Sunday, June 18, 2017

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

Quote of the Week: “I speak to everyone in the same way whether he is the garbage man, or the president of the university” — Albert Einstein.

This celebration of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) highlights two relationships: God’s special and loving relationship with us, and our relationship with one another as the body of Christ.

This feast affords me a wonderful opportunity to express my thanks to all of you – fellow members with me of the body of Christ.

The scriptures today point out how God guided his people out of love and compassion; nothing was left to chance. God led his people out into the desert, and led them eventually, to the place of promise.

He fed them, gave them drink, and protected them from the serpents. Their outer physical journey reflected a parallel inner journey of the spirit.

In John’s Gospel, God continued to care for his people. He sent his Son Jesus, who gave himself to God’s people so completely that he became their very food and drink – to satisfy their deepest hungers and thirsts.

God’s wondrous care promised eternal life and the assurance that we will be raised on the last day.

All of this, and our relationship with Jesus the Christ, especially in Eucharist, bring us into a profound relationship with one another.

Paul tells us we are the Body of Christ. Jesus describes the depth of our unity through Eucharist: “Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”

I am thankful I came to St. Bernard Church five years ago, and this amazing parish has drawn me into this portion of the Body of Christ with profound results for me.

This parish has shaped me, changed me, formed me, challenged me, taught me, and given me new life. Like a family, we have gone through it all.

We have said things, done things, refused to do things that have hurt, challenged, blessed, healed, and loved one another.

We have been asked by God’s Word to forgive. Hopefully, we have done so.

We have worked together. We have become more united – more one, more the Body of Christ.

I am thankful. My heart has been called to love, and I did all I did not just out of duty but for love.

I am thankful that I was a part of this portion of the Body of Christ.

I am thankful to and for you!

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners.” — Lawrence Sterne.

Love is one of those words that you can define, but it doesn’t mean you fully understand it — or ever can.

It is a mystery. You know when it is there and when it isn’t. The more you experience it, the more you discover the depths of its meaning.

But one thing you know for sure, you can never fully grasp its meaning or power because it is truly mystery.

The Trinity is also mystery. We attempt to define it; we listen to God’s word as Trinity is revealed throughout the Gospels, most especially in John’s Gospel.

We are given rich and beautiful descriptions of the love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and experience this revelation of one God in three persons – this community of love in one God.

There is rich significance in the definition of God that is given to us in the first letter of John: “God is love.”

Because it is this love between Father, Son and Spirit that is God, one can say it, describe it, attempt to define it, proclaim it, listen to the revelation of it, and seek its meaning.

In all of this we keep entering more deeply to the mystery. But the truth is we will never fully grasp its meaning. It is like the proverbial bottomless pit: The more you grasp, the deeper the truth; there is always more.

Once the mystery has been shared and begins to reveal its meaning and power, it becomes more and more a mystery to be experienced. To enter into the love that is Trinity — to open its power and be touched by it, to seek it and discover it, to open one’s mind to it — is the journey.

As Catholics, we do that simply as we begin and end every prayer by marking or crossing ourselves in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Every time we pray, we mark ourselves with the cross, and we mark ourselves with the name of God as Trinity.

We are covered by the love of the cross and covered by the love that is God – the communion of three persons in one God.
We will never fully understand it, and yet we touch the mystery countless times every day in prayer, allowing this mystery to guide, change, and love us.

We are a people of faith, and our lives are formed and transformed by the God we know and love as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the Most Holy Trinity!

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “A person’s a person no matter how small.” — Dr. Seuss.

On Easter night, Jesus appeared to the disciples.

This Easter Gospel tells us that he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

The gift of the Spirit of God brings forgiveness, allows forgiveness to flow especially through a ministry of forgiveness, and brings healing, peace and new life.

The first reading retells the very Pentecost event in which the Spirit of God comes upon the disciples in a driving wind, filling the entire house, then resting upon each one as tongues of fire.

They were filled with the Spirit, began to speak in different tongues as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

When we listen attentively to these scriptures today, we hear the wonders of the Spirit of God as forgiveness abounds, tongues are loosened, understanding and proclaiming are everywhere, and people’s hearts, souls and lives go through profound conversion.

God is present! God speaks! God touches!

God moves hearts and souls! God forgives!

God invites! God loves!

We are a Pentecost church, born into new life on this day when we remember and celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Our inner life of the Spirit comes from the Spirit of God.

In the words of the traditional song we sing out today: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love, and you will renew the face of the earth.”

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “Thank God I found the GOOD in goodbye.” — Beyoncé Knowles.

The 11 disciples went to the mountain to which Jesus had told them to go and he appeared to them.

The scriptures say that when they saw him “they worshiped, but they doubted.”

What a perfectly understandable total reaction the disciples made. They worshiped but they doubted. They understood but they found it too much to fully comprehend. They believed but they had questions.

It looks like the perfect description of the reality we experience with death — both for others and for ourselves.

We do believe, but we do not comprehend completely; and there are opposite, conflicting feelings that a part of the whole experience.

Jesus died, he rose, and now he was about to ascend and return to take his place with his Father.

In this great feast, the reality of our brief existence in this world is described. We are created by our loving God whom we have been invited to call Father. He graces us each day in more ways than we can ever recognize and helps us through our struggles, even when it sometimes seems he has abandoned us.

We pass through this life: some with ease and others with tremendous struggle. We all, however, come to the same end. We pass through the doorway of death and look forward to the promise of Jesus that we would rise and share in the glory of God forever.

Jesus, in his ascension, points the way to our death and resurrection and our final union with God.

It really is too big, and too rich, and too amazing to ever fully grasp. We, too, have our doubts and our struggles to fully understand.

We worship and place our faith in the promise that Jesus tells and shows us in this feast of his ascension.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

St. Bernard Church celebrates the Sacrament of the Eucharist

The St. Bernard Catholic Church first communion Class of 2017 takes a group photograph.

The Eucharist is the sacrament in which we receive the Body and Blood of Christ. The church teaches that Christ is really present in the bread and wine that have been consecrated by the priest at Mass.


Although the bread and wine still look and taste like bread and wine, the substance, what is actually there, has changed.

The roots of the Eucharist are in the Jewish Passover meal. This is the meal which commemorates Israel's delivery from oppression and slavery in Egypt.

Students from our Wednesday and Sunday first communion classes received the Sacrament of the Eucharist for the first time on Saturday, May 20, 2017.

At the Mass


In video



St. Bernard Church first communion students proclaim the word of God during first communion ceremonies at St. Bernard on Saturday, May 20, 2017.





Saturday of the Fifth Sunday of Easter
Saturday, May 20, 2017
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

"This day is special, but it's only the beginning," Father Perry tells us in his homily for our 10 a.m. St. Bernard Catholic Church First Communion Mass. "The reason we receive is to that Jesus can come into us. He said, 'I want to be in you, and I want you to be in me. I want you to be in my love.' This day will be unforgettable. Jesus, whom we know so much because of the scriptures, wants to live inside you and be a part of you, always, never to be forgotten."





Watch as first communion students from St. Bernard Catholic School make their first communion on Saturday, May 20, 2017.

St. Bernard Catholic School celebrates the Sacrament of the Eucharist

The St. Bernard Catholic School first communion Class of 2017 takes a group photograph.
The Eucharist is the sacrament in which we receive the Body and Blood of Christ. The church teaches that Christ is really present in the bread and wine that have been consecrated by the priest at Mass.

Although the bread and wine still look and taste like bread and wine, the substance, what is actually there, has changed.

The roots of the Eucharist are in the Jewish Passover meal. This is the meal which commemorates Israel's delivery from oppression and slavery in Egypt.

Students form St. Bernard Catholic School received the sacrament of the Eucharist for the first time during the month of May, the month of Mary, on Sunday, May 7, 2017.

At the Mass


In video




St. Bernard Church first communion students proclaim the word of God during first communion ceremonies at St. Bernard on Sunday, May 7, 2017.





Fourth Sunday of Easter
Sunday, May 7, 2017
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

"Jesus came to give us abundant life," Father Perry tells us in his homily for the Fourth Sunday of Easter and our St. Bernard Catholic School first communion Mass. "Do you think he wants us sad and sacrificing and miserable, doing what we hate? He wants us to live life abundantly, to be filled with life. So the question is, how do you find abundant life?"





Watch as first communion students from St. Bernard Catholic School make their first communion during the 9:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday, May 7, 2017.





St. Bernard Pastor, Father Perry D. Leiker, blesses religious articles and the children make their exit at the conclusion of our special 9:30 a.m. first communion Mass on Sunday, May 7, 2017.



In photographs


St. Bernard Catholic School First Communion, 2017

USCCB president offers condolences to victims and families of Manchester terror attack

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), is expressing shock and sadness in the wake of Monday's terror attack at Manchester Arena.
  
In this moment of national tragedy and grief for England, Cardinal DiNardo has written a letter of condolence to the Most Reverend John Stanley Kenneth Arnold, bishop of Salford and the people of England. 

The Diocese of Salford serves the area of greater Manchester and Lancashire. 

In the letter, Cardinal DiNardo expresses solidarity along with the continued prayers of the church in the United States in the face of such unspeakable loss.   

Dear Bishop Arnold,

Words are not enough to convey the deep shock and sadness with which Catholics and all people of good will in the United States learned of the horrible attack which took place yesterday at England's Manchester Arena.

The unspeakable loss of life, terrible injuries, and untold trauma to families — especially to children — summon prayers from around the world. In a way, I assure you and all those who suffer from this atrocious evil the continued prayers of the Church in the United States.

We commend to the comforting arms of our crucified and Risen Lord the many who have died, and we entrust to Our Lady of Manchester those who suffer.

Evil, as dense and dark as it is, never has the last word. As we prepare to celebrate the new dawn of Pentecost again, may the Easter words of the Risen Christ, "Peace be with you" (John 20:19), settle deep into the hearts of the citizens of your great country.

— Fraternally in the Risen Lord,
Daniel Cardinal DiNardo
Archbishop of Galveston-Houston
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

***

Bishop John Arnold has issued the following statement following the attack in Manchester on May 22

The citizens of Manchester and the members of the Catholic community are united in condemning the attack on the crowds at the Manchester Arena. 

Such an attack can have no justification. I thank the emergency services for their prompt and speedy response which saved lives. 

We join in prayer for all those who have died and for the injured and their families and all affected by this tragedy. 

We must all commit ourselves to working together, in every way, to help the victims and their families and to build and strengthen our community solidarity.

***

Pope Francis has sent a telegram expressing condolences to the victims of Monday night's bombing of a concert venue in Manchester, England, and condemning the attack, in which at least 22 people were killed and 59 others injured. 

His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the barbaric attack in Manchester, and he expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this senseless act of violence. 

He commends the generous efforts of the emergency and security personnel, and offers the assurance of his prayers for the injured, and for all who have died. 

Mindful in a particular way of those children and young people who have lost their lives, and of their grieving families, Pope Francis invokes God’s blessings of peace, healing and strength upon the nation.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

Quote of the Week: “Sometimes being lost is the best way to find yourself.” — Lailah Gifty Akita.

In the letter of John, there is perhaps the only definition given for God in the Bible. It is, simply stated, “God is love. He who lives in love, lives in God, and God in him. Wherever there is love, there is God.”

It makes even greater sense of today’s Gospel.

Jesus says to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments ... I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. You are in me and I in you.”

Apart from the language of total intimacy, there is a kind of functional spirituality being described. If you do this, then this will happen to you.

Living Jesus’ words and following his example brings us into a relationship of love and intimacy that makes us one. In this love we will never feel abandoned or orphaned but rather will know his presence, peace, love, care, healing, life, strength, power, and spirit, always growing more deeply within us.

A further piece of this functional spirituality is the connectedness we will experience with God our Father and creator by being in union with Jesus the Christ: “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.”

All of this suggests the need for surrender to Jesus’ words and his example. The surrender suggests that trusting and living his words and example will bring about peace and new life.

It is functional: Do it, trust it, and something will change in you, something will begin to happen. You will discover new life, a new spirit.

Or to put it once again in Jesus’ own words: “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.”

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “Sometimes being lost is the best way to find yourself.” — L.J. Vanier.

Jesus promises: “I am going to prepare a place for you… so that where I am you also may be.”

When Thomas questions him, declaring: “We do not know where you are going: how can we know the way?” Then Jesus opens up the mystery. He first explains: “I am the way.”

Then he reveals that where is not so much a place as it is a relationship with and through him. He talks about knowing, seeing, being in relationship, dwelling: “If you know me, then you will also know my Father”; “From now on you do know him and have seen him”; “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”; “I am in the Father and the Father is in me”; “The Father who dwells in me ...”

Jesus describes the place where he is going to take his disciples is not a location but a relationship. Where we will go is into a place of being with him and with God our Father.

The big revelation is that having a relationship with Jesus IS having a relationship with the Father. Both are one. In this way we begin to really grasp his answer to Thomas: “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

All of these are true. It is the relationship with Jesus that brings us into relationship with the Father.

He IS the way.

Therefore, all that Jesus teaches us, both by word and example, is the truth by which a true Christian lives.

He IS the truth.

Living this truth of Jesus gives us life now, and it gives us life eternal.

He IS the life.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lies down his life for the sheep.” — John 10:11.

Sheep were often gathered in an area with walls (sheepfold) to keep the sheep in and to keep wolves out. The gate was the only entrance and exit. Sometimes the actual gate was the shepherd who would lie down there to sleep at night. The sheep would not cross over him and he would still provide the protection.

Jesus says today: “Whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. I am the gate for the sheep.”

The sheep trust the shepherd; he calls them by name, they follow him. They will not follow a voice or a person they cannot recognize.

Jesus used this image to focus on his relationship with us. The church uses this passage today, on Good Shepherd Sunday, to extend the image further to those who shepherd in the name of Jesus. We look to our shepherds – priest, deacons, religious, lay leaders – to act in the name of Jesus and to love like him.

We expect them to be faithful to the Gospel and to preach it always. (This is one more reason why the clergy abuse cases have been so disturbing).

There is a saying attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” It is exactly what the Good Shepherd (Jesus) did and what he asks of his shepherds today.

The church needs more good shepherds

On this “Good Shepherd Sunday,” we open our hearts in prayer, asking God to enrich the church with good shepherds.

We need priests; we are a Eucharistic community. We need deacons; they are committed through their ordination to preach and serve the poor. We need religious; they have so many gifts that have built up the body of Christ and served the church for centuries.

We depend upon our religious lay leaders who are liturgical ministers, and catechists who care for the sick and poor, who help to administer the resources of the church.

We don’t just need priests and leaders, we need GOOD SHEPHERDS!

Let us join the universal church throughout the world today to pray for more vocations.

Let us pray with the church of the United States on this Vocation Sunday for an increase in shepherds, especially priests who will continue to form and sustain Eucharistic communities of faith.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.