Sunday, July 16, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts.”  — Confucius.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus “Got out of the boat and sat down ... and he spoke to them at great length in parables.”

As he did so he told them a parable of a man who went out to sow seeds in the field. The seed fell in various places: on the path, on rocky ground, among thorns, on rich soil.

When the disciples asked why he spoke in parables he told them it was because the people “look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.”

His parables ask us to work a little bit, to dig deeper and find the meaning. We are to hear the parable (a brief, succinct story, in prose or verse, that illustrates a moral or religious lesson) and apply it to our lives.

In this parable our hearts, minds and spirit are the soil into which the word of God falls and is to bear fruit. It is meant to be planted deeply which requires of us hearing and listening.

Hearing isn’t enough. If we are able to hear the words, even if we can repeat them, they are of little use unless we listen, too.

Listening means we allow the words to enter into our minds and our hearts. Listening requires a willingness to take it in, accept it, allow it to challenge us, reshape and reform our way of thinking and living.

Listening is active. Listening is faith-filled. Listening is humble. Listening is full of grace. When we listen, we give God room in our souls to clean house and make us new.

Listening is the first real step that leads to understanding. There are so many things out there that can block our listening. Some are overt. Some are hidden, indirect, subtle and very hard to recognize.

The verse before the Gospel prepares us to listen to the Gospel. This verse suggests the attitude or disposition of heart that is required.

Alleluia!

The seed is the word of God; Christ is the sower. All who come to him will have life forever.

Alleluia!

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, July 9, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “Respect is a two-way street, if you want to get it you’ve got to give it.”  — R.G. Risch.

Once upon a time there was in our Catholic Community a teaching that said Sunday was a day of rest. It was considered serious to observe it. People were told not to work but to go to church, then to rest, be with family, play and enjoy.

What a refreshing idea. We belived that there was value in resting and playing. But too many people today work seven days a week — not only at one or two but even three jobs.

If they do have some time off, and they are lucky enough for that day to be on Sunday, after they go to Mass (if they still do that), they have so many chores at home. Their excuse is that these could never be accomplished during the week.

How refreshing it is to hear these particular words coming from Jesus’ mouth in the Gospel today: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Just to hear Jesus affirm the value of rest, just to hear Jesus invite us to become unburdened and comforted by his love, just to consider that finding rest is something we really ought to do, this is all spoken as divinely wise language — spoken in a prayer to the Father.

It is referred to as “hidden things” – known not to the wise and learned but rather to the little ones. It is the little ones — children — who know the value of play, fun and rest.

The little ones are not burdened by the endless cares of the world. It is this tension between holding on — responsibility — and letting go. Between taking care and being careless. Between taking care of business and closing down the store.

Jesus is speaking the language of wisdom today. Not everyone will hear it. Not everyone will understand him. Not everyone will put it into practice or even see a need for it.

It is a message that should be heeded.

As he says in other places, I think he would say it also today: “Let him/her who has ears to hear — HEAR!”

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, July 2, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish as fools.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

“What are you looking for? What did you lose?”

That was the question.

This answer was returned: “I lost myself.”

What does it mean to lose yourself?

Jesus speaks about this in the scriptures more than once and places great emphasis on it. He also speaks of finding self — or picking up your cross — of dying so that you might live.

This is not a superficial game he is suggesting; rather, he calls upon us to go deeply within our inner lives and find — actually, to discover — those areas of life that need to die.

The truth is things get implanted deep within our spirit, and some of those things choke off life.

Think of a time when you were wounded by another person intentionally or only perceived by yourself. Think of the many times that this wound was replayed and revived and reinstated until it became a part of your very self.

Think of the pain, hurt, anger and resentment that soon became inseparable from our inner heart of hearts.

“Let it die,” Jesus said; love something or someone else more than that — Jesus uses strong and vivid language to capture the essence of the decision and the process to make the change.

The kingdom of God is the reality of dying and coming to life and letting go, and grabbing on to something bigger, better, deeper and more loving and wonderful.

Jesus always seeks our joy, hope and desire for God deep within.

“What are you looking for? What did you lose? What have you found?”

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 25, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “Tolerance only for those who agree with you is no tolerance at all.” — Ray Davis.

Through a series of opposites, the Gospel reveals the kingdom of Jesus and the world into which he sends his disciples.

He counters the fear and limitations of that world with the hope, vision and grace of his kingdom: concealed, revealed; secret, known; darkness, light; whispered, proclaimed; kill body, cannot kill soul; small coin, worth more.

The difference between each of these pair of words might make anyone afraid if it were not for the fact that someone great is on our side.

Jesus makes it quite clear that we are not alone and that there is a sustaining, protective and lifegiving love upon which we can depend.

Jesus speaks directly and forcefully as to what we can expect: “Fear no one. Do not be afraid. Even the hairs of your head are counted. I will acknowledge [you] before my Father. Do not be afraid.”

There are a few spiritual and emotional realities that can completely paralyze a person. Among the strongest of these is fear. When one becomes afraid of anyone or anything, very often they cannot summon the courage to accomplish what they want or need to do.

In the face of fear, they become helpless and hopeless.

Jesus understood this well; he counseled to trust and to know deep within our spirit the faithful love of God our Father. He repeated so many times within his Gospel message the same words: “fear not.”

These words of Jesus take on so much more power when one knows the end of the story: The disciples were to face martyrdom because they proclaimed the kingdom of God “from the rooftops.”

The cost of discipleship is great; the rewards are even greater. Fear is one of the only things that can prevent one from trusting fully in the ultimate saving power of God.

It is, therefore, trust in God’s love and care for us that will ultimately encourage us to stand up even in the face of persecution.

This is at the heart of what Jesus proclaimed so explicitly in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are those persecuted for holiness’ sake; the reign of God is theirs. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven.”

We take it to heart and find encouragement and hope in Jesus’ command: “Fear no one. Do not be afraid!”

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 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