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.

Blessed John XXIII: remembered by those who knew him

Pope Paul XXIII signs
Humane Salutis, formally
convoking the Second
Vatican Council.
... From Vatican Radio

By Veronica Scarisbrick, Vatican Radio 

While on Oct. 11 the church remembers Blessed John XXIII, best recalled as Good Pope John, the ordinary man who astonished the world, that same date also marks the 50th anniversary of the opening session of the Second Vatican Council.

Vatican Radio's Veronica Scarisbrick brings you echoes of the pontificate of this 20th century pope, sharing with you Vatican Radio archive sound both of his election and of his calling of the Second Vatican Council at Saint Paul's outside the walls.

Continue reading: "Blessed John XXIII: remembered by those who knew him"

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Buenas noches, mi Señor

Por Guadalupe Radio

Buenas noches, mi Señor. Gracias por otro día más. Gracias porque me has permitido amarte y darte todo lo que yo tengo. Gracias porque en estos días he visto como me he acercado más a Tu corazón, y estoy tan feliz.

Veo como me has dado la oportunidad de acercarme a ti. Se que mis problemas siguen y que las dificultades seguirán en mi camino, pero he aprendido que la vida tiene un sabor dulce cuando tu estas en ella.

Me he dado cuenta que puedo convertir ese sabor amargo que me dan los sufrimientos en una oración dulce para ti. A veces pienso que entre más ore los problemas empezaran a irse de mi vida y ya no tendré sufrimiento. Pero no es así. Tengo que aceptar que los problemas siempre estarán, pero la diferencia es que ahora que estoy contigo, puedo seguir caminando a pesar de los problemas, y toda mi existencia tiene un sentido.

Se que el sufrimiento algún día se terminara, si sigo fiel a ti, porque llegare a la vida eterna en donde estaré para siempre Contigo y no habrá más dolor. Si este dolor me acerca más al cielo, mi Dios, que así sea. Acepto. Abrazo mi cruz. La beso y camino hacía ti. Quiero morir a mi mismo para resucitar a la vida eterna junto a ti.

Gracias por todos estos momentos de purificación. Y gracias por recordarme que no estoy solo en ninguno de esos momentos. Tu esas junto a mi, cargando la cruz conmigo. Eres grande, mi Señor. María, madre mía, te ofrezco los latidos de mi corazón para que tenga la gracia de poder aceptar y abrazar mi cruz.

Amén.

Buenas noches.

Dios los bendiga.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The duty of faithful citizenship

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

America’s Catholics have been faithful citizens since before this country had a name.

The first missionaries set up schools and basic human services. They helped form local economies based on farming, handicrafts and light manufacturing.

A generation before the American Revolution, Ursuline sisters from France were running an orphanage, a hospital and a girls’ school in Louisiana — serving mostly non-Catholics.

Since those early days, individual Catholics and church institutions have been engaged in social ministries serving the common good of our society — schools, hospitals, all sorts of different charities.

In addition to these good works, Catholics have always been a force for social reform and justice — from the anti-slavery movement to the civil rights struggle, to our work today to end abortion and the death penalty and to find a just solution to the issue of immigration.

We have been blessed to live in a country where our religious values and our faith-based contribution to our public life have been respected and valued.

That’s why the government at all levels has always worked with church agencies to provide vital social services. This partnership has served the American people well throughout our history.

But in recent years, our relationship with the government has been strained by the pressures of secular thinking and secular politics.

We are all aware of the federal government’s demands that Catholic and other religious institutions start paying for their employees’ birth-control and abortion-causing drugs, as well as sterilizations and other services.

But that’s only one blatant example. Every day, all across the country, church agencies are being pressured to go along with government dictates that violate our religious liberty and our conscience. In some cases, church agencies have been forced to shut down rather than compromise our Catholic teachings.

That’s why religious liberty is one of the key issues we face as Catholic citizens in this election year. There is no question that in recent years our nation has taken a hard secular turn — and there seems to be no turning back or changing direction.

In the coming years, I think Catholics are going to need to do some critical thinking and soul-searching about our place in a radically secular, “post-Christian” America. The basic question is this: How are we going to live and work and carry out our Christian mission in an America where religious faith and conscience are no longer respected?

This is a new moment for Catholics and the church in America. At different points in our history, we have faced anti-Catholic bigotry and discrimination. But never before have we faced a situation in which our government has been actively opposed to Catholic teachings and practices.

So religious liberty is a crucial issue in our times. We must defend the Church’s freedom to carry out her ministries without government intrusion. We must defend Catholics’ rights to live and participate in society according to their conscience.

But even more important than religious liberty is what we do with that liberty.

This new moment calls us to a renewal of our faith — and a new commitment to living our faith in society. Now, more than ever, we need to know our faith and we need to have the courage to bear witness to our beliefs and the teachings of the church.

That’s why I strongly recommend that in this election year each of you read the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ statement, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” It is available on a special Web site set up by the bishops, which also contains many of the bishops’ statements on social issues www.faithfulcitizenship.org. I will post a link to that Web site on my Facebook page.

In this document, the bishops don’t try to tell you how to vote. Instead, we offer principles and considerations for helping you to form your conscience so that you see the world in light of God’s truth. This formation of conscience is an important duty for all of us.

The bishops rightly say that “all issues do not carry the same moral weight and the moral obligation to oppose intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions.” That means our priority must always be to promote the sanctity of human life and the right to life — especially for the unborn, the aged and the sick. Unless the right to life is protected, all other rights in our society are at risk. The right to life is the foundation of every other right and liberty and the true foundation of justice and peace in society. 

So let’s keep praying for one another and for our country. And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help us to have the courage to grow in our commitment to being faithful citizens of this great country.

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 7, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker 

Many little truths are taught in the scriptures today that ought to enhance our appreciation of God, self and others.

The second creation story from Genesis believed to be the older of the two creation stories puts forth a very simple and lovely reason for the mating of a man and woman. "The Lord God said: 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.'"

This simple truth speaks volumes about our belief in a caring, compassionate and sensitive God who "worries" about the loneliness of man and woman and takes care that he or she would not be alone. He even creates one like the other, one drawn from and toward the other. Such a fine fit it is, the author explains (to the dismay of many a mother): "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh."

The other truth mentioned seems less spectacular but is really much more profound. Mark's Gospel tells us that it is God who brings two people together and God who makes two become one. This mystery for that is what it truly is makes marriage holy, sacred, from God and through God. It is no surprise that in the marriage ceremony the rings are given with the words: "take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." It is in God’s name that two are bound together.

We can do so many things in life without ever seeing God's part in them, but in the finding and falling in love and binding of lives together. God is so at the center of it all. This is part of the great mystery of love from which new life and family springs forth and brings fruitful blessing in abundance.

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

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

YEAR of FAITH: OCTOBER 2012 to NOVEMBER 2013

On this page, you will find videos and links to a variety of resources, courtesy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to help you renew you baptismal call by living out the everyday moments of their lives with faith, hope and love.



Links

Documents from the Vatican:
Official Web site for the Year of Faith

Documents of the Second Vatican Council

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei announcing the Year of Faith


From USCCB:

United States Catholic Catechism for Adults

Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization

Go and Make Disciples


Scroll down for additional resources and Year of Faith prayers.



What is the "Year of Faith"? 

Pope Benedict XVI declared that a "Year of Faith" will begin on Oct. 11, 2012, and conclude on Nov. 24, 2013.

Oct. 11 marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. From that day through the Solemnity of Christ the King in November 2013, Pope Benedict invites us to celebrate a "Year of Faith."

This year challenges us, disciples baptized into Christ and his church, to move beyond routine to relationship; to "reimage" our Catholic faith not as an intellectual exercise, but as a personal encounter with Christ, an encounter that blossoms into a living friendship with Jesus and a loving relationship with our neighbor.

Important as official teachings are — and this year we should rediscover these, too — the pope suggests that we begin this year by looking at faith as a lifelong journey undertaken with a joy that inevitably attracts others.

As examples of a personal faith whose authenticity and enthusiasm have an impact on others, Pope Benedict will canonize two saints with American significance on World Mission Sunday, Oct. 21: Native American Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680), whose short life was a journey of selfless love; and Mother Marianne Cope (1838-1918), whose love for Christ led her from Germany to Hawaii, where she shared Father Damien's ministry to those afflicted with Hansen’s disease.



Resources:

Rediscovering the Faith
The New Evangelization
Year of Faith Calendar
Year of Faith Graphics and Downloads
Year of Faith Q&A
Year of Faith Saints
Year of Faith Videos
Daily Scripture Reflections



Year of Faith prayers
:

Special Prayers for the Year of Faith
Catholic Prayers
The Nicene Creed