Thursday, May 31, 2012

An invitation to consider our parish school

By Father Perry D. Leiker

I personally want to invite every family in our parish to consider our parish school for your child.

We are here to educate and form our children in the Catholic faith. Our school is an excellent school with wonderful education also including technology and the arts.

The spiritual formation in faith makes our school particularly valuable to help our children develop as fine citizens and Christian Catholic models of faith.

Financial assistance is available. Visit our principal, Meg Samaniego, to see how we can make a Catholic education a reality for your child.

Call the school at (323) 256-4989, or visit www.stbernard-school.com.

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

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Virgin Mary statue kills parish priest in Italian earthquake

The church in Rovereto, near the Italian city
of Modena.
... From Vatican Inside

A country priest has nothing but his church.

The fact that it is not an architectural masterpiece and is not home to any great works of art matters little to him.

Each statue and piece of furniture represented a piece of the village.

Sixty-five-year-old Father Ivan Martini who had worked for nine years as parish priest of Rovereto — a village near Modena, the area of Italy that has been worst hit by the earthquake — died this morning after his church collapsed on top of him.

Continue reading: "Virgin Mary statue kills parish priest in Italian earthquake" ...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker 

Pentecost is the Greek word for "the fiftieth" day after Easter. It is the day that officially closes the Easter season. It is the day that we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles — and many refer to it as the "birthday" of the church, since on this day the apostles became empowered and inflamed with an inner gift of spirit so that they were compelled "from within" to go "out there" to spread the good news!

We get "who we are" when we think of ourselves and define ourselves as a Pentecost Church – a church filled with God’s Holy Spirit. We begin to understand "who we are" when we explicitly reach out to the Spirit of God for guidance, for understanding, for wisdom, for enlightenment.

When we seek the spirit of truth and open ourselves to be shaped and formed by God's Spirit, then the great mystery God calls us and sends us forth.

Pentecost is the dynamic moment in time that we identify as a new beginning and the true meaning of "who we are" and "what we are to do."

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

Friday, May 25, 2012

Nearer to the fire

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez

The church father, Origen, said that when we are near to Jesus we are “near to the fire.” This expression comes to my mind in these days before Pentecost.

At Pentecost, Jesus sent his Spirit down upon Mary and the apostles in tongues of fire that parted and came to rest on the head of each one of them.

The fire of the Holy Spirit reveals the nearness of Jesus. He has ascended into the highest heavens, but we don’t have to go there to find him. Pentecost reminds us that he is always near to us — dwelling in our hearts and in our church — through the gift of his Spirit.

At Pentecost, the church was born as the family of God.

That day in Jerusalem, there were men and women “from every nation under heaven.” The Spirit inflamed the apostles to boldly announce the mighty works of God. They were amazed to find they could speak in all the different tongues of the world.

When the people heard, “each in his own native language,” they wanted to share in the Father’s love. They came to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and his fire. They were made sons and daughters of God.

Pentecost is one day in history. But it shows our whole human destiny. Pentecost reveals that the Catholic Church was what God wanted all along, since the creation of the world.

That’s why our local church here in Los Angeles has such an important vocation. Because there is nowhere on earth today where we can see better what God hopes to accomplish in our world.

Los Angeles, in all our glorious diversity, is the microcosm. We are truly one family of God — gathered from all races, nations peoples and tongues. Brothers and sisters in Jesus, united in thanksgiving to God our Father.

That’s not to say our family is perfect yet! St. Paul used to say we are vessels of clay made to carry great treasures. We all know the reality of our human “clay.” Cowardice, weakness, selfishness and sin: These things still divide our hearts. They still separate us from God and keep us from one another.

But we can never let ourselves get stuck in a habit of mind that sees our church — or our own lives — only in human terms. We need to remember that our church has a divine origin and purpose. And we do, too.

What’s important is not our weakness. God will always give his graces to make us grow stronger in love — if we let him. What matters most is the work that God wants to accomplish in us and through us. What’s important is how we respond to his movements and actions in our lives.

Jesus said, “I came to cast fire upon the earth! And would that it were already kindled!” Each one of us is a part of that fire of love that Jesus wants to kindle in our world.

By our baptism and confirmation, we each receive a portion of this “fire,” the living flame of his Holy Spirit. Each of us now has a personal calling — a part to play in the Pentecost mission of his church.

We are called, each in our own way, to burn away some of the jealousy and narrowness that keeps men and women from living as sisters and brothers. We are called to light up the darkness so they can find Jesus and follow his pathways to the Father.

The world has changed since that first Pentecost, but the human heart is still the same.

People still want to know what life is for. They want to love and to be loved. They want to know that their lives have meaning. They want to know that they are forgiven.

As a church, and as disciples, we need to always be looking for new ways to speak the “languages” of the human heart. We need to let his Spirit enlighten the eyes of our own hearts. So that we can see people as Jesus sees them. With the warmth of friendship and love.

This is the work of a lifetime. But this is what our lifetimes are for! And it is a beautiful way to live. Near to the fire of Jesus. Sharing the living flame of his love with others.

This Pentecost, let’s pray for one another — that we might always be a sign of what God wants his church to be.

Let’s pray with his mother Mary for a new Pentecost in our days. So that the fire in our hearts may set others on fire — until the whole world is on fire with the love 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

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Preparing for First Holy Communion

St. Bernard Catholic School
students their first communion.
Receiving holy communion for the
first time is like nothing else in the
world. (Photo credit: Michael J.
Arvizu/St. Bernard)
... From CatholicCulture.org

Instructions on how to prepare your child for his/her first communion, including discussion on dealing with distractions during time of thanksgiving prayer.

Receiving holy communion for the first, or the hundred and first, time is like nothing else in the world. It's a wonder we can take it so calmly. Of course, if we could grasp what happens, we would die on the spot. Saints have. Blessed Imelda died after receiving communion from the hands of Our Lord, but for the rest of us there is little chance of that. The rest of us have trouble remaining recollected long enough to say thank you with simple graciousness. We salute baseball stars and Hollywood beauties with wild enthusiasm, and we take communion so calmly. We greet new cures for our physical ills with bounding optimism, and we consider whether to communicate daily without even a quickened pulse. We act as though the important thing is how long men will live, not how many will get to heaven.

Continue reading: Preparing for First Holy Communion ...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New priests younger, were altar servers, lectors, carry debt

Father Eben
MacDonald of
Los Angeles.
... From United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON — The average age of men ordained to the priesthood in 2012 is trending younger with the median age for the 2012 class at 31. Two-thirds of the class are between the ages of 25 and 34.

These figures stand out in The Class of 2012: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood, an annual national survey of men being ordained priests for U.S. dioceses and religious communities. The study was conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), a Georgetown University-based research center. The entire report can be found at www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/ordination-class/.

Continue reading: "New priests younger, were altar servers, lectors, carry debt" ...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A morning prayer

By Michael J. Arvizu

Regi Meehan, a colleague of mine and former young adult ministry leader for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, shares a special morning prayer she wrote this week.

She writes: "I want to share a prayer I wrote and say every morning:

'Good morning, Lord. Thank you for this day. Thank you for the many blessings you have given me. I give you my words, thoughts, feelings and actions. All that I am. All for your glory. Holy Blessed Mother, most holiest of mothers, pray for me today, intercede for me and hold me in your sweet arms of love. Amen.'

"Then I finish with, prayers of Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Our Father as many times as I can say them."

Michael J. Arvizu curates the St. Bernard Web site.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Come to: 'A Day of Spiritual Enrichment'

Father Mike Barry, SS.CC.
Father Mike Barry, SS.CC., and the Heart of Jesus team present "A Day of Spiritual Enrichment" from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 26 in Incarnation School Auditorium, 1001 N. Brand Blvd. in Glendale.

All are welcomed to experience a deeper prayer life and a personal relationship with God. If you are hungry to read and experience a deeper understanding of scripture, achieve inner healing, and learn about the manifestation and operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, attend this event.

As a sought-after speaker at SCRC, one of the largest Charismatic Renewal conferences in the country, Father Barry has made a name for himself in the area of healing the family tree. As a community member of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary, he has been active in retreat work as well as a valued contributor to a long list of spirit-filled endeavors, including a radio ministry and an extensive list of books and publications.

Bring your family, friends, Bible, notebook, and a pen. This event is free. A free-will love offering will be appreciated. For more information, call (818) 421-1354, or e-mail heartofjesus@att.net.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

Let’s entertain the thought: What if Jesus had not ascended to the Father – that is, left the world, left us? Would things be any different? Would he be in charge of everything and we would just be following orders? If he did not go, would we ever have developed our self-identity, our sense of mission, our willingness to move forward, take risks and to go out there with the message of Jesus Christ?

We talk about the mother bird pushing the baby out of the nest so that the baby will learn to fly. If the baby never leaves the nest, will it ever soar? One might conclude that in this case, it was Jesus who left the nest – left us alone, but then filled us with a powerful gift of the Holy Spirit so that we would be energized, inner directed, strengthened, blessed, made holy, revived, and filled with peace.

So many gifts, so many blessings, were given to us – all deep within our spirit. The question got asked: "Why are you standing there looking at the sky?" Our answers are not up in the sky. No, they are very much here on the earth. They are within us. They are a part of us and within our spirit. We don’t have to look elsewhere. In fact, we must learn to look within, listen within, feel within, reason within and do so together as one.

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you." This is the direction that was given by the Lord. How appropriately we pray: "Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth."

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

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Catechesis on the reception of communion, Part 2

It matters how one approaches; the attention one gives;
and the manner in which a  person accepts the
Eucharist, whether on the tongue or in the hand.
(Michael J.Arvizu/St. Bernard)
In our catechetical reflection on the Eucharist, we reflect today upon how we receive the Eucharist — namely, on the tongue or in the hand.

There is little disagreement about when and for how long each of these practices existed in the church. The major disagreement has been about which practice is more respectful or appropriate. The universal church has settled that argument granting permission for both forms of reception. It is simply a question of personal preference.

The church's real concern is reverence. It matters how one approaches; the attention one gives; and the manner in which a person accepts the Eucharist, whether on the tongue or in the hand. If a person receives on the tongue, in order to ensure that the minister can carefully place the host in a person's mouth, it is important to open the mouth and extend the tongue. Spiritually, one is opening their entire being to receive this spiritual food.

When one receives in the hand, there is an ancient spirituality as described by St. John Chrysostom. He instructs one to place the right hand under the left hand as if to make a throne to receive the Lord. Afterward, the right hand takes the Eucharist from the left and the person self-communicates. Reaching out and taking the host from the minister should never be done, and it often results in the host being dropped on the floor. It is to be received in one's hand.

If one desires to genuflect or bow, they should do so while the person in front of them is receiving so that they don't block or trip anyone and so that they do not "hold up" the line while they make this personal, devotional gesture.

The privilege to receive from the cup was restored. Receiving the blood of Christ should be done with the same great reverence.

These are not so much rules as a way of approaching the reception of the Eucharist with respect, reverence, safety and care. It is the Lord that we receive.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The ‘human ecology’ of marriage and family

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez

Several years ago, I was blessed to attend the annual World Meeting of Families when it was held in Mexico City. Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI made a special address to us at the end of the Mass through a live video link-up.

I’m praying this week for our Holy Father, as he gets ready to attend the seventh annual World Meeting of Families, which is being held this year in Milan, May 30 to June 3.

Our world — and our American society especially — is anxious and troubled about what marriage means and what the family is for.

We can see this in many ways. Divorce rates. Abortion rates. More and more unmarried couples living together. More and more children being born out of wedlock. We can see it in the push from powerful people and groups trying to “redefine” marriage.

I’m more convinced than ever that Catholics have a duty to lead our society to conversion. By our teaching and by our way of living.

We need to restore the vital sense of what Pope Benedict and Blessed John Paul II before him called the “human ecology.” We need to help our brothers and sisters see that the family rooted in marriage is the natural sanctuary of life and civilization.

As Catholics, we know that marriage and family are part of the deepest mysteries of our Father’s creation and his plan of salvation.

The history told in Scripture begins with the marriage of the first man and woman and ends with the wedding of Jesus and his bride, the Church, at the end of time. The human family is the vessel through which God pours out his blessings. That’s why Jesus was born in a mother’s womb and nurtured in a holy family. That’s why in his dying words, he made his mother the mother of all the living, “Behold your Mother!”

The church is entrusted with safeguarding the dignity of every person, according to the natural order of creation. As Catholics, we are called to share this beautiful truth with the world.

We can recognize that every society in every age has always understood marriage to be the lifelong union of one man and one woman for their well-being and for the creation and education of children. In every society in every age, marriage and family have always been about children. Because our children are our society’s future.

Until just a generation ago, American institutions — schools, media, industry and government — all agreed. Our policies and values encouraged strong marriages and supported parents in their efforts to raise healthy, virtuous children.

Things have changed.

Birth control and reproductive technologies cut the natural ties between the marital act and the procreation of children. Our culture now promotes a radical individualism that defines sexual freedom as the source of real happiness.

These and other changes are behind the confusions we see in our society today.

What troubles me is how much our debates today are focused only on adults and their desires for their relationships.

There is very little concern for children. This is sad. Because they will be the “subjects” of all our social experiments. They will bear the consequences of all our new ways of defining what it means to be “married” or to be “parents” or to be a “family.”

We can’t govern our society on the basis of our self-centered wants. As adults and as citizens, we have a moral obligation to look beyond ourselves. To think about the common good of society. To think about future generations.

Children have a right to grow up in a home with the mother and father who gave them life and who promised to share their lives forever. They have a right to be born in a family founded on marriage. Where they can discover their true identity, dignity and potential. Where they can learn in love the meaning of truth, beauty and goodness.

So we have a duty — each one of us as citizens — to promote and defend these rights for our children. Our children have no voice. They are depending on us.

Let’s pray for one another this week, and for our children. And let’s pray for our Holy Father and for the success of the World Meeting of Families.

Let’s ask our Blessed Mother to help us restore the human ecology of our society — so that marriage is sacred and the family is the true sanctuary of life and the heart of a civilization of love.

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

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Ascension explained

Today we celebrate the Feast of the
Ascension of our Lord God.
... From Vatican Radio

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord God, an important day in the liturgical calendar which is marked each year on the 40th day after Easter.

The Feast itself commemorates when, on the fortieth day after His Resurrection, Jesus led His disciples to the Mount of Olives, and after blessing them and asking them to wait for the fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit, He ascended into heaven.

Benedictine Abbott Timothy Wright explains to Linda Bordoni what it is, exactly, that we celebrate.

Continue reading: "The Ascension Explained" ...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Looking ahead

Boundaries are important. They decide who owns land and properties. They help us to understand where we can and cannot go — that is, to avoid trespassing. There are even emotional and societal boundaries that tell us how far we can go with another person without trespassing against their personal space.

Now famous since the sexual abuse scandals are programs within the church like "Good Touch, Bad Touch", which teach children their personal boundaries and how to protect themselves against those who would not respect them or seek to do them harm.

There are also all kinds of boundaries that society constructs around: race, culture, language, religion, sexuality, customs, national identity, and likes and dislikes. In some ways we have enshrined boundaries and use them as our excuse to hate and treat with discrimination and disdain. It is no surprise that Jesus, therefore, counters with the one force that is so powerful it can cross any boundary and make the deepest human connection possible — it is the power of love. In love, God poured out the gift of faith in Jesus upon the Gentiles — love without and boundaries or partiality.

John tells us that we should "love one another, because love is of God." The most important insight he notes: "In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he love us."

Jesus sees the power of love as so great that he names the most powerful love of all: "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."

What boundaries have you and I placed on love?

Has love called us to reach out beyond our comfort zone?

Has love helped us to discover God within us?

Are love and God at the center of our soul, life, and spirit?

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

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mother's Day and Mary's month

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

I always love this time of year, these days and weeks that follow Easter.

In the church's calendar, Lent is the season for Christian conversion. It leads to the new baptisms we celebrate at the Easter Vigil, and the renewal of our baptismal promises. We associate these weeks after Easter with confirmation — the sacrament of our Christian discipleship and our sharing in the church's apostolic mission.

So now that I’m back from Rome, that’s what I’ve been doing. Our auxiliary bishops and I are traveling to parishes across our archdiocese to confer this powerful sacrament of grace on our young people. And what a joy this is for me!

Everywhere I go, I’m meeting such strong and faithful young men and women.

They are growing up in good Catholic homes. Their parents brought them to the life of grace in baptism when they were newborns. They helped prepare them for their first confessions and holy communion. Now that their children are young adults, these parents are making sure they’re ready for this next step in their Christian maturity.

For me, these encounters have been a beautiful reminder of how our Catholic faith is born and nurtured in the heart of the family. And at the heart of every family is the loving heart of the mother.

We should give thanks to God for our mothers every day! For all their sacrifices and love. We should give thanks especially this Sunday — as we join our brothers and sisters of all faiths in celebrating national Mother’s Day.

For Catholics, motherhood is a vocation, a special calling from Jesus Christ.

God entrusts to every mother the duty of sharing in the mystery of his creation. In our Father’s design, every new life is conceived and grows under a mother’s loving heart.

Every mother is a guardian appointed by our Father to look out for his precious gift of life. Her smile is the first thing the child sees upon entering the world. And her smile is the child’s first sign of God’s love.

Along with fathers, mothers are entrusted with nurturing their children’s physical lives and helping them grow in the life of grace and the Spirit.

Mothers especially, are our first teachers about prayer, charity and the practices of our Christian faith. By their example, our mothers teach us the truth of Christian love — to love expecting nothing in return.

As Christians, we are blessed to have two mothers. We have our natural mothers who brought us into this world. And we have our spiritual mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It’s appropriate that May, when we celebrate Mother's Day, is traditionally the "Month of Mary" in our church.

At the start of the Acts of the Apostles, we see the beautiful image of the early church united in prayer around "Mary, the mother of Jesus."

This is what Jesus intended for his church. His last act before dying on the cross was to entrust his mother to his church and to every believer: "Behold, your mother!"

So we need to make sure that Mary always has an important place in our Christian lives — and in the life and mission of our archdiocese.

I was overjoyed recently to dedicate our newest church — Our Lady of Guadalupe in Oxnard. This was a beautiful moment of grace for me. As you know, I’ve always had a devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe. So this had special meaning for me — that the first church built during my time as Archbishop is dedicated to her.

I hope this new church can be an inspiration for all of us — to renew our devotion to our Blessed Mother.

Let’s make that our prayer for one another this week. That we grow in our love for our mothers — our natural mothers on earth, and our Blessed Mother in heaven.

As our mothers taught us how to walk, Mary teaches us how to follow Jesus. She shows us how to listen for the voice of God and to trust in his plan for our lives.

Mary teaches us to always look to Jesus, and to conform our lives to his Word and his example. Her last words in the Gospels, at the wedding at Cana, should be the first words that define how we live: "Do whatever he tells you."

In Mary’s eyes, as in the eyes of our natural mothers, we will always be her children. As a good mother, she is always close to us, ready to catch us if we fall. We can call to her when we’re in trouble. We can turn to her for help in our struggles.

So let’s honor all our mothers this weekend. And let’s ask our Blessed Mother to help us to become more worthy, more holy and loving children of God.

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

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A land of missionaries, immigrants and saints

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez

We have a new "blessed" in our universal church — and she once lived right here in Los Angeles. Blessed María Inés Teresa Arias was beatified late last month in Mexico City. Her story is beautiful because it is so ordinary.

Manuelita, as she was known, was born in 1904, and grew up in a large Catholic family in Nayarit, Mexico. She used to go to daily Mass with her father and she worked in a bank. She was active in her church and in helping the poor. She had a fun social life.

When Manuelita was 20, a cousin gave her St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s autobiography, "Story of a Soul." From that time on, she felt a deep desire to consecrate her life to Jesus Christ. She joined the Poor Clare sisters in Mexico City.

Those were hard times. The Mexican government was persecuting the church — killing priests and nuns, confiscating churches and convents, outlawing the celebration of the Mass. This was the time of the Cristeros War.

The persecution drove the Poor Clares into exile. They were welcomed here in Los Angeles in 1929, by my predecessor, Archbishop John J. Cantwell. He welcomed many refugees from Mexico, including Ven. Maria Luisa Josefa de la Peña, who founded our Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles.

While praying in what was then our Church of St. Toribio, Blessed María Inés received a special calling to found the Poor Clare Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

She gave her sisters a beautiful mission: "To carry the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, so that she — through her maternal tenderness — would bring her Divine Son to live in the hearts of those who hunger for God without knowing it."

And by the time of her death in 1981, her order had established 50 houses in countries all over the world.

I was thinking about Blessed María Inés last week as the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing arguments on Arizona's controversial immigration law.

Our church is a church of immigrants. It always has been. Just as America has always been a nation of immigrants. Except for a few, all of our saints, blesseds and venerables were immigrants. Some, like St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, were canonized for their service to our immigrant communities.

Today we seem to be losing this sense of America’s heritage — as a land of missionaries, immigrants and saints. A land where men and women from every race, creed and nation can live as brothers and sisters.

That’s why this Arizona case is important. Every year, state governments keep passing new anti-immigrant laws. There were 197 new laws in 2011 and 208 the year before that, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

These laws express people's anger and frustration. Everyone knows our national immigration system is broken. So far Congress and the president have not found a way to fix it. There has been no real movement at the national level since comprehensive immigration reform failed in Congress in 2007.

Our national "policy" right now is to arrest and deport as many illegal immigrants as we can. Last year alone, our government deported nearly 400,000 people, a record number.

Of course, we’re not just talking about statistics. Each of these "numbers" is a person, many of them Catholics. Many are mothers or fathers who, without warning, won’t be coming home for dinner tonight. Many may never see their children grow up.

This is not a "solution" worthy of a great nation. In the name of enforcing our laws, we are now breaking up families. We’re punishing innocent children for the crimes of their parents.

We are a better people than this.

America has always been a nation of justice and law. But we are also a people of compassion. We can find a better way. It begins by remembering the promise of America — as a land where poor immigrants can become great saints.

We can find the courage to create a principled immigration policy. A policy that includes a just solution to the problem of those who are here in violation of our laws. A policy that secures our borders against illegal crossings, and welcomes new immigrants who have the character and skills our country needs to grow and flourish.

So let’s make that our prayer this week — that we can find a new way forward on immigration.

Let’s ask Blessed María Inés — and all the immigrant saints and blesseds of America — to help us grow in compassion and empathy. To help us see the humanity of our brothers and sisters, no matter where they come from or how they got here.

Our Lady of the Angels, pray for our archdiocese and our country.

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

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

There is a use of language during this part of the Easter season that speaks to a very intimate and sensitive part of us. It wreaks of inclusion and belonging — it contains a deep sense of being at home. In the language of mystagogia (RCIA) it fits so well since it is a very clear depiction of going deeper into the mysteries and integrating the spiritual truths deeply into our lives. It is expressed so simply and beautifully in today’s Gospel: "Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit”; and, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you."

"Staying connected" by cell phone or Facebook is for some people the height of inter-connectivity. Some can’t live without it. Some appear to be addicted to their cell phones and to remaining in touch with friends and the world out there. But this Gospel goes much deeper. "Remain in me" and allow me to "remain in you" – and fruitfulness, fulfillment, finding completion will result in your lives.

Jesus is clear about many things throughout his preaching and teaching career. He says the world of faith and spirit is about more than "doing things" or "following commandments." He doesn’t negate these practices as if they are useless. He does indicate that one can follow these perfectly and not find the Kingdom of God. His sense is that "remaining in" is more the goal. Experiencing God dwelling within — his word having a space within — Jesus' presence becoming a part of. These are the things or spiritual realities that make the Kingdom of God come alive in us. This is a language that must become reality for us that is — experienced, shared, described, celebrated, lived!

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

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

Question: Which role or profession is more important: a doctor or a plumber?

Answer: It depends: If the sink is plugged up, well then, the plumber!

One job or profession may be more complicated, require more education, seek more expertise than another; but depending on the needs and circumstances, any particular profession may rise to the top as the most important because, at the moment, it may be most needed.


Praying about our call should be in the prayer agenda of every Christian.

There are many vocations (callings) in our Christian lives. Some are called to marriage, some to priesthood or diaconate; some to consecrated religious life for men and women, some to a single state. Each is a vocation from God. When one feels actually called and hears that call deep within them, this calling or vocation becomes uniquely satisfying. When deep within, a person discovers the call, then there is nothing they do or give up that could be too much – they just know that it is so right for them.

Praying about our call should be in the prayer agenda of every Christian. To believe that God is actually calling us – deep within – makes hearing and answering a very important life activity. That is why at St. Bernard we pray at nearly every Mass for vocations – ALL vocations. We pray that all will take or make the time to listen deep within. We pray that the voice of God will become real to us and we will hear it.

The Good Shepherd calls us. He tells us that his sheep hear his voice and know him.

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