Monday, November 29, 2004

First Week of Advent

Jesus Christ: Redeemer Holy SilenceWaiting isn’t always easy. And I’m not talking about the “waiting for the copy machine to warm up” kind of waiting.

In college, my friend was tested for HIV, and we waited together a week for her results. During that week, we prayed and we talked about “what if.” She told me about her dreams, her fears, the people she cared about, the things she’s always wanted to do, and she confessed to me her regrets. That week, she began to see life differently, more clearly. All the things she had thought were important weren’t so important anymore. Slowly, the falseness was being stripped away, and what was left behind at the end of that week was a truer person—one who wanted to plunge into every moment of life, no matter what, instead of sleepwalk through it.

At its best, Advent waiting transforms us in the same way. We aren’t confronted with the possibility of a life-altering disease, but we are shown a glimpse of “what if.” What if swords really became plow-shares, dead stumps grew into fertile trees, wolves and lambs, lions and children play together, and deserts bloom? What if the blind see, the deaf hear, the mute sing, and the virgin conceive? What if, just what if God became like you and me? When the world gets turned upside down like this, where death is life and where the divine is as close as breath, you can’t take anything for granted anymore.

When we approach our Advent waiting as a radical time of transformation—like the cold turkey days of an alcoholic who’s sworn off drink, and this time means it—instead of just a reason to change colors in the church, then Advent becomes more than just a liturgical hiatus until Christmas. If we let it, our Advent sobriety has the power to strip us of everything that we really don’t need. It calls us to slough off all the excess of our lives that keeps us from seeing who we really are underneath—an image of God in human skin. Advent commands us to take only what is necessary on the ark and jolts us awake from our sleepwalk so that we don’t ever again miss recognizing God-With-Us every day of our lives.

But unlike that week of waiting with my friend, Advent transformation isn’t born out of fear. It comes from joy because the promise has already been given. For those with the eyes of faith, “what if” has already happened. God is already with us. The reign is at hand. Heaven is already here. And nothing will break God’s promise.

Our Advent mission then is to make the world look more like the heaven that we already see by faith. We do this by focusing on the essentials—the basic things every human needs in order to reflect the divine. The poor have to be cared for, the hungry have to be fed, the homeless have to be sheltered, and the sick need to be healed. Forgiveness has to be offered, those at war must stop, and peace must be our legacy.

And so during Advent, we abstain from the flurry of Christmas not as a penitential punishment, but as a way to train our eyes to see God even without the angels and trees, crèches and stars. We focus instead on the basics of light in the darkness, silence in the chaos, and stillness in the turmoil. It’s almost as if Advent calls us to faith in the Real Absence of Christ—to believe in Emmanuel even in our darkness, in God-With-Us even when we hear no answer, and in the Incarnation even when we feel nothing at all.

My friend turned out to be negative on her test for HIV. She felt like she got her life back. But she had already begun to recover her life—her true life—when she first confronted “what if.” Christ has already shown us “what if” when he rose from the dead, and ever since his ascension, we have been living in a continuous season of Advent, waiting for Christ to come again to complete God’s “what if.” Until then, let us live each day awake and faithful to God’s promise, so that we can make this world of war and hatred, poverty and horror, unemployment, divorce, abuse, and apathy a truer reflection of God with us and heaven already here.

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

I know you’ve waited a long while for this edition of Work of the People. Thanks for checking in during your wait and for letting me know that you miss it. During this Advent, let us all wake up to all our “what ifs” and encourage each other as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our savior Jesus Christ.

Diana Macalintal
Associate for Liturgy

World AIDS Day - December 1, 2004

World AIDS DayEvery year throughout the world since 1988, December 1st is set aside as a time to remember those who have died from AIDS, to keep in mind those who live with HIV, and to re-commit our efforts to finding a cure. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS:

  • 37.2 million adults and 2.2 million children living with HIV at the end of 2004;
  • during the year 4.9 million new people became infected with the virus;
  • half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25;
  • half of all people infected with HIV are killed by AIDS before they are 35;
  • 95% of the total number of people with HIV/AIDS live in the developing world;
  • in Africa, 25.4 million people are infected with HIV;
  • 2 million children in Africa under 15 are infected with HIV;
  • 12 million children in Africa have been orphaned by this disease.

Pope John Paul II has asked the Catholic Church to be in solidarity with those living with this disease.

“What too of the tragedy of AIDS and its devastating consequence in Africa? It is said that millions of persons are now afflicted by this scourge, many of whom were infected from birth. Humanity cannot close its eyes in the face of so appalling a tragedy!” (Lenten Message, 2004)

As Catholics, we must learn more about HIV/AIDS and do what we can to ease the suffering and find a cure.

HIV/AIDS Prayer from the United States Bishops
Prayer Changes Things!!!

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears
O Good and gracious God,
You are the God of health and wholeness
In the plan of Your creation,
You call us to struggle in our sickness
and to cling always to the cross of Your Son.

Father, we are Your servants.
Many of us are now suffering with HIV or AIDS.
We come before You and ask You,
if it is Your holy will,
to take this suffering away from us,
restore us to health and lead us to know You
and Your powerful healing love
of body and spirit.
We ask you also,
to be with those of us who nurse Your sick ones.
We are the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers,
children and friends of Your suffering people.

It is so hard for us to see those whom we love suffer.
You know what it is to suffer.
Help us to minister in loving care, support, and
patience for your people who suffer with HIV and AIDS.
Lead us to do whatever it will take to
eradicate this illness from the lives of those
who are touched by it,
both directly and indirectly.
Trusting in You and the strength of Your Spirit,
we pray these things in the Name of Jesus.
Amen .

Prayer by the National African American Catholic HIV/AIDS Task Force

Evening Prayer for Peace - December 7, 2004

Peace: Spread the WordBishop Patrick McGrath invites all people of faith to gather together for a diocesan Evening Prayer for Peace. In this bilingual evening prayer, we will give thanks for Christ’s gift of peace and pray that there will be peace in our day especially in places of war. We will also offer prayers for those who have died, especially those who served as military, aid, and service workers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places of conflict. For more information, contact Diana Macalintal at or (408) 983-0136.

Diocesan Evening Prayer for Peace
Tuesday, December 7, 2004, 7:00 pm
Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph

Get a flyer in English or Spanish that you can print by clicking on the images below.
English flyer
Spanish flyer

Immaculate Conception – December 8, 2004, Holy Day of Obligation

Giotto: Anna and Joachim meet at the Golden Gate2004 marks the 150th Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. This teaching professes that from the moment of Mary’s conception, she was free from original sin, preparing her to become the Mother of God, the “God-Bearer” or Theotokos. (Don't forget that the Immaculate Conception is about Mary being conceived from the union of her parents, Anna and Joachim.)

What this dogma teaches us is that all of God’s children are destined to be free from sin and bearers of the divine, for everything that happens to Mary is our destiny as well. Mary is the first of all disciples and the first to taste the fullness of what Jesus’ incarnation, resurrection, and ascension promise us. In a way, Mary shows us what our Advent waiting will transform us into—persons fully alive and open to God.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offer four announcements to be used in parish bulletins in this anniversary year of the Immaculate Conception. You can find them here.

Diocesan Vespers in Honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe - December 10, 2004

Our Lady of Guadalupe sewingEvery year, the diocese celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with processions and evening prayer in Spanish. This year's celebration takes place on Friday, December 10, 2004 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church (2020 East San Antonio Street, San Jose). The procession of parishes begin at 6p and the vespers at 7p. This year, we will be honoring the life and work of Jim McEntee who served the multicultural communities of San Jose.

Here's an article in Spanish by Lupita Vital, the Associate for Hispanic Catechesis for the diocese, about celebrating Advent with Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Parishes are invited to participate in the procession to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Parishes near and far have walked the distance between their parish home and Our Lady of Guadalupe parish. Some parishes also gather at a closer location and begin their procession from there. However way you do it, it's always a wonderful sight to see people of faith walking together. Parishes should plan to arrive at the church between 6p and 7p.

Evening Prayer in Honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Friday, December 10, 2004
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church
Processions: 6:00p
Evening Prayer: 7:00p

Get a flyer in English or Spanish, in black and white or in color, that you can print by clicking on the images below.
Spanish black & white flyerSpanish color flyer

English black & white flyerEnglish color flyer

What is Advent?

According to the Church’s General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar:

#39. Advent has a twofold character: as a season to prepare for Christmas when Christ’s firth coming to us is remembered; as a season when that remembrance directs the mind and heart ot await Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time. Advent is thus a period of devout and joyful expectation.

#40. Advent begins with evening prayer I of the Sunday falling on or closest to 30 November and ends before evening prayer I of Christmas.

#41. The Sundays of this season are named the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Sundays of Advent.

#42. The weekdays from 17 December to 24 December inclusive serve to prepare more directly for the Lord’s birth.

Advent: Season of Anticipation

By Brother John Samaha, S.M.

The Season of Advent has a twofold character, a double meaning. Advent prepares us for Christmas, the celebration of Christ’s first coming to us, and it also reminds us to direct our minds and hearts to be prepared for Christ’s second coming at the end of time. In Christian usage the word “advent” (adventus) has a special liturgical significance, but the origin of the word is pagan.

At the time of Jesus’ birth, the pagans observed a manifestation of their divinity that came to dwell in its temple at a certain time each year. This feast was called advent, and it marked an anniversary of the return of their god to the temple. During this special time, the temple was open. Ordinarily the temple was closed.

In the days of the Roman Empire, advent also celebrated the coming of the emperor.

The word “advent” was suitable to describe the coming of the Son of God in the temple of his human flesh. Gradually the use of this word was limited to describe the coming of the Lord. This advent, the coming of the Lord and the anniversary of his birth, replaced the advent and birth of the unvanquished sun of the winter solstice. This use of the word “advent” gained prominence during the reign of the Emperor Constantine (306-337). To grant tolerance to all religions and to allow the open practice of Christianity, he issued the Edict of Milan in 313. Soon Christianity and its celebrations overshadowed pagan symbolism of advent.

The ancient idea of advent underlies the prayers of the season of Advent that call forth the coming of the Lord, often with the same image of the temple.

Generally Advent signals a time to prepare for Christmas, the celebration of the first coming of the Lord. But the prayer texts and Scripture readings of the Sunday Masses and the Liturgy of the Hours give ample attention to the second coming of the Lord to which we look forward.

In reality the three distinct accents of the liturgy of the Advent season are defined by the three comings of the Lord: yesterday, at Bethlehem, when the Son of God was born of the Virgin Mary; today, in our world, where he is incarnate in the Church, in the Sacraments, and in the faithful baptized into grace; tomorrow, when he returns in glory.

This, then, is the rich meaning of Advent. From the beginning of the liturgical year we celebrate the whole panorama of the mystery of salvation history.

The variety of this season is not only desirable, it is truly appropriate because Advent is oriented toward the one who has come once and for all, who is coming, and who will come.

For reprint permission of this article, please contact the editor at

Advent Basics: Getting Back to Liturgical Essentials

De-Clutter your church to let its primary purpose shine through

Clean up the vestibule area of your church.
Remove old flyers, bulletins, and pamphlets. Organize the area so that the first thing people feel when they walk in is welcome. The primary purpose of this area is for gathering and welcoming people. Make sure there is enough room for this purpose. Move extraneous things like tables of books and leaflets away from gathering and walking spaces to another area where people can browse and learn more about the community through pictures and announcements. Organize these materials neatly.

Clean up the choir area.
Avoid storing books and equipment here because the primary purpose of this area is first of all worship. Even if the choir is in the loft where no one can see them, the place where the choir exercises its ministry should look like a place that enables reverent worship. It’s hard for choir members to genuinely pray at Mass if the place where they pray looks more like a storage area.

Clean up the sanctuary area.
The primary purpose of the sanctuary area is for the presidency of the assembly’s worship, the proclamation of God’s Word, and the celebration of the Eucharist. Therefore, the primary objects that should be prominent in this area are the altar, the ambo, and the presider’s chair. Everything else is secondary. Remove extraneous tables and chairs. Put only the altar cloth, corporal, bread and wine, and Sacramentary on the altar. Do not put water glasses for the presider, papers with Mass announcements or intentions, candles or flowers, or envelopes with Mass stipends or prayers on the altar. If the presider needs water, use a side table. Mass announcements or intentions should be in the bulletin or in the presider’s or commentator’s binder. Candles and flowers should be freestanding, placed away from the altar so that the celebrant, deacon, and other ministers can easily prepare the cups and plates for Communion without twisting around candle and flower stands. Also, be careful that the placement of decorations does not act as an altar rail, dividing the “holy space” from the “not holy space.” Envelopes with Mass intentions are seen most visibly during November when the dead are remembered. It is good to remember the dead, but do not place these envelopes, no matter how nicely decorated with ribbon, on top of the altar. This looks too much like our medieval practice of purchasing indulgences. If you want to display these envelopes, put them with the Book of the Dead, or at the baptismal font, on in the shrine of your parish patron saint.

For Your Reading: To Crown the Year

To Crown the YearTo Crown the Year: Decorating the Church Through the Seasons
By Peter Mazar, Art by Evelyn Grala
Liturgy Training Publications, 1995

This is a classic workbook for all who prepare the church building for prayer. Each chapter looks at a different liturgical season and gives creative ideas and suggestions for capturing the unique quality of each season while connecting the whole year together. As a music director, I used this book a lot to help me get a sense for the mood of each season so that the music I chose could complement the visual environment of the assembly. There are many drawings to inspire and guide your environment teams. Peter’s #1 tip in his Advent chapter: “Clean and simplify the whole place.”

The Liturgy Office Will Never Be the Same

After 14 years as the administrative assistant for the liturgy office of the diocese (and many other offices in the chancery), Rebeca Aldaz is giving up her 80 mile daily commute between Gilroy and Santa Clara to serve her parish of St. Mary in Gilroy.

If you've ever called the chancery with any question about liturgy, you've probably talked with Rebeca. During her time with the chancery, she has served three associates for liturgy and seven associates for youth and young adults. She knows where every file goes, exactly how many gallons it takes to make enough Chrism oil, and who hasn't RSVP'd yet for Rite of Election. Not only was she the keeper of so much history, she was a great co-worker who also knew how to enjoy life. Some of the other admistrative assistants and I prayed the other day that whoever takes over Rebeca's job would be just as fun to be with as Rebeca.

So if you're in Gilroy, stop by St. Mary and say hi and thanks to Rebeca. I know that I couldn't have survived my first couple of years in this office without her help. Thanks, Rebeca!

Classifieds: Seek and Ye Shall Find

Seeking: Full-time Administrative Assistant
The Office of Pastoral Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose has an immediate opening for an administrative assistant to support the Liturgy and Youth and Young Adult Ministry programs.
Minimum of 3 years secretarial experience, good organizational and telephone skills, ability to meet deadlines.

  • Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, Access and Publisher.
  • Some knowledge of parish and Church structures and procedures.
  • Bi-lingual Spanish preferred.

For more information call Terrie Iacino at (408) 983-0120. Fax resume to (408) 983-0203 or email to

Seeking: Christmas Nativity Scene
The Newman Center of San Jose State University is looking for a large sized crèche or nativity scene. If you are willing to donate one, please contact Sr. Marcia Krause, OP, at 408-938-1610 or

Sample Intercessions for December 5, 2004

2nd Sunday of Advent, Year A
December 5, 2004

Things, events, and news items to keep in mind:

  • Click here for this Sunday's readings.
  • December 1 is World AIDS Day.
  • December 2 commemorates the 24th anniversary of the death of the American martyrs in El Salvador: Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, and Jean Donovan in El Salvador.
  • December 4 commemorates the 41st anniversary of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.
  • December 7 commemorates the 63rd anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
  • December 8 is the 150th anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and is a holy day of obligation.
  • November marks one of the bloodiest months in the war in Iraq.
  • Local Bay Area soldiers die in combat.
  • Severe cold weather continues in the Bay Area.
  • Jury begins deciding the fate of Scott Peterson.

The following are just samples meant to inspire your work. Use them as ideas for your own assembly's intercessions. Read 10 Principles for Writing Intercessions and Step by Step Guide to help you write your own.

Up, Jerusalem! Stand upon the heights.
Let us cry out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord!”

For the Church (pause):
for faithfulness to the word of God,
for endurance and encouragement.
We pray to the Lord.

For all nations (pause):
for the end to harm and ruin,
for hope and harmony with one another.
We pray to the Lord.

For all in need of comfort (pause):
for those oppressed by war,
for those stigmatized by disease,
for those homeless in the cold.
We pray to the Lord.

For enemies and rivals (pause):
for those being judged for their crimes;
for those killed because of hatred;
for wisdom and peace to cover the earth.
We pray to the Lord.

For those who wait in hope (pause):
for pregnant women and the forgotten elderly;
for prisoners and the dying;
for all the dead who with hope for the resurrection.
We pray to the Lord.

To you, O Lord, we lift up our souls.
Answer us, come to us, be with us.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.