Sunday, March 31, 2013

Looking Ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

"He saw and believed."

These four words describe the simple moment of faith unencumbered by philosophical reasoning or proofs. Nothing was stated. Nothing was explained. Nothing was logically figured out. There was a simple experience — seeing and believing. That was enough.

But that was not all that was seen. He saw a man and teacher he loved arrested, accused, condemned, stripped, scourged, insulted, berated, forced to carry a cross, nailed to it, and lifted up to die. He saw a "short in time but slow in agony" death. He saw grief in the eyes of a mother. He saw despair in the faces of friends and fellow disciples. He saw rage, anger and hatred in the faces of a mob. He saw faith and wonder in the eyes of some. He saw dreams unravel and hopes dashed. But he walked into an empty tomb — "He saw and believed." It was simple. It was direct. It was of the spirit. It was truth. It was the only explanation. It was what made sense out of non-sense. It was what was!

He has been raised up! He is not here! Death could not hold him! He has overcome sin and death! He is alive! He is the Lord! Alleluia!

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The encounter of Easter

Archbishop José H. Gómez
By Archbishop José H. Gómez

Our Filipino brothers and sisters have a beautiful Easter devotion they call Salubong (“The Encounter”).

Gathering before dawn, they relive the meeting of the risen Jesus with his Blessed Mother on the first Easter morning. The women come from one direction carrying a statue of Mary who is covered in a black veil. From the opposite direction, men come carrying a statue of a risen Jesus. Their two processions meet in front of the church. There, a child who is dressed like an angel removes Mary’s veil of mourning and the people enter the church with joy to celebrate Easter Mass.

In the Gospels, there is no mention of this meeting between Jesus and Mary after his Resurrection. But popular faith sometimes starts where the scriptures leave off. And many saints and mystics have reflected on this encounter down through the centuries.

The Franciscans who brought Christianity to the Philippines taught that Jesus appeared to Mary before anyone else. John of Caulibus, in his Meditations on the Life of Christ in the 14th century, imagined Jesus and his mother falling to their knees when they met:

“Then they arose with tears of joy, she embraced him, pressed her face to his, and held on tightly, falling into his arms as he eagerly supported her. Later, when they were sitting down together, lovingly and carefully she looked him all over: at his face, and at the wounds in his hands, and throughout his entire body. ... His mother rejoiced, ‘Blessed be your Father, who returned you to me!’ ... So they conversed at some length, rejoicing and observing the Paschal Feast in a delightful and loving way.”

It is beautiful for us to reflect on the joy that Mary must have felt to have her son back!

I also wonder what Jesus felt at that moment.

As he embraced his Blessed Mother, did he remember the widow he had once met in the town of Nain (Luke 7:11-17)? Did he think that Mary’s situation was a lot like hers — that Mary too was a widow grieving the death of her only son?

At Nain, Jesus touched the dead boy’s casket and he sat up and began to talk. The Gospel account concludes: “And he gave him back to his mother.”

On that first Easter morning, Jesus was giving himself back to his mother.

This is the joy of Easter! It is the joy of knowing that Jesus will “give back” to us all that we might suffer and lose in this life. Christ is risen and we will rise with him!

Easter joy is knowing that God’s love is stronger than death. It is the joy of knowing that Jesus is on our side!! That he will lead us through all the dark valleys to the light of his love and peace.

And Easter reminds us that Christian salvation is both universal and personal.

Jesus came to save the whole world. But notice how he did it. He came into this world at night and unnoticed, as a little baby. In the same way, his Resurrection happened in the middle of night — and again, nobody was there to see it.

The Gospels don’t describe salvation in earth-shaking events or overwhelming shows of power. God’s power is the power of humility.

Jesus came to save the world one person at a time.

When we reflect on his ministry, we recall so many personal and family dramas — the widow of Nain; fathers and mothers whose little children are sick and dying; men and women suffering from poverty and diseases of body and mind; Mary and Martha, two sisters whose brother Lazarus has died.

Our lives are no different. Jesus also comes to bring us salvation in the reality of our daily lives — in our worries and sufferings; in our struggles and setbacks; in the trials we face in our lives.

The promise of Easter is that if we believe in him, if we trust in his word and stay close to him, Jesus will wipe away every tear. In his compassion, he will heal our sadness and fear and take away our uncertainty about the future. So let’s have confidence in him. In his rising, all our lives are raised.

So let us rejoice this Easter with our families and our friends. Let us pray for one another and let us share with one another the joy of the Resurrection.

I ask a special blessing for all of you families, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary our mother. May Mary help all of us to live with the joy she felt when she looked upon her son and our savior, risen to die no more.

Archbishop José H. Gómez 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 at (213) 637-7000, or on Facebook at

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Treasures of Our Faith

The San Fernando Pastoral Region presents a new series of articles titled "Treasures of our Faith." The series is authored by Ryan Adams, one of the region's diaconate candidates and a member of the region's media team.

The third article explains the Act of Penitence.

Treasures of Our Faith: Act of Penitence

By Ryan Adams

The Act of Penitence is where the celebrant invites all of us present, the gathered community, to take part in a formula of general confession where we bring to mind the things we have done as well as those things we may have failed to have done; this helps us in preparing ourselves to actually take part in the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

Today is familiarly called Palm Sunday, so named because of the procession of palms welcoming the triumphant Jesus into Jerusalem. One moment he is welcomed as a king. Not long after, the mob shouts out: "Crucify him!"

So, we carry our palms to "get into it," not just with our brains, but with out hearts, our feelings, our attitudes, our behaviors.

Let us not be too quick to judge the people shouting against Jesus. As the many different versions of the Way of the Cross describe it, we may not have done anything differently than some of those chanting people. The proof? Look at the way we deal with people of our own time. Furthermore, look with the eyes of Jesus who contextualizes the "way" we deal with people in Matthews 25: "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me. Whatever you fail to do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you fail to do to me."

Today also is titled Passion Sunday, because we begin the celebration of Holy Week (our holiest week of the year) with the proclamation of the Passion of the Lord. This is Year C, the year of Luke; and it is Luke’s Passion that is proclaimed.

Good Friday never changes — it is always the Passion according to John. Of course, the Passion is made up of many parts including: the Last Supper, the agony in the garden, the arrest, the trial, the scourging, the carrying of the cross, the Crucifixion, and the climactic death of Jesus on the cross.

In Luke’s Gospel — often referred to as the Gospel of Compassion — a simple and most profound climax is expressed in one simple phrase uttered by Jesus before he dies. As he hangs upon the cross, buffeted by insults, he finds within himself the unimaginable freedom to say: "Father, forgive them; they know not what they say."

The cross is wood. The cross is a hateful killing. The cross is the pain and suffering described in the Passion. But this climactic phrase spoken by Jesus is the POWER OF THE CROSS! Anyone could die on a cross. Others died beside Jesus. But how many could ever be so in touch with God, so in touch with a life-long belief in and preaching of forgiveness, to be able to reach within in the midst of suffering to find such forgiveness? How many have allowed their spirit to be formed and shaped by God's Spirit to be able to speak forgiveness in the face of so much hatred and injustice? How many have this inner freedom of Jesus? How many could recognize such a moment of grace in the midst of the storm?

Such a profound week! Such a week of grace! So we carry our palms to "get into it", not just with our brains, but with our hearts, our feelings, our attitudes, our behaviors.

Let us die with him, so that we might also rise with him!

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

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Treasures of Our Faith

The San Fernando Pastoral Region presents a new series of articles titled "Treasures of our Faith." The series is authored by Ryan Adams, one of the region's diaconate candidates and a member of the region's media team.

The third article talks about the "Collect" or Opening Prayer.

By Ryan Adams

The term “collect” comes from the Latin word "collecta" which refers to the gathering of the people. The term has also come to be understood as referring to the opening prayer which is a "gathering up" or "collecting" of all the prayers of the individual members of the congregation.

The Collect is offered as the end of the Introductory Rites, inviting the community to call to mind, in the silence of their hearts, those persons or needs for which they desire to pray for, with the celebrant then "collecting" these prayer intentions together as one prayer, which is offered up to the Father. The Character of the opening prayer is one of petition.

Listen to what the celebrant says to us: "Let us pray." This is where we are to actually bow our heads and pray. The celebrant pauses for a moment or two of silence so that we can silently pray. While it is only the priest who speaks and addresses this prayer to God the Father, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit, all who are gathered and present are invited to unite their minds and hearts with that spoken (or sung) prayer, offering themselves and their intentions within that prayer.

We, the community of the faithful then make the prayer our own with the acclamation, "Amen!"

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The face of the church’s new hope

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

As I write, our new Pope Francis has just celebrated his inaugural Mass as the spiritual head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. The ceremony marks the close of what has been a historic and unforgettable 40 days of Lent for Catholics.

The unexpected drama started two days before Ash Wednesday, when Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation — the first time a pope has stepped down in nearly 600 years.

Now as we approach the start of Holy Week, we welcome a new pope who is the first non-European in nearly 1,300 years — and the first pope from the Americas.

The election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., from Argentina is a sign of changing times.

The Catholic Church’s center of gravity has long been undergoing a global shift. The church’s growth and creative energy no longer come from Western Europe — but from Africa, Asia and most all, from Latin America.

Blessed Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI called Latin America — where 40 percent of the world’s Catholics now live — the “Continent of Hope.”

Pope Francis is the face of the church’s new hope. The first pope from the New World, his election reflects the church’s vitality in these countries. It also points to the rising Latino profile of the Church in the United States.

More than one-third of U.S. Catholics are Latino, the result of the steady northern migrations of men and women from the “Continent of Hope.”

Immigration is changing the face of our nation and our church forever. Hispanics now make up 16 percent of our population and that percentage will only grow. Nearly one-quarter of all American children under age 17 are Hispanic. This same pattern is true in the church. Latinos make up more than half of all Catholics under the age of 25.

Now these young Latinos and their parents have a pope whose native language is Spanish. A pope who understands their traditions and cultural realities. Millions of immigrants can look now to a Pope who knows their experience of coming to a new country to make a new life.

In our current debates in the U.S. over comprehensive immigration reform, Pope Francis should be a powerful symbol.

Our new pope is an immigrant’s son. This is also something new for a pope in modern times. His father was a railroad worker who came to Argentina from Italy seeking a better life. What a great story! The son of a humble immigrant grows up to become the spiritual leader of more than a billion Catholics in every continent and nation!

Every new Pope takes a name that is meant to signal his vision for the church.

With his bold choice of St. Francis of Assisi, our new pope has identified himself with Christianity’s most well-known saint.

For believers and non-believers alike, St. Francis represents the true spirit of the Gospel — with his simple lifestyle, his humble service to the poor, his love for creation, and his attitude of nonviolence and forgiveness.

“How I would love a Church that is poor and for the poor,” Pope Francis has said in his first days.

From Francis, Catholics can expect to hear a new call to our Christian duty to serve those who are most in need and to seek justice and dignity for the human person.

Material poverty is growing in our society. There is a wide divide between those who do not have enough to live and those who have far more than they need. But “spiritual poverty” is also growing in our society. That is the poverty of indifference to religion — of living as if God does not exist or as if life has no higher meaning.

So for Americans, the name Francis should have a further association.

Franciscan immigrants and missionary priests were among the first to bring Christianity to Mexico and Latin America and then to this country, especially to California.

The great Apostle of California, Blessed Junípero Serra, was a Franciscan. And of course, Los Angeles was first called El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles — named after the chapel that St. Francis used as his headquarters.

This new papacy should awaken our memory of this country’s deep Christian roots and its connections to the church’s missions in Mexico and Latin America.

Pope Francis understands that the Americas need a new evangelization — a new encounter with the figure of Jesus Christ and his Gospel of love and salvation. He helped draft one of the modern church’s key strategic documents — the Latin American bishops’ 2007 “Aparecida” report that called for a new “continental mission.”

As we look beyond the historical drama of this Lent to celebrate our first Easter with our new pope, let us pray for one another and for our new pope.

Let us pledge ourselves to the “continental mission” — to be being disciples and missionaries of the new evangelization.

And let us ask the intercession of the Mother of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and St. Francis — that we may make this new moment of grace in our church a time for spiritual renewal in our own lives, in our church and in our society.

Archbishop José H. Gómez 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 at (213) 637-7000, or on Facebook at

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Homily of the Mass of installation of the Holy Father Pope Francis

Pope Francis at his Mass of
installation in Rome on Tuesday,
March 19, 2013.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I thank the Lord that I can celebrate this Holy Mass for the inauguration of my Petrine ministry on the solemnity of Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the patron of the universal church. It is a significant coincidence, and it is also the name-day of my venerable predecessor: we are close to him with our prayers, full of affection and gratitude.

I offer a warm greeting to my brother cardinals and bishops, the priests, deacons, men and women religious, and all the lay faithful. I thank the representatives of the other churches and ecclesial communities, as well as the representatives of the Jewish community and the other religious communities, for their presence. My cordial greetings go to the heads of state and government, the members of the official delegations from many countries throughout the world, and the Diplomatic Corps.

In the Gospel we heard that “Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife” (Matthew 1:24). These words already point to the mission which God entrusts to Joseph: he is to be the custos, the protector. The protector of whom? Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the church, as Blessed John Paul II pointed out: “Just as Saint Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model” (Redemptoris Custos, 1).

How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the 12-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care. As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; amid the drama of the flight into Egypt and during the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus.

How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a “protector” because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!

The vocation of being a “protector”, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!

Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are “Herods” who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!

Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!

Today, together with the feast of Saint Joseph, we are celebrating the beginning of the ministry of the new bishop of Rome, the successor of Peter, which also involves a certain power. Certainly, Jesus Christ conferred power upon Peter, but what sort of power was it? Jesus’ three questions to Peter about love are followed by three commands: feed my lambs, feed my sheep. Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison (cf. Matthew 25:31-46). Only those who serve with love are able to protect!

In the second reading, Saint Paul speaks of Abraham, who, “hoping against hope, believed” (Romans 4:18). Hoping against hope! Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope! For believers, for us Christians, like Abraham, like Saint Joseph, the hope that we bring is set against the horizon of God, which has opened up before us in Christ. It is a hope built on the rock which is God.

To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us!

I implore the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Francis, that the Holy Spirit may accompany my ministry, and I ask all of you to pray for me! Amen.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

For the RCIA Masses, the Cycle A readings are proclaimed and the scrutinies are celebrated: Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. As he comes forth from the tomb wrapped tightly in linens, Jesus says: "Untie him and let him go free." It is not just about being alive, but also about true freedom of spirit.

The Cycle C readings bless us with a truly remarkable story of forgiveness and healing: A woman is brought before Jesus. She has been caught in a shocking and shameful act of sin. According to the law of Moses, it is commanded that she should be stoned to death. This is the case put before Jesus.

The real issue, however, is that the whole situation is meant to be a trap for Jesus – one which the Pharisees believe Jesus cannot escape. If he agrees and says she must die, then all of his teachings about forgiveness could be mocked as idealistic frivolity. If he counsels forgiveness, then he can be condemned for not keeping the law of Moses and therefore inciting rebellion.

Jesus does neither. Rather, he turns the issues of sin and forgiveness against those who are seeking to condemn, to kill, to hate, to justify themselves. He simply said: "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

Not only is no stone cast, but each one walks away, and each is begrudgingly forced to admit that he is a sinner and cannot judge. Jesus rescues a sinful woman from her sin and gives her back her dignity. He saves her physical life and invites her to a richer spiritual life.

True religion and faith does not destroy life – it gives life. True religion and faith does not condemn – it heals and restores. This story is our story. This story is redemptive and life giving. This Fifth Sunday of Lent and this story of a woman caught in sin invite us to acknowledge our own sin and open ourselves to the possibility of forgiveness, healing, and new life.

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

Friday, March 15, 2013

Habemus Papam and a St. Bernard Catholic School student's response

Pope Francis waves to the crowd shortly after his election
on Wednesday, March 13, 2013.
By Laura Arceneaux
St. Bernard Catholic School fifth grade teacher

This morning I asked my students to write something they learned during the past 24 hours as well as a question they would ask our new pope if given the chance.

Most learned about the pope's non-Eurpoean status or about the tradition of smoke during the conclave. Most asked, "Why did you choose the name Francis?" or "What is it like being pope?"

I'd like to share one student's response — the only response of its kind in the class:

Dear Ms. Arceneaux,

When the new Pope was elected. I learned that this world is very blessed that we have a Pope. A Pope that helps us and the poor. If I were to ask the Pope a question. I would ask him how to be with the Holy Spirit and how to show God my love for him.

— Angel Aguirre, 5th Grade

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Full story: Argentine Cardinal Bergoglio elected pope, takes name Francis

Pope Francis I blesses the crowd
from the central balcony of St.
Peter's Basilica at the Vatican
March 13. Cardinal Jorge Mario
Bergoglio of Argentina was elected
the 266th Roman Catholic pontiff.
(CNS/L'Osservatore Romano)
... From Catholic News Service

By Francis X. Rocca and Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, the leader of a large urban archdiocese in Latin America, was elected the 266th pope and took the name Francis.

He is the first pope in history to come from the Western Hemisphere and the first non-European to be elected in almost 1,300 years. The Jesuit was also the first member of his order to be elected pope, and the first member of any religious order to be elected in nearly two centuries.

Continue reading: "Argentine Cardinal Bergoglio elected pope" ...

Today is a great day! We have a pope!

Pope Francis I greets the
crowd gathered in
St. Peter's Square on
March 13, 2013.
(CNS Photo/Paul Haring
By Archbishop José H. Gómez

I am very happy with the election of Pope Francis I. 

For us as Catholics, this is a beautiful spiritual moment, a time of joy and thanksgiving. A time for prayer for the whole church.

This is a great day, not only for Catholics, but for the whole world. Because the pope is the living sign of the universality of God’s church. And the pope is a sign of Jesus Christ’s love for the world and for every person in every nation.

I have had the privilege of knowing our new Holy Father through our work together on the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. I look forward to seeing him and getting to know him better while I am in Rome next month.

It is a beautiful sign to have a new pope who is the first pope from the Americas, from the New World. The election of Pope Francis is a call for all of us to strive for holiness and to work to make our countries and our continents a “new world of faith.”

So today we thank God that he has given us a pope who is a humble man who lives with simplicity and a desire for holiness. Our new pope is a defender of the poor, a strong teacher, and a leader committed to renewal in the church and the new evangelization of our world.

I join my brothers and sisters in the church in Los Angeles and throughout the Americas and the whole world in offering my prayers for Pope Francis and pledging my loyalty and love for him and my obedience to him.

I ask the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe for our new pope. And I pray that we all go to Jesus, closely united to the pope, through Mary.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Treasures of Our Faith

The San Fernando Pastoral Region presents a new series of articles titled "Treasures of our Faith." The series is authored by Ryan Adams, one of the region's diaconate candidates and a member of the region's media team.

The second article explains the gathering hymn and greeting of the altar.

Treasures of Our Faith: Gathering hymn and greeting of the altar

By Ryan Adams

St. Augustine said that to sing is to pray twice. That may be why the first action of the liturgy is a song that we all sing together. The singing of the opening song (gathering hymn) is the first thing we do together as a worshiping community of the faithful. It is our way of saying, "Yes, God, we are all here together and all of us are ready to pray now."

Upon entering the sanctuary, the priest, the deacon and the altar servers reverence the altar with a profound bow. As an additional expression of veneration, the priest and deacon then kiss the altar. If incense is used, the priest then incenses the altar. All these acts of veneration are done to give reverence too and to show deep respect to the altar, which is the place where the sacrifice of the mass is about to take place.

When you enter your pews or you cross in front of the altar, remember that the reverence you show by bowing is actually a showing or feeling of deep respect, love and awe given to something sacred, and that true reverence flows out of a relationship of loving union with God.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Follow the papal conclave: a detailed schedule

The Sistine Chapel
Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican press office director, released a tentative schedule for the early days of the conclave, which begins tomorrow, Tuesday, March 12. Since Rome is eight hours ahead of Pacific time, Pacific time is in parentheses below.

Times when we should expect smoke from the Sistine Chapel chimney are labeled in red.

Monday, March 11
5:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m.) Approximately 90 personnel (including doctors, nurses, sacristans, bus drivers, cooks, cleaning staff, the commander of the Swiss Guard and the Chief of Vatican police) assisting the cardinals during the conclave take a secrecy oath in the Pauline Chapel in the Apostolic Palace.

Tuesday, March 12
10 a.m. (2 a.m.) Mass "Pro eligendo Summo Pontiface" (for the election of the supreme pontiff") is celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica.

3:45 p.m. (7:45 a.m.) The cardinals transfer from Domus Sanctae Marthae (St. Martha House, the building where the cardinals will live during the conclave) to the Pauline Chapel.

4:30 p.m. (8:30 a.m.) The cardinals process from the Pauline Chapel to the Sistine Chapel.

4:45 p.m. (8:45 a.m.) The oath is administered, and the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations gives the order "Extra omnes" (anyone not participating in the conclave must leave the Sistine Chapel); this is followed by a meditation by Cardinal Prosper Grech.

5 p.m. (9 a.m.) This is the approximate start time of the actual conclave with the first ballot.

7 p.m. (11 a.m.) This is the first possible smoke sighting. The smoke is black if they have not chosen a pope and white if they have chosen a pope.

7:15 p.m. (11:15 a.m.) The cardinals pray Vespers in the Sistine Chapel.

7:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m.) The cardinals transfer from the Sistine Chapel back to the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

8 p.m. (noon) Dinner is served.

Wednesday, March 13
6:30 a.m. (10:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 12) Breakfast is served.

7:45 a.m. (11:45 p.m. Tuesday, March 12) The cardinals transfer from the Domus Sanctae Marthae to the Pauline Chapel.

8:15 a.m. (12:15 a.m.) Mass is celebrated in the Pauline Chapel.

9:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m.) The cardinals transfer from the Pauline Chapel to the Sistine Chapel, pray Hora Media (Liturgy of the Hours) and proceed with two rounds of voting.

[10:30 a.m. (2:30 a.m.) In the event that a pope is chosen during the first votes of the morning, smoke would appear.]

Noon (4 a.m.) Smoke is sent up after the two morning votes if no pope elected.

12:30 p.m. (4:30 a.m.) The cardinals transfer from the Sistine Chapel to the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

1 p.m. (5 a.m.) Lunch is served.

4 p.m. (8 a.m.) The cardinals transfer from the Domus Sanctae Marthae to the Sistine Chapel.

4:50 p.m. (8:50 a.m.) After brief prayer, the cardinals proceed with the two rounds of evening votes.

[6 p.m. (10 a.m.) In the event that a pope is chosen during the first votes of the evening, smoke would appear.]

7 p.m. (11 a.m.) Smoke is sent up after the two evening votes if no pope elected.

7:15 p.m. (11:15 a.m.) The cardinals pray Vespers in the Sistine Chapel.

7:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m.) The cardinals transfer from the Sistine Chapel to the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

8 p.m. (Noon) Dinner is served.

The conclave could follow this basic schedule for another day. After three days, if no pope has been elected by a two-thirds majority, voting is traditionally suspended for one day of prayer, discussion and spiritual exhortation. After a series of seven further ballots, the process may again be halted for reflection, until finally only the two cardinals who received the most votes in the last ballot are eligible in a runoff election. The two candidates, however, do not themselves have the right to vote.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

At the RCIA Masses, the Cycle A Readings are proclaimed and the scrutinies are celebrated. The man born blind is healed of his blindness and given his sight. Jesus also gives him spiritual sight to believe in the Son of Man.

The Cycle C readings bless us with one of the most important descriptions of God our Father through the eyes of Jesus.

This is a God, our Father, who loves without conditions. This is a God, our Father, who forgives and accepts even the slightest sign of a "return" or "change of heart." This is a God, our Father, who is deeply concerned with the condition of our spirit and will do anything to revive us, bring us back to life, and help us to find healing and peace.

Not only does this father give everything to his younger son who squanders it all, but when he comes to his senses and returns home, the father rejoices and pours out his love to his son. Likewise, when his older son is jealous and angry and resentful, this father goes out to him. He reasons and explains the need to forgive and does everything he can to restore peace, love, joy, acceptance, caring and openness to his son.

Both sons, in some sense, were dead. They lost some important things deep within their spirit. Both went to a place within that had closed them off and left them less. This father cared and loved his sons. This father was willing to give and forgive. This father not only gave them life when they came into this world, but also gave them life when they lost it and couldn’t seem to find their way back.

This is a description of a God, our Father, that we cannot miss and should not misinterpret. We must get this! We must hear this! We must discover our Father and let his love heal us and always welcome us back and give us life life eternal.

This is not so much the story of the prodigal son as it is the story of the Father of endless and unconditional love this is our Father!

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

Friday, March 8, 2013

The force of forgiveness

Archbishop José H. Gómez
By Archbishop José H. Gómez

We need to become better at forgiveness.

That is one of the messages we hear in our Gospel readings as we approach the half-way point of this holy season of Lent.

In one of the Gospels this week, St. Peter asks Jesus how many times he has to forgive someone. And Jesus tells him, “Seventy times seven times.” In other words, every time. And the Gospel for this coming Sunday is the parable of the Prodigal Son, which is a beautiful lesson in God’s mercy and forgiveness.

This is a lesson that we all need to learn more and more.

We ask God for this grace every day in the prayer that Jesus taught us — Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

But how hard it is for us to live these words! How easy it becomes for us to fall into critical judgments of others.

It is true we can find a lot that deserves criticism. There are many sinners and many scandals and injustices in our world.

This was true also in Jesus’ time. But he came to show us a different way. And it is urgent these days that we try harder to live this different way of Jesus Christ.

Our culture has become a culture of complaint and righteous anger — where people are quick to condemn and quick to judge. Our culture has become a culture of no forgiveness.

We have to watch out that we don’t get caught up in this. Our Christian faith should always make us different. We have to try to be people of pardon and peace. People of mercy and forgiveness.

God’s mercy and forgiveness are the essential message of the Gospel. Jesus came “to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins,” the Gospel tells us.

Jesus was very clear — the mercy we seek from God must be the mercy that we show to others.

In the new evangelization of this culture, we are called to make mercy and forgiveness our message and our witness to the world.

The world is looking for Jesus Christ. And when people go looking for him, they are going to turn naturally to those of us who say we know him. To those of us who say we believe in Jesus and live according to his Word and his example.

What do they find when they look at us? Do they see Jesus? Do they find a reflection of God’s own mercy and forgiveness?

Lent is a time for us to be honest with ourselves. It’s easy to see the faults of others. But it’s also easy to forget how often we disappoint God by our own lack of love, by our own failures to be faithful.

In our Christian lives we are always stretching towards Jesus and the holiness he calls us to. And we know that we fall down all the time.

But every time we fail, we have forgiveness. God’s mercy is always there for us. His judgments are kind. They are the judgments of a Father who loves us.

Can we say the same thing about our own judgments? About our thoughts and words about those who are in our lives or in the news?

We will bring more people to Jesus through our mercy and forgiveness than through our critical judgments — no matter how right we might be and no matter how wrong the other person might be.

To forgive is to make an act of faith. When we forgive, we aren’t forgetting or excusing the sins of the past. By our forgiveness, we are saying that we believe God is the only judge.

Our task as Christians is not to judge. Jesus said, Judge not and you will not be judged (Luke 6:37). He calls us to forgive the sinner and to repair the damage done by his sin. We are called to bring sinners to God, to right the wrongs they have committed, and to heal the wounds and divisions they have caused.

So this week, as we continue to pray for our church and our new pope, let us pray for the grace to be people of true mercy and forgiveness.

We need to remember that we are all sinners, some of us worse than others. But all of us stand in need of God’s mercy. This is the beauty of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is God’s school of love, where we experience his mercy, which is the mercy he wants us to extend to others.

So let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary, the Mother of Mercy and the Refuge of Sinners, to help us be people of forgiveness who are building a society of merciful love and justice.

Archbishop José H. Gómez 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 at (213) 637-7000, or on Facebook at

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Prayer for vocations/Oración por las vocaciones

Archdiocese of Los Angeles
ordination Class of 2012.
(Credit: The Tidings)
The Prayer for Vocations, by Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, is read after all Masses.


Prayer for vocations

Good and gracious God, you have called us through our baptism to discipleship with your Son Jesus Christ, and have sent us to bring the good news of salvation to all people.

We pray for you to grant us more priests, deacons, religious brothers, and sisters and lay ministers to build up your church here within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Inspire our young men and women by the example of Blessed Junipero Serra to give themselves totally to the work of Christ and his church.

We ask this in the name of Jesus our Lord. Amen!


Oración por las Vocaciones

Dios bueno y bondadoso, nos has llamado a traves del bautismo a ser discípulos junto con tu Hijo Jesucristo, y nos ha mandado a llevar la buena nueva de la salvación a todos los pueblos.

Te rogamos por más sacerdotes, diáconos, religiosos, religiosas y ministros laicos para edificar tu iglesia aquí en la Arquidiócesis de Los Angeles.

Inspira a nuestros jóvenes con el ejemplo del Beato Junípero Serra para que se entreguen totalmente al trabajo de Cristo y su iglesia.

Te lo pedimos en el nombre de Jesus nuestro Señor. ¡Amén!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Treasures of Our Faith

The San Fernando Pastoral Region presents a new series of articles titled "Treasures of our Faith." The series is authored by Ryan Adams, one of the region's diaconate candidates and a member of the region's media team.

The first article explains why we stand for the entrance at the beginning of Mass.

Treasures of Our Faith: Why we stand at the beginning of Mass

By Ryan Adams

Greetings, brothers and sisters. As we go through this Year of Faith, each week we will take a journey together to deepen and rediscover our faith as Catholic Christians. We will take time to look at the rich traditions of our Church, we’ll look at what certain things signify and their symbolism, take time to answer some frequently asked questions and look at why we do certain things as Catholics.

We’ll start by looking at why we stand for the entrance at the beginning of Mass.

We stand to signify that something important is taking place; we take the posture of standing as a welcoming stance, as a greeting. When we are seated and someone walks in to see us, we stand up out of respect, out of friendship, to greet and welcome that person. This is what we are doing here during the entrance, at the start of the Mass. As Catholic Christians we believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, however we also believe in our Lord's true presence in the word (the book of the Gospels), in the celebrant who acts in persona christi (in the person of Christ), as well as his presence in all of us, as a gathered community of the faithful during the Mass.

Let us remember that when we stand at the beginning of Mass, we do so to greet and welcome our Lord and savior into our midst.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

In RCIA Masses, Cycle A readings are proclaimed and the scrutinies are celebrated. The woman at the well discovers there is water to be had that comes from within and which will provide eternal life. Drinking from this water means we will never be thirsty.)

The Cycle C readings link us back to the Exodus story with Moses atop the mountain looking upon and remarking about a remarkable vision: "I must go over to look at this remarkable sight, and see why the bush is not burned."

There, at the bush, Moses experiences God who calls him and sends him to free his people whose cries for mercy and release from affliction have been heard. God's response brings freedom of spirit and wholeness of life. God attends to the inner life of his people and every person. It is surely why Jesus, in today’s Gospel, attends to fruitfulness and fertility.

The fig tree (which is a special biblical sign of Israel and her faith) sits in ground that has been fertilized and cared for and should become fruitful. But bareness results from Israel's lack of acknowledgement of sinfulness and refusal to live faith fully.

This is no different for the Christian who is also called to acknowledgement of individual and corporate sinfulness and a true spirit of repentance. This is what Lent is all about: confessing my/our sinfulness. We all get our Moses chance each day to stand before our burning bush (God) who remarkably gives light and life and power and grace to us. We are given the chance to become resplendent and fruitful fig trees that produce much fruit, because the ground in which we have been planted is fertilized, loved, graced and tilled by our Father's care.

Are we open? Are we willing? Will we respond? Do we desire? Is life – God’s life – to be at the center of our own?

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

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Year of Faith and the Sacramental Life of the Church

The Seven Sacraments, from left to right: baptism, confirmation, Eucharist,
reconciliation, marriage, holy orders, anointing of the sick.

About the series
St. Bernard Church Pastor Father Perry D. Leiker presents an eight-month series about the seven sacraments.

The seven sacraments are at the center of our life as church. We celebrate pivotal moments in our living as Catholic Christians by experiencing Christ in celebrated moments of faith. To understand deeply these moments is to live our sacramental life fully.

How to attend
The series will take place in the parish hall, unless otherwise announced, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., with the exception of the final talk, which will be from 7 to 8:15 p.m. See our full schedule below for the exact dates the talks will be given in English and Spanish.

How to listen
New episodes begin March 7 and air through the end of the series in October.

To subscribe to the podcast using iTunes, click on the first icon. To listen to episodes, click on the the SoundCloud link, the second icon. To listen to each episode individually, click on the date you want to hear.

Presentation schedule
  • Presentation No. 5 — "Sacraments: Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick"
    (July 9 in English; Julio 15 en Español)
  • Presentation No. 6 — "Sacraments: Holy Orders and Matrimony"
    (August 6 in English; Septiembre 9 en Español)