Monday, August 30, 2004

22nd Week in Ordinary Time

quote by Bishop Desmond TutuLast week, the six Associates in the Office of Pastoral Ministry (Linda Batton, Diana Macalintal, Antonio Ojeda, Wendy Scherbart, Sandy Scott, and Lupita Vital) along with the Episcopal Director for Pastoral Ministries (Terrie Iacino) gathered at Villa Holy Names retreat center in Los Gatos to reflect on the diocesan Pastoral Plan and our office's goal for the year. We discovered that, like many other teams, we were very eager to figure out calendars, meeting tasks, and evaluation processes before we even knew exactly what we were doing and why. So we took a step back and tried to see the big picture of Christian life in Santa Clara valley in the year 2004.

What we discerned was that one of the greatest needs in our Church of San Jose today was an increased connection between our faith, daily life, and action toward change. This for us was our definition of "discipleship." Our staff believes that everything we do as Church, whether in the parish or at the diocesan level, must make the reign of God more visible in the actual lives of people in this time and place. Otherwise, discipleship becomes merely yet another task on our to-do list rather than a way of life for every Christian. So what we hope to do then this year is to work together as a staff to make everything we do deepen those connections between faith, life, and action for the pastoral leaders we serve.

Last Sunday, I joined with the parish of St. Catherine of Alexandria to celebrate Eucharist at their 10:30a Mass. The church was filled with people in every stage of life, from infants in parents' arms to wheelchair-bound elderly. Like the assembly, our prayer together was full of life and joy, with a good majority of people singing (often without the use of songbooks because the music was so familiar for them), a vibrant choir that knew how to engage people in song without dominating the assembly, and a large team of liturgical ministers, each doing their own ministry (and not 2 or 3 others as well) with grace and confidence. The music ministry used accompaniment very well, sometimes letting the assembly sing a refrain a cappella which made the assembly sing even louder. Also, they weren't afraid to repeat the lively responsorial psalm and do it as the dismissal song as well. Because the assembly had already sung it once, they were even more enthusiastic singing it again as they left the church.

But what struck me most was how well the assembly did the Communion Rite, implementing Bishop McGrath's directives (en español):

  1. never did they go to the tabernacle to serve hosts that were not consecrated at that Mass;
  2. they had abundant wine for everyone with at least 2 ministers of the Blood of Christ for every minister of the Body of Christ;
  3. the Communion song was one that everyone knew and sang by heart ("I Am the Bread of Life"); and
  4. the assembly stood throughout the distribution of Communion, remained standing during the silence after Communion, and stood for the Prayer after Communion.

St. Catherine of Alexandria was only 18 when she stood up to Emporer Maximus and called for justice for those he was persecuting. The parishioners of St. Catherine today, under the leadership of Fr. Eugene O'Donnell, continue to do the same through their worship that reveals the Spirit at work, giving them courage to stand together, young and old in a broken world, and proclaim that through Christ, all the lowly will be raised up on the last day.

In this week's DSJ Liturgy Notes, you'll find:

  • Information on a free Cantor Workshop
  • The next gathering of the Catechumenate Support Group
  • Resources for remembering September 11
  • A prayer for those in the military
  • A blessing for public servants

May the simple things--singing together, standing in prayer, blessing each other--bring peace.

Diana Macalintal
Associate for Liturgy