Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sample Intercessions for February 4, 2007

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
February 4, 2007

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

  • Click here for the day's readings.
  • February 6 is the Feast of Saints Paul Miki and Felipe de Jesus, 16th-century martyrs. De Jesus was the first martyr from the Americas to be beatified.
  • February 8 is a new Memorial of Saint Josephine Bakhita, a 19th-century Sudanese Muslim who converted to Christianity. Pope John Paul II called her a witness to evengelical reconciliation and a model of freedom.
  • The effects of civil war and regional conflict in Sudan have left 2 million dead and 4 million displaced. In the province of Darfur alone, 2.61 million people are affected by this crisis, with 1.85 million internally displaced, and 193,000 living as refugees. An estimated 200,000 people have died in the conflict in Darfur, and over 50 humanitarian aid workers have been evacuated from these areas. Click here to learn more about the crisis in Sudan and how you can help.
  • An abandoned baby found by parishioners of Our Lady of Guadalupe was baptized on January 31, 2007, as Jesus Guadalupe. Read more about the story here.
  • Too often in the news we hear about newborns abandoned by parents who are scared. Santa Clara County has a Safely Surrendered Baby Law which allows legal guardians to legally and confidentially surrender their baby up to 3 days after birth to public hospitals and fire stations. (Churches are not included in this law.) The guardians can reclaim the baby after a 14-day period. Click here to read more about this law in English and Spanish.
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 How To Write Intercessions to help you write your own.

With confidence in our God,
let us pray for the needs of the world.

For the church: [pause]
for the Pope and all religious leaders;
for God to make us all fishers of his people;
for nets full of men and women, hungry to hear the Gospel.
We pray to the Lord.

For our civil leaders: [pause]
for strong leadership and just government;
for the grace to toil for peace;
for collaboration and perseverance amid despair.
We pray to the Lord.

For all God's children: [pause]
for newborns and their parents;
for mothers and fathers in distress;
for all who care for the abandoned.
We pray to the Lord.

For those who feel doomed: [pause]
for those afraid and unwanted;
for those labeled unclean and unworthy by society;
for those sent to bring them the good news of Christ.
We pray to the Lord.

For the sick and the dying: [pause]
for those who have no one to care for them in their illness;
for those without adequate health care;
for those we now name...[pause].
We pray to the Lord.

For the dead: [pause]
for victims of war, poverty, and violence;
for friends and loved ones who have died;
for those we now name...[pause].
We pray to the Lord.

Lord God, you have touched our lips with the fire of your word.
Our world is in need, but our faith is in you.
So here we are; send us.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sample Intercessions for February 2 - Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
February 2, 2007

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 How To Write Intercessions to help you write your own.

With confidence in our God,
let us pray for the needs of the world.

For the church: [pause]
for our leaders and ministers;
for all the baptized;
for bold proclamation of the good news to all awaiting redemption.
We pray to the Lord.

For the world: [pause]
for messengers of peace and hope to the nations;
for freedom from slavery, evil, and death;
for all eyes to see the glory of God before them.
We pray to the Lord.

For our families: [pause]
for the safety of parents and their children;
for care and respect for the elderly and the widowed;
for constant hope in the promise of God.
We pray to the Lord.

For those looking for Christ: [pause]
for the catechumens and their sponsors;
for those who have left the Church because of hurt or disappointment;
for perseverance to continue their search.
We pray to the Lord.

For the dying: [pause]
for those afraid of death,
for the Master to let them go in peace,
including those we now name...[pause].
We pray to the Lord.

For the dead: [pause]
for those awaiting the consolation of the Lord;
for the light of God to shine upon them,
including those we now name...[pause].
We pray to the Lord.

God of light,
who can stand before you in the purifying fire of your glory?
With steadfast faith, we await your coming,
and with humble and contrite hearts we offer our prayers.
Fufill your promise, and refine us with your love,
that in your temple we may offer our lives to you alone.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


During their fall meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, the U.S. Catholic Bishops apporved a reconfiguration of their conference offices and programs. One part of that change, which will take effect when the realignment is complete, is a change in the name and mission of the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy. The BCL will become the Bishops' Committee for Divine Worship (BCDW), and it will add to its current responsibilities new oversight for places and programs that have been in the care of other committees, such as shrines and the charismatic movement.

From NPM Notebook, January 2007

Monday, January 29, 2007

Stop Recruiting Volunteers

The following article by Diana Macalintal originally appeared in Parish Life, 256, July, 2005.

What makes being Catholic different from being part of any other organization that does good works?

In essence, we don’t have a choice. Everything Christians do is a response to God who first began that good work in us. Those who seek to be baptized are simply responding to God who “sought and summoned them in many ways” (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, 53). By being baptized, we are essentially changed from being an isolated body moving by our own will to being a part of the Body of Christ, in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Preface for Ordinary Time VI). With St. Paul we say, “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:19-20). The life we live is the life of Christ who continues his work on earth through the mission of the Church.

Vatican II’s Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity describes this right and duty of the faithful in this way:
The Church was founded for the purpose of spreading the kingdom of Christ throughout the earth for the glory of God the Father…. All activity of the Mystical Body directed to the attainment of this goal is called the apostolate, which the Church carries on in various ways through all her members. For the Christian vocation by its very nature is also a vocation to the apostolate. No part of the structure of a living body is merely passive but has a share in the functions as well as life of the body: so, too, in the body of Christ, which is the Church. (2)
It even goes on to say that “the organic union in this body and the structure of the members are so compact that the member who fails to make his proper contribution to the development of the Church must be said to be useful neither to the Church nor to himself” (2).

Therefore, no one in the Church is ever really a “volunteer” who, as the dictionary says, is one who does a service or participates in a transaction without any legal concern or interest in the matter. By baptism, all Christians are obligated to participate in the work of the Church according to each one’s gifts and abilities.

Does this mean we can’t have volunteer fairs and sign-up sheets? Of course not. But we do need to cultivate better the sense of “right and duty” of discipleship that our baptism brings.

Here are six ways to move from recruiting volunteers to growing disciples.

Uphold the dignity of baptism.
Infants, the sick and elderly—any who are “useless” by the world’s standards are integral to the Church. Each in their unique way builds up the Body.

Train catechumens in the work of the apostolate.
Easter or Pentecost is not the time to get the newly-baptized to “sign up” for ministry. Their Christian work began when they became catechumens. Apprentice them throughout their catechumenate in the activities of the Church.

Match talents to needs.
We’re not simply filling empty slots with warm bodies. Help people discern their God-given gifts and how they can be best put to use in the work of the Church.

Don’t use sacraments as “reward” for service.
Service hour quotas for sacramental preparation create a consumerist mentality about discipleship. Instead, teach full participation in all the Church’s works as a lifelong commitment.

Stop asking people to “help Father.”
Ministry is about exercising one’s baptismal right and duty, not about helping Father. The lay apostolate and the ordained work together to accomplish the Church’s mission. Without either, the Church cannot function.

Honor the work of the faithful in the world.
Don’t denigrate those who never “sign up.” Discipleship is lived primarily at home and in the workplace.

Ministry discernment: Do I need more training?

The following article by Diana Macalintal originally appeared in Eucharistic Ministries, 244, July, 2004.

The short answer is always, “yes!” No matter how long you’ve been doing your ministry, every minister should discern on a regular basis the effectiveness of his or her work, because ministry doesn’t happen in isolation. Ministry is a relationship. It involves the minister and those being ministered to, a giving and a receiving. The quality of what we give—our talents, skills, and performance—might be excellent, but if they don’t fit the needs of those we minister to, or if they are inappropriate for our parish situation, then we are ministering ineffectively and need more training.

Some examples that will require of you more training: the church installs a new sound system; the Lectionary or Sacramentary translations change; your health changes and it’s harder to project, read print, stand or play your instrument; more people attend Mass; more parishioners do not speak English as a first language; more older and fewer younger people attend Mass; the Communion rite changes; you start using homemade bread; more younger children share in Communion and more inquirers come forward, unsure of what to do.

Discern the effectiveness of your service by asking yourself, “What do I do well, and where do I need improvement?” Be honest. Like ministry, discernment cannot be a solitary task. Ask others who know your work and whose opinions you trust. As a group, your ministers might use a parish survey to “take the pulse” of liturgical ministry. When someone compliments you, thank them, then ask what helped them engage better in the liturgy. Pay attention to their answer. For example, if they say they love to listen to you sing, consider if you are helping the assembly to actively sing or encouraging them to passively listen. Reflect on the changing demographics and needs of your parish.

Honest discernment can be difficult, especially for veteran ministers. But ministry is never just about us or even about the parish. It’s about God using us to meet the real needs of others in that particular time and place. Regular discernment will help us be attuned to what God needs us to do, and on-going training will help us continually respond better to what God needs.

Here are some ideas for discerning and improving your skills.

Read the liturgical documents
Go back to the source documents to review your ministry’s purpose and role in liturgy and parish life. Read the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy to remember that our aim as ministers is the full, conscious and active participation of all the faithful (CSL 14). Lectors should also read the General Introduction to the Lectionary (pdf file). Communion ministers should read the United States document, Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds. Music ministers should read Music in Catholic Worship and Liturgical Music Today. All can review Environment and Art in Catholic Worship and Pope John Paul II’s Dies Domini: On Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy.

Gather with other ministers
On a regular basis, meet with other parish ministers. These gatherings can include prayer and faith-sharing, continuing-formation and training, updates on parish changes, support and sharing helpful tips, discussion on a liturgical document, shared reading, or strategies on discernment and training of new ministers.

Examine your preparation and attitude
Do you find yourself “cramming” at the last minute? Do you often forget when you are scheduled to serve? Do you pray during the week? Do you regularly ask for and listen to honest feedback? Do you dress appropriately for your task? Has your ministry become “routine”? Are you overly nervous or excessively confident when you minister? Do you catch yourself saying “I don’t need to be re-trained; I already know how to do my job”? Do you complain about changes and refuse to adjust?

Examine your performance
Partner with another minister to give each other feedback. Videotape yourself when you practice or as you are doing your ministry. Ask your family (especially your kids) for feedback. Watch and learn from other ministers. Encourage new ministers with sincere compliments and constructive critique. Be a team player. Each year, discern if you are still being called to your ministry.

Use available resources
Attend one workshop a year in your diocese to brush up your skills or learn something new about your ministry. Consider participating in a national conference for people in your ministry. Read books, newsletters and magazines on your ministry.

Music Ministry Tips

More tips are on the way.

Tip #1: Start the Communion song immediately
Tip #2: Receive Communion with the assembly
Tip #3: Be silent or sing with the assembly after Communion

Friday, January 26, 2007

Catechumenate Support Group - February 1, 2007

The Rite of Election is just around the corner! This is what our Bishop McGrath said to the catechumens at last year’s rite:

The world will tell you to hate your enemies; this community will tell you to love them. The world will tell you to store up your riches, live the “good life,” grab more power, vote for the one who will make your life easier, be an individual; but this community will tell you to give not only your cloak but your shirt as well, take care of the orphan, the widow, and the outcast, put on Christ, lose yourself, take up the cross, give away all you have, give away even your life.This is what baptism is about. This is what the season of Lent is about. This is what being Catholic is about. This is what you must be about if you will give your name to God today. (Read his entire homily here.)

Are your catechumens ready to take the plunge? How do you know? We started the discussion of discernment at our last support meeting, and we’ll continue at the coming meeting. Come ready to contribute to some of the following questions:
  1. How do you know if the catechumens are ready for the Rite of Election? What do we do with those who are not ready?
  2. What’s the difference between a sponsor and a godparent? What is the “job description” of a godparent?
  3. What are some more effective ways to celebrate the scrutinies? And is it okay to skip one?
  4. When, and how, do we hand on the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer to the Elect?
  5. What do we do with baptized candidates during Lent and the Triduum? Is it okay to do the rites with both catechumens and candidates?
Everyone who attends the meeting will receive a FREE photocopiable bulletin insert on the Rite of Election to be given to the assembly. Get some practical answers to these and your other questions at the next Catechumenate Support Group Meeting.

Catechumenate Support Group Meeting
"Ready or Not, Here Lent Comes!"

Thursday, February 1, 2007
12:30p – 2:00p
Saint Mary (Gilroy)
11 First Street, Gilroy

Bring your lunch and your own questions to ask!

RSVP with Bernard Nemis at 408-983-0126
or online here

Other Catechumenate Support Group dates for the year:
  • Thursday, March 22, 2007, 12:30p – 2:00p, host parish needed - contact Diana
  • Thursday, June 7, 2007, 12:30p – 2:00p, host parish needed - contact Diana

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sample Intercessions for January 28, 2007

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
January 28, 2007

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

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 How To Write Intercessions to help you write your own.

With confidence in our God,
let us pray for the needs of the world.

For the church: [pause]
for all God's children, known and loved before their birth;
for prophets reviled and ignored by their own people;
for all Christians who stand up for the Gospel.
We pray to the Lord.

For our government leaders: [pause]
for even-tempered discourse;
for cooperation and unity;
for love above all other things.
We pray to the Lord.

For our Catholic schools: [pause]
for teachers, students, assistants, and campus ministers;
for staff persons, administrators, benefactors, and parents;
for growing wisdom perfected when we meet God face to face.
We pray to the Lord.

For those in love: [pause]
for long-time married couples and the newly engaged;
for those who strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts;
for those with broken hearts and broken promises.
We pray to the Lord.

For the sick and the dying: [pause]
for those crushed by physical, spiritual, or mental pain;
for God to deliver them from their suffering,
including those we now name...[pause].
We pray to the Lord.

For the dead: [pause]
for victims of war, poverty, and violence;
for friends and loved ones who have died,
including those we now name...[pause].
We pray to the Lord.

God of life, your perfect love bears all things,
believes all things, hopes all things,
and endures all things.
Hear our prayers and strengthen our faith in you,
that through our words and deeds,
we may learn to love as you love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Now that's incense!!

Thanks to Melissa for sending me this idea for what I want for Christmas next year!

Mass at Santiago de Compostela

Fair Trade Palms for Palm Sunday

Make a commitment to justice this Holy Week by purchasing fair trade palm fronds for Palm Sunday. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is promoting palm harvesters from Mexico and Guatemala by encouraging churches to purchase eco-palms--fronds harvested in an ecologically and socially sustainable way.

Learn more about the program and how to purchase these fairly traded palms at this web site.

Christmas Hospitality ideas from Saint Lucy

Fr. Dave Mercer, Parochial Vicar at Saint Lucy Parish, sent me the following ideas based on what they have done at Saint Lucy's Parish during the Christmas season. Kudos to the parishioners and staff of Saint Lucy for welcoming Christ in all who seek him!

For the second year in a row, we surrounded the Christmas liturgies with a strong focus on hospitality, especially for the alienated/inactive Catholic and for the visitor. We did this in various ways:

Special Christmas Greeters
  1. Like last year, we recruited “Special Christmas Greeters,” using recruitment cards in the church during the weeks prior to Christmas and last year’s list of Christmas Greeters. We held two short training sessions for the special greeters.

  2. In total, we had 61 greeters spread out over 7 Masses, with a “captain” at each Mass to help facilitate. Greeters had special name badges, were at the doors before and after Mass, and distributed special prayer cards to everyone after Communion.

  3. Using the list of Christmas Greeters, we anticipate recruiting greeters for every Sunday. We hope they will serve as “spotters” of visitors and newcomers as part of a ramped up Newcomer Ministry.

Prayer Cards

  1. Like last year, we designed a special prayer card. In October, we posted in the parish office four pages of prayers that are ascribed to saints, plus a few from the Bible. Staff members commented on which ones they liked, until we decided upon words by St. Thomas More. We did not look for a Christmas prayer and did not consider writing our own prayer, but looked for words that tie people to our spiritual heritage.

  2. We then recruited a parishioner with computer and graphic layout skills to design the card before taking it to a print shop for reproduction.

  3. When distributing the cards at Christmas, we strove to get as close as we could to a personal presentation to each person in attendance. Rather than hand them out as people left or have them on tables at the doors to be picked up, we distributed them right after Communion, with the special Christmas Greeters passing them down each pew and to people standing in the back. The priest said that the cards were a gift from the parish and explained the significance of St. Thomas More.

  4. We produced 6,000 cards in English and 1,500 in Spanish, so we have many left over for distribution throughout the year (e.g., by visitors to the jails, mailings). We hope a prayer card in people’s homes will be a reminder of the parish, that they were at Church on Christmas, and serve as a subtle invitation to return.

  5. This year’s prayer: Father in heaven, you have given us a mind to know you, a will to serve you, and a heart to love you. Be with us today to in all that we do, so that your light may shine out in our lives. (In Spanish: Padre Nuestro que estas en el cielo, Tú que siempre nos has dado la capacidad para conocerte, la voluntad para servirte, y un corazón para amarte. Acompáñanos en nuestras labores, y que tu luz brille en nuestras vidas para siempre.)

Children’s Gift

  1. We distributed a simple craft-style gift to all the children at the Children’s Mass and at the Spanish Mass. This year, it was an angel and fashioned as an ornament.

  2. They were made by a team of parishioners and labeled with the parish name and year.

  3. At both the Children’s Mass and the Spanish Mass, children joined the priest in front of the altar for a dialog homily, after which the priest let the children know that we had a special gift for them. Several parishioners then stepped forward and gave each child a gift.

  4. We hope the gift serves as a subtle reminder that they were at Church on Christmas and as an invitation to return.

Words of Welcome

  1. In the introductory rites, we welcomed all visitors using words by Fr. Joseph Champlin, who uses them at the beginning of his Christmas and Easter homilies:

  2. “Most of you are here today (tonight) (this evening) because you are believers. You have faith that the child called Jesus is really the Savior, the Messiah, the Son the Father sent into the world and that he would go to the cross and save us. You’re here to express your faith with others and to deepen it.

    “I also know that some of you are here, not because you believe this, but because someone you love wanted you to come—someone: your spouse, your children, a friend. I call you lovers.

    “Whether you are believers or lovers, we’re delighted you are here.”

  3. We discussed the above words beforehand, wondering if they would appear natural to the priest. However, what is more important is how the words sound to people in the pews. The feedback has been very positive.

Request for Forgiveness

  1. Because some people come to Christmas Mass reluctantly due to having been hurt by someone in the Church, we also incorporated into the penitential rite a request for forgiveness. Again, the words come from Fr. Joseph Champlin, who uses them at the beginning of his Christmas and Easter homilies:

  2. “There may be someone here who hasn’t been here for a long time, and, sometime in the past, you perceived that you were hurt by someone in the Church—by a lay person or a priest. In the name of our Church, I ask for your forgiveness.”

Brochure in the pews.

  1. Given that many people at Christmas Mass are not familiar with Liturgy and can find it confusing, we placed in the pews a simple brochure that explains the Mass. Drafted by a parishioner and entitled “Understanding the Mass,” it always disappears quickly.

I’ll be happy to forward to anyone any of the above materials: greeter recruitment cards, prayer cards, brochures, instructions to greeters, etc. (Unfortunately, I cannot forward the gifts we gave to children, because we need the few remaining angels for future reference.)

Contact Fr. Dave Mercer at Saint Lucy Parish for more information.

A Blessing of Students and Teachers for Catholic Schools Week

The blessing below is an adapation of a liturgy of "Enrollment and Blessing of Students" by Diana Macalintal which originally appeared in Into the Fields, a training resource for catechists and teachers. It is reprinted with permission.

You may reprint the blessing below for free for use in your parish, but please include the Web site address and reference to Into the Fields - - in any copies you make.

Adapted from a blessing from Into the Fields -

When the community has gathered, a suitable song may be sung.
The presider greets those present.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

May the God of wisdom and understanding be with you.
And also with you.

Today we gather to answer God’s call
to grow in wisdom and grace,
just as Jesus progressed steadily in wisdom and age and grace
before God and all people.

The Word of God brings wisdom and light to the eye.
Let us then ask God to open the ears of our hearts
that we may hear and follow the Spirit of God.

A reader may read a text of sacred Scripture – Sirach 6:32-37.
After the reading, a suitable psalm may be sung and the presider or another minister may relate the reading to the lives of the students and teachers.

[Begin here if the blessing takes place within Mass.]

Principal of the School:
Let those who are students and teachers at N. School come forward.

If time allows, and the number of students and teachers is not too large, each student and teacher is called by name. He or she responds by saying, “Present,” or “Here I am.”


Let us pray for these students
and all who seek to know and love God.

Another reader leads the intercessions.

Our response is: Fill us with the Spirit of God.

For these students and their teachers, we pray to the Lord.

For their families and all who support them, we pray to the Lord.

For our church and all who teach and guide us, we pray to the Lord.

For our Catholic schools and all those places where the Good News is found, we pray to the Lord.

For all the catechumens and those who seek to grow in faith, we pray to the Lord.

For those who have no one to teach them, we pray to the Lord.

[Omit if the blessing takes place within Mass.]

Christ taught us to call upon the Father, and so we pray: Our Father…


Eternal God, your wisdom is beyond our understanding.
Yet it is revealed to us in the life and love of Jesus, your Son.
Bless these daughters and sons of yours
who have answered your call to grow in faith.
Enlighten them with your Word and fill them with your Spirit
that they may follow the path that leads to your wisdom.
Open their eyes that they may see your presence each day,
open their ears that they may hear your voice in unexpected places,
open their minds that they may understand
the mystery of your love,
and open their hearts that they may be joyful companions with us
as we continue to grow in likeness to the mind of Christ.
Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

[Omit if the blessing takes place within Mass, and continue with the Liturgy of the Eucharist.]

May God bless us with wisdom and fill us with peace
now and for ever. Amen.

"We become what we do, for good or for evil." - Archbishop Chaput

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM, of the Denver Archdiocese received the following email after immigration raids took place in meatpacking plants all over the United States earlier in January.
Sorry Bishop: No sympathy (from me) for the illegal alien criminals arrested by ICE. In fact, I hope their offspring starve to death. I do not pray for illegal aliens. I pray for their victims. I have no problem with God, and He has no problem with me. I hope their families starve to death, and it’s crap like this that drives Catholics away from the Church.
Read the Archbishop's response here.

Family: "Why Do I Love These People?" - January 29, 2007

Best-selling author Po Bronson explores family, our most fundamental social structure, by peering into the lives of ordinary folks. Though the makeup of modern families is changing, says Bronson, the tools to manage relationships – forgiveness, compromise and empathy – remain the same. Bronson spent three years interviewing 700 people to unlock the meaning of family in today's world. Bronsor is the Founder of the San Francisco Writers' Grotto and is author of Why Do I Love These People?. This is a Silicon Valley Commonwealth Club event.

"Why Do I Love These People?"
Speaker: Po Bronson
Monday, January 29, 2007
6:30p - Check-in; 7:00p - Program
8:00p - Book signing
Le Petit Trianon
72 North Fifth Street, San José
$7 for Commonwealth Club Members
$12 for Non-Members.

Click here for more details and to RSVP.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Pope Paul VI Awards for Liturgical Ministers - 2006

Pope Paul VIThe Diocese of San José will once again honor liturgical ministers of our parishes who qualify for the annual Pope Paul VI Award (learn more about Pope Paul VI here).

The Diocesan Liturgical Commission established the following criteria as qualifications for reception of the Pope Paul VI Award:

  1. Service as a liturgical minister is to be calculated from December 4, 1963 (promulgation date of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy). Awards are given for 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40+ years of service. An individual can receive only one award in a given year.
  2. Such service is to have been rendered within the Diocese of San José since its creation in 1981 or within the County of Santa Clara before the establishment of the Diocese.

Years of service may be calculated as the cumulative number of years a person has served in any liturgical ministry. For example, one who has served as a music minister for 5 years then became a Communion minister for the next 10 years may be given an award for 15 years of service.

To apply for this award, please complete and submit an eligibility form.

The deadline for submitting names of the recipients is February 28, 2007.

Awards certificates will be distributed to your parish in April, 2007. During a liturgical service in your parish, please present these certificates and acknowledge the years of ministry given by these individuals. Recipients of the Pope Paul VI awards will be recognized in a future issue of the Valley Catholic.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

What helps American Catholics to sing the liturgy?

The National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM) recently conducted an online survey of both musicians and non-musicians asking them what helps Amercian Catholics sing the liturgy. There were 2,349 respondents; 1,541 were involved in music ministry; 808 were not involved in music ministry.

The survey results demonstrated an interesting divergence in the perspectives of musicians and non-musicians. Non-musicians identified familiarity and ease as most important in supporting their sung participation in the liturgy. The top three responses from this group related to the choice of music for people to sing: familiar melody (52.2%), easy to sing (51.4%), and traditional song (47.9%).

Those involved in music ministries--directors, organists, cantors, choir and ensemble members--were more likely to focus on issues of leadership and text. The top responses from this group included leadership of organ or instruments (66.4%), meaningful text (65.6%), leadership of cantor or director (60.9%), and music linked to the liturgy of the day or season (59.6%).
What might this survey be teaching us liturgical musicians? One possible lesson is that we need to get feedback from those in the pews. Songs that are familiar to us and easy to sing for us might not be for those who are not part of the choir. Remember, if you're a music minister:
  • you probably attend a rehearsal during the week at which you sing a particular song probably three or four times.
  • Then you probably rehearse the song again before Mass at least once or twice.
  • Then you sing it again at Mass.

You've sung that particular song maybe seven times that week, while the person in the pew gets to sing it only once that week, maybe twice if you go over it with them just before Mass.

  • That's 7 to 1!

No wonder the criteria for what helps us to sing is so different between musicians and non-musicians.

Of course, good leadership by the organ and instruments, meaningful texts, and the leadership of the cantor or director are important, and we need to continue to improve these. But we also have to put ourselves in the "shoes and pews" of the assemblies we serve. If they cannot sing the music we have labored so hard over during the week, we have ceased to be ministers and have become entertainers instead.

Read the entire set of results here.

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Sample Lenten Reconciliation Service

“When a number of penitents assemble at the same time to receive sacramental reconciliation, it is fitting that they be prepared for the sacrament by a celebration of the word of God. Those who will receive the sacrament at another time may also take part in the service. Communal celebration shows more clearly the ecclesial nature of penance.” (Rite of Penance, 22).

During Lent it is appropriate for all the baptized—including those candidates who are preparing to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church and those candidates preparing to celebrate confirmation or first Communion during the Easter season—to participate in the Sacrament of Penance. Remember that catechumens cannot celebrate the Sacrament of Penance until after they are baptized; however, they can be encouraged to participate in the liturgy to be strengthened by the Word of God and the modeling of penitence by the assembly.

Below is a script for a lenten reconciliation liturgy prepared by Diana Macalintal. It may be adapted to be either a sacramental celebration which includes an opportunity for individual confession and absolution, or a penitential liturgy (read more about penitential liturgies here) that prepares the assembly to celebrate the sacrament at a later time (for the latter option, omit the section in brackets). The liturgy may be led by a priest, deacon, or other minister using the appropriate adaptations. Because the liturgy recalls the reconciliation we first encounter through baptism, it adapts a ritual signing with holy water in which all the baptized may participate. Please feel free to copy, adapt, and use the text free of charge for your own parishes.

Download a Word file of this liturgy here.

Lenten Reconciliation Service
© 2007, Diana Macalintal

Gathering Rites
The liturgy begins in a similar way to the Sunday lenten liturgies, except the Penitential Rite is omitted.

Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Ephesians 2:1-10
Psalm: Psalm of the season
Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46
Homily or reflection


Examination of Conscience
Music for the acclamation begins.

My friends, as we prepare to renew our baptismal promises this Easter,
let us bring our hearts and minds before the Lord.
Let us examine our consciences, remembering that God is merciful.
Together, let us kneel.

Acclamation is sung – “Lamb of God” from Mass of Creation

You come to look for the lost sheep; joyfully you carry it on your shoulders.
Yet do we run away from you
because of pride, arrogance, or shame? [pause]
And so we pray: (Jesus, Lamb of God…)

You go to meet the prodigal son; you embrace him in your arms.
Yet have we become jealous of your mercy
for those who we think don’t deserve it? [pause]
And so we pray: (Jesus, Lamb of God…)

You choose the humble and the sinner to be your apostles;
you have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
Yet are we deaf to your voice
because of our need to be perfect, self-sufficient, or right all the time? [pause]
And so we pray: (Jesus, Lamb of God…)

You save Peter from drowning in the sea when he lost his faith in you.
Yet are we too afraid to even try what seems impossible? [pause]
And so we pray: (Jesus, Lamb of God…)

You enter the house of Zacheaus in order to seek out and save what was lost.
Yet do we close our doors to your own people? [pause]
And so we pray: (Jesus, Lamb of God…)

You accept the perfumed oil of the sinful woman;
because of her tears you pardon and defend her.
Yet do we carry stony and indifferent hearts,
refusing to ask for and offer forgiveness? [pause]
And so we pray: (Jesus, Lamb of God…)

You heal the lepers and restore them to wholeness,
though only one returns to give you thanks.
Yet do we daily take your blessings for granted? [pause]
And so we pray: (Jesus, Lamb of God…)

You open the gates of Paradise to the good thief crucified by your side.
Yet do we condemn and crucify others
with our words, actions, and failure to act? [pause]
And so we pray: (Jesus, Lamb of God…)

General Confession
Our God is a God of mercy, slow to anger and abounding in love.
Like the father who welcomes us home,
or the mother who kisses away our wounds, our God is ready to forgive.
So let us trust in his goodness as, together, we confess our sin.

The assembly may be invited to place a hand on the shoulder of the person next to them.

All: I confess to almighty God….

Lord’s Prayer
Let us stand and pray for forgiveness as Jesus taught us. Our Father….

Remembrance of Baptismal Reconciliation
Music for procession begins.

My brothers and sisters, we have neglected the gifts of our baptism,
and we have confessed our sin before God and each other.
Let us come forward now and recall the commitment we made
when God first raised us to new life.

Several ministers each hold a small bowl of holy water. As members of the assembly approach them, the ministers mark the foreheads of the faithful with a cross of baptismal water, saying:
Remember your baptism, and be faithful to the Gospel.

[Individual Confession and Absolution]
Penitents may go to the priests designated for individual confession, and confess their sins.

Proclamation of Praise for God’s Mercy
Presider: Give praise to God who remembers not our sin.

All sing a song of praise.

Concluding Rites

Sign of Peace
Presider: Let us share with one another a sign of peace.

Concluding Prayer
God, our help in every age,
you have washed away our sin with the cleansing waters of baptism
and have made us your own chosen ones to be called holy and beloved.
We give you thanks for your unending love and mercy.
Strengthen us with your Word and fill us with your Spirit
that we may profess our faith with joy
and renew our baptismal vows at the Easter feast
you prepare for your children who return home to you.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

A lay minister concludes the rite by signing himself or herself with the sign of the cross saying:
May God bless us and keep us. (+) Amen.
May God smile upon us and be gracious to us. Amen.
May God look upon us kindly, and give us peace. Amen.

Friends, peace and joy are ours this day.
Let us go now in peace. Thanks be to God.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Lenten Night Prayer for Home

Below is a sample lenten night prayer by Diana Macalintal that families or individuals can use in their home during the season of Lent.

Download a Word document version of this prayer.

A Lenten Night Prayer for Home


The leader leads everyone in making the sign of the cross.

Leader: In the name of the Father (+), and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Leader: Let us recall the events of this day.
Where did we see Christ today,
and where may we have ignored him?

All spend some time in silent, written, or shared reflection.

Leader: With thanksgiving and trust in God’s boundless mercy,
let us ask for healing from God and each other.

All: I confess to Almighty God….


Read the Sunday Gospel or another reading from the Lenten season. Or sing together the refrain of the Lenten responsorial psalm or another song from Sunday’s Mass.


For each petition, name out loud any specific persons you want to pray for.

Leader: Let us offer our prayers to God who hears us.
For our family and friends….We pray: Lord, hear our prayer.
For our co-workers and classmates….We pray:
For the sick and those who care for them….We pray:
For those we don’t get along with….We pray:
For those we have hurt today….We pray:
For the Elect preparing for baptism….We pray:
For our Church and world leaders….We pray:
For those looking for work, food, or shelter….We pray:
For those with no one to help them….We pray:

Leader: Together, we pray as Jesus taught us.
Our Father….

Leader: Lord God, protect us when we are awake,
and watch over us as we sleep,
that we may rise with Christ who is our light.

All: Lord, now let your servants go in peace,
for your word has been fulfilled.
Our eyes have seen your salvation,
your glory before all people.
Your light you have revealed to the world,
giving your promise to your chosen ones.


All make the sign of the cross as the leader concludes the prayer.

Leader: May the Lord bless us, (+) protect us from all evil,
and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

Leader: Grant us a restful night…
All: and a peaceful end.

Leader: May peace be with us always…
All: and with our loved ones everywhere.

What time can the Easter Vigil begin in 2007?

Based on sunset information from the U.S. Naval Observatory, Easter Vigil this year (April 7, 2007) in the Diocese of San José cannot begin any earlier than 8:15 p.m. Therefore, 8:30 p.m. would be an ideal start time for the Easter Vigil.

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):

On Saturday, 7 April 2007 Pacific Daylight Time
  • Begin civil twilight 6:18 a.m.
  • Sunrise 6:45 a.m.
  • Sun transit 1:10 p.m.
  • Sunset 7:35 p.m.
  • End civil twilight 8:02 p.m.

Civil twilight is defined to begin in the morning, and to end in the evening when the center of the Sun is geometrically 6 degrees below the horizon. This is the limit at which twilight illumination is sufficient, under good weather conditions, for terrestrial objects to be clearly distinguished; at the beginning of morning civil twilight, or end of evening civil twilight, the horizon is clearly defined and the brightest stars are visible under good atmospheric conditions in the absence of moonlight or other illumination. In the morning before the beginning of civil twilight and in the evening after the end of civil twilight, artificial illumination is normally required to carry on ordinary outdoor activities.

Complete darkness, however, ends sometime prior to the beginning of morning civil twilight and begins sometime after the end of evening civil twilight.

Nautical twilight is defined to begin in the morning, and to end in the evening, when the center of the sun is geometrically 12 degrees below the horizon. At the beginning or end of nautical twilight, under good atmospheric conditions and in the absence of other illumination, general outlines of ground objects may be distinguishable, but detailed outdoor operations are not possible, and the horizon is indistinct.

Astronomical twilight is defined to begin in the morning, and to end in the evening when the center of the Sun is geometrically 18 degrees below the horizon. Before the beginning of astronomical twilight in the morning and after the end of astronomical twilight in the evening the Sun does not contribute to sky illumination; for a considerable interval after the beginning of morning twilight and before the end of evening twilight, sky illumination is so faint that it is practically imperceptible.

For more information:

Seven suggestions for a parish-wide fast for Lent

When we think of fasting for Lent, we often think of giving up food, and we often see it as a private practice. But how about other kinds of fasting, and how about making it a corporate fast?

Mia Crosthwaite presents seven possible fasting practice that the parish, as an instution, can participate in during Lent. She relates these to the seven key themes of Catholic social teaching: life and dignity of the human person; rights and responsibilities; care for God's creation; solidarity; call to family, community, and participaion; option for the poor and vulnerable; and the dignity of work and the rights of workers.

Crosthwaite's seven suggestions for a parish-wide fast for Lent are:
  1. Give up space: provide your church space for outside community organizations who help the poor.
  2. Give up trash: recycle as many of the things your parish throws away.
  3. Give up easy buying: buy only fair-trade food items to serve at your parish gatherings.
  4. Give up disconnection: partner with secular organizations that serve the poor.
  5. Give up money: create a parish committee that plans how the Sunday collection to will be used for charity as well as for justice.
  6. Give up authority: do a just wage audit of all parish staff and workers.
  7. Give up the comfort of the familiar: commit to bringing different language groups together for food, dialogue, and community.

Read her entire article here at Today's Parish Minister.

Sample Intercessions for January 21, 2007 - Week of Christian Unity

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
January 21, 2007

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

  • Click here for the day's readings.
  • Over 21,000 more United States soldiers will be sent to Iraq.
  • January 18 to 25 each year is celebrated in all Christian churches as a Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Bishop Patrick J. McGrath has asked that parishes in the San Jose diocese observe this Sunday as a special day of prayer for Christian Unity and to substitute the prayers of the Mass of the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time with the prayers of the Mass for the Unity of Christians.
  • January 25, 2007, marks the 18th anniversary of the ordination to the order of bishops of Bishop Patrick J. McGrath.
  • January 27, 2007, marks the 26th anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of San Jose.
  • Record cold hits the Bay Area, leaving the homeless vulnerable, destroying citrus crops, and leaving thousands of farm workers without jobs for the next growing season.
  • Iraq saw one of its bloodiest days with over 100 being killed by car bombs in one day.
  • Two abducted boys were found in Missouri--one missing for four days, the other mising for four years.
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 How To Write Intercessions to help you write your own.

With confidence in our God,
let us pray for the needs of the world.

For the entire body of Christ
into which all Christians are baptized: [pause]
for the grace of peace, understanding, and reconciliation;
for an appreciation of our differences,
the acknowledgement of our need for each other;
for untiring effort to be one body united in one Spirit.
We pray to the Lord.

For all who have been hurt by the division among Christians: [pause]
for ecumenical families and households;
for church leaders and their congregations;
for glad tidings to those who weep
and a year of favor for all God’s people.
We pray to the Lord.

For our local Church, the Diocese of San Jose: [pause]
for Bishop McGrath, our pastors, and all who serve our parishes;
for today's apostles, prophets, and teachers;
for the anointing of the Spirit of wisdom upon them all.
We pray to the Lord.

For a world in need of glad tidings: [pause]
for nations at war where violence reigns;
for farm workers and those who harvest the fruit of the land;
for families reunited, and for children still missing.
We pray to the Lord.

For the sick and the dying: [pause]
for those who suffer physical, spiritual, or mental anguish;
for those who can find no reason to rejoice today,
including those we now name...[pause].
We pray to the Lord.

For the dead: [pause]
for victims of war, poverty, and violence;
for friends and loved ones who have died,
including those we now name...[pause].
We pray to the Lord.

Your words, Lord, are spirit and life.
On this day which you have made holy,
shower your favor upon us,
and proclaim this year acceptable to you.
Hear our prayers and grant them according to your will,
for we trust in your promise that today your word shall be fulfilled.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Calling all singers - The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace - March 24, 2007

The Armed Man: A Mass for PeaceAnnouncing a musical multi-media performance of “The Armed Man” by Karl Jenkins to promote peace in our world on the anniversary of the Iraq war.

All diocesan musicians are invited to participate in this very special choral event as together we sing for peace and show our solidarity as a diocese in word and song. “The Armed Man” is scheduled to be performed on Saturday March 24, 2007 at 8:00pm inside the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph.

Music will be provided to you on a complimentary basis. Please call Julie Wind, Director of Music, at 408-283-8100 x2205 to reserve your music. We ask that you please respond by 5:00p, Friday, January 19th in order to have your music ready for you at the first rehearsal.

The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace
Saturday, March 24, 2007, 8:00p
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph

Rehearsal Schedule
Monday, January 22, 2007, 7:00p in Loyola Hall (Cathedral)
Monday, February 12, 2007, 7:00p in Loyola Hall (Cathedral)
Monday, March 19, 2007, Loyola Hall (Cahtedral)
Friday, March 23, 2007, 7:00p in Cathedral
Saturday, March 24, 2007, 8:00p Performance in Cathedral

To be part of the choir, contact Julie Wind

Cantor Workshop - January 31, 2007

don't cantor like thisDon't cantor like this! Learn the basics that will improve your singing technique and your leadership skills, and practice the habits that will make you a better leader of musical prayer.

Participants who register will have the opportunity to cantor and receive immediate feedback. This master-class style workshop is free.

Cantor Workshop
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
7:00p - 9:00p
Saint Elizabeth Church
Free Admission

Learn basic singing techniques.
Study the role of the cantor in the Mass.
Prepare psalms for Lent.
Practice cantor gestures and postures.

If you want to cantor that evening
and receive individual feedback,
please bring an extra copy of your psalm.

Led by Diana Macalintal, Diocesan Associate for Liturgy
and Melissa Broome, Liturgy Director at Most Holy Trinity

Register with Bernard Nemis at
or 408-983-0126 or online here

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

January 9: A post-Christmas warning

The Days After Christmas
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
As we pack away Christmas,
let's not pack away the change it has made in us
and the challenge it leaves us....

The real work of Christmas begins now.

Today's message

Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes --
Some have got broken -- and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week --
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted -- quite unsuccessfully --
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.
The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off. But, for the time being, here we all are,
Back in the moderate Aristotelian city
Of darning and the Eight-Fifteen, where Euclid's geometry
And Newton's mechanics would account for our experience,
And the kitchen table exists because I scrub it.
It seems to have shrunk during the holidays. The streets
Are much narrower than we remembered; we had forgotten
The office was as depressing as this. To those who have seen
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.
For the innocent children who whispered so excitedly
Outside the locked door where they knew the presents to be
Grew up when it opened. Now, recollecting that moment
We can repress the joy, but the guilt remains conscious;
Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
Everything became a You and nothing was an It.
And craving the sensation but ignoring the cause,
We look round for something, no matter what, to inhibit
Our self-reflection, and the obvious thing for that purpose
Would be some great suffering. So, once we have met the Son,
We are tempted ever after to pray to the Father;
"Lead us into temptation and evil for our sake."
They will come, all right, don't worry; probably in a form
That we do not expect, and certainly with a force
More dreadful than we can imagine. In the meantime
There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair,
Irregular verbs to learn, the Time Being to redeem
From insignificance. The happy morning is over,
The night of agony still to come; the time is noon:
When the Spirit must practice his scales of rejoicing
Without even a hostile audience, and the Soul endure
A silence that is neither for nor against her faith
That God's Will will be done, That, in spite of her prayers,
God will cheat no one, not even the world of its triumph.

Christmas Oratio, W.H. Auden

Monday, January 08, 2007

January 8: The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Cutting a hole in the ice for baptism at Ishim, Russia
Blessing the river at Epiphany
Baptism at the Neva River at Saint Petersburg
The Feast of the Jordan as an Epiphany of the Divine.

Today's pictures

“At St. Petersburg, on Epiphany, the feast of the Jordan is celebrated with great solemnity on the Neva River, in front of the Czar’s Palace. A richly decorated chapel, open on all sides, is built, with a hole in the center of the flooring and down through the thick ice. At ten in the morning, the metropolitan bishop of St. Petersburg celebrates a solemn Mass in this tiny temporary chapel, at which all the dignitaries of the church and the troops of the Imperial Guard are present. After the divine liturgy, the emperor arrives with the court. Then the bishop blesses the Neva by lowering a cross through the hole, whilst cannon are fired and the troops, kneeling and bareheaded, present arms. Everyone then tries to wet his lips with some
of the water that has just been blessed, and to get some for himself by making holes in the ice. In the provinces, the peasants plunge into the water themselves, while elsewhere, people are content to gather the water into containers themselves.”

The History of the Liturgical Year, Adrian Nocent

Three wise guys, eh?

How Sister Mary Martha teaches about Epiphany.

New Bishop of Salt Lake City - Bishop John C. Wester

Bishop John C. WesterToday's news from Rocco Palmo at Whispers in the Loggia includes a post announcing the appointment of San Francisco archdiocese auxiliary Bishop John C. Wester as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City. He succeeds Archbishop George Niederauer who left Salt Lake City in December, 2005, to become the Archbishop of San Francisco.

I haven't seen any official postings up yet at either Web site for San Francisco or Salt Lake City, but I'll post up some links as I find them. (Kudos to Monterey diocese's web gurus for posting up bios, pics, and press releases on their home page immediately on the announcement of their new bishop.)

Here is the Archdiocese of San Francisco's press release.
And here is the Diocese of Salt Lake City's home page with a much nicer pic of the new Bishop.

Classifieds: Seek and Ye Shall Find

Available: Music Director/Liturgy Director
Dale Sieverding is a talented liturgical musician seeking full time ministry in San Jose and/or beyond. For the past 5 years he has been serving in the multi-cultural churches of Miami, both in an African American Congregation and in a Haitian/Hispanic Congregation. He is fluent in English, French and Italian and is conversant in Spanish. He holds a doctorate in Liturgy from San Anselmo having defended his thesis on issues in Christian Initiation. Dale is a top quality liturgical musician having experience as both keyboardist (organ/piano/electronic), choir director and cantor. In his most recent position, he founded a children's choir, directed the English adult choir, and the Tri-lingual choir for major celebrations. Sieverding has served as liturgical consultant on a number of renovation and building projects, and has prior experience as diocesan director of worship. He will make his credentials available by email.

Position Available: Database/Bookkeeper Assistant
The Development Office for the Diocese of San José has an immediate opening for a part-time (26.5 hours per week) Database and Bookkeeper Assistant. This individual will be responsible for entering and maintaining accurate records in the office databases. Responsibilities will also include: querying information, producing reports, and processing accounting records. Requirements include: Minimum of a high school diploma and two years experience with database entry. Familiarity with Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge preferred. Good math and calculation skills, as well as some knowledge of bookkeeping and accounting. Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, and 10-key by touch. Ability to multi-task, effectively present information, and work cooperatively. Interested persons may fax a resume to 408-983-0203 or by email.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

January 7: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

The Solemnity of the Epiphany
The Visit of the Magi -
How Byzantine Catholics celebrate the Epiphany,
and the difference between theophany and epiphany.

Today's song

Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us Thine aid;
Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.

Cold on His cradle the dewdrops are shining;
Low lies His head with the beasts of the stall;
Angels adore Him in slumber reclining,
Maker and Monarch and Savior of all!

Say, shall we yield Him, in costly devotion,
Odors of Edom and offerings divine?
Gems of the mountain and pearls of the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest, or gold from the mine?

Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
Vainly with gifts would His favor secure;
Richer by far is the heart’s adoration,
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

Brightest and Best, text: Reginald Heber, 1811.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

January 6: Memorial of Blessed Andre Bessette

The Twelfth Day of Christmas + one
Blessed Andre Bessette, CSC
Read about Blessed Andre Bessette, CSC.

Today's song

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six wingèd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, Text: Li­tur­gy of St. James, 4th Cen­tu­ry, trans­lat­ed from Greek to Eng­lish by Gerard Moultrie, 1864.

Friday, January 05, 2007

January 5: Memorial of Saint John Neumann, bishop

The Twelfth Day of Christmas
Saint John Neumann -
Where in the world is Saint John Neumann?

Today's song

Gabriel's message does away
Satan's curse and Satan's sway,
out of darkness brings our Day:
so, behold, all the gates of heaven unfold.

He that comes despised shall reign;
he that cannot die, be slain;
death by death its death shall gain:
so, behold, all the gates of heaven unfold.

Weakness shall the strong confound;
by the hands, in grave clothes wound,
Adam's chains shall be unbound:
so, behold, all the gates of heaven unfold.

Art by art shall be assailed;
to the cross shall Life be nailed;
from the grave shall hope be hailed:
so, behold, all the gates of heaven unfold.

The Annunciation; Words: Piae Cantiones, 1582; tr. John Mason Neale (1818-1866).

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Proclamation of the Date of Easter on Epiphany

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, Treos, 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 2007 (in red).

(thanks to Fr. Alexander for catching a couple of mistakes in the dates--corrections are in bold)

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 fifth of April
and the evening of the eighth 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-first of February.
The Ascension of the Lord will be commemorated
on the twentieth of May*.
Pentecost, the joyful conclusion of the season of Easter,
will be celebrated on the twenty-seventh of May.
And this year the First Sunday of Advent
will be on the second of December.

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.

January 4: Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

The Eleventh Day of Christmas
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton -
Read more about Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Today's prayer

I could use your help.

Prayer of an American teenager

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Vino & Vespers - January 26, 2007

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 with our guest speaker about faith and daily life as we savor delicious desserts and fine wine.

Our guest speaker for this evening is
Dmitry Shkolnik

Dmitry Shkolnik is an iconographer who has written over 2,000 icons, completed 16 iconostasis, and painted numerous church frescos, murals and wall ornamentations. His work is found in churches and private collections all over the United States, Canada, Central and South America, France, Australia, Japan, Russia, Greece, and online at

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

Vino & Vespers
Friday, January 26, 2007, 7:30 pm
Casa Maria Conference Center
200 Prospect Avenue, Los Gatos, 95030
$5 suggested free will donation

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

Click here for a PDF flyer that you can print.

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.

Liturgical Coordinators' Gathering - January 9, 2007

Now that you've almost recovered from the Christmas weekend marathon, the liturgical calendar throws us another challenge. Ash Wednesday comes early this year—February 21. That’s right around the corner! Yikes, we aren’t even finished with Christmas yet! Are you ready for Lent? And the Triduum?

Liturgical Coordinators' Gathering
"Who Moved My Lent?"

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

10:00a - 12:00p

Casa Maria Conference Center

You will come away from this meeting with:

  • 7 suggestions of a parish-wide fast for Lent;
  • A sample parish reconciliation service for Lent that includes the baptized candidates seeking full initiation;
  • Simple ideas to make your scrutinies awesome!;
  • A lenten night prayer for families to pray together;
  • Sample bulletin announcements encouraging parishioners to celebrate the Triduum;
  • A planning checklist for Easter Vigil.

Come find out how others are planning for Lent and Holy Week, and bring your own questions, concerns, and ideas.

And here are the other dates for the Liturgical Coordinators' Gatherings for the year:

  • Tuesday, March 6, 2007, 10:00a – 12:00p, Saint William Parish (Los Altos)
  • Tuesday, May 1, 2007, 10:00a – 12:00p, Saint Francis of Assisi Parish (San Jose)
  • Tuesday, June 5, 2007, 10:00a – 12:00p, Saint Mary Parish (Gilroy) with potluck lunch

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - January 18 to 25, 2007

The following is a letter from Bishop Patrick J. McGrath to all pastors of the Diocese of San Jose regarding the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

As you are aware, each year the Church celebrates January 18-25 as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This week of prayer constitutes an ideal time to bring to our people an awareness of the ecumenical mission of the Church. In addition, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity provides us with an excellent opportunity for our parishes and institutions to deepen our ecumenical spiritual life in union with our fellow Christians.

The theme for the 2007 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “Open our ears and loosen our tongues” (Mark 7:31-37). In the early days of his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI has made ecumenical issues a priority. In addition, he continues to remind us of the centrality of spiritual ecumenism in the ministry of building up the unity of Christ’s Body.

With this in mind, I write to encourage you and to give you permission to observe Sunday, January 21, 2007, as a special day of prayer for Christian Unity and to substitute the prayers of the Mass of the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time with the prayers of the Mass for the Unity of Christians (#13, Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions, A or B, Sacramentary, p 889-891). In addition, you are free to use either the Preface for Christian Unity (#76 in the Sacramentary) or the new Eucharistic Prayer I, “The Church on the Way to Unity,” with its proper Preface.

I would also request that you include a petition for the unity of all Christians in the Prayer of the Faithful on that day.

Thank you for your generosity in ministry and, in particular, for your attention to the ecumenical and inter-faith endeavors.

With every best wish and kind regard, I remain,

Sincerely yours,

Patrick J. McGrath
Bishop of San Jose


Below are some intercessions you can include in the Sunday Masses during the weekend of January 20-21, 2007. Please feel free to adapt and translate these according to your needs.

For the entire body of Christ into which all Christians are baptized: [pause]
for the grace of peace, understanding, and reconciliation;
for an appreciation of our differences, the acknowledgement of our need for each other,
and the untiring effort to be one body united in one Spirit.
We pray to the Lord.

For all who have been hurt by the division among Christians: [pause]
for ecumenical families and households;
for church leaders and their congregations;
for glad tidings to those who weep and a year of favor for all God’s people.
We pray to the Lord.

In addition, this Web site of the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute may be helpful for you in your planning.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

January 3: Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

The Tenth Day of Christmas
IHS by Delamotte, Ornamental Alphabets Ancient and Mediæval, 1879
Read more about the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus.

Today's message

The sweet name of Jesus produces in us holy thoughts, fills the soul with noble sentiments, strengthens virtue, begets good works, and nourishes pure affections. All spiritual food leaves the soul dry, if it contain not that penetrating oil, the name Jesus. When you take your pen, write the name Jesus: if you write books, let the name of Jesus be contained in them, else they will possess no charm or attraction for me; you may speak, or you may reply, but if the name of Jesus sounds not from your lips, you are without unction and without charm. Jesus is honey in our mouth, light in our eyes, a flame in our heart. This name is the cure for all diseases of the soul.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, 12th century

Epiphany Blessing of the Home and Household

The Christmas season, especially the feast of the Epiphany, is a traditional time to bless homes. The Book of Blessings has an official rite which may be used by a priest, deacon, or lay person (Chapter 50). The book of Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers has a short simple rite that may be led by a family member. An interesting rubric in the Book of Blessings says that “a home should not be blessed unless those who live in it are present” (#1599).

Often related to these blessings is a ritual of “chalking” the front door of the home with the numbers of the year separated by the initials, CMB. The letters traditionally refer to the legendary names of the three kings: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar (Scripture neither names them nor says there were three of them). Another tradition refers to it as the abbreviation of the Latin phrase, Christus mansionem benedicat, translated as “May Christ bless this house.”

To chalk the door for Epiphany, one would write in chalk on the outside lintel above the front door (or any where on the posts of the doors): 20 + C + M + B 07.

Another tradition that I had learned as a college student was to take the first Christmas card I received that season which had the image of the Three Kings and tape it above the inside horizontal lintel of the front door. Both rituals are meant to remind the household to gladly welcome everyone who comes to your door and to eagerly seek out Christ every time you leave home.

Below is an adapted ritual by Diana Macalintal that you may use at Epiphany in your home.

What you’ll need:
  • some chalk of any color
  • a family Bible
  • candles for each person (small tea lights in plastic or glass containers are best)
  • matches to light candles
  • the words to three Christmas carols
  • a Christmas card with the image of the Three Kings and some adhesive tape
  • A bowl of holy water
  • A leader
  • A person to proclaim the Scripture
  • The oldest and the youngest members of the household to chalk the door
  • Another household member to place the Epiphany card over the door
  • A person to read the litany

Introductory Rites
The family and their friends gather at the front door of the home as a suitable song is sung by all, for example, “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

The leader greets those present.

    In the name of the Father, (+) and of the Son,
    and of the Holy Spirit.
    All: Amen.

    Peace be with this house and with all who live here.
    Blessed be God for ever.
    All: Blessed be God for ever.

    Today we gather in this holy place
    to recognize that Christ dwells here.
    As the Three Kings followed the light of the star,
    we too follow the light of Christ to be a place of welcome,
    a people of generosity, and a dwelling place for God.

    The home is called the domestic church.
    It is where we first learn to pray and search for Christ,
    to forgive and receive forgiveness,
    to offer our gifts, and to bless each other.

    Let us then ask God to open our hearts
    so that, as the doors of this home
    are opened to neighbor and traveler,
    this family may be a source of welcome for all in need
    and a place where Christ is found.
Chalking the Door
The leader continues.

    As the words of the Gospel of John are proclaimed, let us consecrate this door and the home it protects to Christ who is the sheepgate. Let this door be the threshold that leads both ways to the blessings and goodness of God.
As the Scripture below is proclaimed, the oldest and the youngest persons of the household may take turns inscribing “20 + C + M + B 07” on the outside lintel of the front door.

Reading of the Word of God
A reader may slowly read the following text of sacred Scripture from the family Bible as the inscription is written over the door – John 1:13-14.

    In the beginning was the Word, (inscribe 2)
    and the Word was with God, (inscribe 0)
    and the Word was God. (inscribe +)
    He was in the beginning with God. (inscribe C)
    All things came to be through him, (inscribe +)
    and without him nothing came to be. (inscribe M)
    And the Word became flesh (inscribe +)
    and made his dwelling among us, (inscribe B)
    and we saw his glory, (inscribe 0)
    the glory as of the Father’s only Son, (inscribe 7)
    full of grace and truth.

    The gospel of the Lord.
    All: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Placing of the Epiphany Card over the Door
As the following Scripture passage is proclaimed, another family member places an Epiphany card over the front door on the inside of the house.

The reader continues as the card is placed (Matthew 2:9-11).

    And behold,
    the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
    until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
    They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
    and on entering the house
    they saw the child with Mary his mother.
    They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Procession into the Home
Those gathered sing an appropriate song, such as “We Three Kings,” as they each receive a lit candle and follow the family into the main gathering space of the home where a bowl of holy water has been prepared.

The leader continues.

    As this household has been given the light of Christ through baptism, let us pray that this home shines radiantly with the love of God to be a shelter of peace for all who visit and dwell in it.
A reader leads the litany.

    Our response is: Make us your dwelling place, Lord.

    With Mary, and Joseph: Make us your dwelling place, Lord.
    With Anne and Joachim:...
    With Elizabeth and Zechariah:
    With Anna and Simeon:
    With the shepherds and the kings:
    With all the angels and saints:
    With all holy men and women:
    For the sick and the hungry:
    For the homeless and the lonely:
    For friend and stranger:
    For neighbor and traveler:
    In our hopes and dreams:
    In our faults and failings:
    In times of joy and peace:
    In times of sadness and grief:
    When anger and fear confuse us:
    When pride and pain confound us:
    When the plans we make must change:
    When you call us home by a different way:
    In all things, great and small:
The leader continues.

    Christ taught us to call upon the Father, and so we pray:
    Our Father…
Prayer of Blessing
Those gathered may place a hand on the shoulder of the person near them as the leader says the following prayer.

    Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation,
    for through your goodness
    you have given us shelter from the cold
    and the light of your Word to brighten the darkness of night.
    We come to you bearing no gifts
    for everything we have is a gift from you.
    All we can offer is our love for each other
    and our faith in your Son.
    Transform, then, these humble gifts into an epiphany,
    a revelation of your divine presence,
    and bless this house and all who come to it.
    May this home and this family be a light
    for all who are lost and afraid,
    a place of peace and hospitality for those in need,
    and a sign that you are indeed God with us.
    And when our long journey has ended,
    lead us all by the star of your mercy
    that we may come home to you
    to the dwelling place you have prepared for us in heaven.
    Grant this through Christ our Lord.
    All: Amen.
All may sign themselves with holy water. If desired, those present may go to various rooms of the home to sprinkle them with holy water.

Concluding Blessing
The leader says the following, making the sign of the cross.

    May God bless us and keep us. (+)
    May his face shine upon us and be gracious to us.
    May God look upon us kindly and give us peace.
    All: Amen.
All sing an appropriate song, such as “Joy to the World.”