary and the Rothschild Prayer Book. The new translation of theRoman Missal is impressive in the way it has been produced with beautiful binding, worthy fine paper, excellent print and rich illuminations. It is worth asking to havea close look at your parish’s copy of the Missal.This century there has been an addition to this art form. The St John’s University and Monastery in Collegeville Minnesota have produced the first hand written and hand illuminated bible in 500 years. This is an exceptional work, all done by hand by a team led by Donald Jackson from his studio in Wales. It is contemporaryin its approach, inclusive of genders and ethnicities and extraordinarily beautiful The original on 1150 sheets of calf skin vellum remains in Minnesota but there is a

Heritage Edition available for loan and purchase which is the same size as the original and there is a coffee table size available as well.

Our liturgical needs since the Second Vatican Council have changed what we require and we have also been through a relatively sterile period. Many of our

churches have images and statues but no art. There is a difference. Pious statues and images can move us to prayer and remind us of the wealth of tradition that we have in our faith life. An artist, however, is able to move faithful people because the spirit and mind of the artist is able to draw us to different understandings. Art can enrich and deepen our faith. As Pope Francis said, sacred artworks ‘bear witness to

the spiritual aspirations of humanity, the sublime mysteries of the Christian faith, and the quest of that supreme beauty which has its source and fulfilment in God’ (19 October, 2013).

The sacred vessels that we use for the Eucharistic Liturgy also need to be worthy and noble and artists can give us the richness that we need for these items. On January 15 the Mandorla Art Award www. announced that there is to be a liturgical art exhibition in 2021. This will include all items used for liturgy: stained glass, sacred vessels, vestments, texts, architectural design, sculpture and images. This will develop for theAustralian Church a number of artists who show capability and desire to serve the Church in this very noble way.

For us to be fully, consciously and actively participating in liturgy we need to be served well by the arts that draw us, through beauty, into the life of God.

Angela-McCarthyDr Angela McCarthy

Senior Lecturer in Theology at the University of Notre Dame Australia. Her principal area of interest is liturgy and the arts.
She has been a liturgical musician for four decades and is the Chairperson of the Mandorla Art Award.

ACU Centre for Liturgy – March 2019

Sharing good practice

Sacred art in public places

The ACU Art Collection contains over 1,000 diverse artworks dating from the 13th century to the contemporary, representing a wide range of disciplines and media. The collection is organised into four sections comprising the Modern and Contemporary Art Collection, presenting work by Australian and international artists, the Chapel Collection holding sacred art used in the service of worship or devotion, the Ceremonial Collection featuring the Biccherna book, processional mace and ACU ceremonial robes, and the Historical Collection with botanical specimens, 15th century chasubles, embroidered vestments and furniture, and art historical items.Works from the collection are widely displayed throughout the campuses, with an emphasis on limiting the number of artworks held in storage and providing greater visual access to this important asset. With a large proportion of the collection reflecting religious themes, the placement of these works supports the expression of the University’s spiritual values and mission in both sacredand public spaces, including chapels, libraries, and lecture theatres, and the Vice-Chancellor’s office where visitingdignitaries are reminded of the importance of religious art in study, reflection and academic rigour on every level.Significant examples of sacred artwork displayed on the Brisbane campus include the commission of a statue of Catherine McAuley, the iconic founder of the Sisters of Mercy, by celebrated Australian artist Peter Wegner, which will be displayedin front of the chapel, and a moving depiction of the Flight into Egypt by Joyce Meyer which has pride of place in the Vice-Chancellor’s reception. The recent opening of the Mercy building has provided a wonderful opportunity for the siting of another recent acquisition painted by notable Italian renaissanceartist Matteo di Giovanni di Bartolo. The striking work Madonna with child and St. John the Baptist painted c. 1490 provides a profound and moving impact within the entry foyer of this notable new facility.Similar displays of spiritual art are experienced on all ACU campuses, with none more prominent than the majestic carving of Christ on a Cross which is a major feature within the Phillipa Brazill Lecture Theatre at the St. Patrick’s campus in Melbourne. The impact of sacred art in public spaces can be both obvious and subtle, ranging from theclear religious message reflected in the nature and positioning of such an iconic item, to the refined suggestion of devotion contained in quiet and sometimes unexpected appearances of divine objects. Space responds to, and is given meaning through art, and the spirituality and reflection conferred by the placement of religious artwork promotes a calmness and contemplation within the university and wider community.

Caroline FieldCaroline Field

GDFA (Printmaking), MA (Fine Arts),GD MuseumStudies, has been Curator of the ACU Art Collection since 2016. She has extensive knowledge of Australian art, encompassing artistic assessment,collection management and presentation.Previous positions include Director of the City of Horsham Regional Art Gallery,and Manager/Curator of the Museum of Art, Deakin University.

ACU Centre for Liturgy – March 2019

Engage our expertise

Improve liturgical celebrations in your parish: We provide specialised training and formation workshops for parish ministers and liturgical musicians on a variety of topics.

Deepen your understanding of the liturgy as a Catholic educator: Our professional development (PD) sessions and workshops focus on helping teachers and religious education leaders to enhance worship within school contexts.

Develop your skills as a presider at liturgy: Our specialised PD sessions for clergy include topics such as: The art of presiding at worship, The art and craft of preaching, Gaining confidence in presidential singing and Navigating new liturgical translations.

Bring our experts to you: Our academics and professional specialists can deliver keynote addresses, public lectures, and conference workshops on topics of interest to your organisation.

The Liturgy Nexus

The Nexus is an online network for professional Catholic liturgists, academics and those working in areas related to liturgy, sacraments and the sacred arts. It is a subscription based, closed network for conversation on liturgical issues, resource sharing and problem solving. Memberships are available for individuals:

  • involved in Catholic liturgical ministry and scholarship on a local, national, and international level
  • with tertiary qualifications in liturgy, sacraments and the sacred arts
  • working professionally in liturgy-related professions (e.g. liturgical musicians, artists, architects), or
  • currently studying postgraduate level liturgy, sacraments and the sacred arts.

The Liturgy Nexus went live on 1 March 2018, and membership is granted to applicants who meet the eligibility criteria. The annual membership fee is $30.00 and is renewable yearly, on or before 1 March.

Apply now

Support our work in rural and low income parishes

Donations can be made via the Give Now portal on our website. ACU is a public not-for-profit university. Gifts of $2 or more are tax deductible and you can be assured that 100% of your gift will be applied directly to provide essential formative liturgical education in areas of need. We also accept endowments, pledges, bequests, and gifts in kind.

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