Friday, May 31, 2013

A world united in adoration

Archbishop José H. Gómez
By Archbishop José H. Gómez 

This Sunday, June 2, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles will take part in a historic spiritual event.

To celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Pope Francis has asked for an hour of "worldwide Eucharistic devotion."

So for the first time in the church's history, Catholics all over the world will be gathered before the Eucharist in adoration at the same time, praying for the same intentions as the pope.

Here in Los Angeles, I will celebrate Mass for Corpus Christi at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels at 8 a.m. Following the Mass, I will lead a procession with the blessed sacrament, and then the sacrament will be exposed for adoration in one of the cathedral chapels.

All of this will coincide with the start of a holy hour of Eucharistic adoration that Pope Francis will lead in St. Peter's Basilica at 5 p.m. Rome time.

This time of prayer will be a beautiful witness of the universality of our Catholic Church. It is beautiful to imagine — Jesus Christ will be present and adored in cathedrals and cloisters, chapels and churches from Iceland to Chile and everywhere to the ends of the earth, from the rising of the sun to its setting.

The church lives from the Eucharist, which is the living sign of Christ’s love for us, making present his redeeming sacrifice on the Cross. The Eucharist is Christ in his love, giving himself to us as our food and drink, to strengthen us for our journey of faith and our mission of evangelization.

And the Eucharist is always the sign of our unity as one family of God. All of us who share in the body and blood of Christ are made one by the Holy Spirit. As St. Paul said, "We, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf."

These are the beautiful mysteries that we celebrate on Corpus Christi. And this year, our new Holy Father has given us a visible symbol of these mysteries.

During this hour of worldwide adoration, our Holy Father wants us to be united with him in praying for two very specific intentions — one for the church and the other for those in the world in need:

— "For the Church ... May the Lord make her ever more obedient to hearing his Word in order to stand before the world 'ever more beautiful, without stain or blemish, but holy and blameless.' That through her faithful announcement, the Word that saves may still resonate as the bearer of mercy and may increase love to give full meaning to pain and suffering, giving back joy and serenity.”

— "For those around the world who still suffer slavery and who are victims of war, human trafficking, drug running, and slave labor. For the children and women who are suffering from every type of violence. May their silent scream for help be heard by a vigilant Church so that, gazing upon the crucified Christ, she may not forget the many brothers and sisters who are left at the mercy of violence. Also, for all those who find themselves in economically precarious situations, above all for the unemployed, the elderly, migrants, the homeless, prisoners, and those who experience marginalization. That the Church’s prayer and its active nearness give them comfort and assistance in hope and strength and courage in defending human dignity."

As we pray together this week, let’s remember these intentions of our Holy Father. In this week of Corpus Christi, let's also try to make time for adoration and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

Pope Francis has given us a timely reminder that our Christian life and mission depends on a deep personal encounter with the risen Lord in the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is a mystery to be lived. And we are called to be Eucharistic people. We are called to live from the graces we receive in the Eucharist and to make our lives something beautiful that we offer to God.

The love that we receive in the Eucharist is the love that we are called to share with the world. Day by day we are called to grow in holiness and to become an offering more and more acceptable to God. We are called to make our lives a kind of prayer — doing everything for God’s glory and for the good of our brothers and sisters.

So let’s take this beautiful opportunity this Sunday morning — no matter where we are — to unite ourselves with Pope Francis in prayer for the holiness of the church and for justice for those in need.

And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help unite us as one Body in Christ.

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 www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

UPDATED: Worldwide solemn Eucharistic adoration on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi

Eucharistic adoration will
take place all over the world on the
Solemnity of Corpus Christi on
Sunday, June 2.
On Sunday, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Pope Francis will preside over a special Eucharistic adoration that will extend at the same time all over the world, involving the cathedrals and parishes in each diocese.

At 5 p.m. Rome time (8 a.m. Los Angeles time), the whole world will be united in prayer and adoration of the blessed sacrament.

Locally, St. Finbar Parish in Burbank will close its 7 a.m. Mass with adoration of the blessed sacrament. Adoration will begin at approximately 8 a.m. and continue to 8:45 a.m.

St. Finbar is at 2010 W. Olive Ave. in Burbank. For more information, call the church office at (818) 846-6251.

Incarnation Church in Glendale will begin its adoration of the blessed sacrament at 3:30 p.m.

Incarnation Church is at 1001 N. Brand Blvd. in Glendale. For more information, call the church office at (818) 242-2579.

Archbishop Jose Gomez will celebrate Mass for Corpus Christi at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels at 8 a.m. Following the Mass, Archbishop Gomez will lead a procession with the blessed sacrament, and then the sacrament will be exposed for adoration in one of the cathedral chapels.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is at 555 W. Temple St. in Los Angeles. For more information, call the cathedral office at (213) 680-5200.

All are invited to attend and join in prayer with Pope Francis and the whole world.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Catholic Cemeteries Memorial Day Mass

Please join us as we pay tribute to
those interred in our cemeteries.
Catholic Cemeteries will celebrate Memorial Day Mass at all cemeteries at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 27. Please join us as we pay tribute to those interred in our cemeteries.

The following is a confirmed list of principal celebrants for our cemeteries:


Photo gallery:

Members of the Knights of Columbus stand in formation at the
beginning of a Memorial Day Mass at San Fernando Mission
Cemetery on Monday, May 27, 2013.
(Photographs by Michael J. Arvizu/St. Bernard)
A program for the annual Memorial Day Mass at San Fernando Mission
Cemetery is seen on the table with the bread and wine to be consecrated
on Monday, May 27, 2013. 
San Fernando Pastoral Region Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Wilkerson
incenses the altar at the beginning of a Memorial Day Mass at
San Fernando Mission Cemetery on Monday, May 27, 2013.
 
Doves are released at the conclusion of a Memorial Day Mass at
San Fernando Mission Cemetery on Monday, May 27, 2013.

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker 

Equally mysterious as the trinity itself is the "how": "How" did we discover this?

The easy answer is that God revealed it, and we hear that most clearly in John's gospel, especially in the great discourse after the Last Supper — Jesus speaks clearly and directly about his relationship to the Father and the Holy Spirit. The communion between them is intimate and completely transparent. Everything has been given over freely to the other and they share all because of their love for one another.

The communion among the three persons of God forms perfect community. In the most striking language, John prays that they (the disciples) might be one, as Jesus is one with the Father. But "how" God is three in one, and what that "looks" like, remains mystery.

Jesus' revelation of this is simple, but the truth of "how" it could be, remains unclear. It seems, however, that simply stating this truth is, in itself, remarkable. We say that God, almighty and everlasting, and always known as the"only" God, is three in one. This conjures up the image of an atom, a particle of matter in which electronic energy zooms around with perfect and rhythmic speed, producing energy and sustaining all matter. The very identity of God is this union of three sharing, giving, receiving, loving, revealing, and accepting, one another always and everywhere. This communion is love. This communion is being. This communion is what all community must be: a sharing, giving and receiving of love and life from one another.

What distinguishes community from a mob is not the gathering of people but the energy among them. A mob's energy usually does not reflect love and a common purpose for good. A mob's energy is often fueled by fear and hatred and in an instant can turn on anyone, even itself. Whatever holds a mob together can easily be manipulated and at least semi-controlled; it is always precarious to depend upon a desired outcome from a mob.

A community, on the other hand, usually generates good energy and love and actually seeks to grow in common understanding while seeking common goals. Jesus' disciples were a small community of faith. What stood before Jesus on the cross was clearly a mob.

The trinity is not something that can be explained or solved, but something that is to be encountered. Knowing the divine community — God — can and does transform our human community.

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

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Answering God's call

Archbishop José H. Gomez 
The following is adapted from an interview that Archbishop José H. Gomez gave recently to the magazine, The Franciscan Way. 

By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

How would you describe the state of vocations today?
There has been a crisis for some time now in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. Now, however, that’s true not just of the priesthood and consecrated life, but also of vocations to the married life. People used to get married when they were very young. Now it takes a long time for them to make a decision.

One of the reasons for all of these problems is the breakdown of the family. In the 1960s, the family entered a very challenging situation with divorce rates going up, more mobility, and less stability. It used to be that everyone sat down around the table and ate lunch and dinner together. There were family gatherings every weekend. That’s no longer the case.

I think this plays into young people not really understanding vocations or being willing to commit to one. Again, because many never had a stable family life, it is more difficult for young people to make decisions to commit to something that will last forever. Every vocation is born at home. The family is a domestic church. It is important for us to understand the role of family.

A couple of weeks ago in Rome, I had the opportunity to meet the Holy Father. At one point during the meeting, one of the priests with me asked the Holy Father to bless a zucchetto. The priest said, “Holy Father, could you bless this because my mother asked me to ask you.” The Holy Father’s eyes brightened and he replied, “One of the most important things in the life of a priest is his mother.”

I think for any vocation to be embraced, you have to have a good family environment. Again, this is true of marriage, too. How you think about married life and family life is so strongly influenced by what you experienced growing up in your parents’ home.

Are there any other reasons behind this crisis?
There is a lack of contact or relationship with consecrated people. A couple of generations ago, there were many priests and nuns that were visible to people. A vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life was an option most young Catholics at least thought about. We saw somebody living that vocation and could relate to it. Not anymore.

Along with that — and this is the most important thing — is the lack of depth in our understanding of the teachings of the Catholic Church and how to develop a spiritual life. In the old days, at Catholic schools, we had Mass and holy communion daily. We prayed the Rosary, and we were taught how to start a spiritual life. But, since the 1960s, we have little by little lost our sense of prayer. We don’t understand the importance of spending time with God, or how to pray and relate to God. We are more interested in material things or having fun, and sitting down to pray doesn’t seem like fun to a lot of people these days. It doesn’t seem as attractive.

Why is it important that we say “Yes” when we hear God calling us to a particular vocation?
When we believe in God, we want to do God’s will. To listen to what God wants and answer him is essential for our own fulfillment. It is essential to our happiness on earth and in getting us to heaven. The decision we make to answer God’s call, wherever that call may take us, will make all the difference in life.

What else can the family do to encourage vocations?
Pray together. Go to Mass together. Just talk about the important things in life. When something bad happens, say a prayer. Make an effort to go to religious events at the parish or make a pilgrimage. Usually the children don’t want to do that, and the parents worry about forcing their children to go. But they should. In the long term, it is something they will never forget, and it will make a difference.

Finally, this whole idea of knowing who we are is fundamental. Parents need to talk to children about that in a deep way, helping their children understand they are not just a Lakers fan or some other superficial thing, but a child of God. The best way a young person can learn that is to talk about it with their parents and see that reflected in the life of their parents.

What can pastors do to help the young adults in their parish discern their vocation?
The first thing pastors need to do is talk about vocations. They need to talk about it because people don’t know there is such a thing as a vocation, a particular call from God to the priesthood, consecrated life, or marriage. In the world, vocation is just a word. It doesn’t mean anything. We need to explain what it is.

The second thing the pastor must do is ask the young people what they think their vocation is. He must ask that question of every young person.

Just the fact of having the priest ask you what you are going to do with your life makes a difference. It gets you to start thinking about God’s will for your life and what Jesus is asking you to do. After that, it also helps for the priest to talk about the beauty of saying “Yes” to God and tell his own vocation story.

Strong Catholic schools are very important. They provide not only academic and spiritual formation, but also human formation, helping young people understand who they are as human persons.

Catholic universities are also absolutely important in this. During the college years, you discover what is out there in the world. It’s when you have to make decisions about what really matters and how you will live your life. Before that, in high school, you have the shelter of your family and a small community helping you make those decisions. But when you go to college, everything is wide open.

So what young people receive in college is going to mark their lives. That’s why it’s so important for universities to teach men and women the truth about God and the truth about who they are. Once they know that, they can make the right decisions.

What helped you pursue your vocation to the priesthood?
First, I went to Catholic schools, and they always asked the boys if we wanted to be priests. I also learned the basics of the faith there and at home.

Then, my mother got sick with cancer. She was later cured, but while she was sick, I remember thinking that life is not easy. I also saw my father going to daily Mass at that time. That caught my attention and helped me see that faith is important.

Later, a cousin who was a hero of mine was killed in a car accident. Those things helped me to think deeply about what I was going to do with my life.

Were you ever afraid to answer that call?
Yes, of course. There is always fear, regardless of the vocation. But the fear will not go away until you make a decision.

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 www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

"Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."

Even at face value, it just doesn’t get any better than this. This is the good news. Jesus hands over to his disciples (who are sinners) the gift of forgiveness. He "breathed into them" the power to forgive and retain sin. This is a gift from God. Only God can truly forgive sin, and he always does.

But through ministry and discipleship, this gift is and was to be shared so that everyone could experience the peace that comes with forgiveness. Anyone can experience healing from shame and brokenness. Anyone can find themselves returned to wholeness and holiness. Anyone can rediscover their dignity through the gift of God's forgiveness and love. This, Jesus did. But is it any surprise? Is this not typical of Jesus.

What keeps us down more than our shame and guilt? What prevents our movement forward more than our past sin and wrongdoings? What cripples our hope for a better future more than our remembrances of a bad past? Sin! It is powerful. Sin is destructive. Sin infects the core of our spirit and is deeper than emotion and thought, and is only healed in the spirit by the Spirit.

Pentecost is the sending of the Spirit. Pentecost is the real beginning of the church. Pentecost is new life, and healing, forgiveness and unity at the very core. The promise and the gift of the Holy Spirit is our way to the Father, and our way to understand and live the teachings of Jesus.

Our simple prayer should be said and said often: "Come, Holy Spirit. Fill the hearts of your faithful. Enkindle in them the fire of your love!"

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, or email pleiker@stbernard-church.com.

Saturday, May 18, 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' seventh article explains the readings.

By Ryan Adams

In the readings, God's word is laid out for the faithful, and the riches of the Bible are opened up to us. When the scriptures are read to us in the church, God himself is speaking to his people; and Christ, present in his own word, is proclaiming the Gospel to us. The readings of God's word must, therefore, be listened to by all with reverence; they make up a principal element of the liturgy. In the biblical readings, God's word addresses all people of every era.

When we gather for Mass, we hear our story — God’s story of his love for all of us — told to us through sacred scripture. The scriptures reinforce for us what we believe, to whom we belong, and of our relationship with our brothers and sisters and with God. This is why when we reach the end of the first and second reading, our response should be filled with joy as we exclaim, "Thanks be to God!"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

In this time of mission

Archbishop José H. Gomez 
On May 10, Archbishop José H. Gomez received an honorary doctorate of Christian letters from Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. The university cited the archbishop “for his fidelity to the Catholic Church, for being the voice of Hispanic Catholics in the United States, and for bringing the Gospel of Christ to people everywhere.” Archbishop Gomez celebrated the baccalaureate Mass for the nearly 700 graduates of the Class of 2013. The following is adapted from his homily on Acts 18:9-18 and John 16:16-20.

By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

Like the first apostles at Jerusalem, we live “in between” times. In between the time of Jesus’ Ascension and the time when he will come again. In these times we live by trust in Jesus’ beautiful promise: I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice.

His Ascension begins the time of mission, the time of the Holy Spirit. This is our time. His Ascension is our mission. Jesus has given his church — he has given each one of us — that task of finishing his mission.

We are called to be his witnesses in the world. We are called to say to our neighbors — “Jesus has come. He is alive. The Son of God has become the Son of Man. And he has come to show us the way to the Father!”

Like St. Paul and the first apostles, we are called to proclaim this good news — in every area of our daily life. As Paul did, we need to teach the Word of God. And as we know, we always teach the best by the way we live.

Not everyone in our world wants to hear this Word. Proclaiming Jesus Christ can lead to violence, to persecution. This was true in the time of the apostles and it’s true today.

That’s why in every Mass we should give thanks for all the martyrs — known and unknown — who laid down their lives to keep the Christian faith alive in many dark and faithless times. Because of their witness and courage, this beautiful faith, the truth of the living God, has been handed on to us.

In every Eucharist, we should also remember those Christians around the world who are suffering and dying today for Jesus.

Persecution comes in many forms. The church in our country knows the “soft” persecution of those who would deny us our rights to live our faith in freedom. More and more, we face pressures to compromise and abandon our beliefs as “the price” for living in modern American society.

There is a line in the Acts of the Apostles that seems prophetic of the times we are living in. The accusation is made against St. Paul: This man is inducing people to worship God contrary to the law.

True faith, living Christianity, challenges all the false idols of our society — the idols of the flesh and consumerism, the idols of the marketplace, the idols of individualism and nationalism. So we have to expect that powerful forces will want to keep the church out of the public square.

We’re living now in a highly secularized society. As a church, I really don’t think we’ve come to grips with that yet. But it’s true. Our society thinks it has no need for God anymore. That’s not so much a criticism as it is just a fact. And it isn’t going to do us any good to appeal to the faith of America’s founding fathers or to talk about all the ways the church’s charities and schools contribute to the common good. We are beyond that now in our society.

America is like Corinth in the time of St. Paul — we have become again a society that lives as if there is no God, or as if his existence doesn’t make any difference. In this kind of society, worshipping God — living our faith — is going to be more and more contrary to the law.

This is a great challenge for the church — and for each one of us as Christians. We are going to have to go out into this world and find new ways to engage this culture. We are going to have to find new ways to proclaim Christ and to live as Christians in this culture. This is what the new evangelization is all about.

The good news is that we don’t go alone. We go with Jesus. We go with God. The words that Jesus speaks to St. Paul are meant for us:

Do not be afraid.
Go on speaking and do not be silent.
For I am with you.

Our mission is to continue his mission. To redeem that little part of the world that we live in — our homes, the places where we work, our neighborhoods. To sanctify reality. To build a world of love, the family of God. And we do that by helping our loved ones and the people we meet every day to find God.

We need to pray for one another. We need to ask for the grace and strength to bring Christ’s light to the darkest corners of every human heart, to the darkest corners of our world today.

And may our Blessed Mother Mary, who is Our Lady of the Angels and the Queen of Heaven, to help us to always live as apostles of Jesus. May she help us go forward in faith to be his witnesses, serving our brothers and sisters in love, waiting in joyful hope until he comes again in glory.

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 www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

Jesus, it seems, had a plan. Doesn’t everyone? I mean, if you want something good to come from all of your work and dreams, don’t you develop a plan that will make it all come about?

So he said he had to leave them; he would send his Spirit who would teach them everything and guide them. There it is. This was his plan. He would put everything into their hands. He would entrust his preaching and teaching of the kingdom to them. Surely, in their hands, it would do so much better. It did, somehow, lead to his death. But, no matter. And there is no doubt if he stayed forever they would never take the challenge of ministry seriously, but always rely on the master.

That could not be. Rather, he would call for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and gifts to fill them, to fulfill them, to bless everything about them and the ministry that they would do. In this way, they would begin to understand differently, live and love differently, feel, and give and forgive differently.

Jesus had to go away so that the Spirit could come, the disciples would go forth, faith would grow and blossom, and — with the Spirit's help — "fill the face of the earth."

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

Friday, May 10, 2013

‘His mercies are not spent’

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez

The following is adapted from an address on Catholic-Jewish relations that Archbishop Gomez delivered May 1 at the Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.

As the theme for my reflection, I’ve chosen a passage from the Book of Lamentations. As you know, this book contains some of the Bible’s most beautiful poetry — and some of the saddest poetry in all of human literature.

These laments were composed in the time of the exile, after the fall of Jerusalem and the sacking of the Temple. They are not easy to read. They speak to us in the universal voice of human suffering.

And yet, in the midst of these poems of mourning and loss, we find these beautiful words of hope:

The kindness of the Lord has not ended.
His mercies are not spent. ... .
The Lord is good to those who trust in him,
to the one who seeks him.


These words for me reflect the hope of the Jewish people — their faith in the one true and living God. This faith — which is the faith of the Jewish Bible — is the foundation of the Christian faith. So I thought this passage would be a good starting point for thinking about our friendship and dialogue.

In our world today, Catholics and Jews have a common mission based on our common hope and our common spiritual heritage.

Judaism and Catholicism are both religions of witness. For Catholics and Jews, faith in God means that we have a vocation and a mission — a calling to serve God by our lives. A calling to sanctify his Name. A calling to be God’s partner in establishing his Kingdom in creation.

Jesus calls Christians to be his “witnesses.” To spread his Gospel to the ends of the earth and to make disciples of all nations. By her election, Israel is given a similar vocation. We hear this especially in Isaiah’s prophecies.

“You are my witnesses,” says the Lord.
“And my servant whom I have chosen.”
He who formed me in the womb to be his servant ... says …
"I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”


So Jews and Christians share this duty — to be God’s servants and witnesses in the world. In everything we do. In our homes and in society. By our prayer and by our good works.

American society — along with the other societies in the West — is becoming highly secularized. The memory of God has already faded for many people. New generations are growing up without any religion. More and more of our neighbors go through their daily lives without even thinking about God. They live as if there is no God, or as if his existence doesn’t make any difference.

This is the challenge to our witness as believers. Because we know — people can’t live without God. When we lose our sense of God, we lose the “thread” that holds our lives together. We lose the answers to the questions that help us make sense of the world: What kind of person should I be? Why should I be good? What should I believe in? What should I be living for — and why?

Many of the elites in our culture today would argue that there are no true answers to these questions — just different opinions, beliefs and preferences. But we know that’s not true. We know people need those answers. Without those answers, we don’t know anymore what makes a human being human.

A generation ago, the great Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel warned:

“The future of the human species depends upon our degree of reverence for the individual man. And the strength and validity of that reverence depend upon our faith in God’s concern for man. … Only if there is a God who cares, a God to whom the life of every individual is an event — and not only a part of an infinite process — can our sense of the sanctity and preciousness of the individual man be maintained.”

Rabbi Heschel was right. We see it everywhere in our society today. When we forget God, we lose our reverence for the human person. When we stop believing that God cares, we stop caring for our neighbors.

We all heard that sad story last month about the mental hospital that was giving patients one-way bus tickets and essentially dumping them on the streets to fend for themselves. That’s one sign that we’ve lost our reverence for the individual.

But we could look at the news on any given day — all the meanness; all the casual violence. We could talk about abortion or euthanasia or the human rights tragedy of our failed immigration policies. We could talk about the confusion in our society over marriage, the family and sexuality. We could talk about the crazy consumerism of our economy; or the worlds that divide the rich and poor here in our city and everywhere else.

These are all signs and symptoms. They point us back to the need for God. They point us back to our responsibility as believers.

The world is waiting for our witness. The world is waiting for the presence of God to return. But God can only return through us — by way of our witness. The world will not be saved by science or information or commerce or war. The world will be saved through the witness of men and women of faith.

People of faith must be the “soul” of our society and the voice for God and conscience — Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others. But in a special way, God has entrusted us — Jews and Catholics — with the beautiful truth that the human person is sacred. That every man and woman is created in the image and likeness of God.

You know the beautiful Midrash that says: “A procession of angels pass before a human being wherever he or she goes, proclaiming, Make way for the image of God!”

The men and women of our times need to hear this good news. They need to know that angels go before us. They need to know that they are God’s image and that everyone they meet is God’s image, too. We need to be the ones who tell them that their lives are not trivial. That humans are not just random beings, contingent products of evolution, going through life with no “why” or reason.  


Our task in this moment, as I see it, is to restore this appreciation of the sacred image of the human person. We need to make this truth the substance of our preaching, our religious education, our work for justice. We need to bring this truth into our homes and neighborhoods.

We need to proclaim to our society what the Torah and the New Testament teach — that each human person comes from the loving thought of God. That we are all made for holiness. That we are made to live as God’s image in the world.

In our faith traditions, we believe that our lives are like works of art that we are co-creating with God. By his grace and by his Law, God wants to make each of us more like him, day by day. This is the beautiful, transcendent destiny of every human person. This is the path — the path of walking with God — that leads to the fullness of life.

So we need to help our neighbors to see that all our lives are God’s project. God’s work of art. We need to help our brothers and sisters to walk with God, to follow his teaching and example.

This truth about the sacred image and destiny of the human person holds the key to the rebirth of charity and compassion in our society.

Our traditions share a beautiful understanding — that the worship we owe to God demands that we revere the image of God that we find in our neighbor.

God calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves. But more than that, he calls us to love our neighbor as an icon of his presence and love. The proverb tells us:

He who oppresses a poor man insults his Maker;
He who is kind to the needy honors Him.


Jesus commands this same mercy for the poor and he exposes the excuses of our false piety. Jesus reminds us: We only love God as much as we love the poor one, the stranger, the prisoner, and the sick. We can’t pretend to love the God we don’t see, if we don’t love the neighbor we can see.

We need to spread this awareness of the sanctity and dignity of the human person. Not only in our ministries and programs. Not only in our homes. But throughout our society. We need to remind our civic leaders that the people they serve are the image of God, that each one of them has a great dignity and a great destiny. We need to remind everyone of what St. Paul called “the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

If we all lived with this awareness, it would change the way we think about our life together in this city and in this country.

We would fight poverty because it insults the dignity of the person created in God’s image. We would fight for greater sharing of our resources because we have a duty to help the weak who are called to holiness and heaven. We would fight corruption because our God calls us to holiness and purity. We would work for peace in our streets and better schools because only this is worthy of the children of God.

Let me conclude with a story from your tradition.

The story goes that a skeptic came to the Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotz and began to mock him.

“I hear you can perform miracles,” the skeptic said. “Yes, I can,” replied the rabbi.

“Then show me one,” said the skeptic. “Show me how you resurrect the dead.” The rabbi replied again, “I’d prefer to show you how I can resurrect the living.”

This is our task, as believers in a time of unbelief. Our God is calling us to resurrect the living. He is calling us to remind our neighbors of the sanctity and great dignity of their lives. He is calling us to be his witnesses.

We have to answer his call — by really living what we believe and sharing what we believe with others. We have great news to tell them — that God is alive and he’s still at work in our world and in our lives. That his kindness has not ended. That his mercies are not spent.


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 www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

Tuesday, May 7, 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' sixth article explains the responsorial psalm.


By Ryan Adams

The responsorial psalm: The psalm reflects themes in the readings. The psalm consists of an antiphon; this is a vehicle of prayer and praise to give an atmosphere of prayer within which the readings occur. The responsorial psalm is an affirming prayer in response to the first reading.

The second reading: This reading is also referred to as the epistle, and is usually from one of the letters in the New Testament which may also include the Book of Acts or the Book of Revelation. While the letters address particular situations in the early church, their message transcends the centuries to motivate us contemporary Christians and to deepen our appreciation of the mystery of Christ.

On "Treasures of Our Faith", diaconate candidate Ryan Adams explains the responsorial psalm.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

How does one know when God is truly guiding them or inspiring them?

Perhaps there is no simple answer to this question. But if we pay special attention to the readings from today's liturgy, we can see several dispositions showing signs and evidence of God doing so.

"It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities." This innocent little phrase suggests a God whose spirit leads us toward unity, peace, acceptance, and non-burdensome behaviors.

"The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain." Once again, this Spirit of God is one who so easily and readily takes us to the heights and depths to show us the truths that are really important. It is there that God teaches, guides and loves us into new realities.

Jesus speaks so affectionately to his disciples and of his relationship with his Father: "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him." That’s the promise.

Some people have asked the question about how you can tell if a relationship is rooted in love or not. This is often asked when a relationship is filled with fighting and stress. The answer often given: "If it’s love, it shouldn’t be so difficult."

When God is dwelling within us, everything is different. "God is love; he who lives in love lives in God and God in him." Jesus prepared his disciples well before he departed: "My Spirit will teach you, guide you, and you will know that God is within you."

How does one know when God is truly guiding them or inspiring them? It should be obvious, clear and evident, and one should know peace.

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

Thursday, May 2, 2013

May is Mary's month

Archbishop José H. Gómez
By Archbishop José H. Gómez

May is Mary’s Month.

This has been a custom in the church dating back many centuries.

And it is beautiful to associate Mary with the coming of spring and the new birth of flowers and plants and crops in the field.

In this special month, in which we will celebrate Christ’s ascension into heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, I encourage you to deepen your devotion to Mary.

In the Acts of the Apostles, we see the beautiful image of the early Church united in prayer around “Mary, the mother of Jesus.”

That’s what Jesus wanted. His last wish — some call it his last will and testament — was that his mother should become our mother. He told the apostle St. John and each one of us: “Behold, your mother!”

So we need to make sure that Mary always has an important place in our lives. The Gospel says St. John took Mary into his “own home.” We need to do that, too. We need to develop a deep personal relationship with Mary — one of love, affection, devotion and trust.

The Gospel tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom in the household at Nazareth, with Mary and St. Joseph. And we grow in faith and holiness if we stay close to Mary. If we listen to her words and learn from her example.

At the Annunciation, Mary told the angel, “Let it be done to me according to your word.”

She entrusted herself totally to God’s will for her life. She made a commitment to cooperate with his will, to be a “handmaid” to his plan of salvation.

I like to think that Jesus learned something of his own attitude of trust in God’s will from Mary.

We can hear her faith reflected in the words that Jesus taught his disciples to pray: “Thy will be done.” And we can hear how deeply Jesus lived this attitude of abandonment to God’s will. On the night he was asked to die for us, he prayed: “Not my will, but thine be done.”

That’s the attitude we need to live as children of God and children of Mary. Like Jesus and like Mary, we need to trust that our heavenly Father knows what is best for us, that he has a plan and a purpose for our lives.

We need to say to God in every circumstance, “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

We can also learn a lot from Mary’s habit of reflecting on the life of her Son. The Gospel says she treasured his words and pondered the meaning of his actions: “She kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

In this, too, she can be our model. We should spend some time each day contemplating Jesus’ words and deeds through our prayerful reading of the Gospels. Like Mary, we should keep his words and example in our hearts. We should pray for the grace we need every day to love her more and to be more like Jesus.

We turn to Mary because in her arms we always find Jesus Christ. And in him we have safety and peace.

Mary teaches us to always look to Jesus. Her last words in the Gospels, at the wedding at Cana, should be the first words that define how we live: “Do whatever he tells you.”

Mary teaches us to be open to what Jesus wants to do in our lives. She welcomed Jesus into her life and gave him to the world. That should also be an example for us. We should be ready always to bring the gift of Jesus to others.

So in this month of Mary, as we pray for one another, let’s all try to take some practical steps to deepen our devotion to Mary. Maybe that means praying the Rosary with more devotion and affection. Maybe it means saying a special Marian prayer, like the Memorare.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is the Queen of Peace, so throughout this month of May we should offer prayers for peace in our city and in the world.

Let us ask Mary’s intercession to help us love her as Jesus loved her. Let’s dedicate ourselves to sharing our lives generously with others — as our Blessed Mother did. And let’s ask the Virgin Mary to be more and more a mother to us.

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 www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.