Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Daily Advent Inspiration

Transcript of homily recorded on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011

Daily Advent Inspiration for Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 (Wednesday of the First Week of Advent)

By Father Perry D. Leiker

The idea of being called and being sent are so fundamental in our faith. In fact, they are wrapped around the very foundation of our faith in the call and the sending of the apostles. We think so often about who was called — laborers, fishermen, even tax collectors, people who were not included in society but were considered sinful and outcast. Jesus chose, many would say, a motley crew. And then he prepared them; he spent a lot of time with them; he modeled for them what he was calling them to do. He was really forming true disciples, and then he sent them forth. And we know that; and we know that every time we celebrate one of the apostles, we're celebrating one of those foundations and the call and the sending. But, the truth is, all of us participate in that.

Because our church has always been very much a hierarchical church with one person at the top — oh, my God, can you imagine? One person. And then, we have these cardinals and all the bishops, priests, deacons, all the way down to the laypeople. That was the vision we often had. Up until Vatican II that was clearly the vision. But in Vatican II, a different kind of thinking developed, where we were all in this together. And although there are different responsibilities, different authority, everybody, everybody who is baptized is called and sent. So a different model emerged. It's the one that I believe in much more so and is right at the center — the pastoral role, the role of responsibility. I prefer that even more than authority: responsibility. And then in concentric circles around it, become the people who are sharing different levels of responsibility. Now all of them very much on the same level, but at the center is the full responsibility — that would be the pope, and then the bishops surrounding, and then the clergy, and the religious, and then the diaconate, and all the way out to the ends. But everybody shares responsibility.

And further, there's a principle that I believe Jesus believed in. He had to, because he handed this thing over to us. It's the principle of subsidiarity. And the principle of subsidiarity says this: Whatever can be handled at the lowest level, you do it here. You don't have somebody up here have to OK it. So somebody does not have to come and to me and say, "Father Perry, I found some papers on the floor of the church. Can I pick them up?" Of course you can pick them up! You don't have to ask me that. "Father Perry, the door was open; I closed it. Was that OK?" Of course! Please believe in the principle of subsidiarity with me, that I don't that have to be asked every single thing that somebody can do. I hope this is how parents raise their children so they're building into them a sense of responsibility and a sense of ownership: this is my church; this is my church, of course I'll do what I can do.

But Jesus, I believe, really believed this. He believed that when he calls us and sends us, he's empowering us to grow in our understanding of God, of church, our faith community, to grow in a sense of awareness that I am called. This is just not a club, this is a call to belong as a son or daughter of God, as a disciple of Jesus. I belong to this community of faith. I am responsible. I don't care what anyone else says — even the pastor — I am responsible for doing all I can to build the kingdom and to share this gift of faith that I have been given. I am a disciple of Jesus.

Personally I think it's very lacking in our church, this sense. Not that people don't believe in God or believe in Jesus or they don't come to church, but this sense of discipleship — it's very different than just belonging to the church.

I have been called anointed, and I am sent forth. And my life as a Christian is to share Jesus Christ with others. To share his good news. To draw people closer to him and give them the chance to know him, because I will introduce him. A faith community that believes they are all disciples is very different than a faith community whose very faithful comes to church very faithfully, never misses. A community of disciples is really what Jesus is trying to form.

So today we celebrate Andrew, one of the apostles, the brother of Peter, fisherman, someone who gave his life, and in the Gospel we hear this lovely call: he just drops his nets and goes because he's heard a call. And it's hearing that call — and it's kind of important if we can name it. You see most of us were baptized as babies. We didn't hear a call. We were born into it. But somewhere along the line we have to try to name what that call means. Even though I was not given a choice and baptized into my faith, I believe Jesus is calling me and wants to use me as a true instrument of his grace and love.

So we have to hear it, listen to it, define it, and then accept the call, and in that way, our discipleship really comes alive and we understand the purpose and the role, the life, that we have in the church and the possibility of helping to create the kingdom of God — build the kingdom of God — because we have been sent to this place as members of the kingdom, as disciples of Jesus.

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Daily Advent Inspiration

Transcript of homily recorded on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011

Daily Advent Inspiration for Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011 (Tuesday of the First Week of Advent)

By Father Perry D. Leiker

These scriptures today at the very beginning of Advent are just filled with hope, filled with hope of what would happen when the messiah would be born; and it focuses us very strongly on the meaning of Christ coming to the world, that the age of the messiah, finally, is to arrive, finally has arrived, and with it comes all the promise. We will go on later on in Advent and talk about the messianic promises of the "paralyzed will walk," "the blind will see," "the deaf will hear," etc., and all this healing and all this new life and peace and justice.

One of my favorite comedians — I know he's a bit demented, but he is a good comedian — Woody Allen, he likes to play with so many things, and among them he uses scripture and he quotes, for example, he says, quoting Psalm 23: "I will walk through the valley of darkness- no, no, no; I'll run through the valley of darkness — you'll get through it faster." It's a good insight. Who wants to walk through pain and struggle? But he quotes this section of Isaiah. He says: "The lion will lie down with the lamb, but the lamb won't get much sleep." Now that's a more accurate look. I mean, a lion and a lamb lying down? A child playing in the lair of adders and among snakes? Cattle and leopards eating together? The cattle will get eaten by the leopard. But this scripture is putting these opposites that, what usually would be filled with violence and death, become full of peace, because Jesus is going to come, this messiah, and usher in a whole new time, a whole new way of being. Kind of like man, woman have been destroyed and marred and defected by sin, but the time of grace will come and everything will be healed. Justice will flourish; peace will flourish.

Now, it begins today, "On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him; a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and [of] strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be fear of the Lord." Well, certainly this would be said of the line of Jesse; and certainly this would be said of Jesus Christ. But the truth is, this is said of everyone who's anointed in the Lord. And every one of us in this church, everyone baptized, is anointed, anointed with the Holy Spirit.

When King David was anointed, in order for them to appreciate, they had to use visual signs. Our roots come from the Jewish faith. Everything was visual, experiential. A lot of Christian faiths don't use symbols. We are enamored of symbols. We want to see Christ the light so we light a candle. We want reverence or fear of the Lord to be experienced so we bow and or kiss the ground. And all these symbols speak powerfully to us. So when David was anointed king, they wanted to ask God to anoint him with his Holy Spirit, pour God's Spirit into him. So they took a big vat of oil and poured it all over him, it dripped all over his body, covered him, because they could see the oil covering him. And so anointing him with oil was to visualize what they were really praying for and an anointing of the Spirit that he would be covered — completely doused — by the Holy Spirit, because they were praying that, covered with the Holy spirit, anointed with the Spirit of God, he could be a great king, a wise king, a holy king, a king of service, a king of love.

And this is what's happened to you and myself. Even though it happened when most of us were babies, we were anointed by the Holy Spirit. And if our parents and godparents did a good job (I'm sorry most don't) about this thing: convincing a child you belong to God. God fills you. You are loved. God's Spirit lives in you. You are a tabernacle, a temple of the Spirit of God. You are holy. Now, really. How many of our children walk the face of the earth believing, "I'm holy. God lives in me"? Most of them have been taught, somehow, that they're never living up to what God wants and they're sinners. But we are holy, anointed of God.

Now, tell me what works better: to walk through life, saying this: "I'm a sinner and I'll never please God completely. I have to beg God for forgiveness everyday" or "I'm holy, anointed by the Spirit of God. God dwells in me"? What's a better driving force? Yes, we're sinners, but we're anointed. God dwells in us. Where do we want to start? Well, this Advent opens the door. Read these scriptures. It's in the bulletin; take it home. Go on that Web site, USCCB, and go to Daily Readings. Read this first reading again. Read this psalm. Listen to the promise.

And you know, the Gospel, as often, is the key. It fits in the lock and opens the door, the truth, of this scripture today, because this is what Jesus says: "Only the child-like can get this" — unless we listen to this like a child, listens to mommy or daddy.

I like to tell people at baptism: If I took a child, 4 or 5, and I showed them pictures of the moon and I showed them what the moon was made of, and if I had actually had a piece of moon rock or dust that had been brought back by astronauts and some wealthy person bought it and gave it to me and I showed it to this child and I showed them the pictures, I gave them all the scientific data about what it's made of, how big it is, etc., etc., and I wowed them, I 'm thinking with the truth, the truth, that we have observed of the moon. And then I left the pictures there, I left the moon rock, and when daddy or mommy came home that night, they said "Daddy,  mommy, Father Perry was here! Look what he showed us! Pictures of the moon!" And they actually could say some of the data back. And then mommy or daddy just said this: "Oh, honey. No. Don't you know the moon is made out of green cheese? And there's a little man that lives in the moon. Come here, look" — and there's a full moon that night — "See the eyes? There's a man that lives in the moon." Who's this child going to believe? Mommy or daddy, who told a lie? Or Father Perry, who told the truth? Mommy or daddy. Not because they're right, but because they're mommy or daddy, and a child of 5 believes in mommy and daddy — not just what they say, but believes in them.And Jesus says, unless we listen to and believe in God like a little child, we'll never get it.

So I would suggest that like a little child, we read Isaiah again today. Like a little child, we revisit our baptism. You could probably find the rite online; put baptism rite for Catholics, and then read the rite, read the prayers. You are anointed. You now share with Christ as priest, prophet and king — all of you. Christ, the Spirit of god, dwells in you. You have been anointed in the Lord. Like children, we have to hear that. Like people of faith, we have to believe it. And, hopefully, this Advent will be a powerful — maybe a new — Advent, that we will come out on the feast of Christmas and believe that God really did become incarnate, he took human flesh and was born among us. But not only that, he's gotten into our human flesh and made us into people of grace.

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

Monday, November 28, 2011

Daily Advent Inspiration

Let us go
rejoicing to the house
of the Lord.
Transcript of homily recorded on Monday, Nov. 28, 2011

Daily Advent Inspiration for Monday, Nov. 28, 2011 (Monday of the First Week of Advent)

By Father Perry D. Leiker

Well, here we are, the first Monday of Advent, we jump in with both feet. We get these readings filled with promise and with prophesy and with hope.

In the first reading, we're told that peoples from east and west — from all over — all nations will come to Jerusalem to the high mountain there to meet the Lord. That means not just Jews; people from everywhere, from every faith, will be drawn to God. And then we're told that this would transform people so deeply that their weapons of war would become instruments of cultivation for food and for hope for the people. The swords will be beat down into plowshares so that instead of fighting and killing, it would provide food for the people. Their spears would be turned into pruning hooks to prune the trees, and to make them bear fruit, instead of killing and fighting. And then the last line says, "One nation shall not raise a sword against another nor shall they train for war again."

When the messiah comes, they all believed, people would be transformed into a people of peace. It would be a new world, [a] completely new world. And then we kept, again and again, "Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord." And we have this great sense again that the Lord would call us and transform us.

And then we jump to the messiah himself, Jesus. And he has an encounter, not with a Jew, not with a fellow man of faith, but with a Roman centurion who had obviously been watching Jesus, who had obviously heard the stories of his healing power. And this man who did not share the faith of the Jews went up to Jesus and asked a favor, asked him to heal his servant; and Jesus, typically, he said, immediately I will go and cure him. And he said: "Oh, Lord, not worthy that you enter under my roof; just say the word." This man understood authority and power, and he understood that this man of power didn't need to go there and personally he didn't feel worthy, didn't feel that he had the right to ask him to come into his house. He just wasn't worthy.

And then Jesus does this remarkable thing: he turns to his fellow Jews and makes this unbelievable and embarrassing statement: "In all of Jerusalem I have not seen faith like this. In my own people of faith, I have not seen faith like this." So what could this possibly mean for us? Well, it means a whole bunch of things.


Jerusalem the holy land. It's the home of three great faiths: the faith of the people of Islam, the Jews and the Christians. Now, interestingly, I lived with a priest who grew up in Hungary and he was imprisoned, actually. He had horrible experiences with the communists, and in fact, on one Pentecost, I decorated all the church in red, and he said, "Please, Perry, take it down, take it down!" I thought, "What on earth?" And it reminded him so much of the communist rule, he couldn't stand all that red in the church so I had to take it down; he was the pastor. But he said, because he was stationed in Jerusalem for a time, he remarked on how the holy land was the most unholy place when it came to religious people. And he said that, of course, not only did the Jews and the Muslims and the Christians argue and fight, but even the Christians would fight the Catholics and other Christians. He remarked on one occasion, he went to a celebration to a site that was held by the Catholics and other Christians — it was sacred to both — and they both were beginning ceremonies, and he said, in the end, they started fighting, the people in the procession. And the people with the crosses — with the processional crosses — started swinging them, fighting. Now wasn't that a beautiful testimony — people of faith, fighting with their processional crosses? The holy land. The holy land.

So what with all of these promises the messiah will come and the whole world would be transformed, it just goes to show you, not only is it about transforming a world — which is miraculous — but transforming each one of us. That each one of us — like this centurion — would see this Christ and, with a kind of humility, which is, I suppose, why they wanted us to return to the Latin text right before communion — "I'm not worthy that you should enter my roof, Lord" — and yet he comes into our body. We feed on him and drink of him.

Spiritually speaking, we need to, on one hand, say, "I'm not worthy that you should come to me," and then just be filled with gratitude that he does and allow that grace and love of Christ to be a transforming power in our lives.

So here we are, the first Monday of Advent, we jump right into it. We don't waltz in slowly. We recognize that God will call people from everywhere, and he has. The majority of the church became Gentile, not Jewish. And he's called us from every nation; and we are in every nation. We're all over the world; it's a universal church, as are so many of the other churches.

But we come with the hope that this word will be true in each one of us. And we come with the hope that, as we share Advent together, that our church — our people, the people of God, the people throughout the world — will be transformed, too, not just as individuals (it has to start there), but also as a people. And what a wonderful gift if, as we get closer to Christmas this year, that our church in visible, observable ways, could be said to fulfill these readings just a little bit more. Not totally, just a little bit more. That we are more a people of God, more a people who recognize the messiah, more a people who are ready and willing and desirous of moving away from war to peace. Maybe, in some way, just the fact that at this Christmas many, many more of our soldiers will be coming home. Maybe this will inspire us to desire more deeply peace throughout the world.

And if, like every year that, as long as I can remember, I guess, people stop fighting on Christmas Day, even people who aren't Christian. For some reason, they respect that day. And I believe crime goes down horrifically on that night. For some reason, even our criminals say, "You know, it's Christmas. Come on. Have a little decency." But maybe it will permeate a little more deeply if you and I together will work for peace, will work for peace, to stand up and say, "Enough!" And we will, in our own way, beat the swords into plowshares. Rather than cultivate war, cultivate peace.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Sunday Homilies: Sunday, November 27, 2011 (First Sunday of Advent)

Advent: the whole
time is wait; be
ready; be alert.
Transcript of homily recorded on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011

By Father Perry D. Leiker

How many of you love Disneyland?

How many only like Disneyland?

How many hate Disneyland?

I call it stand-in-line-dia. That's all you do, you go and pay an enormous amount of money — now $50, $60, $70, I don't even know how much it is — and then you stand in line for hours. They are the capital of line standing. In fact, they camouflage it. You come to some rides and it only looks like two little rows out there and you say, "Oh, my God this is great!" You stand in line in the two rows and you go inside the doorway and there's 40 more, and you just say, "Oh, it's an hour wait!" Is it not? It's awful. I have no patience for it. I go with some people and then I regret that I went. Thank you, God, for Ralph's market, because now Ralph's market puts a little TV screen in front of my line and I can watch news or chisme or whatever. It's wonderful. I can watch this as I'm standing in line. It seems forever, but I hate standing in line. I hate it. Hate it. And yet I love Advent. And Advent is four weeks of waiting. The whole time is wait; be ready; be alert. It's the scripture today.

Now, it's an interesting season because we think we're waiting for one thing but we're really waiting for something else. Really, the season is guiding us toward — at least the scriptural part — the second coming of Jesus Christ. All of the scriptures talk about the second coming, not about the birthday of Christ, only after the fourth week. So the season tells us, through the scriptures, Jesus Christ is coming again. This has always been a part of the Christian tradition. And Jesus is using the eschatological language of the day: Be ready for when the master comes, because he will come.

But most people think of it as just waiting for Christmas, for Jesus' coming at Christmas — and it is that, but that's a historical event that passed. The other is the event that's coming: the second coming of the Lord, and that's the one we really need to be ready for and not just some day or on Christmas Day, but every day, every moment.

So Jesus uses eschatological language which is a fancy word to talk about the end times. The whole Book of Daniel is eschatological, talking about the wars that will happen, and monsters will come and eat nations and all kinds of whoa! imagery, because in this language, we look at what will come and say, "Are you ready? Are we preparing?"

But Jesus uses it even more interestingly, because he's not interested in the end times, he's interested in the present time. Every word that Jesus preaches is "The Kingdom of God is at hand. It is here; it among you; it is within you; it is now. Open up. See it; receive it." And not a day should pass that we are not Kingdom people, open to God's presence and his coming within us and among us. If we're missing it, we've missed the coming of the Lord today for each of us. So he looks at the end that says be ready right now.

When I was in college, we used to have to put on a play every year (the senior class did), and [in] my freshman year, the senior class put on the play, "Waiting for Godot." It's a modern play — well, it was then. The whole play is about waiting for this character, Godot, to appear. So two or three people are there under a bridge, like hobos there, waiting and waiting, and they keep talking about him; he's coming any time. And then somebody comes by, "I think it's Godot! I think it's Godot!" They go, and it's not Godot. Well, this was good for about a half hour. But two hours of this? I was bored to tears waiting for Godot. And you know what? He never comes! He never shows up! And you finish the play — at least I said, "Oh my God, I waited and waited for Godot and he never came!" But that was the point of the play: What do you do with waiting? What do you do with waiting? When I go to Disneyland and wait in line, I complain — a lot. I am not fun to go to Disneyland with. I complain. But that's not what kids do. Every step they go, "I'm closer! I'm closer! Oh, my God, we're almost there!" And every step of the way they get more excited. They can't wait to get on it. But they're waiting with joy.

And I'm with a long face.

So we come into the season of waiting. And the church ... ah, the church is always dramatic. The church is dramatic in its rites and in its celebrations. I pity the people who don't get it, who are bored with these things. This is just, like, wow, exciting! This wreath, does anybody know why we have a pink one on here? Is it because we're cheap, we ran out of purple? You think? No. What's it mean? It's joy. It's for the Third Sunday of Advent. We do a similar thing in one of the last Sundays in Lent, preparing for Easter. They're called Gaudete and Laetare Sundays. They mean "rejoice," because the church says the first week of Advent we're waiting for the Lord. The second one, like the kids at Disneyland, we're getting closer. The third one, we say, "Rejoice! It's almost here!" And then the fourth one we begin to talk about the coming of the birth of Jesus Christ. And then we celebrate Christmas. I see a candle here (I don't know if they do it here), but sometimes they have the big, white candle here. And now, Christ the light has come.

Do you know why Christmas is celebrated on Dec. 25? Do you think that was the birthday of Jesus? It is not the birthday — it might be, but we don't know; we don't know. (March. That's what I always say: on my birthday. I'm sure it's my birthday.) But do you know why Dec. 25? Toward the shortest day which means the longest night, the most darkness. That's another thing I don't like. You're getting my list today. I cannot stand these long nights and short days. I want summer when it's from 6 [a.m.] to 8:30 [p.m.], bright and light and fun. This is boring, all this darkness. And right in the middle of the winter solstice — I think the 21st, 22nd — right around the longest nights, the shortest day, the shortest light, and the longest dark, Jesus Christ is born, because the early Christians — and they loved to do this, when they would go into a place and find the culture and the religious stuff — they would take it and Christianize it. So the Pagans celebrated the feast of lights, they were celebrating light in the darkness. So this was perfect Christian language. Well, who is the light? It's Christ. Christ the light is born in the middle of darkness and in our own darkness. Nothing could delight Jesus more than to come into our sin, to come into our ignorance and our hatefulness and our pride and our unwillingness to forgive. He says, let me be your light. Let me come into that part of you and enlighten you to give you life, to fill you.

So the church says, that's worth waiting for. Be alert; be ready; open up, because Christ the light is coming in this Christmas. But if you're ready today and every day of this Advent season, ready like the kids say, "We're one step closer! Oh, my God! One step closer! Oh, my God!" that's what Advent's about — opening, waiting, being alert, being ready, being excited about being the people of God, about being able to come here to celebrate.

You know, when I think about places in the world that still exist today, and I'm not saying anything bad about Muslims, but in some fundamentalist, radical Islam countries, Christians are persecuted and not easily able to go to church and celebrate nothing public on the streets. We are so blessed to live in a land that separates religion and politics, religion and the law. Now, as much as people fuss that you can't put a cross on a hill, I say fine with me. We'll put it all we want in here, and government you stay out of this, this is our place. And we can do anything we want on our property, but can't do it on the top of some hill that's public. That's alright, because we don't put anything religious up there. But on your own property, you can do all the religious things you want, and we have the right to do it. We are so blessed. So what are we doing with that right? Do we come here joyfully? And in this season of joyful waiting, do we come like the children in line, "Wow! Wow!"? If we come here bored, get over it. That's our fault. There's nothing boring about what we're doing. What we're doing is opening up to God, and particularly, if we're real and if we come here with some humility of spirit and dare to stand naked before God — here I am, God; I'm a sinner. Here I am with my prejudices and my ugliness and my impatience and my unwillingness to do a lot. I need you, God. I want your light. Flood me with your light. Take away the ugliness. Feed me. Give me the drink that is Christ himself that will fill those parts of me that hunger and thirst.

I think the responsorial psalm says it so tremendously today: "Lord, make us turn to you. Let us see your face." It's an interesting thing. What happened in the Old Testament if you ever saw the face of God? You would die. That's what the Jews believed. So for us to say God, Lord, make us see your face. Make us see it. Lord, make us turn to you — of course that means we would see your face and die — but we say, Lord, make us turn to you and let us see your face. Permit us to see your face, and we shall be saved.

Well, we come in here to see the face of God in so many ways, but most of all, in the person of Jesus Christ. We listen to him speak to us in the Gospel. We eat and drink his body and blood. We celebrate Christ. We are the body of Christ. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face, and we shall be saved.

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

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Looking ahead

Today marks a special beginning for a special group of
people in St. Bernard’s. Some are seeking three
of the seven sacraments: baptism, confirmation
and Eucharist — full communion with the church.
(Credit: American Catholic)
By Father Perry D. Leiker

A new year of faith begins today. We begin a new church year of growing in Christ together as disciples of the Lord.

To begin again is a wonderful thing, allowing us to renew, recommit, and clarify where we are going and how we hope to get there. This is also a special beginning for a special group of people at St. Bernard’s. Some are seeking baptism, confirmation and Eucharist — full communion with the church.

Others, though baptized, are seeking, through confirmation and Eucharist, to complete their initiation sacraments and to live in full communion with the church. Through the RCIA, the members of this community allow us to welcome them and celebrate each step of progress along this journey of faith. Today, we welcome them and acknowledge their participation in this process. Today, we bless their senses and their body and spirit as they take their first step to belonging with us. As they desire and seek full communion with great anticipation, we hopefully see in their desire the great gift we already have.

Hopefully, through them, we thank God for his great love and acceptance.

Hopefully, we rejoice in who we have become in Christ Jesus and for that reason, begin again by renewing, recommitting, and clarifying the ongoing journey of faith — full communion with God and with one another!

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

'Father Dollar Bill' has died at 92

Father Maurice Chase, known as "Father Dollar Bill,"
has died. (Credit: KTLA Channel 5)
From KTLA Channel 5 ...

LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Father Maurice Chase, known as "Father Dollar Bill," has died.

Father Chase passed away Sunday evening, Nov. 20, at his home in Los Angeles, family members ell KTLA.

He is survived by his two sister, Mary Donaldson and Majel Prindiville, as well as 14 nieces and nephews.

Father Chase, a Catholic priest, has worked with the Skid Row Charity Fund, handing out cash every Thanksgiving for some 32 years.

... Continue reading:  "'Father Dollar Bill' Has Died at 92"

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Looking ahead

What will we find today?

By Father Perry D. Leiker

This last Sunday of the church year is always celebrated as the Solemnity of Christ the King. How appropriate! We hear scripture which points us to the "Day of Judgment" when we will stand before Christ the King, seated on his throne of glory and judgment. There, he will address each of us as he also addresses the lives we have lived.

It appears that as long as humanity has been here, human persons have had a sense of "consequences for our actions." It all catches up with us. We can’t escape who we have been.

But of all the biblical writings, perhaps nothing is as powerful and challenging as these words of Jesus in Matthew 5. This separating of the sheep (the good souls) from the goats (the bad souls) is based not only on specific actions, but also on the recipients of those actions. Visiting the sick, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, etc., are the actions. But the most radical and demanding part is revealed when Jesus identifies himself with "one of the least ones."

Jesus lays it all on the line. It connects beautifully with another passage that asks the question: "If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even the pagans do as much." Once again, Jesus' word is transformative. He is interested not just in the actions (as good as they are), but the one to whom we show them. This is agape — the kind of love that is without condition, limitless, knows no bounds. This is God love. This is what he offers us and calls us to become.

On this last Sunday of the year, we look at end times. We look at what we hopefully will become by the end of our earthly time. We look at what Jesus hopes we will find today!

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Catholic Campaign for Human Development special collection this weekend

(Credit: USSCB)
This weekend at all the Masses, we will take up a special collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).

CCHD was founded by the U.S. bishops, who recognized that the lives of those in need will not improve until the systems and policies that keep people in poverty change. For over 40 years, CCHD has funded community groups that create lasting change, fight poverty in America, and defend human dignity.

Give to the CCHD collection, and thank you for your generosity. Special envelopes are in the pews.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Looking ahead

'Why wait until the end of our lives?'  

By Father Perry D. Leiker

Many people, at the end of their lives, make an accounting of what they have done, what they have achieved, and they assess the value of their lives. But the question could be fairly asked: “Why wait until the end of our lives?”

At the end of every church year we look at the end times and ask ourselves these questions but for a very specific reason. The scriptures use end times readings (eschatological) not to think differently about the future, but rather, the present. If we see where things are going and what the possible outcomes may be, it can give us a special insight as to what we need to change about the present. But another very useful opportunity arises through this eschatological questioning.

Put bluntly, we ask ourselves: “Are we ready?” Are we ready to let go of our own life? Are we ready to let go of those whom we love? Literally, are we prepared?

On Nov. 21, we will celebrate our annual Mass for the deceased — for those who died during this last year. Families of these deceased will come and participate in this Mass to remember and honor their dead. Our Bereavement Committee, who helps families at their time of loss and accompanies them through the rituals and services, also would like to assist families to plan for the difficult and painful experience of death.

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

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Looking ahead

Nov. 27 begins Advent
and the new church year.
By Perry D. Leiker

We are racing to the end of the year. Here we are already in November. Soon we will be giving thanks in our great religious and civil feast of Thanksgiving. Soon we will be closing our liturgical year with the last Sunday of the church year (Nov. 20): the Solemn Feast of Christ the King.

Nov. 27 begins Advent and the new church year. As we "come to the end" of the year, our liturgical readings keep focusing our attention on the "end of the year" and "the end of time." We hear the great eschatological readings that are asking if we are prepared. They place before us in end of time language the question of our readiness to meet God at the end of our lives and at the end of time. For some this is frightful. For all it should simply be one of the great facts of life and faith. The end will indeed come. We are all in need of being ready. We will face God as we are and as we have been. Are we ready?

A further and very practical issue that we also must face is the fact of our own mortal end of time. Many prefer not to think about it or seek to avoid it at all costs. But our death is unavoidable and it does, indeed, cost! Therefore, during this month of November as a parish we want to provide some information and materials that might help us to think ahead and to be prepared. By putting things in order we (and those we love) can be prepared and perhaps have a deeper experience of peace when the time comes.

When the question is finally asked of us: "Are you prepared?" our answer can be a resounding "Yes!"

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