The Rite Note – A Blog from the Balcony Part I – “Let Us Proceed. . .”

The Rite Note – A Blog from the Balcony

Part I – “Let Us Proceed. . .”

As we were reminded this past weekend at Mass, we are half-way through the Lenten Season with the celebration of “Laetare” (“Rejoice”) Sunday or the 4th Sunday of Lent.  We are just a few weeks away from Holy Week which in my view has some of the most beautiful and dramatic liturgical music and rituals in our Church tradition.  It’s too much to comment on in just one blog entry, so this will be the 1st of 3 observations from an interested participant in the music balcony.

HOLY WEEK, the week before Easter, begins with PALM SUNDAY or as it is properly designated in the Roman Missal governing liturgical celebrations, PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD.  Everything in Holy Week focuses on the Passion and Death of the Lord, but, of course, in preparation for the great joy of His Resurrection on EASTER SUNDAY.

Of dramatic note on PALM SUNDAY is the commemoration of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem amid the hail of the people waving palm and olive tree branches and laying them in his path as they chant “Hosanna to the Son of David” (a Messianic title) and Psalm 118:25-26 – “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”.  In a beautifully dramatic and symbolic way, the Church re-creates this first of Holy Week’s events by distributing blessed palm branches among the congregation at the beginning of Mass and processing into Church with song and chanting of these same “Hosannas” and other appropriate Kingly or Messianic hymns.  We are meant to be like the crowds of Jerusalem, eagerly recognizing and receiving our King and Savior.

This will be just the 1st of 4 “extraordinary” processions during this Holy Week from Palm Sunday through Saturday’s Easter Vigil.  They are one of the key features that sets Holy Week apart from the other major feasts and celebrations of the Church’s liturgical year.

In our religious practice, we have many processions.  We use them not just to get people or ministers from one place to another, but more importantly to express our journey as pilgrims and direct our focus to our relationship with God.  Some “ordinary” processions are those in our Eucharistic liturgies with the entrance of the ministers down the main aisle, the carrying of the Book of the Gospels from the altar to the ambo amid candles, the bringing forth of the bread and wine at the Offertory, the coming forward to receive communion, and the procession out at the end of Mass.  The “extraordinary” processions are the procession with palms on Palm Sunday, the carrying of the Eucharist away from the main church on Holy Thursday to a temporary place of repose, the carrying forth of the Holy Cross on Good Friday for the veneration by the people, the procession of the Easter Candle into Church at Holy Saturday’s Easter Vigil, and the procession of the Holy Eucharist among the people on the feast of Corpus Christi.  As you can see, 4 of these 5 extraordinary symbolic movements will be occurring during Holy Week!

And all of these processions, ordinary and extraordinary, are usually accompanied by great music.  The great hymn, “All Glory, Laud and Honor”, is most appropriate to the Palm Sunday procession; the “Pange Lingua” (“Sing, my tongue, the Savior’s glory”) to Holy Thursday’s; “Behold the Wood of the Cross” to Good Friday’s; and “Christ, Our Light” to the Easter Vigil’s.

We are blessed at St. Dominic’s to have these solemn expressions of our movement with the Lord and some of the great music of the Church written for them.  And hopefully you’ll be a part of them this Holy Week.

More to come – stay tuned!

Jim Guinasso, Liturgical Singer

Parishioner Call for Commitment

ONE Campaign Commitment Weekend

Presentation by Chairperson Erin Jacobs

My name is Erin Jacobs and my husband and I have been parishioners here for the past 10 years.  My parents were parishioners for a few years before my mom passed away. 474295_10151478900306025_2131636216_o

My husband Michael may be more recognizable than I am around the parish. Since he became Catholic 3 years ago, he’s become an officer in the Knights, he’s the Athletic Director at the school, and he volunteers in various other ministries. I thought it was time I got more involved in the Parish myself, not to mention as a cradle Catholic he was making me look bad.

So here I am. Thank you for having me.

In all seriousness though, I’m here because the church and my faith has made all the difference in my life. It’s the greatest gift my parents gave to me and it has transformed my family since Michael converted.

I’m here today because I want the church to be a strong support for our daughter Reilly too; when she’s old enough to realize the depth of love and the grace it brings when you need it most.

By now we’ve all learned about the One Campaign which has been laid out on a diocesan level, details have appeared in the bulletin the past 6 weeks, and I know you read every page of the bulletin, right?  Every parish in the Diocese is taking part, and each is given a specific financial goal. For us here at St. Dominic’s, our goal is a little over $900,000 of which 25% will be used right here.

It’s a big ask. And it can feel daunting when we have campaigns of our own running, maybe even one or two at home. St. Dominic’s will utilize our 25% (Over $227,000) to support the following initiatives in our own strategic plan:

  • Developing Youth Ministries
  • Building needs for repairs and expansion
  • Supporting our Parish Catholic School- which really struck a chord with me.

We are fortunate to have a thriving parish school; however that isn’t without continued support from this community. The students at SDS benefit from the amazing Dominican priests that are in their classrooms every week and the strength of our faith as a community. The kids that leave here are well rounded, service minded, and most importantly faithful. I see this in my friends’ kids that go or have graduated from the school. However having a very strong public school district here in Benicia means we have to invest to remain competitive. This is something that is on my mind daily when Mike and I discuss whether we will send Reilly here or the school around the corner from our house. St Dominic School and its students need technology advancements, tuition assistance, and additional space but most importantly we need to hire the best leaders for our kids.

I didn’t attend Catholic School myself. Growing up in Moraga, like Benicia, we had great public education; I consider my faith no less than that of my friends that attended Catholic Schools. When I grew up more than half my class was in CCD every Wednesday, attended Mass every Sunday with their families, and we had a list of activities to participate in at St. Monica’s all year long. I’m convinced that much of who I am today is a result of my family’s active participation in our parish and the amount of resources they offered for young people.

Now I see many of my friends from high school and college that were raised Catholic attending non-denominational churches, simply because the programs for their kids are better there. It’s heartbreaking to think of what they are giving up out of convenience.

So for me, supporting this ONE Campaign is personal.  It is a way to give back for what I have been given and to make sure the church, not just St. Dominic’s, but the entire diocese is strong so that when we visit my in-laws in South Lake Tahoe that St. Teresa’s is a thriving parish, if Reilly goes to college in Davis, Sacramento, or Chico (where I went) the parish’s and Newman Center’s on campus there are strong and that she remains an active and faithful Catholic as I have.

A few months before my mom lost her battle with Cancer she was interviewed by Amgen for a patient documentary. She was asked by the narrator “what are you most proud of in your life”. She reflected and answered that she had friends that were Vice Presidents of Banks or had made other corporate achievements, but she said “now I see many of them, and most of their adult children no longer attend church.”  With a gentle smile she offered, “I was never vice president of anything, but I was a good mother and none of my girls have ever lost their faith.” That was her legacy, and I want it be mine. We should all want that.

At the heart of this campaign is the revival of the Catholic Church in Northern California.  This takes financial commitment from each of us, but also a commitment to service and prayer- the other 2 critical components in this campaign.  100% of those efforts stay with us here in Benicia.

You are asked to make your pledge this weekend, there are cards and envelopes in the pews and you may have received one in the mail at home too.

A pledge of $3000 over 4 years turns out to be just $1.85 a day, (that’s a cup of coffee) or $56 on a monthly payment (with a 10% upfront donation). My family has made our pledge already and others have too, but we are a long way to reach our goal.

Finally I want to say, that much of what we have today is due to the tremendous faith and sacrifice made by Catholics that came before us. It is critical for the success of the campaign, and our individual and communal spiritual growth that we give in all three areas- Financial, Faith Formation, and Service.

We simply ask that everyone participates as generously as your means allow. This campaign is about equal sacrifice, not equal giving.

We are being asked to share lovingly the many gifts with which God has blessed each one of us.

In a few words..The Stations of the Cross

 In A Few Words, by Fr. David.

The Stations of the Cross originated in pilgrimages to The Holy Land. These pilgrimages became very popular, however not everyone could afford to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. A desire to reproduce the holy places inThe-Stations-of-the-Cross
other lands seems to have arisen at a very early date. The Franciscans began to build a series of outdoor shrines in Europe to duplicate their counterparts in the Holy Land. this made it  very convenient for the faithful to enact the Passion of the Lord, without leaving their homeland. At the beginning the stations varied between eleven and thirty. Pope Innocent X1 granted the Franciscans to erect stations in all their churches and in 1731 Pope Clement X11 extended the permission to all churches. The number of station now is 15; the fifteenth station commemorates the Resurrection of Jesus. The Stations of the cross may be done at any time, but most commonly during Lent and on any Friday of the year.
Fr. David O.P.

A Reflection on a Soul’s Intimate Encounter with Christ


By Gaye Rose, Parishioner and Convert to the Faith

It’s hard to believe almost three years have passed since that powerful Easter Vigil in 2011.  There was so much anticipation and excitement from the RCIA members who were anxiously bringing their lives into communion with God and his Church.   Our journeys of faith certainly coming from different places, and mine seemed to mirror that of the Samaritan Woman—the woman who surely knew there was a faithful God but yearned so much to fill the deep void that remained within her.  I told a good friend one time that my initial desire was just that of baptism.  Never could I imagine that I’d be living this life now with such peace, purpose and joy!

EIMG_0157aster day and the following weeks rapidly passed as I shuffled around with God’s gift of faith barely budding from within.  I recall that early morning mass, middle of the week, probably the 18th or 19th day of my first 50-day Easter Season when I found myself on bended knees begging my God for guidance:  “Oh God, what am I supposed to do now???”  No doubt the daily liturgy was a great consolation, as it seemed my confusion was similar to my new found friends, the Apostles, who had to patiently wait as well for the Holy Spirit to guide them along their way.  All I could do is remain close, pray, and somehow find a way to trust that the Lord would relieve my anxious heart.


That day I shed what seemed to be redundant tears.  Yet, as our good Lord does, He answers our prayers because we dare to ask.  Perhaps not always in ways we can expect, and often times mightier than anything ever imagined.   For this zealous convert, it seemed that one grace led to another, as the seeds of little faith that God had planted in me were

beginning to take deep root.  Like a flower that bursts towards the sun in early spring, I too found myself bursting from the inside out.  Yet, it was quite noticeable to me that my prayers had dramatically changed.  Like the beating of new heart, I desperately wanted everyone else in my garden to experience on a deeper level the ‘Son’ I had come to truly love with all my soul.  Thoughts of heaven and things eternal seemed to permeate my every thought.  I just wanted heaven for

EVERYONE!  It’s funny because I actually thought at times my prayer was rather unique.  Yet the truth is:  ‘heaven for everyone’ is the very desire of God himself.

So as we’ve have come to know the Samaritan women, it is clear that she could not keep her unexpected m

eeting with Jesus to herself (for surely it’s impossible when one encounters the gift of unending mercy).  She had to immediately run and share it with others.  Yet it might be noted that she did not go running with a perfectly confident heart—rather, it seems there was a need to be reaffirmed by those she had to tell.

So within a year from that day on bended knee, Fr. Michael had approached and encouraged me and others to pursue a Catholics Returning Home ministry.  Feeling completely incapable and unworthy of such an invitation, I took it to prayer (as surely by now God was quite familiar with my nagging insecurities). Within a few months, CRH was well underway, yet certainly not without doubt of its success, as none of us knew for sure how it would be received.


But God remains so very good and generous.  So many blessings have been bestowed on this beautiful outreach.  I believe I can attest on behalf of the entire CRH team that it’s been nothing short of miraculous to witness the spirit of God steer (or better said perhaps, place upon his shoulders and carry) his wondering and precious little sheep back into his trusted flock—our flock—the beautiful and joyful community here at St. Dominic’s.  How humbling it is to hear their journeys of faith and to witness their transformation from responding to an invitation (a friend’s urging, a newspaper ad, or sign alongside of the road) to pursuing a renewed and reinvigorated relationship with God.  It’s truly remarkable, and my faith is reassured constantly by their witness.

So the good news continues.  The people from that Samaritan town, who dared to hear the testimony of that once disordered woman at the well, went to Jesus themselves.  They needed to hear firsthand the Messiah’s proclamations and promises of heaven.  And it was not long before these people came back and announced to the woman:  “We no longer believe because of your word, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”   Although the Gospel does not reveal how the Samaritan woman received their testimony, I’m quite sure she accepted it with utter and complete joy.  No more was she alone in her finding, for the Savior and lover of her soul now rested in the very hearts of the people to whom she felt compelled to immediately run to and tell.

So this Lenten Season, my fervent prayer continues that the gifts of our Catholic faith saturate everything that we are and can be.  Let us run madly, praying boldly that which is the will of God… that all souls seek and personally encounter the crucified and risen Christ.  Let us never tire of asking; let us never tire of seeking; and may we strive in all that we do in the Holy Name of Jesus… never, ever forgetting that the Kingdom of Heaven is exactly where we should all strive to be!

Lent…In a Few Words, by Fr David


The tradition of marking our foreheads with ashes from burned palms blessed  from the year before on Palm Sunday, started by Pope Gregory the Great in the year 600. In the beginning, Lent lasted only one week before Easter. In the 4th century, the 40 days were introduced. The Catechumens had a great deal to do with the formation of Lent. Fasting was prescribed for all candidates seeking Baptism. Only one meal was allowed and meat,  fish and dairy products were not permitted. In the ninth century the law was replaced allowing one meal at noon and a small one in the evening. In 1500, the ban of fish was lifted and meat was allowed on Sundays. In 1960, Pope Paul  VI stated that only Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of Fast and Abstinence from meat.  All Fridays of Lent remained however , meatless. Nonetheless, we are urged to keep the threefold discipline of Lent, namely, Fasting, Prayer and Almsgiving in preparation of the great Feast of Easter.

Fr. David Farrugia

 About Fr David

In A Few Words. I  will be starting short paragraphs, which I think you will find interesting and educational at the same time. My name is Father David Farrugia, a Dominican priest of the California Province, known also as the Province of the Holy name of Jesus.
I grew up in Malta, was in a church that dates to 1200, in the town of Vittoriosa. ST. Paul the Apostle converted the Maltese in the year 60, where he stayed for three months after the shipwrecked.(Acts.28) Tradition has it that ST Luke painted a picture of Mary that now hangs in
one of the churches of the islands. The Dominican Order, which I joined at the age of 20, came to Malta in 1492. I was ordained a priest in 1960 at ST. John’s Cathedral, built by the Knights of Malta in 1525. After arriving in the U.S. I held a variety of assignments throughout the
province and also spent some time at Notre Dame University and in the Holy Land. These articles have no connection to each other, but I think and hope that we stay connected in Jesus Christ.

Become Like Children and Enter The Kingdom of God

Contributed article by Parishioner, Dalia Nino

Dalia Nino

Dalia Nino with her daughter.


“When I was younger, I used to think it rains when God is stepping on the clouds!” my eight years old tells me the other day. It made me smile, not just because my daughter says the cutest things, but also because it reminded me of what I thought at her age too. I had also asked my mother if when it rains, is it because Mary is washing the floors in heaven?
Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. Mathew 18:3.
So if we were children once, then we grew smarter and more mature, how did we come away from the kingdom of heaven? What exactly happened to our faith when we grew? I really wanted to find out. While doing our nightly routine of prayers: one Our Father, one Hail Mary, we thank God for our blessings for the day, ask him to forgive us and help be better children to Him etc… I added: Please God, send us Rain… I repeated that prayer for a whole week. My daughter then asked me: “Why do you keep praying for Rain? The weather on your phone says it is sunny this week, and it doesn’t look like it will rain”. I answered:” It is because we need rain, and so does nature and all the animals. And all we need to do is ask God for it. Even if the forecast says it is sunny this week, God can make it rain anytime”. She said: “Oh, ok”. And she prayed for it to rain with me.  At the end of that week, we sure had rain! She was so excited and said:” That’s because we asked God for it!”
That reaction answered my question about being children again: My girl had complete faith and confidence in God. She did not hesitate to ask Him. And when he did send us rain, she did not hesitate to admit it was from God.
littlefeetinrainHow many times we boldly ask God for much smaller things that rain? And how many times we acknowledge He sent us that grace? How many times we take it upon ourselves to pursue what we want or need and forget to ask Him first? If our God can make it rain, He can help you find that job, and can surely help you with your sickness, depression or any obstacle in our life.
“Elijah appeared before King Ahab to announce God’s curse: “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” (1 Kings 17:1, NIV)  Elijah was so confident in the power of God, that when he challenged the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the false god Asherah to a showdown on Mount Carmel. The idolaters sacrificed a bull and cried out to Baal from morning until nightfall, even slashing their skin until blood flowed, but nothing happened. Elijah then put the burnt offering on the Lord’s altar along with wood. He had a servant douse the sacrifice and wood with four jars of water, three times, until all was thoroughly soaked. Elijah called on the Lord, and God’s fire fell from heaven, consuming the offering, the wood, the altar, the water, and even the dust around it. The people fell on their faces, shouting, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” (1 Kings 18:39, NIV) Elijah prayed, and rain fell on Israel. “GodLikeRain

God can make it rain and water our land, and he can make fire fall down from heaven and burn stones and water! Like Elijah, my daughter asked God for rain and believed it will happen before it really did. Like my daughter, Elijah asks God for things Boldly!
No wonder he went straight to heaven! Literally! “…a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them(Elijah and Elisha), and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. “2 Kings 2:11. And no wonder this is my daughter’s favorite bible story, she can understand and relate to him like any child. But can we?

Teach your children about God today, and you will be surprised how much you will be learning from them.

Come Pray the Seven Sorrows Rosary

Join us to Pray the Seven Sorrows Rosary

Beginning February in St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in Benicia

The Blessed Virgin Mary grants seven graces to the souls who honor her daily by saying seven Hail Mary’s and meditating on her tears and Dolores (sorrows). The devotion was passed on by St. Bridget. HERE ARE THE SEVEN GRACES:
  1. our-layd-of-the-7-sorrows-243x300

    I will grant peace to their families.

  2. They will be enlightened about the divine mysteries.
  3. I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.
  4. I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.
  5. I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.
  6. I will visibly help them at the moment of their death, they will see the face of their Mother.
  7. I have obtained from my divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and dolors, will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son and I will be their eternal consolation and joy.

How to Pray the Seven Sorrows

      The Sorrowful Rosary is prayed by praying one Our Father and 7 Hail Marys seven times, each time meditating on one of the 7 Sorrows of Our Lady:     (1) Prophesy of Simeon (2) Flight into Egypt (3) Loss of Jesus in the Temple (4) Mary Meets Jesus on the Way to Calvary (5) Mary Stands at the Foot of the Cross (6) Mary Receives the Dead Body of Jesus in Her Arms (7) Jesus is Placed in the Tomb. The Sorrowful Rosary was granted full or partial indulgence on May 28, 1942.  Please contact Amy Collins at or 707-567-0808 if you are interested in participating. Place: at church. Time: 3:30 p.m.  Days: to be determined, but possibly, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and/or Friday each week. The first 10 people to sign up to participate will be given a free Seven Sorrows Rosary.