Saturday, October 29, 2011

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

This week proves to be one packed with events, activities and meaningful celebrations.

The 31st, of course, is Halloween, or All Hallows Eve. It is a: fun — not to be taken too seriously, not anti-Christian, a kind of "laugh at death" (so to lessen our fear of it), a roots in Christian and pagan religions, end of the year (end of life) — celebration. It is meant to be fun. It is a greatly celebrated American holiday; let’s not ruin it for the kids!

The feast day of St. Martin de
Porres is Nov. 3. (Credit:
stmartindp.org)
The next day we celebrate the great feast — All Saints Day. We honor all of the men and women who have inspired our lives so deeply by their commitment to Christ and their faith. All Souls follows a day (and a novena) to honor, celebrate and remember our dead.

We continue with the celebration of two wonderful saints: St. Martin de Porres and St. Charles Borromeo.

The week concludes at 2 in the morning on Sunday (here is your reminder) by turning the clocks back an hour. Two a.m. will become 1 a.m.; and magically we will have one more hour of daylight. This advances us into the season of winter with its long nights and short days. That will reach a climax when we come to the Feast of Lights — which is our celebration of the Son of Light — Christ — who is the Light of the World (Christ-mas). Good times, right?

Remember: When the children say "trick or treat," the appropriate response is a good, healthy and generous treat. Let’s not ruin it for the kids!

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pope's message for World Mission Sunday 2011

May this World Mission Sunday revive in each one the
desire and the joy of "going" to meet humanity taking
Christ to all.
"As the Father Has Sent Me, So I Send You" (John 20:21). On the occasion of the Jubilee of 2000, the Venerable John Paul II, at the beginning of a new millennium of the Christian era, reaffirmed forcefully the need to renew the commitment to take to all the proclamation of the Gospel with "the same enthusiasm of the Christians of the early times" ("Novo Millennio Ineunte," No. 58). It is the most precious service that the Church can give to humanity and to each person who seeks the profound reasons to live his existence fully. Because of this, this same invitation resounds every year in the celebration of World Mission Sunday. In fact, the incessant proclamation of the Gospel also vivifies the Church, her fervor, her apostolic spirit, it renews her pastoral methods so that they are increasingly appropriate to the new situations — also those that require a new evangelization — and animated by the missionary drive: "the mission renews the Church, reinforces the faith and Christian identity, gives new enthusiasm and new motivations. The faith is strengthened by giving it! The new evangelization of Christian peoples will find inspiration and support in the commitment to the universal mission" (John Paul II, "Redemptoris Missio," No. 2).

Go and proclaim

This objective is continually revived by the celebration of the liturgy, especially of the Eucharist, which always ends recalling the mandate of the Risen Jesus to the Apostles: "Go ..." (Matthew 28:19). The liturgy is always a call "from the world" and a new sending "to the world" to give witness of what has been experienced: the salvific power of the Word of God, the salvific power of the Paschal Mystery of Christ. All those who have encountered the Risen Lord have felt the need to proclaim him to others, as did the two disciples of Emmaus. They, after recognizing the Lord in the breaking of the bread, "rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered there" and they told what had happened on the road (Luke 24:33-34). Pope John Paul II exhorted to be "vigilant and prepared to recognize his face and run to our brothers, to take the great announcement to them: We have seen the Lord!" ("Novo Millennio Ineunte," No. 59).

To all

All peoples are recipients of the proclamation of the Gospel. The church "is missionary by nature, as she takes her origin from the mission of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, according to the plan of God the Father" ("Ad Gentes," No. 2). This is "the happiness and vocation proper of the Church, her most profound identity. She exists to evangelize" (Paul VI, "Evangelii Nuntiandi," No. 14). Consequently, she can never be shut-in on herself. She roots herself in certain places in order to go beyond. Her action, in adherence to the word of Christ and under the influence of his grace and of his charity, is made fully and actually present to all men and to all peoples to lead them to faith in Christ (cf. "Ad Gentes," No. 5).

This task has not lost its urgency. On the contrary, "the mission of Christ Redeemer, entrusted to the Church, is still far from being accomplished ... a global look on humanity shows that this mission is still at the beginning and that we must commit ourselves with all our energies in its service" (John Paul II, "Redemptoris Missio," No. 1). We cannot remain tranquil in face of the thought that, after two thousand years, there are still peoples who do not know Christ and have not yet heard his message of salvation.

Not only this; the multitude grows of those that, even having received the proclamation of the Gospel, have forgotten and abandoned it, not recognizing themselves now in the Church; and many environments, also in traditionally Christian societies, today are refractory in opening themselves to the word of faith. Underway is a cultural change, fueled also by globalization, by movements of thought and by the prevailing relativism, a change that leads to a mentality and a lifestyle that does without the evangelical message, as if God did not exist, and which exalts the search for well-being, easy earnings, careers and success as the objective of life, even at the cost of moral values.

Co-responsibility of all

The universal mission involves all, everything and always. The Gospel is not an exclusive good of the one who has received it, but is a gift to be shared, good news to communicate. And this gift-commitment is entrusted not only to a few, but to all the baptized, who are "a chosen race ... a holy nation, God's own people" (1 Peter 2:9), to proclaim his wonderful works.

All activities are also implied in it. Attention and cooperation in the evangelizing work of the Church in the world cannot be limited to some particular moments and occasions, nor can they be considered as one of the many pastoral activities: the missionary dimension of the Church is essential and, therefore, must always be kept present. Hence it is important that every baptized person as well as the ecclesial communities be interested not only in a sporadic and irregular way in the mission, but in a constant way, as the way of Christian life. The Missionary Day itself is not an isolated moment in the course of the year, but a precious occasion to pause to reflect on how we respond to the missionary vocation; an essential response for the life of the church.

Global evangelization

Evangelization is a complex process and includes several elements. Among these, a peculiar attention on the part of missionary animation, has always been given to solidarity. This is also one of the objectives of World Mission Sunday, which through the Papal Missionary Associations requests help in carrying out tasks of evangelization in mission territories. An attempt is made to support institutions necessary to establish and consolidate the church through catechists, seminaries, priests and also to make a contribution to the improvement of the conditions of life of persons in countries in which the phenomenons of poverty, malnutrition especially of children, illnesses, lack of health services and education are more acute. This also falls within the mission of the church. Proclaiming the Gospel, she takes seriously human life in the full sense. It is unacceptable, reaffirmed the Servant of God Paul VI, that in evangelization subjects are neglected that refer to human promotion, justice, liberation from every form of oppression, obviously in respect of the autonomy of the political sphere. To be indifferent to the temporal problems of humanity would mean "to forget the lesson which comes to us from the Gospel concerning love of our neighbor who is suffering and in need" ("Evangelii Nuntiandi," No. 31); it would not be attuned to Jesus' conduct, who "went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity" (Matthew 9:35).

Thus, through co-responsible participation in the mission of the church, the Christian becomes a builder of communion, of peace, of the solidarity that Christ has given us, and collaborates in the realization of the salvific plan of God for the whole of humanity. The challenges that it meets, calls Christians to walk together with others, and the mission is an integral part of this path with all. In it we bear, though in vessels of clay, our Christian vocation, the inestimable treasure of the Gospel, the living testimony of Jesus dead and resurrected, encountered and believed in the Church.

May this World Mission Sunday revive in each one the desire and the joy of "going" to meet humanity taking Christ to all. In his name I impart to you from my heart the apostolic blessing, in particular to all those who most toil and suffer for the Gospel.

Published in the Vatican, Jan. 6, 2011, Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Feast of faith: Only say the word

Truly blessed and happy are those
invited to this meal, which is a
foretaste of the heavenly banquet.
(Credit: Sister Mary Stephen,
CRSS, from "Bread Broken -
Journey Through the Cross")
By Corinna Laughlin

The bread is broken, the banquet is prepared, and now we are invited to the feast. Once more the priest holds the host, now broken, for us to see, and invites us to behold the one "who takes away the sins of the world."

Truly blessed and happy are those invited to this meal, which is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet, the supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:19). We respond to this invitation with a prayer to the Lord: we acknowledge that we are not worthy, but at the same time we are confident that the one who comes to us can heal us, body and soul.

This prayer echoes the story of the centurion in Luke’s Gospel. The centurion, a Gentile, asks healing for his servant, but does not consider himself worthy to have Jesus come under his roof — he believes that Jesus can heal his servant with a word, without even seeing him. Jesus is amazed at his faith.

It is the same for us. We believe that Jesus speaks to us, comes to us, dwells with us, even though we neither hear his voice nor see his face.

Corinna Laughlin is pastoral assistant for liturgy at St. James Cathedral in Seattle. Reach her at claughlin@stjames-cathedral.org.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Looking ahead

Confirming our baptismal faith in the sacrament of
confirmation is a huge step. This opens us up to God
working in our lives in extraordinary ways.
(Credit: Michael J. Arvizu/St. Bernard Church)

By Father Perry D. Leiker

This weekend we celebrate a special rite with our youth who will be confirmed this year. The rite of welcoming acknowledges that God is calling them into a deeper relationship with him and with his church.

The "call of God" is a very strong theme throughout the scriptures. He calls: prophets, those who would become king; and whole nations. His call usually surprises everyone, for he often chooses the smallest, the most unrecognizable, ones who seem most unfit. Yet to those chosen, God always gives what they need to live out the call.

The Gospel, seemingly unrelated to this theme, explains what is needed from the one chosen. The time always comes when we must distinguish what belongs to God and what belongs to man. If we mix these up and fail to respond properly, our lives usually become a mess.

Confirming our baptismal faith in the sacrament of confirmation is a huge step. This opens us up to God working in our lives in extraordinary ways, pouring his Holy Spirit into our spirit, and giving us what we need to live a life that is blessed, whole, graced.

Our youth are our treasure. They truly are our future. They so often embrace our ideals with all of their being — often with refreshing innocence.

Please stop this weekend, either before or after the Saturday evening Mass when our ceremony "over our youth" will take place, to remember them in prayer. Ask God to call them from the deepest part of their spirit, to choose them in a way that they will be overwhelmed with his love, and to help them believe that he sees them as good and as his chosen ones.

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Feast of faith: Agnus Dei

When we call on the Lamb of
God, we call to mind his
self-sacrificing love, his blood
poured out for us, and we ask this
compassionate Lord for
mercy and peace. (Credit:
skepweaver.wordpress.com)
By Corinna Laughlin

After the sign of peace, the priest breaks the host into pieces, and prepares the patens, or plates, of hosts for the assembly. In the early church, "the breaking of the bread" was the name given to the entire Eucharistic liturgy. So central was this action to the meaning of the Christian life. For just as the one bread is broken and given to many people, the many are made one in receiving it.

During this ritual action, we sing an ancient litany, calling on Jesus as the "Lamb of God" — the words used by John the Baptist when he pointed to Jesus walking beside the Jordan River (John 1:29, 36). In calling Jesus "the Lamb of God," John was already pointing to the death that Jesus would die: in giving his life, Jesus would become the Paschal Lamb of the new covenant.

During the Mass, when we call on the Lamb of God, we call to mind his self-sacrificing love, his blood poured out for us, and we ask this compassionate Lord for mercy and peace.

Corinna Laughlin is pastoral assistant for liturgy at St. James Cathedral in Seattle. Reach her at claughlin@stjames-cathedral.org.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

Three months have passed since I arrived here in the faith community of St. Bernard.

Now with more clarity I can express my gratitude for what I have discovered here. I am very grateful to follow in the footsteps of many priests who have led this community with great dedication and love.

How blessed to have "2" pastors emeritus — Monsignors McNulty and McSorley — alive, healthy and still serving this community. How blessed to have been so encouraged by Father Tim McGowan to apply for this parish; his words were: "Ask for this parish. It is a gem! You will love it — these are such good people." I am grateful to have heeded his advice.

I am very grateful to Berna Gurule who gave so many dedicated years of service here and handed over a very organized and well functioning parish administration. Her skills and knowledge and complete dedication are noticeable everywhere. The fine staff at St. Bernard’s is also to be commended because they love what they do; they are generous in their service, and they have helped me very much to adapt and come to know this parish community.

Last, and most certainly not least, my thanks go directly to the community. There are: countless volunteers; wonderful ministry groups; a gem of a school with an outstanding principal and staff; a history in the school and parish of great pride; an enchanting "mountain like" community in the hills north of El Centro.

There is so much to be grateful for here in this parish — and today, I must shout it out for all to hear: thank you God! Thank you for your great blessings! Thank you, Bernard, for your blessings on this parish dedicated in honor to you!

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.

Friday, October 7, 2011

What to do if you suspect elder abuse

Each one of us has a responsibility to keep vulnerable
elders safe from harm. (Credit:
reachofmaconcounty.org)
Each one of us has a responsibility to keep vulnerable elders safe from harm.

If the danger is immediate, call the police or 911 if someone you know is in immediate, life-threatening danger. If the danger is not immediate, but you suspect that abuse has occurred or is occurring, please tell someone. Relay your concerns to the local adult protective services, long-term care ombudsman, or police.

The U.S. Administration on Aging can refer you to a local agency that can help. Call (800) 677-1116.

For particular help, call Assistance Ministry at (213) 637-7650.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Looking ahead

On the second Sunday of last month
(Sept. 11) our second collection for
the Building Fund brought in $1,785.
By Father Perry D. Leiker

On the second Sunday of last month (Sept. 11), our second collection for the Building Fund brought in $1,785. Thanks to the generosity of our parishioners.

As promised, the following is a brief report of some of the recent improvements:

Painting: rectory offices, exterior walls of the Parish Hall, school railings, light fixtures.

Lighting: additional lights for safety and security installed.

Sacred Heart/front of parish hall: grass, flowers, painting, lighting added.

Parish Center: All hardwood floors stripped and varnished, all rooms painted on both floors, new door knobs and locks throughout the center with push-bar door for childrens' safety.

Total expenses to date have been $8,951.

Thanks to the ministry groups for labor, donations, food to feed our workers and donations for professional painters for part of the job. Thanks to our own maintenance staff for their assistance!

Next week’s (Oct. 9) Building Fund collection will help to defray these costs and help toward future projects.

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard Parish Administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.