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We have a winner!

PrintJane Pelletier has won a copy of Dan Horan OFM’s book, The Last Words of Jesus, A Mediation on Love and Suffering. Congratulations Jane, I think that you will enjoy this book.

Thanks to all who read the post, and to all who commented. There will be more book reviews soon, and while not all reviews come with a chance to win a book, I hope that they help sort out some books new and old. I say old, because there are many fine books that I have not reviewed, that I hope to post about.

The next review will be right after Easter, and it is a real doozy! Just kidding, but it is on a very important book that I think many of you will want to read. Stay tuned. And no, I can’t tell you the title just yet, but you will all recognize the author. (Such mystery!) What books that you’ve read lately really hit you? What reviews might you like to read? Let me know in the comments!

Blessings to all as we enter Holy Week!

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The Work of Your Hands – Part Two

macalintal-work-of-your-handsWelcome to part two of my interview with Diana Macalintal, author of The Work of Your Hands. Part one, which includes a review of the book can be found here. Today we finish up the interview, learning a bit more about Diana and about her work as a professional liturgist and author of many prayers and more than one book… with more books to follow!

At the end of this post you will find a video that Diana refers to in her reply to the first question for today. I hope you will take a few minutes to watch it; the video left me quite teary eyed. The video, which includes a spoken version of one of her prayers, is truly moving.

I’m grateful to Diana for her generosity in replying to these questions with such joy and candor! Now, on to our interview…

Q. Did any prayers or blessings end up “on the cutting room floor?” And will there be more books to follow?

There were a lot! The editors at LitPress really wanted a collection that could be used for personal, individual prayer. Therefore, many of the prayers that were more focused on parish life or on more specific historical events didn’t make the cut. One of my favorite prayers, “Prayer after the Earthquake in Haiti,” is perhaps my most popular prayer. I was moved to write it almost immediately after the news broke on January 12, 2010, and I posted it on the Diocese of San Jose liturgy blog. Soon, I started seeing it everywhere on websites, parish bulletins, homilies, and other media (a young adult group in New Zealand made a video prayer montage of the text, and Louis Cantor, a music minister and composer in the United States set the prayer to music). It’s even been translated into Spanish and French. A year later, when an earthquake devastated Christchurch in New Zealand, the prayer found life again and was adapted by Christians in New Zealand. I was sad to not have it chosen for this collection—the title, The Work of Your Hands, comes from one of the lines in the Haiti prayer, but I’m hoping LitPress will invite me to provide another collection of prayers. I guess it all depends on how well this first collection does!

Q. What was the best part of publishing this volume? And the worst?

The best part was searching through all my files and putting all my prayers together. It was the first time I had them all collected in one place. There were prayers not just from the magazine but also from my own work throughout the years when I needed a special prayer for a particular liturgy or blessing as well as from some dabbling in poetry and poetic reflection. It was really encouraging to see so much of the original work I had done over the years and to feel proud of it. I think the next best thing was reading through the final proof before it went to print. I was so struck at how much Scripture flowed throughout the text and has influenced how I personally pray myself. I don’t think of myself as someone very adept with Scripture, but I can see how the liturgy has certainly imbued me with a scriptural spirit.

I’m not sure there’s a worst part to this adventure. I feel so blessed to have been invited to do this and to receive so much support and encouragement from friends and people I have admired for so long—great pray-ers whom I have tried to follow! I guess the worst part will be trying to follow it with another collection and wondering if I can provide something new and inspiring. For a procrastinator, it will certainly be a challenge!

Q. Your book is dedicated to your grandmother Irene, now of blessed memory. +Irene died the day that the book was published. Although your forward speaks beautifully about her, and her influence on your own life of prayer, would you be able to tell us something else about her?

The book officially reached the warehouse at LitPress at the end of January, and I think the first copy shipped the first Monday of February. My grandmother died early in the morning on Thursday, February 6. I think I was so close to her, even though I didn’t really get to spend much time with her as an adult, because she, with my aunts, raised me for the first two years of my life. When I was born in the Philippines, my parents only had a few months before their visas would expire that would allow them to immigrate to the United States. They would be the first of our family to make the move to the U.S. So about two months after I was born, my parents handed me to my grandmother and my mom’s sisters to raise me for the next two years in Manila while they began a new life in California. My Lola (Tagalog for “grandmother”) and my aunts, in many ways, were my first family. But I am so grateful for my parents who made that very difficult decision to leave their first-born because it gave our entire family over the next several decades the opportunity to live in the U.S. and become citizens of this amazing country.

Q. What’s the next big thing for you?

Locally, the Rite of Election is always a big and joyful event here in the Diocese of San Jose, and I’m getting the liturgies ready for that. After that, I’ll be travelling in mid-March (along with about 30,000 other Catholics!) to the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim. This year, I’ll be doing several things there: I’ve been commissioned to write the opening proclamation that will take place during the Friday opening prayer. Then I’ll be presiding and preaching at the Saturday Evening Prayer. Finally, I’ll lead a workshop on Sunday on prayer and will be using a lot of examples from my book.

Nick Wagner and Diana Macalintal

Nick Wagner and Diana Macalintal

In terms of publishing, Liturgical Press is currently editing a manuscript my husband, Nick Wagner, and I wrote late last year. The plan is to call it Joined by the Church, Sealed by a Blessing: Couples and Communities Called to Conversion Together. It’s a resource book for parishes to help them model their wedding preparation process after the principles of adult formation found the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. In it, we try to help parishes take seriously the church’s statement that the baptismal catechumenate is the model for all catechesis. Basically, we show parishes how to stop preparing couples for marriage and start preparing them for lifelong discipleship as married persons. Now that one was really, really difficult to write because my husband is so not a procrastinator! But God helped us get through the writing process, nonetheless. We’re looking forward to seeing it in print hopefully later this year or early 2015.

Thank you again to Diana Macalintal. Remember that you can order this book from Liturgical Press, getting either the ebook, the paperback, or the bundle which includes both. Or – order a subscription to Give Us This Day for yourself or as a gift, and receive a free copy of the book!

Here is the video of her prayer for the earthquake in Haiti, but this is made in response to the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand.

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Lenten Resource Giveaway Winners

RoPaxman_We-have-a-winnerThanks to one and all who read the blogs and commented. We have our winners, who have been contacted.

If there was one goal to this series, it was to try to help clear the way for each of you to find a way to have a meaningful Lent.

In the meantime, I will be posting reflections here, and I welcome any of you to consider doing the same. If you are interested, please contact me about submissions.

I took the names from all the blog sites, for a particular post, and put them in a hat, book by book. They were drawn out, and the winners are as follows:

  • The Living Gospel – KB
  • Everyone’s Way of the Cross – Bridget
  • Change Our Hearts – Christine
  • Not By Bread Alone – Diane
  • The Ignatian Workout for Lent – Peg

Thank you again, one and all! Blessings to you for Lent!

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Resources for Lent – Book Reviews and Round Up Coming Soon

sign-for-lent-with-integrated-crossThis week I will post some reviews and a general round up of Lenten resources. Lent is only a couple of weeks away, and I am behind in posting this! You should still have time to order what you need, and you may even end up winning a copy of one of the books!

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Books that will be reviewed include, although not necessarily in this order:

Plus, I may have some other surprises for you! If you are not already a subscriber or follower of this blog, this may be a good time to become one. Also, you can follow the parish on Facebook to get your updates. Thank you!

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Offering Scriptural Reflections

Let-your-light-shine-804x1024What does your faith say to you? Do you ever feel called to express your thoughts about it in writing? We welcome contributors to the parish blog with great joy. Please consider choosing a day or more than one day, during Lent, to offer a brief reflection.

A small, but faith-filled selection of people have done so in the 6 years that we have been doing this, please join us! This can be done individually, as a family project, which has been done before, as a catechetical exercise with kids of any age, as part of a group of friends, or faith sharing group. You can write poetry, create art or photography to post,  and more. Please talk to me about your ideas. We know that we are not to “hide our light under a bushel,” but to make it shine.

And if you don’t want to write, please pray for us, read the posts, and share them with others. If interested, please leave a comment on the blog! You can also send an email to stedwardsblog at gmail dot com. (spelled out to discourage spam!)  Reflections are always welcome, at any time, but we do have a special focus at Lent and Advent. This is a journey we make together in Christ! We look forward to you joining us through your contributions, and your reading and prayerful presence.

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Hello?! Anybody in here?

-1When I was at 4pm mass on Saturday, someone stopped me and asked if I was OK. They were wondering since I had not posted anything since January 8. Yikes! One month!

Well, truth be told I have been sick off and on. Overall, I will be fine, but I have been working through some health things. So that has taken up some of my time, and taken away some of my energy.

Add to that, one of my slowest periods of writing is always after the new year, up until Lent begins. While I have written some things for my personal blog. Many times, I will just cross post things over here, but recently I have begun to wonder if this blog is well rounded enough for the parish. We have some other writers, during Advent and Lent, and at some other intervals, but I do need to restart efforts to find other contributors on a regular basis. If anyone is interested in writing, please let me know.

In the meantime, all is well, but things may stay quiet until Lent, when near daily posting should take place! All are welcome to read my personal blog, There Will Be Bread, although that’s been pretty quiet, too!

In the meantime, peace and good to all!

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Hard hearts

HardHeart“They had not understood the incident of the loaves.
On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.”

These are the last two lines of today’s Gospel from Mark. For whatever reason, I don’t feel as if I have ever read them before. In fact, I felt shock when I read them earlier today.

“They had not understood the incident of the loaves.
On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.”

This makes me think about how we live in the midst of grace and miracles all the time, but we frequently do not understand, and our hearts are hardened as well.

What makes us so quick to judge?

If the Church does this or that, if the Pope says this or that, if a popular Catholic writer or blogger says this or that, if our priest, bishop, or someone else we know from church says this or that, many of us tend to want to circle around that person in admiration. Of course, just as often, we want to circle around that person to deride, judge, or attack.

How do we allow Jesus to thaw our hearts? Are we even interested in such a thing? Do we want to be justified? Or transformed?

Today I hope to see the miracles and grace that are all around me. Today I pray to not react with a hard heart, but to respond with the openness of grace that allows me to see God in all things.

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Now what?

new-years-resolutionsWith the holidays falling in the middle of the week, the weather and whatever else, it seems that today is the proper “start” of the year for most of us.

Now what?

Resolutions do not seem to be a good thing for me, so I typically do not make them. For reasons that I don’t understand, this year has gotten off to a very different start for me. Perhaps it was because I spent most of December being sick, after having spent a big chunk of November getting all kinds of tests medical tests. The tests and the sickness seem to be unrelated, but who knows.

In any event, I seem to have used every day of January thus far, including the first day of the year, purging, cleaning, organizing and more. I do not know why. Purging, cleaning, and organizing are as unlikely to me as resolutions themselves. The idea of any or all of those actions are not unlikely to me – just the reality of doing any of them for so many days in a row!

Today is Monday however, back to work, back to life. My health is holding its own, I am ready to get back to routines. Now what? Will I be able to sustain this?

There are a number of irons in my fire right now; writing deadlines passed, book ideas in my head, retreat possibilities, and other enterprises. Not to mention the daily business of life itself, home, family, work.

c2013_r1_2014_01_01dp950The Feast of the Epiphany that we celebrated yesterday reminds me that there is always a star in the sky. It is this orientation that I begin the new year with, following that star. Yet, the question remains, now what?

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Advent Reflection – December 4, 2013 – My Cup Overfloweth

mycuprunnethoverwater

My Cup Overfloweth

Reflection on the readings for Dec. 4
Isaiah 25:6-10; Psalm 23:1-6; Matthew 15:29-37

An Advent reflection from parishioner Charles Burre

In Saturday’s blog, Fran spoke of the transition from Thanksgiving to the waiting season of Advent, yet today’s readings are overflowing with reasons to continue to give thanks. Isaiah tells us that the Lord will provide “for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines.” Not only will He supply our material needs, He will remove those things the threaten or confuse us (“the web that is woven over all nations”) and those things that cause us sadness or grief. And finally, the ultimate reason to rejoice, that to which Advent is pointing, “let us rejoice and be glad that He has saved us.

Psalm 23 is frequently invoked in times of turmoil or grief, yet it too is mostly about thanksgiving. Our cups overflow with all that we need: green pastures, still waters, right paths, comfort, protection, and an abundance goodness and mercy throughout our lives. The Psalm also ends with the assurance that we will remain in the Lord’s presence forever.

Thanksgiving has never been far from my thoughts at this time in my life. We had a joyful Thanksgiving with two of our children, their spouses, and two beautiful granddaughters. The month of November began with the birth of our sixth grandchild and first grandson. Over the years the material needs of our family have been taken care of, often in unanticipated ways. God has guided us to good doctors and nurses when healing was needed. This was especially true for me this past year. Most importantly, He has led me on the right paths, which brought me to St. Edward’s, and surrounded me with many Christian friends.

In Matthew’s gospel we see in Jesus what is foretold in the first two readings as He feeds and heals all those who come to Him. The salvation story will unfold as we journey through the gospel and the liturgical year. It is the fulfillment of this ultimate promise that gives Advent and Christmas the joy that is proclaimed in so many beautiful ways at this time of year. Let us not forget the reason for this joy. May we continue to live our lives with joyful hearts that are overflowing with thanksgiving.

-Charles Burre

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Faith, doubt, life – Q&A with Kyle Cupp

Today it is an honor to be a stop on the blog tour for Living in Faith, Dwelling in Doubt (Loyola Press, 120 pp., $13.95), written by Kyle Cupp. I’m a longtime fan of Kyle’s work, which I first encountered on the blog Vox Nova, a few years back.

I did write a little about this book at the end of September, when I first read it – a not-review that was a sort of a review. Today I wanted to present this Q&A with the author – and here it is. Enjoy! And read this book, it is wonderful!

-2How and when did Living in Faith, Dwelling in Doubt become a book for you? Was it an idea for a book, or was it a series of notes and essays that became a book?
This may sound strange, but I don’t think it really became a book for me until after my editor, Vinita Hampton Wright, took the manuscript I’d given to Loyola Press, cut out about seven chapters, rearranged the whole thing, and returned the draft to me for my review. I’d composed the manuscript in more or less chronological order, but Vinita restructured it with the work’s core story and themes in mind. As I read through it, I finally felt that I was reading a book.

Initial work had begun after the publisher and senior acquisitions editor at Loyola Press encouraged me to submit a book proposal after reading some of my blogging about faith and doubt and the relationship between the two in my own life. This was September of 2011.

I had a lot of themes in mind as I began early drafts, but during the writing process and with the feedback from the editors at Loyola, I narrowed the scope of the book to three basic ideas: how my faith has thrived in various environments of uncertainty, how my daughter’s fatal birth defect taught me that love has no time constraints, and how my relationships with family and friends have all necessitated and nourished my faith.

What is your practice when you write? Do you write daily, at a specific time, or do you write when the Spirit moves you?
Most of my writing gets done after my son and daughter are in bed and I’ve had a few minutes to relax and maybe drink a little coffee. Late at night, in other words. Sometimes I’ll get on a roll first thing in the morning, a time that would be optimal for me if work and school and such weren’t demanding my punctuality. I keep telling myself that I should get up an hour earlier each morning and immediately hit the keyboard, but as usual I don’t listen to me.

Do you ever find roadblocks, writers block or children’s blocks getting in your way? If so, how do you deal with blocks?
Oh, yeah. The worst offender, though, is just exhaustion. At nine at night my natural inclination is to make some popcorn and chill with a book or television show on DVD. Once I start down that path, though, there’s no going back. I have to fight the urge when I first feel it. I lose as much as I win.

What do you do for fun?
Diagram sentences. Well, not so much anymore. Pity my children, Fran: they will know of my love of the diagrammed word all too soon and all too well. In the meantime, I enjoy the usual stuff: combing dense tomes of continental philosophy, building constructions with my son’s LEGO blocks (and keeping them in my room so he can’t break them), asking divisive questions on Facebook and watching the fireworks. I also play video games.

Name five people or things you are most grateful for.
My wife, my children, my church, my education, and my socks.

Of all the lay ministry experiences you have had, which one has shaped you the most?
I’m going to say the combination of working with couples in preparation for their marriage and working with individuals in pursuit of an annulment. I meet people in love, eager and excited to bond till death do them part; and I assist people whose marriages have left them broken. I’ve come to appreciate the importance of being with others where they live and recognizing that people’s lives rarely conform to my expectations or to abstract rules. Life is messy. Morality is messy too.

Can you name a person who inspires you and tell us why?
My wife Genece. She loves me as I am while encouraging me to be the best person I can be.

What is one thing that you have not done yet, but that you would like to do?
Write a YA novel. It’s next on the agenda.

If you could go anywhere in the world that you wanted, where would you go? Why?
New Zealand. It looks magical just on photo and film.

What is the best part of having your book published and what is the worst part of the experience?
I’ll start with the worst: burn out. The book is relatively short, just a little over a hundred pages, but the final few weeks of composition and revision just took all desire to write out of me. I lost interest in blogging for a while and still haven’t gotten back to my old production level.

The best part of having a book published? That’s easy. I’ve wanted to be an author since high school. So. Dream. Come. True.

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