Liturgy Planning for Message Stick Reception

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					                          Liturgy Planning for Message Stick Reception
 For thousands of years the Aboriginal People used the message stick as a way of
communicating across country. Symbols or markings were engraved or painted to
tell of Sacred Ceremonies, asking permission to cross the country of another tribe
 with different totems and lore. Today the Aboriginal Catholics carry the Message
     Stick with the bible, symbolising the respect for cultural differences when
                              spreading the Good News.

 Before you Begin                                           During Mass, when the Gospel is read, the carrier
 When your Liturgy Planning group meets for the first       holds the Message Stick next to the reader, then
 time it is important for the group to take a moment to     places the Message Stick in a prominent place.
 reflect on the great privilege of being entrusted with     In a Paraliturgy the Message Stick can be used in
 this sacred symbol of the Aboriginal people, the           the same manner as at Mass during the chosen
 Message Stick, before embarking on the                     Biblical readings.
 practicalities of liturgy planning.
                                                            Protocols for using the Message Stick
 Respecting Ancient Dreaming Aboriginal people              Welcome/Acknowledgement of Country
 graciously share their story and culture with all           It is important to begin celebrations, liturgies and
 people and in return we respect their Ancient              gatherings with an acknowledgement of the original
 Dreaming which has existed for over 40,000 years.          custodians of the land on which you are gathering.
 We respect that which has gone before the birth of         There are two ways of doing this:
 Christ our Redeemer and respond to the call to be
 united in love as one human family.                         Welcome to country can only be done by an Elder
                                                            from the region
 Unity in Christ We have been given the privilege of
                                                             Acknowledgement of country (this can be done by
 using the Message Stick as a symbol of our unity
                                                            any member of the gathered community). There are
 with peoples who are created by the Creator Spirit in
                                                            many ways to express this, the following is an
 unity with the Christ the Redeemer and sustained by
 the all embracing Spirit
                                                            Today in our celebration we acknowledge the original
 The Privilege of using the Sacred Symbol of                custodians (name the local Aboriginal people) of the
 another Culture We understand the great privilege          land on which we are standing. We thank the Elders
 of being entrusted with this sacred symbol and the         for their care and protection of the land. We will carry
 importance of treating the Message Stick with              on this tradition through our care for the
 reverence at all times.                                    environment.

 Gratitude We give thanks to the Aboriginal people          Sacred Space
 for trusting us to use the message stick with integrity    As the Message Stick is a sacred symbol of the
 in our liturgies.                                          Aboriginal people, it must be treated with reverence
                                                            and respect. Developing rituals and actions that are
 Respecting the Dignity of Others In all liturgies,
                                                            in harmony with the meaning of the Message Stick is
 ceremonies and gatherings the dignity of Aboriginal
                                                            vital as the Message Stick itself is a powerful symbol
 people will be respected.
                                                            of reconciliation (beyond the Sacramental use of the
                                                            word), forgiveness, love, hope and peace and is only
 When using images and music this disclaimer must
 always be on any printed /visual material:                 used when the Proclamation of The Word is made.
 Disclaimer: Some photos may contain voices and
 images of members of the Aboriginal community              It is important to have simple, meaningful symbols. In
 who may have returned to the Dreaming. They are            this case, less is more - with emphasis in liturgy - on
 used with the greatest respect and appreciation.           simplicity, rather than entertainment. The following
                                                            symbols are suggestions for use when planning your
 Acknowledging the Spirituality of Others We                celebrations. There may be others that are applicable
 acknowledge the rich spirituality of the Aboriginal        to your local area. Think about where you hold your
 people through liturgies, ceremonies and gatherings        gatherings, often outdoors provides greater
 that reflect the reconciliation, forgiveness, love, hope   opportunity to be creative. As the Aboriginal culture is
 and peace of Christ our Redeemer.                          strongly connected to the land, the symbols they use
                                                            thoroughly engage all our human senses – sight,
 Ceremonial Lore                                            sound, smell, taste, touch. The symbols that follow
 The Message Stick must only be used                        indicate which sense is engaged when the symbol is
 when associated with ‘The Word’ of                         used.
 God, carried in an upright position
 (see image) during the opening and
 closing processions.
SYMBOLS                                                       Clap Sticks and Didgeridoo
Water The Aboriginal people have lived in                      Clap sticks are used as musical accompaniment
harmony with the changes in the environment of                during ceremonies. They are played by holding
drought and flood for 40,000 years, always                    one stick loosely in one hand and striking it with a
respecting and treading carefully on the Earth.               heartbeat type rhythm with the second stick. The
Water can be used as a Sprinkling Rite as a                   didgeridoo is used to call people together for song
Welcome or as the Penitential Rite during                     and dance. Both these instruments can be used to
Eucharist, a Healing or Penance Service. A                    lead processions in liturgy (Entrance Procession,
coolamon or bowl and gum leaves can be used.                  Offertory of Gifts, Recessional Procession) In
Several drops of eucalyptus oil can be added to               particular they can accompany the Message Stick
water as it is associated with healing and                    in the Gospel Procession or be played during a
cleansing. (touch, smell). Feel the nurturing,                Sprinkling Rite (Clap Sticks are played by women
cleansing, sustaining water. (touch) (Ezek 36,25;             and the didgeridoo by men) (sound, sight) (2 Sam
Jn 4,15)                                                      6,5; 2Chr 7,6)

Fire & Light The red flames of fire are an                    Coolamons can be used during processions or to
important symbol for Aboriginal people, as a                  enhance the sacred space. Coolamons were
source of heat, comfort and light giving direction,           traditionally (are) used by the women to cradle
similar to our understanding of the workings of the           babies and gather food and water. In this context
Holy Spirit. Keeping the fire alive is vital in               they can be used for baptism, holding the bread of
Aboriginal communities and traditionally a fire stick         Eucharist or water for sprinkling. (sight, touch,
was carried from place to place. Fire can be used             taste) (Mt 25,4; Acts 9,15)
in outdoor celebrations. This allows a larger fire to
be lit and the sense of gathering around the fire’s           Oils & Gum Leaves can be used in the sacred
heat is experienced. Indoor liturgies can use a               space for decoration and perfume. A branch of
bowl of fire, enhanced by the crackle and burning             gum leaves can be used as a symbol of unity, with
of eucalyptus leaves. (smell, sight, sound, touch)            people taking a leaf from the branch as they either
(Mal 3,2; Mt 3,11; Acts 2)                                    enter or leave the ceremony or liturgy. Using an oil
                                                              burner or scented candles enables the perfume of
Wind Our experience of wind is varied, from the               the eucalypt to permeate the environment in which
parching winds of inland Australia to the cool winds          you are gathered. Signing the cross in eucalyptus
that signal a break in the weather. The Aboriginal            oil on foreheads or hands can be used in
people are attuned to these changes, always                   ceremonies of reconciliation and healing. (smell,
patiently waiting and watching for signs of change.           touch) – wattle is never used as in some
We use wind as a symbol of the movement of the                Aboriginal beliefs wattle is a sign of sickness (hay
Holy Spirit in our lives. Music and visual images             fever/rhinitis). Wattle is never brought into the
can capture the symbolism of wind. (sound, sight)             home. (Ex 37,29; Lk 7,46)
(Job 7,7; Mt 11,7)

Southern Cross Shaped as a cross, this formation
of stars is significant in the Southern Hemisphere.
                                                              Appropriate situations for use of Message
As it journeys across the night sky it is a symbol of
our life journey through the Paschal Mystery of
birth, death and resurrection. Superb images of the
                                                              Acknowledging the ancient Custodians of the land
night sky can be found on the internet. (sight) (Dan
                                                              on which you are standing
12,3; Mt 2,2)
                                                              Major Feasts of the Church Year and Community
Desert The desert is in the heart of our country              Special celebrations:
and is home to many Aboriginal communities.                   The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and
There are many references to the desert in both               Eucharist,
our Hebrew and New Testament Scriptures. It is                Inauguration and Induction ceremonies,
place where the unexpected can happen. Images                 special Liturgies other than Eucharist.
of the Australian desert and bowls of red sand                Social Justice occasions
which can be touched provide meaningful symbols.              Ecumenical celebrations are especially appropriate
(touch, sight) (Is 40,3; Lk 9,10; Jn 6,31)                    as they embrace our unity in Christ.
                                                              School Assemblies
Soil, Sand Feeling the soil from which we came
and to which we will return (touch) (Gen.2,7; 3,19)

       Liturgy planning and further information will be found on the following web-sites:

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