Welcome 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.
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.