A Catholic Monthly Magazine

A Home for the New Words

Fr Merv Duffy sm

Fr Merv Duffy sm

In an earlier editorial (July 2010) I commented, “The revision of the English Missal does not exempt us from the imperative to inculturate the Catholic Church in Aotearoa-New Zealand.” Evangelii Nuntiandi called us to “evangelize our culture and cultures (not in a purely decorative way, as it were, by applying a thin veneer, but in a vital way, in depth and right to their very roots).”
I would today like to draw your attention to someone’s attempt to do just that. In many parishes we are using a little red book with the new words of the English Mass. The words of the mass are exactly as given to us, but the context and presentation are the work of the New Zealand churches.

An organization called Fitzbeck Creative are credited with the graphics. They are all worth looking at, but one in particular took my breath away - it is reproduced here. At first glance it is a chalice and a loaf, a very standard Eucharistic symbol. Closer inspection reveals the incorporation of two other symbols which delighted me. They are the four stars of the Southern Cross and the unfolding fern frond - the koru. The Southern Cross is something not seen in the skies of Europe, but dominant in our sky.


The koru as a symbol of new life and possibility is an element of Maori art that has been taken up in many contexts in New Zealand. To give but one example, it features in the Air New Zealand logo. Merely putting these symbols side by side would have been trivial. What the graphic artist that produced the Eucharistic illustration has done is to combine them. The cup and the loaf incorporate the koru - so this is no ordinary cup and no ordinary loaf - they must be the cup of life and the bread of life. If the Southern Cross were above the scene it would suggest a eucharist celebrated in New Zealand. In fact one star of the Crux is within the cup - in the wine. Heaven has broken into the earthly. Because the constellation is the cross all sorts of Paschal connections spring to mind. The star is connecting the cup to Calvary and to our hemisphere.

I would like to commend the graphic artists Emily Efford and Milton Bell. Here is a real piece of creative, faithful inculturation of the liturgy of the universal Church.

Tagged as:

Comments are closed.