Thursday, April 09, 2009

Why does the Bishop preach his homily sitting down?

The oldest cathedra in the U.S. is at the Baltimore Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, via"Is Bishop McGrath feeling okay?" "Why doesn't he stand up to do his homily?" "Maybe he's just tired."

I hear those comments often after a big diocesan liturgy like the Chrism Mass. Here and at other more solemn liturgies, the Bishop will usually give his homily sitting down. But don't worry. He's not tired, and he's doing just fine.

The reason a Bishop preaches while seated is because of the chair. It's not because it's a particularly comfy chair (some Bishops' chairs look downright hard and uncomfortable!). The chair of a Bishop at his cathedral is a special symbol of the Bishop. This chair, the "cathedra," is what gives the cathedral its name. A cathedral is the place where the cathedra is permanently located.

Cathedra means "chair" in Latin and "seat" in Greek (kathedra). You can spot the cathedra because it usually has the coat of arms of the diocese and the Bishop near it. Only the Bishop is allowed to sit in the cathedra because this chair is the sign of the Bishop's office and the unity among all the parishes in the diocese. If the Bishop is not present and another priest presides at Mass in the cathedral, he must sit in a different chair.

Cathedra at the Los Angeles Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, via cathedralsofcalifornia.comFrom the cathedra (or in Latin, "ex cathedra"), the Bishop exercises the three primary responsibilities of his office: "The office of Bishop as teacher, sanctifier, and pastor of his Church shines forth most clearly in a liturgy that he celebrates with his people" (Ceremonial of Bishops, 11).

This doesn't mean that the Bishop can't teach, bless, and lead from anywhere else. But the cathedra is a primary symbol of his office and of his responsibility to the diocese. From the cathedra, the Bishop teaches, presides at prayer, and stands as the leader of all the faithful in the diocese. And because the liturgy is the source and summit of the Church's activity and power, the people of the diocese gathered around their Bishop at his chair is a powerful sign of the presence of Christ.

Bishop Patrick J. McGrath at his cathedra at the San Jose Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph, photo by Sofyan NugrohoThe Bishop at his chair is also a sign of the Church's unity because the Bishop is our connection to all the other dioceses around the world and to the first among Bishops, the Pope. The Pope is the Bishop of the Diocese of Rome, and he too has a cathedra in a church called the Cathedral Basilica of Saint John Lateran.

When the Bishop is seated at the cathedra, especially when he is preaching, he is fully exercising his office, especially the role of teaching:
The Bishop as herald of the faith leads new followers to Christ. As their authentic teacher, that is, one invested with the authority of Christ, he proclaims to the people entrusted to him the truths of faith they are to believe and to live by. Under the light of the Holy Spirit the Bishop explains the teachings of faith, bringing forth from the treasurehouse of revelation new things and old. He works to make faith yield its harvest and, like the good shepherd, he is vigilant in protecting his people from the threat of error. (Ceremonial of Bishops, 15
The Ceremonial (the Church's guidebook for any liturgical celebration with a Bishop) then states that "the office of preaching is proper to the Bishop, so that other ordained ministers fulfill this office only in his name," and "[u]nless he decides that some other way is preferable, the Bishop should preach while seated at the chair, wearing the miter and holding the pastoral staff" (17).

The Bishop, and through him all the priests and deacons of a diocese, are special signs of Christ. So when we look at the Bishop at his chair, we see Christ who is our Teacher, High Priest, and Good Shepherd.

Take a virtual pilgrimmage of the cathedrals in California at this very interesting and beautiful site.

John Angotti in Concert, Workshop, and Prayer in the Diocese of San Jose

Click image for larger view


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Workshop for music ministers with John Angotti - April 20, 2009

Does your Sunday worship do what it should? Does your congregation leave affected by the grace they have just received or does it just seem like going through the motions? Too often we worry about singing the right notes instead of also looking at how music can elevate the worship to cause an effect in your life and therefore change hearts. Come and gather information and ideas on how to make your parish liturgy be the common ground on which everything else in parish life grows.

Music Changes Everything
A workshop for music ministers
with John Angotti

Monday, April 20, 2009
10:00a to 12:00p
check and refreshment at 9:30a

Santa Teresa Church
794 Calero Avenue
San Jose, CA, 95123-3912

$10 registration
Please RSVP with Bernard Nemis or
at 408-983-0126

Contact Diana Macalintal for more information

Why we offer the Communion Cup at Mass

This article by Diana Macalintal originally appeared in The Valley Catholic, April 2009 issue.

photo by Sofyan NugrohoBishop Patrick J. McGrath has asked all the parishes of the diocese of San Jose to offer the Communion cup to all the faithful at Mass, especially at Sunday and feast day Masses. By asking parishes to follow this policy, Bishop McGrath is highlighting the directive of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), which has been in place since 1970:
Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it is distributed under both kinds. For in this form the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is more clearly evident and clear expression is given to the divine will by which the new and eternal Covenant is ratified in the Blood of the Lord…. (281)

Since the 16th century and the Council of Trent, the church has taught that Christ, whole and entire, is present in the consecrated bread, and if we receive only the Body of Christ, we receive the full grace of the sacrament. So why bother receiving from the cup?

The most important reason is that Jesus told us to. At every Eucharist, the presider repeats the command Jesus gave to us at the last supper:
Take this, all of you, and drink from it:
this is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.
It will be shed for you and for all
so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me.

Yet if Jesus gave us the sign of bread, why would he also direct us to take and drink from the cup? The GIRM gives us a clue. Something is made more clear, more evident when we drink from the cup. So then, what is more clear when we receive Christ’s Blood? And to whom is this evident?

What it means when we drink from the cup

Rev. Paul Bernier, SSS, says that what is clear from partaking of Christ’s Body is that we become members of that same body, here on earth. What becomes clear when we receive Christ’s Blood is how we will become one body.

It is only by pouring out our blood, our lives for others in the same way that Jesus did, that we can be true to our calling. Receiving from the cup is more than a reduplication of Communion under the form of bread, and far more than an empty ritual. It reminds us that Jesus’ own self-offering, his shedding his blood on the cross, is what brought about our salvation. Only the same gift of self to God will make us pleasing to him and enable us to be instruments of God’s life to others. (This Sunday’s Scripture)

In other words, what becomes clear in drinking from the cup of Christ’s Blood is the shedding of blood—Christ’s blood on the cross and our own blood, poured out in imitation of his great sacrifice.

Who drinking from the cup teaches

The call to sacrifice is first of all made more clear to those who participate in the sacrifice—the baptized faithful. As the church tells us, the sign is fuller and more complete when we share in both the Body and Blood of Christ, and, therefore, we receive a strong reminder of our baptismal promise to die to ourselves each time we drink from the cup.

But more importantly, the call to sacrifice becomes clearer to the children and the catechumens—those who are only beginning to understand the call to sacrifice. Our participation in the cup of salvation is an ongoing catechesis to those who are new to the faith about what faith requires—the shedding of blood.

We become what we eat—and drink

If Mass were only about receiving grace, then partaking only of the Body of Christ would surely be sufficient. But Eucharist is about much more than that. It is also about the reason we receive grace—to go in peace to love and serve the Lord. That service includes sacrifice, and the cup of salvation teaches us and those around us what that sacrifice ultimately demands. It demands that we proclaim the death of the Lord by becoming one with Christ’s Body—and his Blood.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Children's Catechumenate workshop with Rita Burns Senseman

PhotobucketThe Catechumenate Committee of the Diocese of San Jose invited Rita Burns Senseman to discuss with them strategies for helping our parishes integrate the adult and children's catechumenate into a more unifed RCIA process of initiation.

In our 30-minute conversation by phone, we learned so much from this national expert on the catechumenate with children, and we were affirmed in our goal of implementing the vision of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.

We recorded our conversation so you can also benefit from Rita's wisdom and guidance.

Rita Burns Senseman - Children's catechumenate workshop from Diana Macalintal on Vimeo.

Parish representatives for Chrism Mass 2009

photo by Kenji NakaiThree representatives from each parish are requested to present the oils for blessing during the Chrism Mass on Tuesday, March 31, 2009, at 7:30p. They should be selected in advance for this responsibility and be seated in their reserved seats in the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph, 80 South Market Street, San José, by 7:10p.

Click here for directions to the Cathedral and parking information.

Click here for a pdf chart showing your parish's reserved seating for your oil representatives.

Rehearsal with these representatives will take place at 7:20p the night of the Chrism Mass.

It is recommended that those presenting the oils represent some link to the oil to be blessed, for example:
  • Oil of the Sick: A minister to the sick, elderly, or hospitalized; or a parishioner who was anointed in the last year.

  • Oil of Catechumens: A parish catechumenate team member; or a catechist working in baptismal preparation. Because the dismissal of catechumens follows immediately after the procession and blessing of oils, catechumens and Elect are discouraged from being the parish representative to carry the oils.

  • Sacred Chrism: A neophyte initiated at last year’s Easter Vigil; or a candidate for Confirmation; or a catechist working in Confirmation preparation. Because the dismissal of catechumens follows immediately after the procession and blessing of oils, catechumens and Elect are discouraged from being the parish representative to carry the oils.

If you have any questions, please contact Diana Macalintal at 408-983-0136.

Bishop McGrath's homily for the Rite of Election 2009

March 1, 2, & 3, 2009
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph
Bishop Patrick J. McGrath

Genesis 9:8-15
Mark 1:12-15

Rainbow Guard by linh.ngan via Flickr

Listen to it here, or read text below.

Dear catechumens, it is not possible to get through the day without seeing and using signs. You had to read the road signs on your way to the Cathedral. When you came in the door, you probably had to look for the signs that showed you where your parish was sitting. Signs point us in the right direction, and they remind us of where we have been.

Even God uses signs to show us our path and to direct us on our way through this life. Noah saw the sign of the “rainbow” after the flood. It was the sign of God’s covenant, God’s promise that he would always show mercy to all of creation. It was the sign that allowed Noah to live constantly in hope, no matter how bad things seemed to be. God’s signs are everywhere for those who have the eyes of faith to see and recognize them.

But today/tonight, my friends, we celebrate something deeper than a sign. In the Catholic tradition, we often use the words “sign” and “symbol” interchangeably. But there is an important difference between the two. Signs point us to another object or person. Signs represent something else. A stop sign at an intersection means stop your car. A reserved sign on a chair means the seat belongs to another person. A rainbow means the rain has ended and God has promised mercy. Your signature on these pages represents you and your promise.

Signs then remind us of other things. Symbols, however, become the things they represent.

In our Catholic faith, we have many symbols that embody the presence of Christ. First is the symbol of the Church itself—the People of God—who are the human presence of Christ in the world. When the Church prays together, we see Christ most clearly. When the People of God daily live their faith, we see Christ in our world. Dear catechumens, you became part of this symbol when you were accepted by the Church and signed by the cross of Christ.

Next, we have the symbol of the Word of God in Scripture which is God’s voice speaking to us. When we hear the Scriptures, we hear Christ. When we see the Gospels, we see Christ. In the “Word” Christ loves us, teaches us, feeds us, and draws us closer to himself.

Then we have the symbol of the ministers of the Church, the shepherds who guide us. They become Christ, the Good Shepherd, for they lay down their lives for others. These ministers are your pastors and priests; your deacons and catechists, your parents and sponsors; they are your godparents who will accompany you for the rest of your lives. I pray, that I, your Bishop, am also a clear symbol of Christ for you, not because I am perfect or more special, but because you will know that Christ cares for you by the words I speak and the deeds I do. By my love for you, I hope that you will know Christ’s love for you and for all people.

Finally, we have the symbol of the Eucharist—the true presence of Christ given to us at this altar. Here at this table, all the symbols combine—the Church, the Word, the ministers, and the Eucharist—to reveal to us God’s presence in our midst. When we celebrate the Eucharist, we do not have only signs that remind us of God’s promise. We have God’s very promise itself, here in our hands, in our eyes, in our ears, and in our hearts. We become what we eat. We become God’s promise—God’s symbol of mercy—for all the world.

Dear catechumens, when you are baptized in the font—the symbol of God’s living water, of the death of your old self, of your rebirth in the womb of the Church—you will become symbols of Christ. You will be what the saints have called, “little Christs.” For in fact, that is what it means to be called Christian.

You will be “little Christs” because, already, your godparents have seen God at work in your lives. They will testify that they have seen God working in you because you have listened and responded to God’s Word in the reading of the Scriptures and in your own daily prayer. They have seen the signs of Christ already at work in you because you have opened your ears to God’s voice and have spoken in return words of faith, love, hope, and thanksgiving.

In a few moments, you will give me your name. You will show me your sign—your promise “to be Christ” in everything you do—and I in the name of the Church will give you a new name, the name of “Elect,” the Chosen Ones. Yet this name is still only a sign of something greater yet to come.

Once you confess your faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and enter into those waters of baptism, you will be given the name of Christ. You will receive new ears to hear the voice of God and a new tongue to speak as Christ spoke. Through the anointing with the oil of Chrism, you will see the world with new eyes, the world as God sees it, as a world worth loving and saving. And through the Eucharist we share, you will receive the very real Body and Blood of Christ so that you may become, in everything you are, the presence of Christ for others.

Let the Church, all of us, rejoice for God has shown again the signs of his love in the presence of these catechumens. Let us give thanks to God who has not forgotten his people, who, in the storms of our lives, continues to place a rainbow in the sky, a reminder that in this diverse people, of many colors and languages, stories, hopes, and dreams, there are ever-present signs of God’s merciful and boundless love. Let all God’s faithful people remember who they have become—“little Christs,” other Christs, for the life of the world.

Michael Reardon and the Gospel of John - April 3, 2009

You are invited to a spectacular and dramatic presentation of scripture, light, and movement when Michael Reardon prayerfully and powerfully proclaims The Gospel of JOHN, directed by Patrick Lane. This is a contemporary translation of scripture, proclaimed in the oral tradition of the early church, designed with music, lighting, and costuming. A reception to meet the artists will follow the event.

The Gospel of John
Friday, April 3, 2009, 7:00p
Saint Christopher Catholic Church
1576 Curtner Ave, San Jose, 95125
free will offering
for more information: 408-269-2226

Michael Reardon has memorized the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as well as the Book of Revelation, and performs them dramatically worldwide. He is a native of Anaconda, Montana.

Patrick Lane, Director, Musician and Lighting Artist, has designed the special effects and written the original music, all of which is done live for each performance. He is a native of Morrill, Nebraska.

This blend of voice and light, music and costuming, honors the Word of God as a unique ministry of proclamation. They have given over 1000 performances in cities throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Republic of China, Europe, and Israel. In Rome, they performed at the Biblical Institute of the Gregorian University, and at the American Church of Santa Susanna, and in Vatican City at North American College. Their greatly acclaimed performance has also taken them to the cradle of Christianity: Jerusalem, Capernaum, Tiberias, Nazareth, and the towns along the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

The public is invited to attend, and to experience the power of the Word. A reception to meet the artists will follow the performance.

Loyola Marymount University Choruses - March 27-28, 2009

Choruses from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles will giving two FREE concerts in the Diocese of San Jose.

Loyola Marymount University Consort Singers

Friday, March 27, 2009, 7:30p
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph

Saturday, March 28, 2009, 7:30p
Santa Teresa Parish

The director of the chorus and chair of LMU's music department, Dr. Mary C. Breden, invites you to join them in these two evenings of music and song. (She's also the sister of Sr. Sharon Breden, CSJ, former principal at Saint Victor in San Jose, and had been choir director at Santa Teresa in the late 1980s!)

No advance reservations or tickets required. Just come and enjoy.

Check out their Facebook event page.

Tenebrae - March 30, 2009

hope by Q8y_dream via FlickrSaint Victor Parish is going to have a unique worship service this Lent. They will celebrate Tenebrae (pronounced "TEN-ah-bray"), which is the Latin word for "shadows."

Tenebrae is an ancient Holy Week service that commemorates in dramatic fashion the betrayal, abandonment, and agony of Our Lord's Passion by the use of light and darkness; psalms, readings, and hymns.

Most of the liturgy will be in English and will generally follow the structure of the Liturgy of the Hours. All are encouraged to participate in this beautiful and rarely-conducted liturgy.

Monday, March 30, 2009
7:30p - 8:30p
Saint Victor Church
3108 Sierra Road, San Jose, 95132

Contact Rev. Michael Hendrickson

Vino & Vespers with John Angotti - April 22, 2009

Vino & Vespers

Vino & Vespers gives busy people of faith a place to pray simply (you don’t have to plan a thing!), eat and drink well (you don’t have to bring any food), and talk candidly about faith, church, and real life (you don’t have to prepare any lesson plans or make any handouts!).

Gather with others who love the Church, and spend an evening with three of God’s best gifts: prayer, food, and conversation. We’ll begin with Evening Prayer followed by an intimate conversation about faith and daily life as we savor delicious desserts and fine wine.

A Special V & V with
John Angotti

composer, musician, missionary

John AngottiJohn Angotti is a full time music missionary who travels throughout many parts of the world providing inspirational music and witness to all ages through concerts, workshops, retreats, missions, conferences, and worship. He is originally from Clarksburg, West Virginia, and now resides in Memphis, Tennessee, with his wife Tracy and two children, Dominica and Tre. John is the Artist in Residence at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Naperville, Illinois, where he writes and leads worship on a monthly basis. He is a graduate of West Virginia University and the US Military School of Music and was a member of the US Navy Band where he was the lead vocalist.

John has won numerous awards including, "Male Vocalist of the Year," "Pop/Contemporary," and "Praise and Worship Album of the Year" from the United Catholic Music and Video Association. His powerful voice and writing style includes contemporary rock, pop, and Latin rhythms, along with his ability to give new life to traditional classics in chant and classical genres.

When Pope Benedict XVI visited Nationals Park in Washington D.C., John was invited to perform "Stand in the Light" for the pre-Mass celebration. This song was chosen as the 2007 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress theme song and is the title of one of his latest recordings. John's most recent CD is "Joy Beyond Our Dreams" which features uplifting new music for the Easter Season.
John is published through World Library Publications and his music is also available through Christian Booksellers, iTunes, and several other digital music stores.

Join in an evening of music and coversation with John about faith, music, liturgy, and living a Catholic life of purpose and mission.

Vino & Vespers are interactive evenings that feature prominent Catholics talking about how they live their faith through the real events of contemporary life. Young adults over 21 and those very much over-21 are especially invited.

Vino & Vespers
Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 7:30 pm

Casa Maria Conference Center
200 Prospect Avenue, Los Gatos, 95030
$10 suggested free will donation

Please RSVP with Bernard Nemis or 408-983-0126.

Driving Directions to Casa Maria Conference Center from Downtown San Jose:

  • 280 N toward San Francisco

  • HWY 17 S toward Santa Cruz

  • Exit HWY 9 (Los Gatos-Saratoga Road). Get into left lane immediately.

  • LEFT at the first stoplight which is University Avenue.

  • Take University to the end where it forms a T with Main Street. LEFT on Main Street.

  • Go to the first stoplight which is College Avenue and turn RIGHT (there’s a sign for “Novitiate” on the corner of College and Main).

  • Go one block to the top of the street and turn RIGHT at Villa Avenue (follow the signs for “Novitiate”).

  • Go 0.6 miles up the hill. When you see the Jesuit Novitiate and Winery on your right, turn LEFT onto Prospect Avenue.

  • Go 0.1 miles and turn LEFT at the sign for "Sisters of the Holy Names Main Entrance." Parking will be in the lot on your left. The Chapel entrance is in the building to your right.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Eucharist Matters: Hosts from the Tabernacle at Mass

tabernacle at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in SacramentoThis article by Diana Macalintal first appeared in The Valley Catholic, March 2009 issue.

Six years ago, Bishop Patrick J. McGrath, asked our diocese to examine its Communion practices at Mass. He asked parishes to ensure that:
  1. Communion from the cup be made available to all the faithful at every Sunday and feast day Mass;
  2. hosts from the tabernacle are not used at Mass—that is, except in cases of dire need, the Eucharistic bread that is shared by the faithful will be the same Eucharistic bread that is consecrated at that Mass; and
  3. the assembly take a unified posture during the Eucharistic Prayer as well as remain standing and singing during the Communion procession.

Over the years, there has been significant improvement throughout the diocese in these norms, which have been directives of the Church since 1969. Because of the good work of ordained and lay ministers charged with preparing the Mass and the efforts of the faithful, almost all of our parishes now offer the Precious Blood at all Sunday and feast day Masses and a majority of assemblies remain standing throughout Communion. This has resulted in a deepened understanding of the sacrificial and communal aspects of Communion.

Over the next year, we will examine these norms and other elements of the Mass. We begin with the second norm—avoiding distributing hosts from the tabernacle at Mass.

What’s the difference?

Now, aren’t the hosts in the tabernacle the same Body of Christ as those received from the altar? Yes. Consecrated hosts not consumed at Mass are reserved in the tabernacle.

So why make a fuss? Because the difference is not in the consecrated elements but in the action that happens before we share those elements.

The Mass is made up of the Liturgy of the Word, in which we hear the Scriptures and respond to them through the homily and intercessions, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This second section is not simply when we share Communion. First, we must bring to the altar the bread and wine to be consecrated and our offering for the poor. In this simple presentation of gifts, we see one way the Eucharist is a sacrifice. We imitate Jesus, who gave his very life for others, by giving ourselves through the sacrifice of the earth and the work of our hands, that formed wheat into bread, grape into wine, and labor into care for those in need.

Sacrifice of praise

Next we unite with the priest who speaks the Eucharistic Prayer in the name of the community. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), the document that directs the Mass, says that the “meaning of the Prayer is that the entire congregation of the faithful should join itself with Christ in confessing the great deeds of God and in the offering of Sacrifice” (78).

The culmination of Christ’s sacrifice of praise is our sharing in his Body and Blood. Thus, in the same way that Christ’s sacrifice of his very body is preceded by a life lived as an offering of praise to the Father, so too do we precede Communion with the sacrifice of our lives and our offering of praise to God. Through the Eucharistic Prayer, the bread and wine we place on the altar is intimately connected to the Body and Blood of Christ we receive from that same altar. This is why GIRM, 85, says, “[i]t is most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord's Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass…so that even by means of the signs Communion will stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.”

When we distribute hosts from the tabernacle at Mass, we devalue our participation in Christ’s sacrifice of praise to the Father and sever the sacrificial connection between the offering of our lives and Christ’s salvific offering of his. This connection is the heart of the Eucharist; it is what distinguishes Mass from a Communion service. This is why our Bishop has asked that hosts from the tabernacle should be used only for Communion to the sick outside of Mass and for the distribution of Holy Communion outside of Mass.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Have you ever seen dancing books at the Rite of Election?

RCIA photo by Sofyan NugrohoIn our Diocese of San Jose, we have dancing books for the Rite of Election. Now hold on before you start groaning as you imagine young waifs in tights and leotards flitting about the altar.

Our Scriptural tradition has many stories of dancing—but the kind of dancing that comes out of ordinary, everyday people. David danced before the Lord, Miriam danced on the seashore, the women took up garlands and danced at Judith’s victory, and even John the Baptist did a little jig in his mother’s belly at the voice of Mary’s greeting.

And in our ritual, all of us dance—I mean, all of us, trained or not. When we dip our hand into the font, make the sign of the cross, bow low in reverence, raise arms in prayer, extend hands in peace and blessing, we are dancing. We are doing choreographed movement; we are expressing our faith, our joy, through our bodies.

This is what we do at our local Rite of Election, but just turned up a notch. The joy that our Rite of Election elicits—and the dancing that comes out of that joy—is often surprising for both the many long-time Catholics and “newbies” who come to our cathedral expecting a long, sober, restrained lenten ritual. Let me explain.

In our Rite of Election, after the homily, we present our catechumens to the Bishop in chant, in English and in Spanish. Then after he questions the godparents, asks the faithful for their affirmation, and confirms the catechumens’ desire to be initiated, the names of every catechumen are proclaimed by representatives from each parish. As the names are called, the catechumens and their godparents are led by their Book of the Elect to stand as a group before the Bishop. After he has accepted the proclamation of their names, the Bishop bows to the catechumens and godparents who bow to him in return.

Once all the names have been announced, those carrying the parish Book of the Elect stand around the altar (our cathedral is in the round) holding their books open high above their heads. Parish by parish, the catechumens are called to stand as the Books and the catechumens are blessed with incense filling the air.

Then at the climax of the rite, the Bishop standing at his chair proclaims with great solemnity: “I now declare you to be members of the elect, to be initiated into the sacred mysteries at the next Easter Vigil!”

With that declaration, the entire assembly roars into a jubilant sung acclamation—“Thanks be to God!”—repeated over and over, handclapping and all! And the Books dance! The people holding the Books are swept up by the joy of the assembly that they can’t help but move—some can’t even wait for the acclamation to begin! Up and down, side to side, twirling around in circles, the names of God’s chosen ones fill the space. The assembly, amazed at the sight, sings and claps even louder. Thanks, indeed, be to our good and gracious God!

What a way to begin Lent!

Here's a short video of our dancing books.

Rite of Election 2009 video, Diocese of San Jose (hi-res) from Diana Macalintal on Vimeo.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Do we have to use Year A readings for the RCIA scrutinies?

This article originally appeared on, March 3, 2009.

letter a by jetheriot via flickr“Why can’t we use Year B readings this year for the Scrutinies?”

“The assembly is missing out on hearing the readings for Year C. How come we always have to do Year A at the Scrutinies?”

“We’ve written new scrutiny rites for the Year B readings. Can we use those?”

I hear those questions every year we aren’t in the Year A cycle of the Lectionary. (Recall that the readings we hear every Sunday are structured on a three-year rotation. In Year A we hear primarily from Matthew’s Gospel; in Year B, from Mark; and in Year C, from Luke. John's Gospel is interspersed throughout each year.)

I can understand why some people have these questions. We’ve come a long way since before Vatican II when the amount of Scripture people heard at Mass over the course of a year was very limited (1% of the Old Testament and 17% of the New Testament) compared to today (14% of the Old Testament and 71% of the New Testament). When the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 51, of Vatican II said that “[t]he treasures of the bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word,” the Church took it seriously, and the faithful have come to value more and more a fuller proclamation of the Word in the midst of the assembly.

Yet I think we still have a way to go when it comes to trusting the rites of initiation within the Sunday gathering of the assembly. The best way we can help the assembly to grow in appreciation of these rites of initiation is to do the rites well and fully, consistently year after year.

What does the Rite say?
So, taking a look at the rubrics for the Scrutiny Rites, we read:

The scrutinies should take place within the ritual Masses “Christian Initiation: The Scrutinies,” which are celebrated on the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent; the readings with their chants are those given for those Sundays in the Lectionary for Mass, Year A….In every case the ritual Masses “Christian Initiation: The Scrutinies” are celebrated and in this sequence: for the first scrutiny the Mass with the gospel of the Samaritan woman; for the second, the Mass with the gospel of the man born blind; for the third, the Mass with the gospel of Lazarus. (146)

Seems clear, yes? Yet perhaps still not compelling enough a reason for those who ask our opening questions. So let’s look at some reasons that may be more convincing.

What does history say?
In the oldest known Book of Gospels, called the Würzberg Evangelary (c. 645), the three passages from John’s Gospel listed in RCIA, 146, are included in the readings for Lent. This Evangelary scheduled John’s Gospel to be read semi-continuously during the last few weeks of Lent. However the stories of the man born blind and the raising of Lazarus were listed out of order, suggesting that they were used for specific rites. By the ninth century and possibly as early as the late seventh century, we have evidence that these three Gospel readings were moved to specific Sundays of Lent in both the Roman rite and the Ambrosian rite, again suggesting that they were used for particular lenten rites. We can trust that for the Church, these Johannine stories have had significant prominence in the preparation for Easter. Let’s examine why this is and why over the years these readings have been associated with the preparation of the elect.

What do the readings say?
Just as the scrutinies themselves are meant to be a series of rites spanning over an extended period of time, so too are these three Gospel readings meant to be “digested” little by little with time in between each set of readings. This is because the readings in their assigned sequence reflect the very purpose of the Scrutiny Rites. That is, little by little, these readings with their prescribed rites uncover what is weak and sinful and strengthen what is good and upright in the elect. Through them, “the elect are instructed gradually about the mystery of sin, from which the whole world and every person longs to be delivered...” (RCIA, 143).

In the story of the woman at the well, the Samaritan woman hears Jesus then goes and tells the villagers what she has heard, causing them to seek him out for themselves. The reading ends with the villagers saying to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world” (John 4:42). Was this not the starting point of every elect? They heard a word, a word that they discovered over time to be Christ. Upon discovering who was speaking to them, they no longer believed because of hearsay, obligation, or pressure, but because they heard Christ’s voice for themselves.

In the story of the man born blind, the man healed of his blindness gradually grows to see as Christ sees. He regains his sight right at the start of the story. But only because of the interrogation he receives from his neighbors and the Pharisees and his struggle to respond to them faithfully, does he little by little begin to see the identity of who it was who healed him. By the end of the story, the one who healed him was no longer to him just “the man called Jesus” (John 9:11) or simply “a prophet” (John 9:17) or “from God” (John 9:33). He was “Lord” (John 9:38) in whom he believed. For the elect this progression may be familiar. At the start of their catechumenate, their eyes are signed “that [they] may see the glory of God” (Rite of Acceptance, RCIA 56). Through their catechesis over the years and their experience with the community of believers they grow in understanding of what they see—who the man Jesus was, the prophetic words he spoke, his unique relationship with the Father, and finally his true identity as Lord.

Lastly, in the story of the raising of Lazarus, we come to the final days before the elect must stand before the font and profess their faith. In this reading, the miracle happens at the end of the story, but faith is already expressed long before the miracle takes place. Martha makes her profession of faith in Jesus the Messiah even as her brother is lying dead in the tomb. She needed no words and no miraculous deeds to believe in him; she only needed to believe. Period.

In this final story, we see what those who have been entrusted to continue Jesus' work have hopefully been doing in order to prepare the elect to make their profession of faith. They have been preparing them, like Jesus prepared Martha and Mary, to understand the paschal mystery they would witness in the resurrection—that out of death comes new life in Christ. Only after Lazarus is revived and Jesus is raised from the dead will Martha truly understand the words of faith she professed. It is her belief in and love for Jesus that allow her to be ready for whatever he will do despite her human logic that death is death, for “Martha believes not in what she understands but in the one who has the words of eternal life” (Sandra Schneiders, Written That You May Believe, Crossroad Publishing Company, p. 158).

When the three scrutiny readings are examined in this way, we begin to understand what the RCIA means when it says that Lent “is intended as well to enlighten the minds and hearts of the elect with a deeper knowledge of Christ the Savior” (139). The Gospels assigned to the scrutinies are there to ask the elect:
  • Could he possibly be the Messiah?
  • Do you believe in the Son of Man?
  • Do you believe this?

The things that keep the elect from saying “yes!” are the things that must be scrutinized and exorcized, for in a few short weeks, they must respond “yes, I believe” as they stand at the edge of death at the font. The place where the elect learn to answer “yes!” is in the parish community. The assignment and order of the scrutiny Gospels from John reflect the community's progressive and communal catechesis for the elect in order that they may hear and believe (Samaritan woman), see and believe (man born blind), and finally believe without proof (Martha and Lazarus).

Why B and C don't work
Though well-intentioned and creative, when we create new scrutiny texts to match the readings from Year B or C, we have severed ourselves and our elect from the rich history and wisdom of the Church who over the centuries have understood the unique power of the three Johannine Gospel readings. Some will argue that the Year B readings are particularly apt for those preparing for baptism because each Sunday reading includes reference to some symbol from the baptismal rite: water in Noah and the flood; white garments in the Transfiguration; resurrection of the destroyed temple; Jesus teaching Nicodemus about the light; and death of the grain of wheat. Although this may be true, these readings cannot compare to the dramatic power of the three assigned Scrutiny readings. Furthermore, as RCIA 143 noted, Lent is a time for the elect to gradually learn about sin; the period after their baptism is the time for them to reflect on the baptismal symbols and their experience of initiation through mystagogical catechesis.

When we worry that the faithful are missing out on the readings of Year B or C on the Sundays of the scrutinies, we are forgetting that the faithful’s role in these rites is to pray fervently for the elect. All their focus should be upon the elect for it is in them that God is working most clearly. It is in the elect that the Word of Christ is evangelizing whole communities; it is in them that the world is beginning to see Christ present on earth; it is in them that we will witness new life spring forth from death. These elect will be elect only once in their lives. This will be the only time they will ever hear these three Gospel readings from John as elect, surrounded by the prayers of the community and overshadowed by the power of the Spirit. We, the baptized, have a responsibility to them at these critical moments of their lenten preparation to use the best our Church tradition has to offer. The best will be the assigned Year A readings.

Perhaps as preparation for taking on our assigned role in these Scrutiny Rites, we, the already-baptized, might read the assigned readings for Year B or Year C during the weeks leading up to the Scrutiny Rites, that these readings might open our ears, eyes, and hearts to hear the Year A readings anew with strengthened faith in Christ already at work in the elect.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Why St. Clare? Why now?

Clare of Assisi:
Light for Identity, Community and Humanity

Working and dwelling at a place called Santa Clara we use her name everyday. But how many of us have developed a personal understanding or relationship to St. Clare’s life? The week-long series of symposia and theatrical performances scheduled for February 17-20, 2009, will explore the identity of Clare, the extraordinary reality of her life and calling, and allow students, staff, faculty and visitors to reflect on her spiritual journey in light their own spiritual landscape to discover, ultimately, how her story converges with or diverges from their own. The intentional naming and claiming of identity is a significant consciousness for a person and for an institution, and often motivates and clarifies presence, movement, and activity in the world.

While we have a rather clear consciousness of SCU as a Jesuit university begotten by St. Ignatius of Loyola, we feel that the identity and meaning of Clare is a mystery to most. Turning to her, we investigate her unique consciousness, her leadership and her life to discover more deeply how it might shape SCU’s identity, our relations with one another, and our work in the world.

Join moderator Jean Molesky-Poz, Religious Studies & guests Penelope Duckworth, Keith Warner, OFM, Margie Will, OSF & SCU Students for a lively symposium on our University’s namesake.

Thursday, February 19, 2009
4:00-6:00 pm
St. Clare Room
Santa Clara University
Library and Learning Commons 3rd floor

Clare of Assisi. An Original Theatre Work by Mark Larson & Kristin Kusanovich after Thomas of Celano with Music by Bill Mike. The programs above are made possible by the Bannan Institute of the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, the Identity Grant from the Council on Inclusive Excellence, the Center of Performing Arts, the Departments of Religious Studies, Modern Languages and Women and Gender Studies Graphic Design by Amy Fastenau at Tilt Design.

Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday
February 17, 18 & 20, 2009
8:00 pm Mission Santa Clara

February 19 (Clare Syposium) Flyer

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chrism Mass 2009 - Collection of Oil Vessels

In preparation for the Chrism Mass on Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 7:30p at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph, please be sure that your parish oil vessels are undamaged, well-cleaned (you won't believe some of the things we still find growing in some vessels!), and delivered to the Office for Parish Services, in the carrying boxes in which they were presented last year labeled with your parish's name.

Click here to find out how to dispose of old Holy Oils, for tips on how to clean your oil vessels, and what you should do with the water used to clean them.

Please bring your empty, sparkling clean oil vessels to the Office for Parish Services, 900 Lafayette Street, 4th floor, Suite 405, Santa Clara between March 1 and March 23, 2009.

ADA will pick-up your vessels:
The Annual Diocesan Appeal office is offering convenient pick-up of your oil vessels at your parish during their regularly-scheduled ADA pick-ups every Tuesday. Simply give the courier your vessels along with your ADA collection.

Attention Institutions:
Hospitals, religious communities, and other institutions who wish to have oils blessed for use in 2008 are asked to bring stocks, carefully cleaned, to the Office for Parish Services by noon on Tuesday, March 24, 2009. Stocks will be available for pick-up from the Office of Pastoral Ministry on Wednesday, April 1 after 1:00p.

When will you get your new oils?
You can pick up your vessels with the newly blessed oils for 2009 after the Chrism Mass at the reception in the Cathedral's parish hall. Please coordinate with your parish leadership who will be the person responsible from your parish to retrieve the parish's oils at the Chrism Mass.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What time can the Easter Vigil begin in 2009?

As you know, the Easter Vigil must begin in darkness. Click here for more information on why.

Based on sunset information from the U.S. Naval Observatory, Easter Vigil this year (April 11, 2009) in the Diocese of San José cannot begin any earlier than 8:00 p.m.

From the U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department, the following information is provided for San Jose, Santa Clara County, California (longitude W121.9, latitude N37.3):

11 April 2009, Pacific Daylight Time
  • Sunset 7:39 p.m.
  • End civil twilight 8:06 p.m.

If sunset is at 7:39p, why can't we begin Easter Vigil 2009 at 7:39p?

Because there is a big technical different between "sunset" and "civil twilight." The technical definition of "sunset" is when the upper edge of the sun hits the horizon. At this point (7:39p) there's still some daylight in the sky. But what we're looking for is complete darkness.

Civil twilight in the evening is technically when the center of the sun is geometrically 6 degrees below the horizon. At this time (8:06p) there's still enough light to see the horizon, but it's dark enough to see the brightest of stars in the sky. Complete darkness, however, begins sometime after the end of evening civil twilight.

So 8:00p is the earliest time we can begin the Easter Vigil in 8:00p. If you really want to start in complete darkness, wait until 8:10p.

For more information:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Preparing the Rite of Confirmation

Preparing the Rite of Confirmation

The Diocese of San José, Liturgy Office, will be offering a free workshop for clergy, liturgists, catechists, Confirmation coordinators, youth ministers, music ministers, and anyone who will prepare the Rite of Confirmation liturgy for their parish or their parish’s celebration at the Cathedral this year.

This workshop, led by Diana Macalintal, diocesan liturgist, and Melissa Broome, Cathedral liturgist, takes place on Tuesday, January 27, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m., at the Chancery Offices in the St. Joseph Room (900 Lafayette Street, Santa Clara, 95050).

We will examine the theology of Confirmation found in the Rite, good liturgical principles, and practical issues for preparing the liturgy at your parish or at the Cathedral. By the end of the evening, you will have a better understanding of the options given in the Rite and be able to better prepare the various parts of the celebration.

Space is limited; RSVPs are required to Bernard Nemis at or (408) 983-0126.
For more information, contact Diana Macalintal at

Friday, January 02, 2009

Proclamation of the Date of Easter on Epiphany, 2009

The Solemnity of the Epiphany is a traditional time to announce the major feasts and celebrations of the Church for the upcoming year. Before the advent of online calendars, Blackberries, perpetual calendars, and handheld organizers, the formal announcement at Epiphany was the usual way the Church made known the date of Easter and all the celebrations that are dependent upon its date.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the date of Easter moves each year because it is affected by the lunar and solar cycles. The Council of Nicaea (325 AD) determined that Easter would be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox, or first day of spring (in the northern hemisphere). (The Orthodox Churches use a different calendar system, and so their date for Easter is different. You can read about the difference in Easter calendaring here.)

The Sacramentary Supplement, in which you can find the proclamation, states: “Although calendars now give the date of Easter and the other feasts in the liturgical year for many years in advance, the Epiphany proclamation still has value. It is a reminder of the centrality of the resurrection of the Lord in the liturgical year and the importance of the great mysteries of faith which are celebrated each year” (#2).

The proclamation can be sung (a cappella) or spoken by a deacon, cantor, or reader at the ambo after the gospel, after the homily, or after the prayer after Communion.

The text of the proclamation remains fixed except for the dates for that year which must be inserted for the proclamation. Below are the dates for 2009 (in red).

Proclamation of the Date of Easter on Epiphany

Dear brothers and sisters,
the glory of the Lord has shone upon us,
and shall ever be manifest among us,
until the day of his return.

Through the rhythms of times and seasons
let us celebrate the mysteries of salvation.

Let us recall the year’s culmination, the Easter Triduum of the Lord:
his last supper, his crucifixion, his burial, and his rising,
celebrated between the evening of the ninth of April
and the evening of the twelfth of April.

Each Easter—as on each Sunday—
the Holy Church makes present the great and saving deed
by which Christ has for ever conquered sin and death.
From Easter are reckoned all the days we keep holy.

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent,
will occur on the twenty-fifth of February.
The Ascension of the Lord will be commemorated
on the twenty-fourth of May*.
Pentecost, the joyful conclusion of the season of Easter,
will be celebrated on the thirty-first of May.
And this year the First Sunday of Advent
will be on the twenty-ninth of November.

Likewise the pilgrim Church proclaims the Passover of Christ
in the feasts of the holy Mother of God,
in the feasts of the Apostles and Saints,
and in the commemoration of the faithful departed.

To Jesus Christ, who was, who is, and who is to come,
Lord of time and history,
be endless praise, for ever and ever. Amen.

*In the western dioceses of the United States, the celebration of the Ascension is moved to the seventh Sunday of Easter.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wedding Anniversary Mass - February 14, 2009

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25 and 50+ Silver and Golden
Wedding Anniversary Celebration
Aniversario de Bodas de Plata y Oro
February 14, 2009 / 14 de Febrero, 2009
10:00 am
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph / Catedral Basílica de San José
80 South Market Street, San José

Couples celebrating Silver (25 years) and Golden (50 years or more) Wedding Anniversaries are invited to the celebration. / Las parejas que celebran su Aniversario de Bodas de Plata (25 años) o de Oro (50 años o más) están invitadas a asistir a la celebración.

Each couple will receive a certificate signed by the Bishop. A reception follows the Mass. / Cada pareja recibirá un certificado firmado por el Obispo y están invitadas a la recepción.

For information call / Para su información llame: Sylvia Blanch, 408-983-0128.

Click here to register online, or download a registration form in Word or in PDF format.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bilingual Mass Workshop with Pedro Rubalcava – January 10, 2009

Why should we celebrate mass
in more than one language?

Bilingual Mass Workshop
with Pedro Rubalcava

Saturday, January 10
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., lunch included
Saint Mary Parish in Our Lady’s Chapel
$15 registration.

Register by calling (408) 847-5151
or email Rose Barry,
or Becki McLoughlin,

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A prayer for voters

Here is a prayer for voters, written by Rev. Daniel Coughlin of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Fr. Coughlin serves as the Chaplain of the House of Representatives.

Almighty and ever–living God, bound in faithful love to Your people, be attentive to our deepest needs; for as a nation we place all our trust in You.

Since election day approaches, we pray for all those who have placed their name before the people; to seal their commitment of public service for the common good. Purify the intentions of those who deserve the public trust. Transform self interest into compassion for Your people, as You make them harbingers of our future.

Empower each voter with Your Spirit; so that as the free people of Your creation they may recognize truth and personal integrity in those they choose. May the representative government they place in service mirror their own commitment to search out the ways of peace with others and establish an economic stability where justice will flourish for all.

May a new era of patriotism dawn upon the United States; a patriotism strong enough to carry us through difficult times and flexible enough to embrace authentic creativity. Drawing upon the resources of university and business, may the legal and social development of Your people help all citizens realize their full potential in Your sight. For Your wisdom is revealed to us and in us both now and forever. Amen.

Hat tip to Rocco.

Advent Morning of Prayer

Advent Morning of Prayer:
Prepare the Way
(Sponsored by the Northern Catechetical Cluster
and the Office of Parish Services)

Thursday, December 4
9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Villa Holy Names, 82 Prospect, Los Gatos, CA 95030

We invite Catechetical Directors and Coordinators, Master Catechists,
Liturgy and Social Justice Coordinators, Youth and Young Adult Coordinators,
Directors of the Catechumenate, and team members

Fr. Joe Fice S.J. will lead us in reflection

Morning hospitality and lunch will be provided
(Please bring your own coffee cup)

Online registration is available at this site.
Please register by Monday, November 24, 2008
Registration fee is $22.00
Make check payable to the Diocese of San Jose
Mail to the Diocese of San Jose, Attention: Iracema Gurbiel
900 Lafayette St. Suite 301, Santa Clara, CA 95050

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Free conference to build a stronger parish - November 13, 2008

On Thursday, November 13, 2008, J.S. Paluch and World Library Publications are sponsoring a FREE day-long event at the new Oakland Cathedral Conference Center and Worship Space. The conference is especially for:
  • catechists and catechumenate (RCIA) ministers,
  • business managers and development directors, and
  • music ministers and all parishioners who love to sing.

They are providing this free day of formation to thank all those in the Bay Area who have supported their company by using their bulletin service and music ministry resources.

Building a Stronger Parish
Thursday, November 13, 2008
10:00a to 3:30p Workshops
7:00p to 9:00p Concert with John Angotti

Cathedral of Christ the Light
Conference Center and Worship Space
180 Grand Avenue, Oakland, CA 94612

Cost: Free! including lunch!

Daytime Workshops:
Apprenticeship: Model for RCIA and All Catechesis (Jerry Galipeau)
Celebrating the Rites of the RCIA (Jerry Galipeau)
Unlocking the Power of your Parish Census Data (Tom Gull)
It's in the Bulletin (Tom Gull)

Evening Concert:
WLP Autumn Song Fest with
John Angotti, Jerry Galipeau,
and friends

RSVP by Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Jennifer Estevez
800-675-5051 or

Click here for a PDF brochure with more information.

Monday, October 06, 2008


What About The Rosary?
Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

Origin of the Rosary
The Rosary, the blessed beads that quietly slip between our fingers as we pray over the mysteries of Jesus’ redemptive life, has an ancient origin. Most likely it originated in the ancient East, perhaps in India, and not in the medieval West. It was and still is a popular prayer device among the Muslims, who use the Arabic term masbahat , which means to give praise. Devout Muslims used the masbahat in repeating the attributes of God, just as it was used by the early Christian hermits. Following the Crusades the Rosary found its way to the West. The missionary who worked hardest to spread this devotion was Abed El-Ahad, Saint Dominic, and his Dominican companions.

The Rosary became a popular method of prayer and spread quickly in the West during the Middle Ages. For Christians it has always been “the Gospel strung on beads.” It is a simple and easy prayer that can be employed for vocal prayer or silent contemplation by individuals, families, and communities.

Papal Encouragement
Since the 16th century the popes have frequently encouraged the faithful of East and West to pray the Rosary. The first was a Dominican pope, Saint Pius V, who wrote a papal letter about the Rosary in 1569 shortly after the Council of Trent, and instituted the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

In the late 19th century after the First Vatican Council the illustrious Pope Leo XIII wrote more than ten encyclicals and instructions promoting the use of the Rosary.

To make pastoral applications of the Marian teachings of the Second Vatican Council Pope Paul VI in 1974 authored the apostolic exhortation Devotion to Mary (Marialis Cultus). Paul VI discussed the Rosary at some length as a summary of the Gospel comprised of prayers based on Gospel texts. He urged the faithful to pray the Rosary, and especially recommended the family Rosary in these words:

“We would like now to join our voice to the voices of our predecessors and strongly recommend the prayer of the Rosary in the family…because the Christian family is a family church….If the family neglected this communal prayer, it would lose its character as a Christian family.”

“In addition to the prayer of the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) …the Rosary of the Virgin Mary would be the most preferable communal prayer for the Christian family.”

Pope Paul VI concluded his recommendation by saying: “We would like to repeat that the Rosary is an excellent and magnificent prayer….”

Pope John Paul II, enthusiastic devotee of our Blessed Mother, in 2002 issued a pastoral letter entitled The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, in which he proclaimed October 2002 until October 2003 the Year of the Rosary, and put forth the Luminous Mysteries based on the public life of Jesus.

Our present Holy Father, Benedict XVI, values the prayer of the Rosary as a means of contemplating Jesus with Mary’s eyes. For him pondering the mysteries of the Rosary calms a “restless spirit, allows the soul to settle into tranquility…and grants a vision of God.” He associates the Rosary with consolation and healing, an inner refuge which enfolds us “in the rhythm of the prayer of the whole Church.” “I do it quite simply,” he said, “just as my parents used to pray.”

The Rosary Today
While some Eastern Christians who erroneously consider the Rosary foreign to Eastern spirituality, quite the opposite is the reality. The Rosary is a prayer for all peoples and for all seasons.

Early on, the Rosary was a common method of prayer in the East among Christians and non-Christians. Even though it came to us through Western missionaries, it was and still is an easy and rich method of prayer to help the faithful fathom the mysteries of God along the journey of salvation. And we do so with a special companion, the Mother of God and our Mother. Praying the Rosary, particularly in the family, is an excellent method of bringing us together in the faith under the protection of her who always and everywhere intercedes for all people. Let us spare no effort to remain close to her.

Prayers in time of financial crisis

at FDR Memorial, Washington, DC; photo by Tony the Misfit via FlickrThese prayers by Diana Macalintal first appeared in Today's Parish Minister, 40:6, October 2008.

A Prayer When Money Is Tight

Gracious God,
you tell me to look at the birds in the air
who don't work or sow,
yet they are fed each day by your hand.
But Lord, they can fly where they need to go,
while I still need to put gas in the car.
And you say to look at the flowers in the field
who don't worry about what they will wear,
yet you clothe them in splendor and majesty.
But Lord, lilies might dress up my dinner table,
but they won't feed my hungry family.
Giver of all good gifts,
I know you can't give me wings to fly
or a life free of worry.
So please give me instead
a heart overflowing with trust in you.
Though I may not get all the things that I ask for,
I know you will give me everything that I need.
When money is tight and anxiety is near,
open my heart to give freely of myself
that I might be abundantly rich in you. Amen.

A Prayer When You Have Nothing Left To Give

Lord, I have nothing left to give.
I'm exhausted and worn out.
Yet so many still ask for more.
Grant me that last ounce of strength
that sustained you enough on the cross
to offer one last word of forgiveness,
that I may be gentle with others
and with myself.
And when that too is spent,
help me stay present even in my emptiness,
and let my presence be the first and last gift
I have to give. Amen.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sunday Reflections and Social Ministry - Catholic Charities

Many of you in San José will know Elizabeth Lilly from liturgical, catechumenate, justice, and pastoral circles. She is now more actively working with parishes to help them foster and support their justice activities through her role with Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County. Because she is a liturgist at the core, she has been working on helping parishes make the connection between liturgy and justice clearer. Part of her motivation comes from the United States Bishops’ 1993 document, Communities of Salt and Light: Reflections on the Social Mission of the Parish.

Below is a sample bulletin reflection she offers that you can use each week that connects God’s story found in the Sunday readings with our story found in the real-life events of a person affected by the work of Catholic Charities and gives information on how you can become part of this story by proclaiming the Gospel in concrete ways in Santa Clara County.
Sunday Reflections and Social Ministry
October – 2008

For weekly bulletins, faith sharing groups, prayer at meetings, bible study, lectors, outreach actions…anywhere the word of God calls us to act with charity and justice. Community and Parish Partnerships Elizabeth Lilly, 408-325-5262,

October 5, 2008
“The people are the cherished plant.” Isaiah 5

Catholic Charities story: Cathy, a single mother of two young girls was overwhelmed when they would throw tantrums several times a day. With the help of a dedicated case manager, Cathy has become much more confident in her parenting skills, has started to form deeper, richer relationships with her daughters and both girls have made great improvements. Cathy and her Family Partner are currently involved in getting an Individualized Education Plan for the older daughter. Cathy has been taking more responsibility in the process.

Catholic Charities opportunity: First 5 Family Partners case managers help parents assess their situations, learn about community resources, and make a plan of action. Empowering people to fully participate in the life of the community is one of the goals of Catholic Charities. For more information contact Charlene Moore, 408 283-6150,
Get the entire collection of reflections for October 2008 as a Word doc by clicking the graphic below.

Permission is given to download and reprint for your parishes and communities.

Advent Liturgy Workshop – October 30, 2008

Advent Liturgy Workshop

Attention all music ministers, choir directors,
and liturgy coordinators!

You are all invited to a FREE workshop exploring
the meaning, rituals, and music of Advent.

Diana Macalintal, Associate for Liturgy for the Diocese of San José, will help participants discover the primary liturgical symbols of Advent, examine the unique characteristics of the Advent liturgies, and prepare appropriate music for the season.

October 30, 2008, Thursday
7:00p to 8:30p
Saint Maria Goretti Church
2980 Senter Road, San José, 95111.

To RSVP and for more information, contact Theresa Vu or 408-390-1643.

Click here for a printable flyer.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The #1 thing you can do today to make the world a better place

Okay, call me a sap, but I simply love the Olympics. Not so much the sports part of it, although there were some remarkable moments in the competitions. I'm talking more about the way the whole idea of the Olympics makes me feel. In a word, it makes me feel hopeful--hopeful that the world can be a better place.

At the end of the closing ceremonies (which, let's be honest, did not compare even remotely to the opening ceremonies), one of the NBC commentators said about this world-changing spirit of the Olympics: If we can be this way for 16 days, why not three weeks? Why not a month? Why not longer?

I do believe that good Olympics, like good liturgy, gives us a little glimpse of what the Kingdom of God could be like on earth. And once we get a glimpse, we want more.

Continuing that note, ZenHabits has a post about the #1 lifehack (slang for something that improves your life) you can implement today for making the world a better place. It's not written from a religious point of view, but we in the Church can certainly be reminded of how simple it can be to do something today to make the reign of God more visible in our world today.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Novena for Faithful Citizenship

A new prayer resource is available on the Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship Web site. The USCCB is inviting Catholics to pray before the November election a novena for life, justice, and peace called the Novena for Faithful Citizenship. It is podcast and available for download.

The novena runs for nine days and can be used consecutively, one day each week, for nine days prior to the election, or in any way that works best for a community or individual.

The novena can be downloaded online at... .

For other Faithful Citizenship resources and materials visit

Notre Dame University 37th Annual Conference - June 15 - 17, 2009

Paul as Liturgical Theologian
June 15 - 17, 2009
at the University of Notre Dame

From June 28, 2008 to June 29, 2009 the Church will be celebrating a Jubilee Year in honor of the apostle Paul, to commemorate the bimellenium of his birth. As its contribution to this commemoration, the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy is dedicating its 2009 conference to exploring "Paul as Liturgical Theologian."

Presentations will consider Paul's teachings on Christian worship and liturgy, and how the Church community's worship serves as matrix for his theology.

Keynote Speaker :
Fr. Robert Taft, S.J., Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome

Plenary Session Speakers:
Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Princeton Theological Seminary
"Faith comes by what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ."
Romans 10:17 (The Word in Worship)

Fr. Paul McPartlan, Catholic University of America
"The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?"
1 Corinthians 10:16 (One Body: Ecclesial and Sacramental)

Aurelie Hagstrom, Providence College
"To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."
1 Corinthians 12: 7 (One Body: Gifts, Ministries, Responsibility)

Fr. John Behr, St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary
"As a plan for the fullness fo time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."
Ephesians 1:10 (The Eschatological Dimension of Liturgy)

Click here for more info.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Complete Works of the Bible: New Abriged One-Minute Version

Bible In A Minute - barats and bereta

Hat tip to Concord Pastor. Click the link for the lyrics.

Day of Reflection for RCIA Ministers - September 6, 2008

All catechumenate leaders and team members, priests, deacons,
and catechists are invited to a FREE diocesan day of reflection

Second Annual Day of

Saturday, September 6, 2008, 9:00am – 1:00pm
Santa Teresa Catholic Church

Inspirational Speaker: Rev. Christopher Bennett
Reflection: Sr. Sharon Skain, SNDdeN
Hospitality and free Lunch provided

9:00am - Check in and Gathering
9:30am - Welcome and Prayer
9:45am - Scripture, Reflection, Questions, Speaker
12:30pm - Closing Prayer and free Lunch

Please RSVP by Tuesday, September 2, 2008, to Sue Marrion or 650-694-7479

Please join the diocesan Catechumenate Committee as we prepare and look forward to another fruitful harvest, laboring in the joys of God’s vineyards. Each of us, as masters and workers, needs to nourish ourselves at this time of year. We expectantly look forward to a full harvest from our catechists and catechumens, knowing that each year, the vines we plant with love and care, require us to guide and nurture them so we are rewarded with an abundant fruitful harvest.

“No wine is better than the fruit used to make it.”

As part of the diocesan Liturgical Commission, the Catechumenate Committee's role is to assist parishes in the formation and implementation of an effective RCIA process through offering assistance, support, and the knowledge of an experienced team, some of whom have experienced this process themselves. Let the diocesan Catechumenate Committee help answer your questions and concerns, for example:
  • “How can I help my team grow spiritually and confidently?”
  • “What is my Faith calling me to do?”
  • “How can we encourage others to join us in the fields?”

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Choral Festival and Mass - November 15

Pueri Cantores, the national student choral organization of the Catholic Church, invites your parish or school treble choir to participate in a Choral Festival and Mass for singers ages 8-18.

Below is a link to the Pueri Cantores San Francisco Youth Choir Festival emailer, which details our upcoming festival at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco, Saturday, November 15, 2008.

Archdiocese of San Francisco
Dioceses of Fresno, Sacramento,
Monterey, Oakland, San Jose,
Santa Rosa, Stockton and Reno

Click here to view more information.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bringing Voice to Faith - September 6

Want a Voice in this Church you love?

Want to learn about...
Creating collaborative, effective, Parish Councils?
Celebrating the gifts of women?
Insuring intelligent and intelligible homilies?

Join us in this exciting follow-up
to last year’s lay-convened conference

Voice to Faith

The Second Annual
Northern California Lay Convocation

Saturday, September 6, 2008
9:00am to 3:45pm
University of San Francisco

FREE PARKING for the first 300 registrants

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Concert / Retreat with Tony Alonso!

St Simon Parish invites you to...

A Concert/Retreat with Tony Alonso!

October 3, 2008
7:00pm Concert
October 4, 2008
9:00am-12:00pm Retreat
(followed by luncheon)

Click below for a map to St. Simon
1860 Grant Rd Los Altos, CA by MapQuest

All Parishes, all ages welcome.
Free Admission
Please click here for a flyer.

For information please contact
Amy Stacke:
Suzanne Fitzgerald:

Tony Alonso is one of the most prominent voices in contemporary liturgical music today. He is the author of several books, music collections and CDs, and has presented in many conferences and events throughout the US & Europe. In addition to his passion for sung prayer, Tony has a deep interest in engaging young people in the life & liturgy of the church. He currently serves as Director of Music for the Campus Ministry Team in Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What is "real catechesis"?

Every so often, Pope Benedict XVI does a Q&A session with locals. His latest was at the Cathedral in Bressanone, Italy, with the clergy of that diocese. One priest asked the Pope what to do with people who ask for a sacrament but whose faith is superficial.

Here's the Pope's translated response, courtesy of Whispers:
Well, I can’t give an infallible answer right now, I can only try to respond based on what I see. I have to say that I’ve followed a path similar to yours. When I was young I was rather more severe. I said: the sacraments are the sacraments of the faith, and when the faith isn’t there, where there’s not practice of the faith, the sacraments can’t be conferred. When I was Archbishop of Munich I always discussed this with my pastors, and there too there were too factions, one severe and one more generous. I too in the course of time have realized that we have to follow instead the example of the Lord, who was very open also with the people who were at the margins of Israel at that time. He was a Lord of mercy, too open – according to many of the official authorities – with sinners, welcoming them or allowing himself to be welcomed by them at their dinners, drawing them to himself in his communion.

Thus I would say in essence that the sacraments are naturally sacraments of the faith. Where there is no element of faith, where First Communion would just be a party with a big lunch, nice clothes and nice gifts, then it can’t be a sacrament of the faith. But, on the other hand, if we can see even a tiny flame of desire for communion in the church, a desire also from these children who want to enter into communion with Jesus, it seems right to me to be rather generous. Naturally, for sure, it must be part of our catechesis to make clear that Communion, First Communion, is not automatic, but it demands a continuity of friendship with Jesus, a path with Jesus. I know that children often have the intention and desire to go to Sunday Mass, but their parents don’t make it possible. If we see that the children want it, that they have the desire to go, it seems to me almost a sacrament of desire, the ‘vow’ of participation at Sunday Mass. In this sense we naturally should do everything possible in the context of sacramental preparation to also reach the parents and – let’s say – also awaken in them a sensibility for the path that their children are taking. They should help their children to follow their own desire to enter into friendship with Jesus, which is the form of life, of the future. If the parents have the desire that their children should make the First Communion, this somewhat social desire should be expanded into a religious desire to make possible a journey with Jesus.

I would say, therefore, that in the context of catechism with children, the work with parents is always very important. It’s an occasion for meeting the parents, making the life of faith present also to the adults, so that they themselves can learn anew from the children – it seems to me – and to understand that this great solemnity makes sense only, and it’s true and authentic only if, it’s realized in the context of a journey with Jesus, in the context of a life of faith. The challenge is to convince the parents a bit, through the children, of the necessity of a preparatory path, which reveals itself in participation in the mysteries and begins to foster love for those mysteries.

This is a fairly insufficient response, I would say, but the pedagogy of the faith is always a journey, and we have to accept today’s situation, but we also have to open it up little by little, so that it’s not directed at the sole aim of some exterior memory of things, but so that the heart is truly touched. In the moment in which we become convinced, the heart is touched, it’s felt a bit of the love of Jesus, and it’s experienced a bit of desire to move in this direction. In that moment, it seems to me, we can say that we’ve accomplished a real catechesis. The true sense of catechesis, in fact, should be this: to carry the flame of the love of Jesus, even if it’s small, to the hearts of children, and through the children to their parents, thereby opening anew the places of the faith in our time.