Sunday, December 30, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

"Quality of life" is a phrase that connotes a way of living as opposed to simply living. Today's readings talk about our dedication to God, a husband's dedication to his wife, a wife's dedication to her husband, a child's dedication to their parents, and each person's dedication to the whole community.

This quality consists in living "as God's chosen ones" with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience — bearing with one another and forgiving one another. This goes way beyond just living to living a very high quality of life.

But then, the Gospel shows a fission or break in this quality life: "Our son is lost"! What parents wouldn't — in an instant — feel terror and horror at the thought that they might never see their son again? There is no doubt that this horrific intrusion into the lives of Mary and Joseph suddenly interrupted their quality of life. But part of what makes this family a holy family is the way in which they responded. Immediately Joseph and Mary communicated with one another and prioritized their response by going together to seek out their son. When they found him, they gently chided him: "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety."

The questions and answers were direct, honest, heart-felt and meaningful. But underneath each question and answer was respect, obedience, a sense of following a deeper call and urging of the Spirit, a careful retaining of these matters and memories in the heart, and a willingness to grow in wisdom.

This experience of the "lost son" and the resulting encounter presents a family who spoke and listened deeply to one another. Isn't this evidence of wholeness, holiness, and a healthy quality of life? Isn't this what all families should strive to live?

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas in the Year of Faith

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

Every Christmas is the chance for a new beginning. The journey of Advent leads us to the manger in Bethlehem and encounter with the child who makes all things new.

In this wonderful season, in the midst of all the festivities and sharing with our families and loved ones, each of us must make time to reflect, in a deeply personal way, on what Christmas means to us.

Each of us needs to ask: Who is this child we find sleeping in his mother’s arms? What difference does his coming make in my life?

These are the essential questions of the Year of Faith proclaimed by our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. Because Jesus comes at Christmas to be born anew in every human heart. Faith in him is what gives us new birth.

So the Year of Faith poses a personal question to each of us: Is Jesus being born in our hearts or not?

“To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the power to become children of God,” St. John tells us at start of his Gospel.

The child we seek in the manger at Bethlehem is a mirror in which we find our own reflection. Who this Child is, we are meant to be. This is the one lesson I hope we can all “take away” from this Year of Faith.

God in his love came down to us at Christmas to show us a new path for our life. The path of faith. The path we can walk as sons and daughters, led by the hand of our Father.

The Gospels tell us that in his human nature the child Jesus grew in wisdom and grace.

And we need to grow also as children of God. In his writings on the spiritual life, St. Paul often talked about our need to grow in our knowledge of the Son of God until we reach “mature adulthood” in our faith.

In other words, our faith journey is meant to make us grown-up children of God.

We grow as children of God by following the pattern of life that Jesus showed us. That’s why it’s so important for us to have a deep personal knowledge of the Gospels. I can’t emphasize this strongly enough. It is time for all Catholics to make the words of Jesus and the characters and stories of the Gospels a deep, integral part of our lives.

The Gospels tell us that Mary “kept” the words and events of her Son’s life and “pondered” them in her heart. She engaged the divine Word with prayer and questions. She asked the angel Gabriel: “How can this be?” She asked Jesus, “Why have you treated us so?”

Jesus said that Mary was blessed because she heard the word and followed it. She told others to do the same. At Cana, she told the wedding servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

We need to engage Jesus Christ and his Gospel in the same way. With reverence and prayer. With reason and faith. We need to question the word, always asking: What is this word saying to me? What does Jesus require of my life?

The church assigns a Gospel reading for every day of the year. Even if we can’t make it to daily Mass to hear that Gospel proclaimed, we can find time every day to read this passage and reflect on it.

When we make this a daily habit we find that we are walking with Jesus in our daily life. His words become the language of our heart. His teachings and attitude start to guide our approach to things. We start to see the world through his eyes.

Reading the Gospels daily, we begin to live as Jesus did — aware we are always in the presence of our loving Father; talking to him all day long in prayer; listening for his word in our hearts, striving to live by his commandments. As Jesus did, we offer ourselves in the service of God’s plan, serving him in the people around us, especially the poor and the lowly.

In this way, we really begin to live as children of God. This is the goal of our lives. And this is the “reason for the season.”

So in this Christmas in the Year of Faith, let’s pray for one another. That we might all make a new beginning. That in this coming year, we will all strive with his grace to become the sons and daughters of God we are meant to be.

I wish your families a most holy Christmas!

Let us entrust our journey to Bethlehem to the loving intercession of Mary, our mother. May she help us to welcome the child who comes to make us children of God.

Archbishop José H. Gomez is archbishop of Los Angeles. His weekly column is provided by and appears in The Tidings, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker 

"Rootedness" can be defined in several ways: having roots, being well established, unable to move, having strong ties. The readings on this final week of Advent show a rootedness that is best described as having strong ties.

Micah speaks of rootedness from of old, from ancient times. From this rootedness will come the long awaited ruler who will rule by the strength of the Lord and in the majestic name of the Lord. This rootedness in God is so great this ruler will be peace.

The letter to the Hebrews affirms similar words of Isaiah noting that God does not want holocausts and offerings but a rootedness or deep connection with God described as doing his will. The deep spiritual rootedness surrounding the pregnancy and birth of Jesus reaches a moving climax in Luke's Gospel in the visit that takes place between Mary and her older cousin Elizabeth – and in a more hidden way between two second cousins: Jesus and John the Baptist).

Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. Mary is blessed. John leaps for joy. Jesus is recognized as the savior. This is a blessed moment of such rootedness that even the babies within the wombs of their respective mothers recognize God's grace and the holiness of the moment.

Luke, of course, is speaking deep and wonderful theological words for us, the readers, so that we can understand what is happening and who is being introduced to us.

We are finally fully prepared in this Advent season to welcome the Christ into our hearts and lives so that we can birth him to others. This is, indeed, the real meaning of Christmas.

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

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

"Guadete en Domino semper" begins the opening prayer in Latin of the third Sunday of Advent – "Rejoice in the Lord always"!

This Sunday, the rose-colored vestments are worn, and the rose-colored Advent candle is lit. Rejoicing is proclaimed in both the first and second readings and the responsorial psalm. The readings shout out joy and great expectation. There is no equivocation here: Rejoicing is the feeling and attitude of heart that is right and proper. Be glad! The Lord is near!

But having said all of that, there is need for something more than just good feelings or even wild and joyful expectation. Something should be done. Something must be done. Lives are changed when hearts are changed. Proof of that change is when people begin to live differently, better.

The crowds asked John the Baptist: "What should we DO?" John gives a simple and direct response: "Share your cloaks, share your food, tax collectors stop cheating people, soldiers stop extorting people, don’t accuse people falsely, be satisfied with your wages."

Change of heart always shows itself as authentic and real when lives also change. "Rejoicing in the Lord always" is a way of living that allows the Spirit of God to fill us and to burst forth from us in actions that are God-like. Rose-colored vestments and candles are a sign of something that has hopefully happened to us during our Advent.

Hopefully we have heard the good news of God's mercy and love. Hopefully we have discovered our ability to be in touch with God both within self and with others. If we have indeed been alert, awake, hoping, waiting, seeking, there is no doubt whether God is coming among his people. Indeed, he is already near!

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

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

"This is my prayer ... that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ." This is more than sentiment. This is a prayer of readiness and preparedness on a cosmic scale. May you and all of creation be ready to meet the Lord when he comes again!

These readings speak of glory, power, dominion, joy, and the fulfillment of all the peoples of all nations and generations. But the Gospel speaks of a different preparation. It is not preparation for the birth of Jesus, but the first public encounter at the waters of the Jordan. There, John the Baptist announces a great visitation for which preparation and readiness were absolutely a requirement.

In order to be ready, there needs to be repentance for our sins and a thorough opening of our spirit. The image of mountains being leveled and valleys being filled up gives us an idea of just how big this task really is. There is no superficiality here. This is not a one-day, lighthearted encounter. This is "God coming among us," bringing redemption and new life and an outpouring of his spirit and grace upon us.

John has the unique purpose and responsibility for announcing the coming of the Lord. As a faith community we are invited and challenged to look at these multiple encounters: the birth of Jesus; his entrance into public ministry at the Jordan; and his coming again, when all of creation will be handed over to the Father in heaven.

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

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Angel Tree Project

Angel Tree helps connect parents
in prison with their children through
the delivery of Christmas gifts.
Angel Tree is a national program connecting parents in prison with their children through the delivery of Christmas gifts. When the gifts are given to the children, a Gospel presentation is shared.

Please join us in the collective purchasing of gifts for children who have one or more parents currently in prison. After all Masses this weekend, there will be a table set up for this project. You may pick up an "Angel Tag" to purchase gifts.

Also, volunteers are needed to help wrap and distribute the gifts and present Gospel to these children.

For more information on the project or how you can help, call St. Bernard Angel Tree Project coordinator Mary Trujillo at (323) 255-6142.

For more information on the Angel Tree Project, visit www.prisonfellowship.org.

A season of Mary

By Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez

Advent is always a season of Mary.

On Dec. 8, we celebrate the holy day of her Immaculate Conception and then, four days later, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

As many of you know, the apparitions of Our Lady to St. Juan Diego actually began on Dec. 9, 1531. In those days, that was the day when the Spanish Church celebrated the Immaculate Conception.

In my mind, there is a deep connection between these two feast days.

In God’s plan of salvation, Mary was conceived without original sin to announce the world’s “new creation” in the coming of Jesus. Many centuries later, in the apparition at Tepeyac, God was sending Mary to announce the coming of Jesus to the “new world” of the Americas.

In each case, Mary is the “sign” our Father sends to bring us his Son.

In this Year of Faith, we are starting a new tradition at our Cathedral. We are going to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with the traditional las mañanitas. This is an evening festival of songs and worship leading up to a midnight Mass that I will offer on the feast day of Dec. 12.

This big celebration in Advent is appropriate for us now because our new chapel to Our Lady contains the precious relic from St. Juan Diego’s original tilma that bears Our Lady’s miraculous image. It’s the only relic outside of Mexico City, where the tilma resides in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

There is more information on my Facebook page. But I hope many of you can make this celebration a part of your devotions in this holy season.

And in this “season of Mary,” during this Advent in the Year of Faith — I hope we will all turn to Mary in a new way.

St. Thomas Aquinas used to say that besides God our Father, Mary is the only other one who could rightly call Jesus, “Son.” Because she is the mother of Jesus, no one can help us more than Mary to grow in our awareness that we are children of God.

In fact, by his last words on the cross, Jesus told us, “Behold, your mother.”

He spoke those words to St. John. And “from that hour the disciple took her into his own home,” the Gospel tells us (John 19:27).

Each one of us has to do the same thing. We have to take Mary into our homes. Into our lives. We need to love her and learn from her as our mother. She was a perfect daughter of God, so we can learn from her how to act as God’s sons and daughters.

One thing we notice about her life is that it is filled with silence and hiddenness. All the events in her life that we read about — the Annunciation, the Visitation and the rest — they are all “off the radar.” They were silent. Hidden. Nobody was there to see them or record them.

This is a lesson for us. Almost all of us lead quiet lives. The good that we do will only be seen and known by the small circles of those closest to us — in our families and neighborhoods; in the places where we work.

Like Mary, we can live as children of God — filling our days with quiet acts of faithfulness. Carrying out our daily duties with love and care for others. Sharing our joy and love for Jesus in simple and natural ways.

This is how a child of God lives. And this is the most basic expression of the “new evangelization.” It means sharing Jesus Christ person-to-person, one heart speaking to another heart in love.

The goal of our life is to become more and more like Jesus. So just as Jesus did, we have to learn from our mother Mary what it means to be a child of God. That means we have to relate to her more and more as a mother.

One practical thing we can do: Try to spend time every day thinking about the Blessed Virgin Mary — maybe by looking at a picture of her. Talk to her as her child. Tell her everything that’s on your mind. Ask her to help you grow as a child of God.

Let’s keep one another in prayer this week. And let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help us to be truly devoted to her — so that we can learn to love our Father as Jesus loved him, as true children of God.

Archbishop José H. Gomez is archbishop of Los Angeles. His weekly column is provided by and appears in The Tidings, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

"And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory."

Today marks the beginning of Advent, which is the season in which we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Some might mistake this to be an announcement about the birth of Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth. Since the last few weeks we have been listening to apocalyptic readings that speak about the end times, we can readily see that today's Gospel actually gives us more of the same.

Why do we focus on Jesus' second coming during the season of Advent (Latin for adventus or "coming")? Actually, we do both. We prepare for the coming of Jesus in his birth (Christmas) and the coming of Jesus at the end of time (the second coming).

The readings clearly focus on the end times, but as the season progresses and we come closer to the solemnity of the birth of Jesus, we focus first on Mary and then finally on the actual story of the birth of the Lord. It is a great season in two parts, or rather, back to back we celebrate the preparation for the birth (Advent) and the actual birth (Christmas).

The bottom line is this: We need to be ready. We need to be alert. What a tragedy it would be if Jesus came and we missed it or didn’t really recognize his coming. Is that possible? Could we be too busy or too distracted or too spiritually unfocused to miss it?

The church spends four weeks of preparation to help us stay focused and alert. The stores spend much more time. They began the day after Thanksgiving to focus all of our attention on buying and spending and getting ready for party after party. Christmas lights are already up. Christmas music is in every elevator and everywhere! It’s all good, and it’s all consuming.

Spiritually, we need to make time to prepare, to stay awake, alert and ready because the Lord is coming, and we certainly do not want to miss it!

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

Friday, November 30, 2012

Advent in the Year of Faith

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

This Sunday we begin a special Advent — Advent in the Year of Faith. This whole year should be a time for asking about the quality and strength of our faith.

We live in a society that has lost its concept of human nature. People no longer live with a sense that there is one answer to the questions of where we come from and what we are here for.

We are encouraged in many ways to “compartmentalize” our lives. We are encouraged to define our personalities in different ways — according to the products we buy; the shows we watch; the teams we root for; our political parties; our ethnic heritage; or many other life-styles and “identities.”

Our faith in Jesus Christ can never be just one “compartment” of our lives. Faith is not a life-style “accessory,” something we “put on” on Sundays and then put back in the closet for the rest of the week.

Our faith in Jesus Christ must be the light that fills our whole lives — all our hearts and minds and strength. Our faith should be transforming. It should be lived with a sense of gratitude — because faith is a gift from God. It should be lived in relationships of love — love for God and love for others. And our faith in Jesus Christ should involve us deeply in his church — the family of God that he is building in history and in society.

The foundation of our faith is the realization that we belong to God’s family — that we are sons and daughters of God who is our Father. This is the summary and the essence of the “good news” that Jesus Christ revealed to us. St. John said it beautifully. “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God. And so we are!” (1 John 3:1).

So we are! This is our true identity. We are children of God.

Advent is a season of waiting. But what are we waiting for? We are waiting for a child. We are waiting for the Son of God.

Our whole religion can be understood in this filial and family “key.” As Christians, we are a people who believe that a certain moment in history, the living God sent us his only begotten and beloved Son.

His Son was conceived and born in a mother’s womb and raised in a human family. And Jesus came to proclaim among us the good news of our own divine filiation — the good news that God is our Father.

When Jesus was baptized, God spoke these words: “This is my beloved Son!” And we believe that when we were baptized God said the exact same thing about us. In this Year of Faith, we need to make Advent a time to deepen our sense of our identity as beloved sons and daughters of God. So we are!

We need to make this Advent a time for a new conversion. Conversion is first of all a conversion to Jesus Christ. In him we see the perfection of human nature. We see what a true child of God looks like. Conversion means accepting the gifts of grace that God gives us in his Word and in the sacraments and striving every day to be more like Jesus.

Here is one practical suggestion for deepening our sense of divine filiation during this Advent. Try to meditate often on the Christmas scenes in the Gospels. Ask our heavenly Father to help you to really see and experience Jesus as a Child of God.

Try to really put yourself into the Gospel scenes. Imagine that you are one of those who have come down to the manger to see the child with his Mother Mary and St. Joseph. Imagine the whole scene in Bethlehem.

Feel yourself picking up the baby Jesus and holding him in your arms. See yourself looking down at his tiny face and smiling at him and talking to him with love. Tell the child everything that is in your heart.

Let’s keep one another in prayer this Advent. Let’s try to really pray for one another as sisters and brothers in one family of God. How beautiful it would be if every day each one of us would try to pray for the person in our archdiocesan family who needs God’s help the most.

And let’s talk to Mary as our true mother. Let’s ask her to help us see more clearly the face of her Son during this Advent, so that we might see our own true identity as children of God.

Archbishop José H. Gomez is archbishop of Los Angeles. His weekly column is provided by and appears in The Tidings, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker 

"The trouble about man is twofold. He cannot learn truths which are too complicated; he forgets truths which are too simple" (Rebecca West). The simple truth is that we are pieces of creation. To confirm this truth we only need to go outside at night and look at the stars, which people have been doing since the beginning of time.

"Vastness", "infinity", "huge", "incalculable", "impressive", and "awesome" are only some of the words to describe it. And so, God, I/we believe in you. We can never accurately describe you or contain you. Words are insufficient. Our concepts of you attempt to comprehend your majesty.

"King"? Does that say it? For the ancients, the kings were the most powerful persons on the earth.

"King of all creation"? "Eternal king and Lord"? These titles and what they represent are easy to remember. But what we very often forget is just how loved we are. Perhaps we rush to punishment, guilt and condemnation because we often treat one another with these titles.

But the simple acceptance of God’s love is too simple, too difficult, and too wonderful to behold. We can’t comprehend God – clearly, that is too difficult. Even harder is the simple acceptance of his love.

In this wonderful Solemnity of Christ the King, the two come together – the vastness of his majesty and the simplicity of his love.

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

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Archdiocesan Annual Appeal 2012: Together in Mission

Please consider making a generous
contribution to the annual appeal.
As we approach the end of each church year, we also approach the end of the 2012 Archdiocese of Los Angeles Together in Mission Campaign.

Many pledge and are able to fulfill their pledge. Many pledge but because of circumstances are not able to complete it. Many do not participate for as many reasons as there are people.

Below these words you will see our parish goal, our pledge, and what we have collected. The rest we must collect to reach our goal. For this reason we will have a second collection next this weekend to allow those who have not participated to help us reach our goal.

The poorest parishes and schools are deeply grateful for our commitment to extend a warm and helping hand as brothers and sisters in faith!

Parish goal and pledges:
  • Parish Goal $37,461
  • Amount collected: $31,015
  • Balance to collect  $6,446
Please consider making a generous contribution to the annual appeal. 

And thanks!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker 

One week left until the end. Not the end of time — just the end of the church year. Don’t be alarmed! Don't panic, please!

But even if we were inclined to take the Gospel somewhat literally, one only has to listen to Jesus' words in the Gospel today to calm themselves: "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." This language of the Gospel is referred to as Eschatological — that is, referring to the end times. It is a very special kind of writing in the scriptures. There are whole books that are completely Eschatological in nature — the book of Daniel, and Revelation. These books intend to do some very specific things. First, they want to shake us out of our lethargy about how we live to wake us up to the reality of God and his call to live just and faith-filled lives. By talking about the end times, we look more seriously at the present times.

The scriptures talk about all kinds of things happening in the heavens, not because they may necessarily happen or happen this way; it is a very traditional way to speak about the whole universe coming undone or being awakened to God and his presence in our lives.

It should be no surprise to us that the stars would have some message for us. After all, they even showed the way to the birthplace of Jesus. There are even some people who consult their astrology charts each day so that the stars and heavens can direct their lives and keep them in harmony with the heavens above (although that is not something we Catholics actually believe).

It’s a good thing to think about things coming to an end. Perhaps, then, we will also think about how we should be holding them together.

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

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Celebremos la fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

La fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe es el martes, 12 de diciembre. Las celebraciones para conmemorar la aparición de la Virgen María en 1531 a un campesino pobre, San Juan Diego, incluyen una novena, mañanitas (música y oraciones) muy temprano en la mañana, una procesión y misa

La música es importante para esta celebración, y las rosas y muchas otras flores decoran el altar y la iglesia. Muchas imágenes de la virgen son llevadas a la Misa para bendición.

Novena

  • Rosario a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe:

    1:45 p.m. diciembre 3

    6 p.m. diciembre  4, 5, 6 (en el Centro Pastoral), 7 (en el Centro Pastoral), 8 , 9 y 11

    1:45 p.m. diciembre 10

Celebración de la Virgen de Guadalupe

  • Las Mañanitas:

    5 a.m. diciembre 12

Misa


  • Misas an español:

    6 a.m. y 6 p.m. diciembre 12

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Archbishop José Gomez's statement on immigration reform

USCCB seal.
Here is the statement released by Archbishop José H. Gomez on immigration reform given at the Fall General Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In light of the unprecedented bipartisan support for comprehensive immigration reform expressed during the last week, I call upon President Obama and congressional leadership to work together to enact bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform in 2013.

I am heartened by the recent public statements of the leaders of both political parties supporting the consideration of comprehensive immigration reform in the new Congress. I urge the president and Congress to seize the moment and begin the challenging process of fashioning a bipartisan agreement.

For decades, the U.S. Catholic bishops have advocated for a just and humane reform of our nation's immigration system. We have witnessed the family separation, exploitation, and the loss of life caused by the current system. Millions of persons remain in the shadows, without legal protection and marginalized from society. As a moral matter, this suffering must end.

I invite our fellow Catholics and others of good will to make their voices heard in support of this important issue. I encourage our elected officials to work toward the creation of a system which upholds the rule of law, preserves family unity, and protects the human rights and dignity of the person.

Archbishop José H. Gomez is archbishop of Los Angeles.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker 

What could it mean in the scriptures to "give everything we have" to the Lord? Is it even possible? Does anyone ever really do that completely?

The story today is a lesson, a model, a teaching, a call, an invitation to discover something about the kingdom of God. It seems to be the case in scripture that only those who are poor inside — empty, waiting, looking, searching, seeking – are the ones who are able to experience the kingdom of God. It is as if the kingdom requires a certain amount of emptiness in order to provide room within our spirit for the kingdom to enter and possess us.

When we are crowded with money, power, cushy comforts or too much busyness, the kingdom just can’t seem to find us. There is also a false portrayal of the kingdom often found (in the Gospels) in the most religious persons: they are in the front of the synagogue, and they wear all of their religious tassels and symbols in clear view for all to see. These people do all the right things but always for people to see. They give a lot of money, of time, of anything that will make them look important in the eyes of others.

But a poor, vulnerable, empty-of-impressive-social-characteristics widow gives a simple offering of two pennies — and Jesus notices. He notices not so much the amount (not very noteworthy) but the totality of the offering — everything she had.

To risk being empty allows the kingdom of God to come alive in us. To risk and to know the experience of giving all is "so kingdom" that it cannot be taught in words but only in lived action. A poor widow teaches the wealthiest lesson of all!

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

Friday, November 9, 2012

American Red Cross blood drive


The American Red Cross blood mobile will be at St. Bernard Church from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 18 to take your donations of blood.

Donors must be 17 years old or older, weigh 110 pounds and be in general good health to donate. To make an appointment, visit www.redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code StBernardCC, or call (323) 255-6142.

Remember: a donation of one pint of blood can save several lives.

To grow in our knowledge of Jesus

By Archbishop José H. Gomez

We should make this Year of Faith a time of spiritual growth and renewal.

Our life of faith needs to be renewed all the time because it is a relationship.

Relationships are living things. And like all living things, our relationships will either keep growing and getting stronger or they will wither and fade.

Our friendship with Jesus Christ takes commitment and a lot of work — just like our human relationships with our friends, spouses, parents or children.

We need to always be making time to be with Jesus. We need to always be trying to know him better — his attitudes and habits, his thoughts and desires. We need to always be trying to share more of ourselves with him, opening our hearts to him in all honesty and love.

This is what I mean when I talk about making education in the faith a priority in our lives and in our pastoral ministries.

To know Jesus Christ! To enter into an ever deeper relationship with him! To live more and more from the depths of this relationship — walking with and following Jesus Christ in every aspect of our lives.

These are the true goals of education in the faith.

So how do we do that?

At the start of this year of renewal, I want to encourage you to rediscover the beauty of reading the Gospels.

When we read the Gospels, we enter into the life of Jesus Christ. We follow him as he moves from town to town, making his way slowly from Bethlehem and Nazareth to Jerusalem and Calvary.

When we read the Gospels, we hear Jesus’ words just as his first disciples did. With them, we witness the drama of his mission as it unfolds — his miracles, teachings and deeds; the increasing tensions and clashes with those who do not understand or accept him.

Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has urged every one of us to rediscover the church’s ancient methods of lectio divina, or sacred reading. Lectio divina means reading that starts in prayer and leads to prayer.

That’s how we need to read the Gospels. Not as students gathering information to prepare for a test. But as friends who want to know everything we can about the One we love — the details of his life; what he is saying and thinking and feeling.

Listening to his words, following in his footsteps, staying with him, praying with him — we come to a deeper personal relationship and a deeper love. More and more we find ourselves thinking with Christ’s mind and loving with Christ’s heart.

In this Year of Faith, we need to learn to love the sacred Scriptures, especially the Gospels. We need to read them — not as dead words from the past, but as a living Word spoken to each one of us, personally, in the present.

Let’s begin in this Year of Faith a new commitment to our relationship with Jesus Christ. Let’s express that commitment by trying to read one chapter of the Gospel a day, every day.

We need to read with prayer and faith, guided by the Spirit and the Church’s tradition of liturgy and belief. We need to read always remembering that these Gospel scenes tell the story of real people like us. As we read, we need to try to “enter into” the minds and hearts of the characters in the text. We need to imagine how they felt and what they were thinking. We need to let the words and events on the sacred page touch us personally.

Reading this way is transformative. It will change us.

To learn how to read this way, it helps to also read commentaries that seek to trace the life of Christ and bring out the spiritual dimensions of Gospel texts.

Some of my favorites are the classics: Frank Sheed’s “To Know Christ Jesus”; Monsignor Romano Guardini’s “The Lord”; “The Life of Jesus Christ” by Franz Michel Willam; and “The Public Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ” by Father Alban Goodier, S.J.

I also highly recommend Pope Benedict XVI’s “Jesus of Nazareth.” He has published two volumes already — the first on the public life of Jesus and the second on his passion, death and resurrection. The third and final volume, covering the infancy and early life of Jesus, will be published in early December.

On our Year of Faith website — http://archla.org/newworld — I will add some links in coming days to resources on lectio divina and sources for reading the Gospels with faith. We will be offering more resources for growing in our knowledge of the faith in The Tidings in the weeks to come.

Let’s keep one another in prayer. Let’s try to bring Jesus Christ closer in everything we do this week.

And let’s ask Our Lady of the Angels to bring about a renewal of our love for Jesus in this Year of Faith.

Archbishop José H. Gomez is archbishop of Los Angeles. His weekly column is provided by and appears in The Tidings, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Five priorities for the Year of Faith

Archbishop José H. Gomez 
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

The Synod of Bishops is over and I am happy to be home again!

These last three weeks have been a wonderful experience. It was a very busy time, filled with meetings and working sessions with my brother bishops. It was a time for friendship and fraternity. For me personally, it was also a fruitful time for prayer and reflection.

During the synod, our Holy Father compared the faith in our country and throughout the West as a fire that is dying out. The “embers” of belief are slowly fading, he said. They are waiting to be stirred and enkindled until once more the faith becomes a living flame that gives heat and light.

This is a strong image for what the “new” evangelization means. We know that the faith has lost much of its “fire” and force in many people’s lives. Unfortunately we see this even among our friends and family members. Too many people who have been baptized have drifted away from faith in Jesus Christ and his Church.

They need somebody to stir up the fires of their faith. And this is our duty.

That’s why I wrote my new pastoral letter, “Witness to the New World of Faith.”

I intended to be here to release the letter and to announce the Year of Faith and talk about the practical ways we can live this year fruitfully. The Holy Father called me to Rome, instead!

But I return home from the Synod with an even greater sense of our urgent priority to proclaim Jesus Christ and to lead men and women to him — not only by programs and words, but also by the testimony of our lives and our love.

I was inspired by the fact that the Synod emphasized so many of the themes that I talk about in my pastoral letter, especially the five pastoral priorities that I identified for our archdiocese:

— education in the faith;

— promoting vocations to the priesthood and to religious and consecrated life;

— fostering our universal “catholic” identity and diversity as the family of God;

— proclaiming the Gospel of life; and

— strengthening marriage and family.

My hope is that these five priorities can serve as a kind of spiritual “program” to guide individuals, parishes and our archdiocesan ministries in this Year of Faith.

Taken together, there is an “inner logic” that connects these priorities and that embraces our whole life of faith — from our prayer and interior life to our duty to witness to our faith in the world.

Everything begins with Jesus Christ. We need to grow in our knowledge of who Jesus is, how much he loves us, and what he teaches us about the right path for us to live.

We need to know the intimate connection between Jesus and his church and we need to grow in our knowledge of his church’s teachings.

Christ founded his church as his family, building on the spiritual fatherhood of his ordained priests, who share in the Spirit he gave to the apostles. Through his priests, Jesus continues to teach and heal, to feed and forgive, to sanctify and serve. So we need to support our priests and find ways to invite many more men to answer this noble calling.

We also need to deepen our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we need to encourage the glorious diversity of the family of God. Our church must always be an “icon” — a living sign — of what God wants for all the families of the world.

Jesus Christ proclaimed a social Gospel and a Gospel of life. So our faith must show itself in works of love that build God’s kingdom on earth and defend the sanctity of human life against every threat.

And we need to nourish and strengthen marriage and the family — which are the foundations of society and the first schools of faith and love.

In my next several columns I will speak more about the unity of these five priorities. I also want to suggest practical ways we can use these priorities as a kind of “program” for spiritual growth and pastoral planning in this Year of Faith.

If you haven’t yet had the chance to read my pastoral letter, we have created a Web site where you can find it along with other resources for the Year of Faith — http://archla.org/newworld.

This week, let’s pray for one another. Let’s also pray for our brothers and sisters on the East Coast who are suffering greatly in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. We need to open our hearts in charity for them — and for those who suffered the storm’s violence as it passed through Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and the Bahamas.

Let us ask Mary our Blessed Mother to be near to all of the victims and their families in this time of trial.

Archbishop José H. Gomez is archbishop of Los Angeles. His weekly column is provided by and appears in The Tidings, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Statement of Archbishop Gomez on the re-election of President Obama

Archbishop José H. Gomez 
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

I congratulate President Obama on his re-election as the leader of this great country.

Every political office is an expression of public trust and carries the responsibility to work for justice and the common good — not only in our own country but also in the international community.

So I pray that God will grant our president the wisdom he needs to carry out his duties, along with the virtues of honesty, courage, prudence and humility that are necessary for true public service.

As faithful citizens, the Catholic community here in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the country stands ready to work with our president to fulfill the promise of America’s founders.

We look forward to working with President Obama to build a society that promotes the dignity of every human life no matter how weak, the sanctity of marriage and the family, and the fundamental human value of religious liberty.

We look forward to working for a new America that is truly one nation under God, where men and women from every race, creed and national background are welcomed to live in liberty and peace as brothers and sisters.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Prayer before an election

Lord God, as the election approaches, we seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront our city/state/country, and how the Gospel compels us to respond as faithful citizens in our community.

We ask for eyes that are free from blindness so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters, one and equal in dignity, especially those who are victims of abuse and violence, deceit and poverty.

We ask for ears that will hear the cries of children unborn and those abandoned, men and women oppressed because of race or creed, religion or gender.

We ask for minds and hearts that are open to hearing the voice of leaders who will bring us closer to your Kingdom.

We pray for discernment so that we may choose leaders who hear your word, live your love, and keep in the ways of your truth as they follow in the steps of Jesus and his apostles and guide us to your kingdom of justice and peace.

We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker 

There are very few conversations in the Bible that ever took place between Jesus and a member of the Jewish establishment that could be considered mutually respectful and honest.

Most of the time there was an attempt to trap Jesus by forcing him to make a comment with which they could then publicly embarrass or even condemn him. This conversation was not only respectful and honest but also a genuinely thoughtful and searching moment of truth.

Of the 613 laws or prohibitions found in the Jewish law, the scribe seemed to be truly seeking Jesus’ input and perspective about the law. Jesus’ answer, at first, is rather obvious. He gave the "schema" from Deuteronomy: to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength. Then he attached to that a prescription, a command from Leviticus: to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Most brilliant of all was the attaching of one to another as if to say, "you can only do the first if you are doing the second." Loving self and neighbor is loving God. The scribe "got it"! He understood Jesus' message and gave it back with a reflection, which showed his appreciation for the truth spoken by Jesus and which showed understanding of just how important this teaching was.

Jesus, too, appreciated the understanding and the honest statement of appreciation shown by the scribe and told him: "You are not far from the kingdom of God." There is no doubt, not only from this passage, but also from Jesus' constant and consistent teaching that love is the most important law for all.

To really love God always leads to loving others.

To really love others and self is to love God. Or as St. Augustine said: "Love: then do what you will!"

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

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thank you for your support of St. Bernard Catholic School

On behalf of the faculty and staff of St. Bernard Catholic School, I want to thank Father Perry, all the parents, students, and parishioners for their generous support of the mission of our school, which is to provide quality Catholic education to all those who seek it for their children.

We all feel blessed to be on this journey with your families.

God bless!

Margaret Samaniego
Principal,
St. Bernard School

Friday, November 2, 2012

Traditions mark All Souls' Day

A woman visits a grave at a cemetery in the
western Austrian village of Absam Oct. 31.
... From Catholic News Service 

By Brenda Nettles Riojas
Catholic News Service

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (CNS) — Death does not mean the end.

"Life is changed, not ended," said Father Gregory Labus, coordinator of the Office of Liturgy and Worship for the Diocese of Brownsville.

November, he pointed out, is the month dedicated to remembering the dead.

On All Saints' Day, Nov. 1, Catholics honor the saints, and on All Souls' Day, Nov. 2, Catholics not only remember those who have died but they also celebrate life, said the priest, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Edinburg.

Continue reading: "Traditions mark All Souls' Day"

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Catholic Charities responding to those affected by Hurricane Sandy

A car goes through the high water
as Hurricane Sandy bears down on
the East Coast, Sunday, Oct. 28,
2012, in Ocean City, MD.
(Credit:
Alex Brandon/AP Photo)
Your donation is urgently needed to assist the people impacted by recent disasters, such as hurricanes, storms, and floods. Your contributions to the 2012 Disaster Fund will save lives, rebuild homes, and restore hope.

Catholic Charities agencies provide critical disaster services to people of all beliefs. Agencies across the country are constantly monitoring, and responding to, natural disasters of all kinds and are fully prepared to assist families and individuals with shelter, food, and other immediate and long-term needs.

Catholic Charities USA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization (EIN/tax ID number: 53-0196620). Your donations are fully tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law. To make a secure donation, visit Catholic Charities by clicking here.

Halloween safety tips

Halloween safety tips, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Los Angeles Police Department.

Don't trick-or-treat alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.

Use reflective tape on costumes and bags so drivers see children.

Carry a flashlight.

Eat only factory wrapped candy. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.

Check all candy and edibles for tampering — tears, pinholes, discoloration.

Remove any choking hazards from goody bags of young children — gum, peanuts, hard candy, small toys.

Don't let children snack while trick-or-treating before parents have had a chance to inspect goody bags.

Test face makeup in a small area first to check for allergic reaction.

Don't wear decorative contact lenses unless they have been properly fitted by an eye-care professional. Doing otherwise can lead to eye injuries, including blindness.

Wear well-fitting costumes and shoes to avoid falling.

Consider makeup masks or masks with big eye holes instead of loose-fitting masks that could block vision.

Don't use sharp swords or knives as part of costumes.

Don't use realistic-looking firearms.

Wear flame resistant costumes and avoid walking near candles — look for the label Flame Resistant. If you make your costume, use flame-resistant fabrics such as polyester or nylon.

Enter homes only with a trusted adult and don't accept rides from strangers.

Walk on sidewalks where possible. Avoid walking in street. Take care crossing streets.

Do not take shortcuts through backyards or alleys.

People expecting trick-or-treaters should remove obstacles from lawns, steps and porches and keep candlelit jack-o'-lanterns away from children's costumes.

Make sure apples are thoroughly washed before use in bobbing for apples games.

Don't eat too much black licorice — if you are over 40 years old and consume multiple two-ounce bags a day for at least two weeks, you could be at risk for heart arrhythmia.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker 

"What do you want me to do for you?" These are such familiar words so often falling from the lips of Jesus that also speak so clearly of his Godlikeness "like Father, like Son."

The same words or ideas are spoken by God through his prophets and servants and realized for God's people all throughout the scriptures and down through the ages: "The Lord has delivered his people"; "I will gather them from the ends of the world"; "I will console them and guide them"; “I am a father to Israel"; "No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God."

The psalmist sings aloud what is felt by all: "The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy." So when Jesus asks the blind man, "What do you want me to do for you?" we see God intervening through Jesus into the weakness and struggles of an ordinary man. A blind man cries out for God to show him mercy — and he does!

It is likely that many a blind person, or one suffering some other malady, never got the opportunity to ask for Jesus' help or didn’t have enough faith to do so. We may never receive the miraculous restoration of eyesight or the ability to walk again, but the things deep within the spirit remain the most important. We may be physically blind, but through our faith and God’s mercy, perhaps it is the inner sight that matters most of all and helps us to see with an even finer precision.

"What do you want?"

"What do I want?"

To these questions we will most assuredly discover God’s mercy and love alive and well in us.

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

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A synod of saints, a year for saints

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

I write to you again this week from Rome, where the Synod of Bishops for the new evangelization has become a “synod of saints.”

Pope Benedict XVI opened the Synod almost three weeks ago by adding St. Hildegard of Bingen and St. John of Avila to the elite list of church “doctors” — saints are special teachers of holiness and of theology and spirituality.

This past Sunday, which was World Mission Sunday, I was blessed to concelebrate a Mass in which the pope proclaimed seven new saints who have a special meaning for the Year of Faith and the new evangelization.

Among these new saints are two Americans — St. Kateri Tekakwitha, our first Native American saint; and St. Marianne Cope, a German immigrant who became a minister of God’s mercy to the lepers in Hawaii.

We rejoice at our holy father’s beautiful gift to our church in America. St. Kateri and St. Marianne remind us that our church is still a church of saints!

These new saints are also a sign of our own vocation to holiness — to be saints.

This is something I find myself praying about and reflecting on a lot during this Synod — our vocation to be saints. Our Catholic faith is so important! All of us need to feel a new enthusiasm for practicing our faith — no matter who we are or what our position is in the church or in society. We need to rediscover how beautiful it is to know Jesus Christ!

We must make this Year of Faith a year for saints!

The Year of Faith is meant to draw us deeper into the vision of the Second Vatican Council, which began 50 years ago this month. What the Vatican II taught above all else was the universal call to holiness.

In their Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium (“Light of the Nations”), the Council Fathers wrote:

“Everyone in the Church ... is called to holiness. ... The Lord Jesus, the divine teacher and model of all perfection, preached holiness of life to each and everyone of his disciples of every ... They must follow in his footsteps and conform themselves to his image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor.”

This is the beauty of the gift of faith. By this gift, God gives us the power to live as his children and to be partakers of his divine nature. He gives us the grace to seek his holiness and perfection.

The gift of faith is the call to be saints. And that must be the focus of our efforts in this Year of Faith — to renew our desire to be saints.

Sometimes when we talk about saints, people think that it is not for them. But that’s not true! Ordinary, normal people are called to be saints. Weak and sinful people who make mistakes but are willing to ask for forgiveness and begin again!

Pope Benedict said of our new saint: “Leading a simple life, Kateri remained faithful to her love for Jesus, to prayer and to daily Mass. Her greatest wish was to know and to do what pleased God. She lived a life radiant with faith and purity.”

Each of us is called to live this same simple life of faith. And God wants to give us the grace we need to be saints.

Our world won’t be converted by words and programs. Only by saints. Pope Benedict said this in opening the Synod: “The saints are the true actors in evangelization ... Holiness ... its language, that of love and truth, is understandable to all people of good will and it draws them to Jesus Christ, the inexhaustible source of new life.”

So in this Year of Faith, let’s make a special effort to pray with and learn from the saints. We can start with our two new “doctors” — St. Hildegard and St. John of Avila — who have a special importance for the new evangelization.

We should also make a special effort to learn from our newest American saints — St. Kateri and St. Marianne — and from St. Pedro Calungsod, a Filipino martyr also canonized on Sunday by the pope.

The Synod concludes this Sunday, Oct. 28, with a final Mass to be celebrated by the holy father along with the nearly 300 bishops who have been privileged to share in this journey of faith with him.

So let’s keep one another in prayer this week. And may the example and the intercession of these new doctors and saints strengthen us in our vocation to holiness.

And let us continue in this Year of Faith to entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary, the bright star of the new evangelization.

Archbishop José H. Gomez is archbishop of Los Angeles. His weekly column is provided by and appears in The Tidings, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Looking ahead

Some Christian communities preach what is often referred to as the gospel of prosperity. And they do so openly.

They say: "It you give money generously, God will reward you many times over with more money, with more prosperity." It is literally taught as "quid pro cuo" ("this for that") truth. The closest that Jesus' message ever comes to saying that is stated quite boldly: "Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred time more now in this present age" (Mark 10:29-30).

But there really is no literal evidence for that in the scriptures, particularly the Gospels. In fact, in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus' real teaching precedes and follows these two verses.

First, Jesus tells the rich young man that to really discover Gospel and kingdom and compassion and truth, do the following: "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."

Then Jesus explains the real riches that one will receive if and when you give up something surrender, leave behind, share with others, detach from their sense of dependence: "Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up ... who will not receive a hundred time more now in this present age ... with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come."

What a crazy quid pro quo! Give up possessions and you will be given persecution! But that, mysteriously, is right at the center of the message of Jesus. To be honest, it is at the center of marriage, of parenting, of loving, of following a dream. One cannot fine the treasure without sacrifice and letting go. To get this we often have to give up that.

On World Mission Sunday, this message could not be more profoundly applied to the missioner's life, giving up all and receiving the kingdom, the promise of Jesus.

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

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Two U.S. saints to be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI this weekend

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha
By USCCB

WASHINGTON — Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI will canonize seven saints including two Americans: Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint; and Blessed Mother Marianne Cope, who spent the last 30 years of her life ministering to the sick on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.

The canonization Mass will take place at the Vatican Oct. 21.

"Kateri's life is a witness not only to the cost of discipleship – she bore a great deal of suffering for her faith among her own people – but also to its fruitfulness," said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. of Philadelphia, chairman of the of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on Native American Affairs. "She reminds us that Jesus came for all people in every age, but especially for the lowly, whom God loves in a special way."

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, of Algonquin and Mohawk descent, is also known as the "Lily of the Mohawks." She was born in 1656, became an orphan as a child and was raised by her uncle, the chief of the Mohawk village. A smallpox epidemic left her eyesight impaired and her face scarred for life. Despite the anger of her relatives, Kateri was drawn to the faith by the teachings of missionary priests. She ran away to Montreal, Canada, where she practiced her faith with freedom.

Blessed Marianne Cope joined the Sisters of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York, in 1862.She became a leader in the field of healthcare, often caring for those considered "outcasts," which then led her to volunteer in the Hawaiian island of Molokai where she took care of the lepers and the poor.

"While Mother Marianne was most noted for her selfless and cheerful work with leprosy patients in Hawaii, it should also be noted that the majority of people she served were Hawaiians," said Bishop Clarence Silva of Honolulu, a member of USCCB's Subcommittee on Asian Pacific Island Affairs. "In this Year of Faith, we thank God for these beautiful models of women who embraced the sufferings of life and who nevertheless exuded great joy because they were so in love with Jesus."

Among other saints to be canonized is martyr Pedro Calungsod of the Philippines, a lay catechist who suffered religious persecution.

As many as 4,000 pilgrims from at least 15 dioceses and archdioceses around the nation are expected to attend the canonization events. The largest pilgrimages are being organized by the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions and Tekakwitha Conference, and the dioceses of Syracuse and Albany in New York, and Honolulu, Hawaii.

The canonization Mass will be aired Oct. 21, from 12:30 to 3:30 a.m. Pacific on EWTN, and it will be rerun at 8 a.m. Pacific.

More information on these saints can be found at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/cultural-diversity/new-saints.cfm.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A report from the Synod

By Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

I write you this week from Rome — one week into the month-long Synod of Bishops called by Pope Benedict XVI to consider the church’s mission in these times of growing secularism and indifference to religion.

Our Holy Father has been a lively presence — attending most of the Synod sessions with us this week. Already we have had the grace of being able to concelebrate two beautiful Masses with him — one for the opening of the Synod and another to mark the opening of the Year of Faith.

In his homily opening the Synod, he told us: “The Church exists to evangelize.” God has spoken his Word to us. He calls each of us who receives that word in faith to share that word with others. God’s word is the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and his call to love and reconciliation with the Father.

The pope spoke of two “branches” of the church’s mission. The first is to proclaim the Gospel — to “evangelize” those who don’t yet know Jesus and his good news of salvation.

The second branch of the church’s mission is the “new evangelization.” The new evangelization is aimed at those who, “though baptized, have drifted away from the church and live without reference to the Christian life,” in the pope’s words.

We evangelize others by our witness to what Jesus means in our lives. We evangelize by “proving” our personal conversion to Christ — by expressing our faith in works of love.

“Thus, we cannot speak about the new evangelization without a sincere desire for conversion,” the pope told us.

Evangelium, conversion and caritas — this is a great program for all of us in this Year of Faith. To hear the Gospel again. To be converted by the encounter with Christ. And to tell others of the love we have found in Jesus Christ.

I am happy to report that the pope is doing well. He is in good health and has been paying close attention to the presentations.

This Synod is a beautiful expression of the universality — the “catholic” nature — of our church. Imagine, almost 300 cardinals and bishops from every nation under heaven, speaking different languages. All sharing the same concern and desire — to reawaken the missionary call of all the faithful; to strengthen our catechesis so that all people might know the faith and practice it better.

In these first days of the Synod, the presentations have reflected the joy and hope of the Body of Christ and the family of God.

The Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal, recommended that the new evangelization begin where the “first” evangelization began — in Jerusalem. Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow said the new evangelization should proclaim the “divine mercy” of God as a way to touch “the deepest chords of the human heart.”

Archbishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago of León talked of the importance of popular piety. He pointed to the example of how pilgrimages to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City become occasions for a new conversion and return to the faith. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin described the impact of last year’s International Eucharistic Congress on the faith in Ireland.

My brother cardinals and bishops from the United States have made significant presentations — on the importance of confession, works of mercy, and the church’s new blessing prayers for the unborn.

In my presentation, I spoke about how people today are hungry for God.

The ordinary means of sanctification have not changed, but the ways people are living have changed.

So we need to find new ways to help people practice their faith in this globalized culture. We need to find the “language” that best presents the traditional means of sanctification — the sacraments, prayer, works of charity — in a way that is attractive and accessible to people living in the reality of a globalized, secular, urban society.

We are “called to be saints.” And the mission of the new evangelization is to use the means of grace to sanctify people and make them saints — to help the men and women of our day find the pathways to holiness in their ordinary lives in this “globalized world.”

There are no “magic solutions” to the challenge we face in these times. But there is an urgency to bring the good news of the Gospel to our world!

The new evangelization begins with our personal encounter with Jesus Christ. It grows with the action of the Holy Spirit in our souls. We need to realize — all of us — that the new evangelization is our own personal responsibility.

Pray for me during this Synod and know that I am praying for all of you while I am in the Eternal City!

And let us ask the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the New Evangelization.

May she help us to come to make this Year of Faith the beginning of the new evangelization!

Archbishop José H. Gomez is archbishop of Los Angeles. His weekly column is provided by and appears in The Tidings, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vatican II quotes in 140 characters or less | Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012

Pope Paul VI hands Orthodox
Metropolitan Meliton of Heliopolis
a decree during the December
1965 session of the Roman Catholic
Ecumenical Council in Vatican
City. The decree cancels
excommunications that led to the
break between the Roman and
Orthodox churches nine centuries
before.
"Use of the mother tongue in Mass, administration of sacraments, or other parts of liturgy, may be of great advantage to the people." (Pope Paul VI, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 1963

Monday, October 15, 2012

Vatican II quotes in 140 characters or less | Monday, Oct. 15, 2012

Paul VI at Vatican II Council.
"Hence there exists a close connection, communication between sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture." (Pope Paul VI, Dei Verbum, 1965) #vaticanII

Vatican II quotes in 140 characters or less | Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012

Pope Paul VI incenses the altar of
Basilica of Saint Mary Major in
Rome during a solemn religious
ceremony on the first anniversary
of the opening of the Roman
Catholic Ecumenical Council on
Oct. 11, 1963. (Credit: AP Photo/
Girolamo Di Majo)
"The deepest truth about God and the salvation of man shines out for our sake in Christ." (Pope Paul XI, Dei Verbum, 1965)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

What makes a person wealthy? Money? Material possessions? Accumulations? In today’s Gospel, the rich young man has all of these things. He even has a "good deeds list," his accumulation of "brownie points." But he asks of Jesus a question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus tells him to give up all of his possessions. The man couldn’t accept this answer. He walked away very sad for he was very rich.

What was Jesus saying? Is money bad? Are possessions evil? Is someone wrong for accumulating wealth of any kind? The answer is simply: NO! and YES! It’s not that possessions and wealth are wrong in themselves — it isn’t wrong for someone to possess them —  the question always comes down to this: Do we own the possessions, or do the possession own us? Just how tied to possessions do we become? Just how much do we depend upon them and think that they alone will protect us, keep us safe, give us absolute power over our lives?

The truth is that they can ensnare us. They can become an illusion. They can bind us so much that wealth becomes more important than people. Instead of money serving us and our needs, we can end up serving money. Ironically, the dollar bill has this phrase stamped upon it: “In God We trust.” The more of these dollar bills we get the more we can begin to believe although we would never say it out loud — “In Money We Trust.”

Is money evil? No. But a piece of paper can change hearts and minds and attitudes and lives. Indeed, “how difficult it is for someone who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”

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

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Vatican II quotes in 140 characters or less | Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012

Pope Paul VI kneels in prayer in St.
Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on
Sept. 29, 1963. (Credit: Associated
Press)
The family which has the primary duty of imparting education needs help of the whole community. (Pope Paul VI, 1965)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Vatican II quotes in 140 characters or less | Friday, Oct. 12, 2012

"Ecumenical councils, whenever they are assembled, are a solemn celebration of the union of Christ and His Church." (John XXII)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Vatican II quotes in 140 characters or less | Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012

The opening of the Second Vatican
Council in 1962. (Credit:
catholicherald.co.uk/Associated
Press)
"Here we are assembled at a turning-point in the history of the Church. With this Council a new day is dawning." (Pope John XXIII)

Witness to the new word of faith: A pastoral letter

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

My dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,

1. The world needs a new evangelization! The people of our city, our nation and our continent are waiting for the encounter with Jesus Christ who makes all things new.

In every age, Jesus draws near to offer his salvation to all people. He calls: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock!”

Jesus invites men and women to follow him and seek the Kingdom of God. He calls them to live as God’s children in his family, the Catholic Church.

But in our time, it seems to be getting harder for people to hear the voice of Jesus and his promise of salvation. There are many other voices and many other customs of living. Our society is growing more secularized.

People are losing their awareness of God’s presence in the world and in their lives. And as the sense of God fades, we see around us the sad effects in lost lives and broken families.

The men and women of our time need someone to show them the way to Jesus, who alone can show them the face of God. They need someone to help open up the door of faith for them.[i]

They are waiting for us, my dear brothers and sisters!

In this new moment grace

2. These thoughts come to my mind at this new moment of grace in the life of our great Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

As I write this letter to you, we have just celebrated the 10th anniversary of the consecration of our Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

Our cathedral is a living sign of the Church’s mission to evangelize — to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and his kingdom — in the heart of our city and our world.[ii]

The church exists to evangelize. The church belongs to Jesus and he gave her only one mission, the salvation of souls: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”[iii]

The church’s mission is ever ancient and ever new. And all of us in the church — bishops, priests and deacons; religious and consecrated men and women; seminarians and lay people in every walk of life — we all have responsibility for this mission.

3. That is why I am writing this pastoral letter to you in this moment of grace. You have become dear to my heart — as my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ and my co-workers in the mission of evangelization that he calls us to.

I have spent much of these last two-and-half years trying to get to know as many of you as I can. What a blessing it has been to travel this vast and beautiful territory of the archdiocese to visit your families and parishes. These moments when I have had the chance to offer the Eucharist for you or the chance to celebrate the sacrament of confirmation for your children — these have been a joy in my life and ministry.

My brothers and sisters, I am humbled by your beautiful witness to our Catholic faith in your ministries and in your daily lives. Your generous love for God and our neighbors inspires me and gives me hope.

The family that God has gathered here in the archdiocese of Los Angeles is special.

Our church is alive — youthful, vibrant and growing. The Gospel has borne much fruit here. Today we are our nation’s largest and most diverse local church. God continues to give us growth, as we are baptizing tens of thousands of children each year.

We are a living picture of what our Father created his Church to be — una familia de Dios, one family of God with sons and daughters drawn from every nation, race, people and language.[iv]

Our church is the heart and soul of our secular city, pointing our neighbors to God and protecting the sanctity of the human person through all our works of education and advocacy and caring for those in need.

A Year of Faith

4. I have come to see that our local church has a unique role to play in leading the new evangelization of our country and our continent. And because we have this special responsibility, we must make the most of this new moment of grace that is being given to us.

We are about to begin a “Year of Faith” proclaimed by our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.

The Year of Faith will start on Oct. 11, 2012, to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. It will continue until Nov. 24, 2013, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

I see this Year of Faith as a beautiful opportunity for our family of God in Los Angeles to deepen our conversion in faith to Jesus Christ and to rediscover our missionary call as his disciples.

As our Holy Father has written: “Today as in the past, [Christ] sends us through the highways of the world to proclaim his Gospel to all the peoples of the earth. … Today too, there is a need for stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith.”[v]

5. My brothers and sisters, we must make this Year of Faith a time to renew the love we had at first for Jesus Christ![vi] Now is the time for us to strive to attain full maturity in our Catholic identity and our vocation as children of God. Now is the time for us to grow in our love for the church and in our loyalty to her mission.[vii]

And now is the time for this local church to find fresh passion for our spiritual and pastoral mission. The stronger ecclesial commitment that our Holy Father is calling us to means that all of us must assume new responsibility for the Christian mission to our nation and our continent.

Our local church was born out of the church’s mission to the nations and the first evangelization of the Americas. We need to reclaim our missionary history! And we need to recognize that this missionary heritage comes to us today as both a gift and a duty.

Reclaiming our missionary history

6. For the first evangelists of the Americas, these continents were the New World that Jesus had taught his followers to hope for.[viii] So with a zeal for souls, they came from Spain to Mexico and from there they traveled all over this beautiful new world, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.

America’s first missionaries named this land’s rivers, mountains, forests and cities for the saints and mysteries of the Catholic Church. They learned local languages and customs and they sowed the seeds of the Gospel to create a rich Christian civilization — expressed in poems and plays, paintings and statues, songs, prayers, devotions, architecture and even laws and policies. 

The church’s mission to California, led by the great Franciscan priest Blessed Junípero Serra, built churches up and down the long coastal road they called the King’s Highway — El Camino Real.

Along this road, our great city was established. It was first called El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles — named for the angels of God and the Blessed Mother of Jesus Christ, who is the queen of all the angels in heaven.

7. Los Angeles — like all of California and the Americas — is built on a Christian foundation. And today we are called to build on that missionary foundation to make a new evangelization of the Americas.

The original El Camino Real passed by not far from where our Cathedral is located, running alongside what nowadays we know as U.S. Route 101 or the Hollywood Freeway.

The cross on the top of our cathedral, which tens of thousands see every day as they ride this freeway, is a sign that the Christian mission to Los Angeles and the Americas continues in our day — even as the City of the Angels has become a highly diversified and secularized metropolis that drives technological innovations and shapes opinions, fashions and culture for the whole world.

Our vocation as the Archdiocese of Los Angeles

8. Our vocation as the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is to continue and fulfill Christ’s mission to the New World.

We need to embrace this Year of Faith as a time of interior renewal and spiritual preparation for a new Christian witness to our city and our continent.

In this spirit, our archdiocesan pastoral council has proposed a series of practical goals and objectives to help us to grow in our faith and knowledge of the Gospel. The council’s proposals, which will be published in the weeks to come, coincide with its final reports and recommendations on implementing the Archdiocesan Synod of 2003.

The Synod has been a source of grace for our archdiocese. And its vision has helped me as I have been praying and reflecting on what our pastoral priorities should be in the years ahead. Thanks to the Synod’s vision and the pastoral council’s continued dedication, we are able to see more clearly that our local church has this special vocation to the new evangelization.

So this Year of Faith should be a time for growing in our knowledge of the gift of God we have been given. It should be a time for us to become better equipped to live the calling we have received and to bear witness to the hope we have in Jesus.[ix] And this Year of Faith must be a moment of renewal of faith for each one of us and for our Archdiocese — for our parishes and schools; for our catechesis and religious education programs; for our social ministries!

My brothers and sisters, I firmly believe that our archdiocesan family has entered a new moment of grace.

In addition to our Cathedral’s 10th anniversary, we have also just celebrated the 25th anniversary of Blessed Pope John Paul II’s pastoral visit to Los Angeles, on Sept. 15 to 16, 1987.

This visit was a beautiful blessing and continues to be a font of grace for this archdiocese. So I invoke Blessed John Paul’s intercession for our local church and for each one of us in this Year of Faith.

Priorities for the New Evangelization

Blessed John Paul called the church to a “new evangelization — new in its ardor, methods and expression.”[x] Our task is to take up his call. We must find new ways and new enthusiasm to evangelize — in our families, our work, and in every ministry of our church.

In that spirit, I want to suggest some basic directions and initiatives so that we can make the most of this year of renewal. I want to do that by recalling the five pastoral priorities that I set out at the beginning of my ministry.

These priorities reflect our communion — with the bishops of California and the United States, with our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, and with the whole universal church. They also reflect our Archdiocesan Synod’s goals of promoting faith education, sacramental life, social justice, evangelization, collegial leadership, and a greater sense of responsibility in ministry.

In this Year of Faith, I believe these five priorities can serve as a useful framework for focusing our efforts at renewal.

9. My first pastoral priority is education in the faith.

No matter who we are or what point we are at in our faith journey, all of us need to grow in our knowledge of the faith. So let us make this Year of Faith a time for really learning what we believe as Catholics and w­\hy we believe these things. Let us also learn what difference these beliefs should make in our lives and in our world.

In concrete terms, let us make this a year for learning how to pray better and read the Gospels with more lively faith and deeper understanding. I highly recommend that we commit ourselves to learning the ancient Catholic practice of lectio divina, in which our reading of the sacred text becomes a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, who challenges and guides our lives.[xi]

I also hope that we will all make this the year when we begin the habit of life-long learning in our faith.

A good place to begin is to study the teachings of the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), especially as they are expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. We need to listen to what the Spirit is still saying to the Church today through the Council.[xii]

For me, Vatican II’s most important insight was to recover the Gospel teaching of the universal call to holiness — that we are all called to be saints.[xiii] The Council taught a vision of faith that embraces all of life. The Council reminded us that we are all called to be transformed by grace into the image of Jesus Christ and that we are all called to work with his grace to transform our world in the image of the Kingdom of God.

This is the vision of faith that is necessary if we are to be credible witnesses for the new evangelization in our globalized society. So in this Year of Faith, we need to deepen our understanding of the Council’s vision. We need to make that vision the foundation for our witness to our city, our country and our world. 

The lay vocation to be Eucharistic people

I pray that this Year of Faith will be the year when lay people rediscover their vocation to proclaim the Gospel in the middle of the world — in their homes, in the economy, in the places where they work, and in all their political and civic duties.

Dear lay people: the faith you profess on Sundays must be lived out in the world during the rest of the week! You are called to sanctify your work. That means you need to see your daily activities as the place where you meet and walk with Jesus, seeking holiness and the Father’s will.

Each of you has a part to play in building up this earthly city in light of the kingdom of God. Together we have to fill our society with the values of the Gospel — the values of truth, justice, solidarity and freedom.

Education in the faith must lead to a more intense practice of the faith. We should want to know our faith better so that we can live it more fully, with greater love and devotion.

That is why education in the faith — like everything else in the church — must be rooted in the mystery of the Eucharist. We have to live the Mass! That is the goal of education in the faith — that we become Eucharistic people, living with the awareness that we all have a priestly soul.[xiv]

As Jesus Christ offered his body and blood for us on the cross, and as he renews his sacrifice in every Eucharist, we are called to live in imitation of him.

We are called to work with the graces we receive in the Eucharist and to make our lives something beautiful that we offer to God. We are called to make our lives a prayer — a gift that we offer in love for the glory of God’s name and for the salvation of our brothers and sisters.[xv] 

Building the family of God

10. My second priority is to promote vocations to the priesthood and to religious and consecrated life.

Our church always needs more men and women who can testify to the radical beauty of a life given totally to Jesus Christ. In this Year of Faith, I believe we need to focus especially on vocations to the priesthood.

The priesthood is a gift and a mystery in God’s plan for the salvation of the world. The priest makes Christ present in the world. Through his priests, Christ speaks his words of forgiveness. Through his priests, he offers his body and blood as the bread of life for the life of the world.[xvi]

Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”[xvii] Through the ministry of the priest, we have Jesus. And through the spiritual fatherhood of the priest, the men and women of the world today can see and love their heavenly Father.

Vocations are born of a Catholic culture. And this Year of Faith should be a time in which we find new energy to support our priests and seminarians and to build this culture of vocations. One practical step we can take is to intensify our prayer as the family of God.

What a difference it would make if every Catholic and every parish were dedicated to praying every day for our priests and for new vocations! Imagine the graces that would flow, if many of us would commit ourselves to regular adoration of the Eucharist and holy hours to pray for vocations!

11. My third priority is to foster our universal Catholic identity and cultural diversity.

The encounter with Jesus Christ and his Gospel in Los Angeles has led to a rich communion among diverse indigenous and immigrant cultures. We are uniquely placed at the crossroads of continents — uniting North and South America and opening the Americas to the Caribbean and to Asia and Oceania.

So our local church will always be shaped by the energies and faith of new peoples from all over the world. In turn, we must make sure that our church is always a sign of the family of God. The family of God in Los Angeles must always be a sign that God is with us, and that in his loving eyes no one is a stranger to him and we are all brothers and sisters.

In this Year of Faith, let us take a simple practical step to build our sense of communion as the family of God.

We are a family with brothers and sisters drawn from dozens of different ethnic traditions — each with our own particular prayers, devotions, customs and patron saints. Let us begin to try to learn from one another’s traditions. And let us look for ways that we can celebrate and share this rich treasury of Catholic pieties and spiritualities with the people of our time.

Proclaiming the culture of life

12. My fourth priority is that we proclaim the Gospel of life and promote a culture of life in our society.

As a church, we are entrusted with the good news of Jesus Christ — that the human person is sacred and created in the image of God. That is why we fight for the rights of the person from conception to natural death. That is why we strive for justice for the immigrant and the worker, for the imprisoned, the hungry, and the homeless. That is why we defend the rights of the old and the sick to be cared for with love and compassion.

In this Year of Faith, I want to give concrete expression to our witness by expanding the mission of our Archdiocesan Office of Justice and Peace. We will give the office a new name — the Office of Life, Justice and Peace — and we will include within its mission the work of defending innocent life against the threats of abortion and euthanasia.

This move will strengthen every aspect of our archdiocese’s vital social mission — from our many works of charity and service, to our efforts to seek justice for immigrants, workers, the imprisoned, and the poor. This change will also advance our efforts to build a culture of life — because it will demonstrate our belief that the right to life is the foundation of every other right and liberty and the true foundation of justice and peace in society.

In this Year of Faith, each of us must rediscover the importance of the church’s social doctrine and our personal duty as Christians to work for justice and the common good. Our love for Christ demands that we build a society that is more worthy of the dignity of the human person made in the image of God.[xviii]

Again, I recommend that in this Year of Faith, we begin a practical study of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church in our parishes and in our homes.

In Jesus Christ, the love of neighbor and the love of God become one. The Christ who comes to us in the Eucharist is the Christ who comes to us always in his most distressing guise — in the poor, the stranger, the immigrant, the prisoner, the unborn. The One who says “This is my Body” also tells us, “As you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me.”[xix]

This identification of Jesus with the poor and vulnerable is one of the beautiful truths revealed in our religion. In the least of our brothers and sisters, we find Jesus. And when we find Jesus, we find God.

The church’s works of charity and justice are an essential dimension of the new evangelization. Through our love for others, we bear witness to the reality of our God who is love. Through our work to make this a society of truth and love, we make God’s love for all men and women a reality in our world.

13. My fifth priority is to defend and strengthen marriage and the family based on the permanent and exclusive union of one man and one woman.

Our church must lead a cultural renewal so that our society will once more see that marriage is sacred and that the family is the true sanctuary of life and the heart of a civilization of love.

We need to do everything we can to restore a “family culture” in our society. That means defending marriage in the face of widespread cultural confusion. That means doing more in our parishes and ministries to support mothers and fathers and families. That means talking to our children, from a very young age, about the beauty and the meaning of marriage and family.

In this Year of Faith, let us deepen our understanding that the Gospel is the good news of God’s “family plan” for history. That is why our Father sent his only Son to be born of his Spirit in a mother’s womb and to be raised in a family with a mother and a father. We need to deepen our awareness that we are children of God and that our Father calls us to live as brothers and sisters in his family, the church.

Returning to God by way of witnesses

14. As a sign of our commitment to the new evangelization, in this Year of Faith, I want to establish a new Archdiocesan Office of the New Evangelization. This new office will be responsible for establishing and coordinating our initiatives to spread the Gospel and to increase Catholics’ knowledge and love of their faith.

This Year of Faith should be a time in which we examine every area of pastoral life in our great Archdiocese — in our parishes and in all of our ministries. We need to ask ourselves: Is our work leading men and women to Jesus Christ and his Church? Is the Christian faith spreading and is knowledge of the faith deepening through our programs and ministries?

Everything we do must be measured by what it contributes to proclaiming Jesus Christ to the men and women of our day!

15. My dear brothers and sisters, it is time for us to become aware that in God’s plan of salvation this local Church has a historic vocation. It is time for us to answer our calling to be co-workers with Jesus Christ — to play our part in the great story of salvation that God is writing in the history of the nations.[xx]

Now is the time for each of us to get back to what really matters. The new evangelization must begin in your hearts and in mine. We all need a new conversion. Because only the converted heart can lead other hearts to conversion.

Conversion to Jesus Christ is not a single moment or event in our lives. The encounter with Jesus Christ is the beginning of a faith journey. Our relationship with Jesus Christ requires a daily decision to turn our hearts to him, to follow him and imitate him, to get to know him every day in a more intimate way. Conversion is the work of our lifetimes.

In every age and every place, believers have the duty to proclaim the Gospel. The faith we have received, we are called to pass on to others. The love of God we know, we are called to share with others. This is the most basic identity and responsibility of every Catholic. In our times, our Catholic calling to holiness and mission takes on new urgency.

Our world will return to God — but not by way of words and programs, no matter how eloquent or well conceived. Our world will return to God only by way of witnesses — by way of men and women who testify by the example of their lives that Jesus Christ is real and that his Gospel is the path to true happiness.

Jesus is calling us to be those witnesses, my brothers and sisters.

The bright star of the New Evangelization

16. Our world is waiting for a new evangelization! That is why, in marking the 10th anniversary of our Cathedral, we also consecrated a beautiful new chapel to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. This new chapel contains a precious relic from the miraculous tilma that bears the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

This relic has a special meaning for me. Already, at the base of the main altar in our cathedral, there is a small marble box that contains the relics of 26 martyrs and saints from every continent and every period in the history of the church’s mission to the nations. This new relic in our new chapel is a sign to me — and I hope it will be a sign to all of us — that Our Lady of Guadalupe was sent by God to be the bright star at the dawn of the first evangelization of the New World.

When our Blessed Mother appeared to St. Juan Diego outside Mexico City in 1531, it was only a generation after Christopher Columbus and his voyages of discovery. Our Lady’s coming inspired a generation of Catholic missionaries — priests, deacons, religious, and lay people. Within decades, they spread faith in Jesus Christ throughout South America and North America, the Caribbean, the Philippines, and deeper into the countries of Asia and Oceania.

So as I conclude this, my first pastoral letter to you, I am asking for Our Lady of Guadalupe’s prayers and intercession. I pray that this new chapel will remind us that Mary our Blessed Mother is always with us as the bright star of the new evangelization. May she inspire us and guide us to fulfill our vocation — to be the new generation of missionaries to our city and our world.

In God’s providence, the Year of Faith will conclude on the 300th anniversary of the birth of the great missionary to California, Blessed Junípero Serra, who was born Nov. 24, 1713.

So let us embrace this new moment of grace for our Archdiocese with the zeal and courage of Padre Serra and the first evangelists of the Americas. Through our witness, let us make this truly a City of the Angels — a city of love and truth, where all can know that God is near in his love, and where the horizons of every life are open to his promise of salvation.

Through the intercession of Our Lady of the Angels, patroness of this great and historic Archdiocese, let us commit ourselves to building on their missionary foundations. By the witness of our lives, let us make America once more a New World of faith!

Given in Los Angeles, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, on Oct. 2, 2012, the Memorial of the Guardian Angels, in my second year as Archbishop of Los Angeles.