Monday, April 29, 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.

Adams' fifth article explains biblical readings.

By Ryan Adams

The Lectionary is composed of the readings and the responsorial psalm assigned for each Mass of the year (Sundays, weekdays, and special occasions). The arrangement of the biblical readings brings out the unity of the Old and New Testaments and of the history of salvation, in which Christ is the central figure.

The first reading: The first reading is mostly chosen from the Old Testament; however, during the Easter season, the Book of Acts will be read. The first reading usually harmonizes with the Gospel reading. It reveals the continuity between Israel and Jesus who comes not to replace, but to fulfill Israel. The Old Testament points us toward Christ in the Gospel.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Looking Ahead

 By Father Perry D. Leiker

What good is anything until it is tested and proven? We might think it is good. We might believe it will be reliable. We might hope that it is going to come through for us. But until it is challenged and put to the test we cannot really say that we know its worth. When it is tried and tested, then we will know its proven value.

The word today shows several signs of understanding this truth. "It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," we read in today's scriptures. Hardships prove our faith. Many disciples have been willing to suffer and die for their faith. When they were tortured and put to death, before they died, they realized that they had already become kingdom people.

When John talks about his vision of a new earth, he too, recognizes that things must come to an end: "The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more." There is no doubt that, in things coming to an end, much suffering and struggle is often realized.

Jesus himself tells his disciples: "My children, I will be with you only a little while longer." This is the ultimate pain: to lose someone because they depart from our lives. These challenges so different and yet, in some ways, so much the same all bring hardship and struggle. They also challenge us to dig down deep into our soul and test or prove how much trust we really have. This is where we discover the kingdom alive in us.

God dwells in these places in a special way. Here is where God leads, graces, fills, strengthens, teaches and loves kingdom alive.

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

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Immigration reform: The debate begins

Archbishop José H. Gómez
By Archbishop José H. Gómez 

I’ve spent most of this past week working on immigration issues.

As chairman of the U.S. Bishops Migration Committee, I’ve been working with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the U.S. bishops’ president, and many of my brother bishops, to study the new comprehensive immigration reform legislation that has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

This is shaping up to be the summer of immigration reform. Hearings on the Senate bill began last week and debate is expected to continue until the bill is voted on sometime later this summer.

This will be a period of intense activity — both at the national level and locally here in Los Angeles. We have the nation’s largest immigrant population, so we have a high stake in the outcome of these congressional debates.

We will hold our annual immigration Mass at the cathedral on July 21. And throughout the coming weeks, our Office of Life, Justice and Peace, will be working to educate and mobilize our parishes.

Many of us have forgotten our immigrant roots. But our church has always been a church of immigrants. In earlier generations, we welcomed newcomers from every nation in Europe. Today, we are still welcoming newcomers — but now most of them come from Latin America, Asia, Oceania and Africa.

This great Archdiocese of Los Angeles is a beautiful manifestation of our immigrant church and nation — so many people, from so many countries, all coming here to be part of the American Dream.

We see the same patterns in Catholic communities throughout the United States. Our American church is a family of God drawn from almost 60 ethnicities, nationalities and countries of origin.

Because we are an immigrant church, this debate over immigration is a debate about the future of the church and our Catholic people. The Mexicans and other Latin Americans at the center of this debate — the millions whose fate is being decided by our politicians — are mostly fellow Catholics.

Earlier this week, the U.S. bishops held a press conference on the reform legislation, which is known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.

This bill has many of the elements the bishops are looking for. The job now is to improve this legislation so that all can come out of the shadows and are able to pursue the American Dream.

We are concerned about the border-security “triggers” in the bill. These are certain conditions that must be met before undocumented immigrants could even apply for permanent residency or citizenship.

My brother bishops and I are deeply concerned about the security and sovereignty of our country. The church has always taught that governments have the duty to defend and secure their national borders.

I lived for many years in Texas, which has our nation’s longest border with Mexico, so I know these issues first hand. I agree with the Senators who drafted this legislation — we absolutely need to secure our borders to stem the flow of drugs and crime and to reduce risks of foreign terrorists entering our country.

But I also think we need to make sure that these “triggers” don’t become “moving targets.”

Our government has spent billions in recent years to build fences and increase monitoring and enforcement along our borders. Under this bill we would spend billions more.

My concern is that “security” is not something we can really measure. We can’t have the lives and futures of millions of men and women depend on a political calculation of when and whether our borders are “secure enough.”

So to me, it makes sense to pursue the two goals at the same time. We can find new ways to protect our borders and to document the people who come into our country. At the same time we can provide a generous path for those who are living in the margins of society to gain a legal status along their way to becoming American citizens.

Our nation will be far stronger and more secure when we find the political will to welcome this new generation of immigrants into the promise of America.

Let’s pray for one another this week. And let’s pray hard for our leaders and our country.

As a church, let’s show our leaders the way by continuing our beautiful work of welcoming the stranger — helping them to learn our history, language and values. Helping them to cherish and maintain their distinctive identities, cultures and faith while making their own contributions to the common spirit and culture of America.

Let us ask Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Mother of the Americas, to open our hearts so that we build a world where no one is a stranger.

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

Monday, April 22, 2013

Jesus calls us to help our neighbor without hesitation

Loretta Gerardo
By Loretta Gerardo
Special to St. Bernard

This has been stirring in my head now for a few days.

I am an avid listener of local and world news; and yes we, America, have had loads of horrific tragedies lately. I'm not saying we have not had tragedies in the past, but I have noticed that more Americans are stepping up and unselfishly running to these tragedies to help their fellow man and putting aside their own safety to aid and assist neighbors and strangers regardless of race, color or creed.

These heroic actions have not only put a smile in my heart but have reminded me of what Jesus has been telling all of us from the beginning: "Help thy neighbor" and "Love thy neighbor."

As I reflect on these words, I tell myself that Jesus did not wait for tragedies to occur to go help the needy, the poor, the downtrodden, those afflicted with pain and suffering, and the seen or unseen. So I want to personally say thank you to the unselfish human beings who are showing Jesus-like actions. Because of your unselfish and kind actions, I will live my days without hesitation to help my neighbor and to love my neighbor to the best of my ability.

I wonder, who out there agrees to do the same?

Loretta Gerardo is a former St. Bernard parishioner and student at St. Bernard Catholic School. She lives in Texas.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Looking Ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

Today is familiarly called Good Shepherd Sunday. It is also referred to as World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

Jesus speaks of a shepherd calling his sheep, and they know his voice and listen and follow. A shepherd is essential to the well-being of a flock of sheep. Without his guiding voice, they undoubtedly get lost, are attacked and eaten by the wolves, and just simply do not survive. The shepherd knows his sheep and cares for them.

The image is so simple. The image is, perhaps, a little strange in that it compares people to animals. But the image also provides an opportunity to appreciate cause and effect. The shepherd (of people) actually affects the community by being in a relationship of care, concern, love and service. It is an extraordinary life. It is one that fulfills on so many levels perhaps, because in some way it is absolutely divine or super-human.

Imagine being a voice of God an instrument of his love, a connection for those who feel they have been cut off and have simply lost meaningful contact, a shepherd, a voice, an instrument, a piece of the puzzle that brings people back, puts their lives back together, brings meaning, and secures peace.

As church, we understand the pivotal role of the shepherd. We understand the need to call more shepherds and support those already in ministry. Perhaps this weekend someone among us will hear the call and feel the invitation to share the vocation of priest, deacon or religious.

No one should ever close the door on the possibility of a vocation. Surely, a very large number of priests, deacons, and religious men and women, are in their vocation never having thought they would indeed have a vocation. Rather, the vocation snuck up on them and they did not find a vocation a vocation found them.

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

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A time for immigration reform

Archbishop José H. Gómez
By Archbishop José H. Gómez 

April 23 marks the 20th anniversary of the passing of César Chávez, the great Mexican-American civil rights leader.
Chávez inspires me. He lived his Catholic faith with deep devotion and courage. And his love for God led him to struggle for justice and dignity for the poor.

It is fitting that we remember this anniversary as Congress begins debating comprehensive immigration reform. The legislation that is being introduced this week in the U.S. Senate is long overdue. Immigration reform is the civil rights test of our generation.

Many people still don’t understand the church’s commitment to this cause. For me it’s a question of human rights and human dignity. It is a question of who we are as people and as a nation.

It’s true that many immigrants crossed our borders without first getting a visa from our government. Others came in through proper channels but decided to stay after their visas or other temporary permits ran out.

This is not good. We are a nation of laws. But for almost 20 years, our nation chose not to enforce our laws. We looked the other way because we needed these immigrants for our construction companies, service industries and farms. That’s a difficult truth. These men and women came here to work — and all of us have been depending on and benefitting from their work.

Undocumented immigrants should be held accountable. The question is how.

Is it fair for our country not to enforce its laws for many years, and then suddenly to start punishing people who broke these laws? I don’t think so. But that’s our policy right now.

And it’s a cruel policy. The problem is the people we are punishing have become our neighbors. Most of those we call “illegal” have been living here for five years or more — two-thirds have been here for at least a decade. Almost half are living in homes with a spouse and children.

In the last four years alone we have deported more than 1 million people. About a quarter of them were living in a home with their children and families.

Of course, we are not just talking about “statistics.” We are talking about families.

We’re talking about parents who, with no warning, won’t be coming home for dinner tonight — and who may not see their families again for a decade at least.

"Many people still don’t understand the church’s commitment to this cause. For me it’s a question of human rights and human dignity. It is a question of who we are as people and as a nation."

Because of the broken logic of our current laws, it can take more than 10 years to get into this country legally. The waiting lists are even longer for applicants from most Latin American countries.

So we need to understand what it really means when politicians and people in the media say things like, “Illegal immigrants should leave the country and get back in line to enter the country legally.”

When we say that, we’re asking them to choose not to see their spouse, their children, their relatives for a decade or more. Is that a fair question to ask them? What would we do if we were faced with that kind of choice? Would we follow a law that means maybe never seeing our families again?

These are some of the hard questions that we have to ask ourselves as our leaders begin debating immigration reform. How we respond is a challenge to our conscience — and a measure of our humanity.

The U.S. bishops believe that real reform means providing a generous path to citizenship and a system that supports families and children.

We want reforms so that immigrant families can remain together. We want reforms so that migrant farmworkers and others are not exploited. And we want reforms so our brothers and sisters can live with the dignity that God intends for them.

So let us pray this week for our leaders and for our country and for the millions of our neighbors who are waiting for true immigration reform. And let us try to live our faith during these important debates.

César Chávez once said: “I think there are three elements to my faith. It’s God, myself and my neighbor. ... I’m Catholic traditional. I go to Church regularly and faithfully. ... But besides that ... I go out and do things. ... I think Christ really taught us. ... Clothe the naked, feed the hungry and give water to the thirsty. It’s very simple stuff and that’s what we’ve got to do. ... We’ve got to give our faith an essence through deeds.”

Let us ask Our Lady of Guadalupe, the mother of the Americas, to help us to live our faith through deeds.”

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

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

2013 St. Bernard Catholic School Fashion Show

The 2013 St. Bernard School Fashion Show begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Quiet Cannon, 901 Via San Clemente in Montebello.

Please make every effort to support our school by attending the event or by buying raffle tickets.

Tickets for the show, titled "We Go Together", are on sale in the parish office. Proceeds from this annual event sustain and expand the educational programs for our students.

For information, call Marisol Muñoz at (323) 440-2276 or Jacky Castaneda at (323) 420-3383.

Above: Photographs from the 2012 Fashion Show.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pope Francis offers prayers for Boston victims

People comfort each other after explosions went off at
the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2013. Two
bombs exploded in the crowded streets near the finish
line of the marathon, killing at least three people,
including an 8-year-old boy, and injuring more
than 140.
(Photograph by CNS/Jessica Rinaldi, Reuters)
Pope Francis has sent his “sympathy and closeness in prayer” to the people of Boston in a telegram sent on his behalf.

The telegram reads:

His Eminence Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston

Deeply grieved by news of the loss of life and grave injuries caused by the act of violence perpetrated last evening in Boston, His Holiness Pope Francis wishes me to assure you of his sympathy and closeness in prayer.

In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy, his holiness invokes God’s peace upon the dead, his consolation upon the suffering and his strength upon all those engaged in the continuing work of relief and response.

At this time of mourning the Holy Father prays that all Bostonians will be united in a resolve not to be overcome by evil, but to combat evil with good (cf. Romans 12:21), working together to build an ever more just, free and secure society for generations yet to come.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cardinal Seán Patrick O'Malley's statement on bombing at Boston Marathon

By Cardinal Seán Patrick O'Malley

The Archdiocese of Boston joins all people of good will in expressing deep sorrow following the senseless acts of violence perpetrated at the Boston Marathon today. Our prayers and concern are with so many who experienced the trauma of these acts, most especially the loved ones of those who lives were lost and those who were injured, and the injured themselves.

The citizens of the city of Boston and the commonwealth of Massachusetts are blessed by the bravery and heroism of many, particularly the men and women of the police and fire departments and emergency services who responded within moments of these tragic events. Gov. Deval Patrick, Mayor Thomas Menino, and Police Commissioner Ed Davis are providing the leadership that will see us through this most difficult time and ensure that proper procedures are followed to protect the public safety.

In the midst of the darkness of this tragedy we turn to the light of Jesus Christ, the light that was evident in the lives of people who immediately turned to help those in need today. We stand in solidarity with our ecumenical and interfaith colleagues in the commitment to witness the greater power of good in our society and to work together for healing.

Cardinal Seán Patrick O'Malley is archbishop of the Archdiocese of Boston.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Looking Ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

People often say: "Everyone deserves a second chance." Peter gets that second chance today — or I should say, another second chance. But even more than that, he gets the chance to set things right, all at the invitation of Jesus.

Having just celebrated the Passion of Christ a few weeks ago, this point is fresh in our mind. In a moment when Peter was — as so often was the case — full of himself, he professed that he would even die for Jesus. But in fact, in Jesus' moment of need, he denied even knowing him — and not just once, but three times.

Jesus words left Peter bereft: "Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me thrice." And so it was. But at the very end of the Gospel of John in his final chapter, Jesus asks Peter three times: "Do you love me?" Three times, like the triple denial, Peter is given the chance to — one, two, three times — proclaim his love for the Lord. This kind of thing only seems to happen in the movies — everything gets set straight.

The happy ending indeed takes place. All things are restored, and Shakespeare's words ring true: "All's well that ends well." In a very deep sense that is the message of Easter itself. Imagine it: from death comes life — and not just life, but eternal life. There is a great message here that comes from Jesus, is verified by the life of Jesus, and simply belongs to Jesus. Jesus the Christ teaches us that in himself the human and divine did indeed come together — they became one.

There is a lot of mystery and grace involved, but the fact is that Jesus brings together seeming opposites and profound truth and not only speaks it but lives it. Jesus gives us the chance to set things right not just for today, but forever!

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

Friday, April 12, 2013

Praying with our new pope

Archbishop José H. Gómez
By Archbishop José H. Gómez

I am writing to you this week from Rome!

As I write you this, I have just returned from concelebrating a private Mass with our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, in his chapel at the Domus Sanctae Marthae (“St. Martha’s House”), where the pope has decided to live for the time being.

The Eucharist we celebrated was very special for me because we were celebrating the Annunciation and I was ordained a bishop in Denver on the Solemnity of the Annunciation in 2001.

During the Mass I was praying for Pope Francis and for the church. I was also thanking God for all his graces and blessings in my life — including each one of you. You have all been in my prayers in a special way during this pilgrimage to Rome.

Two days before my Mass with the pope, on April 6, I marked the anniversary of my appointment as archbishop of Los Angeles. So in this Mass, I was also thanking God for all the graces that I have received in these three years — and especially the chance to serve you.

The family of God here in Los Angeles is very special to me. Your witness to the faith in your ministries and in your daily lives gives me strength and hope every day. Thank you for your prayers, your support and your love.

I had the opportunity to talk to Pope Francis about our local church. It is so great to be able to speak to the pope in Spanish, which we share as our native language!

I told our Holy Father that all the faithful of Los Angeles love him and that we are praying for him and his ministry and that he has our loyalty. He told me that he is grateful for our prayers — and he asked us for more prayers!

I am here in Rome as the episcopal moderator of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL), which is headquartered here in Los Angeles. We are making a pilgrimage to Rome for this Year of Faith to study more deeply the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

We also had the blessing of meeting the Holy Father as a group. He offered us warm words of encouragement for CALL’s mission. We came away even more convinced that now is the time for Latinos to love and live their faith more fully and exercise greater responsibility in the Church and in society.

This is such a great time to be Catholic! We are in a beautiful new moment of grace for the church!

God in his love always gives us the pope we need for our times. Pope Francis is the face of our hope for the new evangelization — especially in the Americas. And he is telling us — not only in words but also in so many pastoral gestures — that our new evangelization must be expressed in works of humility and service.

In his homily for the Mass we celebrated for the Annunciation, Pope Francis talked about humility as a path of holiness.

He pointed to the example of Mary, St. Joseph and Jesus who traveled “the road of humility” to Bethlehem. Even though Mary “did not understand well” what God was asking of her, she humbled herself and entrusted “her soul to the will of God,” he said. St. Joseph also “lowered himself” to take on the “great responsibility” of his bride who was with child. 
“So it is always with God’s love, that, in order to reach us, takes the way of humility,” Pope Francis told us.

Our Holy Father reminded us that humility is the foundation of our Christian vocation.

As Christians, we must follow the humble way that Jesus walked, the way of the cross.

“One can take no other road,” the pope told us. “If I do not lower myself, if you do not lower yourself, you are not a Christian.”

So let us pray hard for our new pope this week. He is asking for our prayers! And let’s pray for one another and for our great church of Los Angeles.

May we renew ourselves in the humility of the cross — the humility of a love that comes in service to God and to our brothers and sisters, especially to those who are most in need.

And with our new Pope Francis, let us pray: “Let us gaze upon Mary, let us look to Joseph, and let us ask the grace of humility.  But, the humility which is the path whereby charity surely goes. When Paul tells us: ‘think that others are better than you,’ it is sometimes difficult to think so. But, Paul is thinking of this mystery, of this way, for he knew in the profoundest part of his heart that love only travels on this path of humility.”

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

Wednesday, April 10, 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.

Adams' fourth article explains the "Gloria in Excelsis Deo", Latin for "Glory to God in the highest."

By Ryan Adams

Treasures of Our Faith: 'Gloria in Excelsis Deo'

The hymn begins with the words that the angels sang when the birth of Christ was announced to shepherds in Luke's Gospel. It is an ancient hymn in which the church, gathered together in the Holy Spirit, glorifies God.

The purpose of these introductory parts, the Act of Penitence, the Kyrie Eleison, and the Gloria, is to ensure that we, the faithful, who have come together as one body, establish communion and prepare ourselves to listen to God’s word and to celebrate the Eucharist worthily.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Looking Ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

The mercy of God is not only great, but abundant. It is offered to us before we know we need it. And when we open to it we receive more than we could ever want or need.

Grace, as understood in the church, is all gift. It is not deserved or merited. It is not earned or able to be purchased. It is God’s love and Spirit poured out over us and into us. If we think we earn it, we not only limit its abundance but also its fruitfulness. Only when we truly perceive it as gift and free, and given out of love, do we begin to understand how blessed we are to receive it.

Grace is another way of seeing God’s divine mercy. The mercy of God is revealed so often in the scriptures, especially through Jesus’ merciful love shown to the sick and those in need. But also, as in today’s Gospel, his mercy reaches out even to those who betrayed him and left him to suffer and die alone. He offered them merciful love when he met them again in the upper room on Easter night. He did not condemn them but offered them the gift of peace, the gift of his Spirit, the call to go forth, and even the gift and power to share God’s forgiveness with others.

If the apostles had received what they deserved for their lack of faithfulness to Jesus, indeed, they would have received very little at all. But in God’s great mercy and love, Jesus poured out grace upon grace to reveal unmerited and underserved love.

Do we get it? Do we understand that God is always loving and blessing us? Do we realize that the best posture before God is simply gratefulness?

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

Saturday, April 6, 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 "Kyrie, Eleison."

By Ryan Adams

Treasures of Our Faith: 'Kyrie, Eleison'

The Kyrie, Eleison, which is Greek for "Lord, have mercy," is begun after the Act of Penitence, unless it has already been included in the Act.

Since it is a chant by which all of the faithful both acclaim the Lord and also implore the Lord's mercy, it is usually done by all, the people and the choir or cantor all taking part in it.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Our new pope's challenging vision

Archbishop José H. Gómez
By Archbishop José H. Gómez

I wish all of you and your families Easter blessings! This was a joyful Easter for me and I was touched to see so many of you at our services at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. In some cases, we had “standing room only,” which is a beautiful sign of your devotion to Jesus Christ.

For all of us, this was also the first Easter celebrated with our new Pope Francis. In my prayers during this time, I have been trying to accompany Pope Francis as he begins his ministry as the vicar of Christ on earth.

And already, he has given us many examples of goodness, humility and tender pastoral love for the family of God.

I have been listening carefully to Pope Francis’ words, trying to understand the heart and mind of our new holy father.

One theme keeps coming up — how the church must “go out from itself” and fight the temptation to become inward looking and self-absorbed. In fact, this was the theme of his talk to the College of Cardinals before the conclave that elected him.

In that talk, he said: “The church is called to come out from itself and to go to the peripheries, not only geographical, but also the existential: those of the mystery of sin, of suffering, of injustice, those of ignorance and absence of faith, those of thought, those of every form of misery.”

Pope Francis is saying that all of us in the Church need to come out of our pious “shells” — the comfortable patterns and practices that keep us “protected” from the demands of truly living our faith in our everyday life. We need to overcome our natural tendencies to self-centeredness so that we can really live for the good of others and for the Church’s mission.

Pope Francis says: “We are called to follow in his footsteps. … To step outside ourselves so as to attend to the needs of others; those who long for a sympathetic ear, those in need of comfort or help. We should not simply remain in our own secure world, that of the ninety-nine sheep who never strayed from the fold. But we should go out, with Christ, in search of the one lost sheep, however far it may have wandered. … going out in search of others so as to bring them the light and the joy of our faith in Christ.”

“Self-referential” is a word that I’ve noticed a lot in our new Pope’s writings and talks. What he means is that we are always tempted to focus too much on our own ministries, our own internal structures and programs. When we do this, we lose our evangelical instincts. We become “managers” not apostles, Pope Francis says.

Our new pope is reminding us that everything starts from our deep life of prayer and our intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. But we can’t stop there. We can’t forget that the Church exists to evangelize. We can’t forget that the gift of faith is given to us so that we will share it with others.

When we know Christ and love Christ, we have the duty to share that knowledge and love with others. Faith increases when it is tested and shared. So the more we go out and give of ourselves and our faith, the more our faith will grow. “The power of grace ... comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others,” the pope says.

In his talk before the conclave, Pope Francis referred to the ancient Catholic idea of the mysterium lunae (“the mystery of the moon”).

The church fathers used to say that the church is like the moon and Christ is the sun. The moon has no light of its own. It only reflects the light of the sun.

This should also be true for each of us as disciples and for the church. Like the “moon,” we have no light of our own. We have only the light that comes to us from the “sun” of Jesus Christ. So we are called to reflect in our own lives the light of Jesus Christ. We are called to bring his light into our world. To scatter the darkness through our faithful witness to his Resurrection.

So in this beautiful season of Easter, let us pray for one another and let us try to unite ourselves more closely to our new Pope Francis.

And let us ask our Blessed Mother to support us as we try to go outside ourselves, to seek the lost, and to reflect the light of Christ in our ministries and in everything we do.

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