Work of the People is the official online resource of the Liturgy Office for the Diocese of San Jose in northern California. Our mission is to be a free, timely, high-quality, easily-accessible resource for parish ministers who prepare the liturgy. Our vision is that liturgy, primarily the Eucharist, is the foundation and goal for all aspects of parish life–not only its worship and prayer life, but also its catechetical, communal, and apostolic life. So you’ll find resources here that help you prepare good liturgy and show how good liturgy not only praises God and sanctifies the people, but also catechizes, evangelizes, and changes the world.
“Work of the People” is a phrase that has often been used to define the word “liturgy” which comes from a Greek word, leitourgia, itself made from the Greek words for “work” and “people.” In the Helenistic period, “liturgy” meant any kind of public work on behalf of others, a service done for the common good, whether political, religious, or practical. For example, serving in the army, caring for the poor, or picking up trash would have been a “public work” or leitourgia. Over the centuries, the word came to be associated only with the religious aspect of community life, and more specifically, only with the actions done by the priest. In the 20th century, first by Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Mediator Dei (MD), and later in the first document of Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC), the Church began to reclaim the broader meaning of “liturgy” as the work of Christ, head and members, priest and assembly (MD, no. 25; SC, no. 7) for the benefit of the community.
Julia Upton, RSM, says that “[a]n expectation was that retoring the word ‘liturgy,’ would also restore the concept that liturgy is not self-serving, but outwardly directed. When people go to public worship, they do it for the other people, to support them in faith” (“Liturgy,” The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. Michael Glazier and Monika K. Hellwig, The Liturgical Press, 1994, p. 517).
Sr. Upton goes on to say that “[t]his restored sense of liturgy as service for the sake of others gives each member a role” (p. 517). SC 14 says: “In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit.” It is the way we learn how to live as Christ in the world. For “in doing something together, people become something together” (Upton, p. 517). In celebrating the liturgy well and by being sent into the world “to love and serve the Lord,” we become Christ for the life of the world. The “work of the people,” ultimately then, is Christ’s work in the world through us, his Body, in praise of the Father by the action of the Holy Spirit.
Liturgy isn’t the work of just a few people. Everyone who celebrates the liturgy has a role to play. And the work we do together can change the world. We hope you fiind some help here to do your part of our work together.
Diana Macalintal is the Director of Worship for the Diocese of San José and holds a Master of Arts in Theology with honors from Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota. She has served as a liturgist and music director in campus, parish, and diocesan ministries for over 20 years and has authored articles on liturgy and music in Ministry & Liturgy (formerly Modern Liturgy), Pastoral Music, Eucharistic Ministries, AIM, and Today’s Parish Minister (formerly Today’s Parish). In 2003, she received the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions’ Tabat Scholarship. She is a team member of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate, a keynote speaker, workshop presenter, and liturgy director for national conferences, and a cantor and liturgical composer. In 2006, she joined the faculty of the Institute in Pastoral Ministries at Saint Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota. She maintains a blog for the Diocese of San José called Work of the People – the Blog.
Please contact Diana Macalintal or Annie Bui at (408)983-0126 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the Office for Parish Services.