Friday, November 30, 2012

Advent in the Year of Faith

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Archdiocesan Annual Appeal 2012: Together in Mission

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

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

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

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

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

And thanks!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Celebremos la fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

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

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

Novena

  • Rosario a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe:

    1:45 p.m. diciembre 3

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

    1:45 p.m. diciembre 10

Celebración de la Virgen de Guadalupe

  • Las Mañanitas:

    5 a.m. diciembre 12

Misa


  • Misas an español:

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Archbishop José Gomez's statement on immigration reform

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

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

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

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

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

Archbishop José H. Gomez is archbishop of Los Angeles.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 9, 2012

American Red Cross blood drive


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

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

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

To grow in our knowledge of Jesus

By Archbishop José H. Gomez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are the true goals of education in the faith.

So how do we do that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reading this way is transformative. It will change us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Five priorities for the Year of Faith

Archbishop José H. Gomez 
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— education in the faith;

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

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

— proclaiming the Gospel of life; and

— strengthening marriage and family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

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

Archbishop José H. Gomez 
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 5, 2012

Prayer before an election

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker 

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

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

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

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

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

To really love God always leads to loving others.

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

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

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thank you for your support of St. Bernard Catholic School

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

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

God bless!

Margaret Samaniego
Principal,
St. Bernard School

Friday, November 2, 2012

Traditions mark All Souls' Day

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

By Brenda Nettles Riojas
Catholic News Service

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

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

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

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

Continue reading: "Traditions mark All Souls' Day"