Monday, September 30, 2013

Join us for 'An Evening of Musical Extravaganza'

Sal Malaki
St. Bernard Church will presents “An Evening of Musical Extravaganza” at 7 p.m. on Nov. 22 in the church.

The concert features acclaimed Filipino Los Angeles Opera tenor Sal Malaki.

St. Bernard Choir Director and soprano Katherine White and the Chancel Choir will perform with Sal along with special guest performer Grisel Dorosan.

Tickets are $20. Attire is formal/semi-formal. For tickets and more information, call Remy Castro at (323) 828-4693 or Grisel Dorosan at (323) 830-0784.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

The chasms — distances and separations — we build are deep and wide and, indeed, eternal.

Is it possible in the same city, and even on the same block or same family, that someone could eat the best of foods while another literally starves to death? Could it ever be that one could have so much and the other nothing at all? Do such distances of awareness and caring actually exist on the planet that we share? If they do exist, how do they get there? How do they persist? Can we change them?

Jesus notices the differences between those who have and who do not have. He also notices that when these distances occur in life they usually cause suffering. He further notices that we have the power to do something to change that suffering.

Then come the chasms that we create between us. These can be deep. These can be wide. These can be eternal. Therefore, Jesus calls upon us to cross over them now while we can. Jesus calls upon us to see and acknowledge them "before it is too late."

Jesus is inviting us to become builders of bridges rather than builders of chasms.

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

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A time for prayer

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

In these days, we are praying for many serious intentions.

As I write, our leaders in Washington are still debating whether to act against the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons against its people.

Our Holy Father Pope Francis and the American Catholic bishops don’t believe violence is the right answer to this atrocity. We are continuing to urge a ceasefire and negotiations.

Earlier this month, in union with Pope Francis and the universal church, we observed a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria and Middle East. During our observance at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the outpouring of prayer and Eucharistic adoration moved me.

Prayer is always the beginning of peace in our world. Because through prayer we touch the heart of Jesus, who is our peace.

His way of love opens the path to forgiveness and reconciliation — with God and with others. And following his way of love means we are called to be peacemakers. We need to always be working for greater understanding among peoples and greater awareness that we are all sisters and brothers in God’s family.

Peace is not an abstract or an issue that only concerns nations far away from us. Peace begins with us. We need to seek new paths to peace in our world and to put an end to violence in our neighborhoods and communities. Wherever we find there is no love, we need to put love. Wherever we find there is no justice, we need to promote human dignity and human rights. And where there is no peace, we need to build trust and the sense of forgiveness.

So this week we need to keep praying for peace. For peace in our hearts and peace in our world.

This week we also need to keep praying for immigration reform in our country.

Last Sunday we joined the church around the country in celebrating Mass to pray for immigration reform. We did that at the request of my brother bishops in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Masses were celebrated in 22 States, including California.

We need to pray for ourselves and for our leaders in Congress. Immigration is a difficult issue. And good people disagree. We all agree that our immigration system is broken — and that many people are suffering because of it. Nobody disagrees about that. But we are having a hard time figuring out how to fix this system in a way that promotes justice.

As I have said before, immigration reform is a great human rights test of our time. For me, our national debate about immigration is a great struggle for the American spirit and the American soul.

But more than that, it is a spiritual and moral issue. It is about our relationships with God and with our neighbors who are our brothers and sisters. It is a question of what it means to say that we are followers of Jesus Christ.

If we are following Jesus, then we need to see the world as Jesus sees the world. We need to see other people, as Jesus sees them. As brothers and sisters. As children of God.

In God’s eyes we’re all his beloved sons and daughters and no one is a stranger to any of us. No matter who we are, or where we come from, or how we got here.

We need to remember that when we are talking about immigrants, we are talking about husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. All with their own stories to tell. All with dreams for their lives and for their children’s lives.

So we have much to pray about this week.

Let’s keep praying for peace. And let’s pray for a comprehensive immigration reform now — that we can continue to build an America that lives up to its beautiful promises of liberty, equality, opportunity and justice for all.

And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary, the Queen of Peace, to help us to see with the eyes of Jesus — so that we can know his wisdom and follow him with deeper faith, hope and love.

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, September 22, 2013

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

T.S. Eliot’s famous line seems to fit the Gospel perfectly today: “The last temptation is the greatest treason; to do the right thing for the wrong reason.”

Yet Jesus doesn’t seem to agree. He praises the dishonest and imprudent steward for doing just that. In the midst of hearing that his boss would be firing him for his careless stewardship, the steward very prudently makes a decision that changes both his present and his future. He decides to forgo his corrupt practice of usury (taking an exorbitant percentage of interest) and, therefore, forgoes money and comfort in the present.

He does so, however, prudently providing for the future. He looses instant money gratification for the future possibility of new employment. He impresses others by lessoning their debts to his master, giving them an opportunity to pay it all off, and showing them how skilled and efficient he could be. All this is done for the wrong reason, and yet Jesus compliments for his savvy stewardship. He, perhaps for the first time, used his resources carefully and cleverly, proving his ability to be prudent.

It is that "prudence with resources" that Jesus praises. It is his "good stewardship" that Jesus recognizes and teaches for all to hear.

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

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

"Lost and found" is a set of nouns as well as verbs. Many items end up in a "lost and found" box or drawer to be rediscovered later by a proper owner.

The painful "loss" is healed and true rejoicing happens when that thing is now "found." But being lost and found is a verb and experience that also is filled with pain, fear, and rejoicing.

All of the readings today allude to the experience of being "lost": in sin, stubbornness, anger, doubt, ignorance, selfishness, and pride. Being lost is a truly human condition experienced by all people at some point in their lives. It is being truly human but in a broken or wounded state.

Being found is a fully human and/or divine experience described beautifully in Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son and the ever-faithful father. There is no shame in becoming lost — it is truly a part of the human condition. There is shame, however, in refusing to be found because we won’t admit we’re lost or are too proud to ask for help. When the hand reaches out to find and save us, we don't accept it.

Love is the great power that seeks, finds, heals, guides, restores and makes us new. "Lost and found" is a part of living and faith, and an important part of our relationship with our God.

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

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Building a culture of faith

Archbishop José H. Goméz
By Archbishop José H. Gomez

Last weekend we hosted the annual convention of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL).

CALL is founded on the recognition that Latinos are becoming more and more important in the life of our church and in the life of our nation.

We need to make sure that Latinos are well-formed in their Catholic faith and are prepared to take up our obligations as leaders in the cultural and political conversations that will shape American life in the years ahead. Our hope is that CALL will become a force for moral and social renewal in America.

CALL’s convention this year focused on “building a culture of faith.” And this is a duty for all of us in the church.

All of us — every Catholic — has a duty to grow in our knowledge of the faith and to deepen our commitment to the new evangelization.

God has been calling people for 2,000 years in every nation, all over the world. He has been calling people in Los Angeles and California for almost 500 years.

But our work is just beginning. There are still so many people who don’t know Jesus. In our neighborhoods, in our communities, in our society, even in our families.

So that’s a job for us, my brothers and sisters. Jesus is sending us out into all the pathways of our daily lives. He is calling every one of us to be missionaries and apostles.

We have to go out into our world and tell the good news to everyone. We need to tell them about Jesus. We need to help them to recognize God working in their lives, working in our world.

The love of God has grown cold in many people in our society. They forget all about God. Or they find “substitutes” for God. They substitute work for God or they fill up their lives with other concerns — concerns for making money or seeking comfort, or whatever.

We all know people who have drifted away from the Church. We know people who are just going through the motions, who are just “routine Catholics.” They still go to church, but they’ve forgotten why. Their heart is not in it. They’ve lost their fire, their desire for God.

These are the people that Jesus wants us to reach out to! We have to get involved in their lives. We have to serve them in love. We need to share our faith with these people. To share our excitement about Jesus! We need to bring these people back to God!

There are still too many empty seats around the Eucharistic table of the Lord! Even after all these years of Christianity in this country.

So we have a big job to change this culture and to grow our Catholic Church, the family of God. It’s going to take grace and courage and real formation and commitment from Catholic lay people — not only Hispanics but everyone.

All of us in the church need to be true apostles of our day, bringing the men and women of our society to the encounter with Jesus Christ. We need to see ourselves as instruments in God’s saving plan, until our world is filled with the light of Christ and the values of his Gospel.

That’s what makes our Christian lives an adventure! An adventure of sharing in the mission of Jesus Christ. Each one of us is a part of his mission of redemption for all the people of the world.

So let’s pray for one another this week. And let’s challenge one another to be better apostles and better missionaries. We have to make our church again a missionary church — to bring people to God. To proclaim God’s glory among the nations.

Let us ask Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Mother of the New Evangelization, to guide us and strengthen us and to help us grow deeper in our faith and more confident in our hope and stronger in our love.

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, September 11, 2013

9/11: The Catholic Church remembers

A worker looks at makeshift
memorial at Ground Zero.
(CNS Photo/Mary Knight)
911. For years, those numbers simply meant a call for help. Now they also remind us of Sept. 11, 2001, the date of the worst terrorist attack on the United States of America and one of the deadliest days ever on American soil. To mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 in 2011, the USSCB has gathered reflections and remembrances from clergy who ministered to victims and their families, and others who were impacted by the tragedy.

In October 2001, the United States Congress passed a joint resolution designating that every Sept. 11 be observed as "Patriot Day."  The resolution requests that  U.S. government entities and interested organizations and individuals display the flag of the United States at half-staff on Patriot Day and that the people of the United States observe a moment of silence  in honor of the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The USSCB offers updated liturgical resources for the current year's observance of Patriot Day and links to bishops' statements and other materials for reading and reflection.

In 2009, a presidential proclamation declared that  Patriot Day is also a "National Day of Service." The proclamation calls on Americans to "participate in community service in honor of those our Nation lost, to observe this day with other ceremonies and activities, including remembrance services ... to honor the innocent victims who perished as a result of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001."





Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Catholic vision of education

Archbishop José H. Gómez
By Archbishop José H. Gómez 

I hope you all have been having a refreshing summer. I love the summer months because they are a time of renewal and a time of family and a little slower pace.

I had the privilege to start this school year by blessing a new Catholic school — St. Pius X/St. Matthias Academy in Downey.

This new academy brings together Catholic academic traditions that date back more than 60 years. It reminds us of the proud history of Catholic education in Los Angeles, and it is also a sign of hope for our church and for all the children of Los Angeles.

Catholic education is the church’s future. It’s also the key to our society’s future. As our Holy Father Pope Francis said this summer at World Youth Day: “Young people are the window through which the future enters the world.”

Our Catholic schools are shaping this future. Forming our future leaders in the Church — and also the future leaders in our society and culture.

Our Catholic vision always calls us to see deeper — and to give more of ourselves in love. Our Catholic vision always calls us to see with the loving eyes of Jesus; with the eyes of God.

“The love of Christ impels us,” as St. Paul used to say.

So we are working hard, at great sacrifice, to make sure that our schools are open to every family and every child in our city. No matter who they are. No matter where they come from, or how they got here. No matter how much money they have.

The church is committed to providing an education that goes far beyond facts and figures and information. Those things are important. But just as important are the virtues and values that make life “real” and truly worth living. The virtues and values that help our children grow up with a “transcendent” perspective. That help them to see with the eyes of Jesus.

In our culture in this time, this is perhaps the most valuable thing that Catholic education has to offer — the “Catholic vision” of life.

We are struggling in our culture to find the true meaning of life. What is happiness and what is success? What should we value? How do we define these things and how do we achieve them? There are so many false promises and crooked paths that are being offered to our young people.

So many of the problems in our homes and in our society can be traced back to the fact that we no longer have a clear idea of what it means to be a human person. The question from the Psalms is the question of our times: “What is man?”

The Catholic vision gives us the right answer and shows us the right path for our lives. Jesus showed us that we are creatures of great dignity, made in the image of God, redeemed by Jesus Christ, born for greater things — for beauty and goodness, for love and truth.

This is the foundation of Catholic education — to help our young people grow in the awareness of what St. Paul called “the glorious liberty of the children of God.” We are made for the glory of God.

That’s what a good Catholic education prepares for — a life of love and service to God and others. This is the life we pray about at the end of every Eucharist: “Go in peace ... glorifying the Lord by your life.”

As this new year begins, let’s keep praying for one another. Let’s pray in a special way this week for all our young people and our Catholic schools. Let’s pray that our schools will be places where the love of God can be felt. Where our children grow to become the men and women God created them to be.

And let’s ask our patroness, Our Lady of the Angels, to accompany our children and all our families in this coming school year.

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, September 8, 2013

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

Have you ever heard someone put it all on the line?

“If you want to become a concert pianist, you will have to give up family, friends, sports, television, X-box, and more. You just can’t achieve this unless it becomes for you No. 1 and before everything else. Do you want to become a concert pianist?”

That is the choice people make when they want something more than anything else: concert pianist, basketball star, best selling novelist, scholar, Nobel Prize-winning scientist, greatest teacher, ballerina.

So when Jesus says "anyone who wants to become my disciple, who wants to follow me" must put it all on the line; they must hate father and mother; children; even their own life. They must take up their cross and follow me. They must renounce all of their possessions.

Being attached to anything or anyone becomes a problem and gets in the way of becoming a disciple. It is really a matter of the heart: focus, alignment, fidelity, and sticking with it. These are some of the inner faith/heart issues that are involved in giving up everything and everyone to follow Jesus and to become his disciple.

Is it literal? Is it figurative? Is it a way of being or thinking? Are we willing to put it all on the line?

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

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Thousands flock to Rome armed with power of prayer in fight for peace

Julie Abdelky and her brother
Walif flew from Damascus to
Rome just to be here for Pope
Francis' call for peace.
(Photograph by Carol Glatz)
... From Catholic News Service

By Carol Glatz 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — For the thousands of people who turned out for a solemn vigil in St. Peter’s Square, the power of prayer and hopes for peace are still mightier than the world’s weapons and wars.

“Instead of using hatred, we are using prayer because it’s the only thing that can bring calm and peace to everything,” Michele Di Stadio, 20, told Catholic News Service.

Di Stadio came with 30 other young people from the Neocatechumenal Way in Rome, he said, “to pray so that a war that would only cause a world catastrophe wouldn’t happen.”

While the journey to St. Peter’s Square wasn’t anything unusual for Di Stadio and his friends, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Julie Abdelky, her husband and her brother Walif, who flew in from Damascus, Syria, specifically to take part in Pope Francis’ call for peace in Syria and the whole world.

Continue reading: "Thousands flock to Rome armed with power of prayer in fight for peace" ... 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Fasting and prayer for peace in Syria and the Middle East

Pope Francis has called for a global
day of prayer and fasting for peace
in Syria.
Friends, on Sunday, Pope Francis has called for a global day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria, the Middle East and the rest of the world.

In response to our holy father’s call, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels will be open this Friday and Saturday for prayer and contemplation.

I invite you to unite with the holy father and intensify our prayers for peace in the world.

— Archbishop José H. Gomez 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Prayer for peace in Syria

As the crisis in Syria continues to unfold, the U.S. bishops have published a prayer for peace in Syria.

God of compassion,
hear the cries of the people of Syria,
bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
bring comfort to those mourning the dead,
strengthen Syria’s neighbors in their care and welcome for refugees,
convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
and protect those committed to peace.

God of hope,
inspire leaders to choose peace over violence
and to seek reconciliation with enemies,
inspire the church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,
and give us hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.

We ask this through Jesus Christ,
Prince of Peace and Light of the World,
amen.

Petition

For the people of Syria, that God may strengthen the resolve of leaders to end the fighting and choose a future of peace.

We pray to the Lord ...

This prayer is from Catholics Confront Global Poverty, a collaborative effort of USCCB and Catholic Relief Services.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

To eat humble pie is to apologize and face humiliation for a serious error. There is not a lot of agreement to the origins of the expression, but the meaning is widely agreed upon.

Biblical wisdom and the Gospel see a profound distinction and connection between humility and humiliation. A person should neither humiliate nor be humiliated. There is simply no value in that nor would it ever be considered honorable.

To live and act humbly, however, is of great value. Humility is being honest about self, embracing the inherent value of every human being, but not based on their status or material worth.

Humility is also greatly condition by how one is perceived by others, and it involves evaluating and distinguishing the gifts and influence that a person has on others. The Gospel recommends that a person should humbly take the lowest place at table so that others who might recognize the person’s gifts and/or influence might move them to a higher place at table. Far better than to evaluate one’s self as having greater gifts and/or influence than perceived by others who then would move you to a lower place at the table.

It is a practical thing: Without humility one is more susceptible to humiliation. But the Gospel goes further: When one lives in a spirit of humility, one is more apt to see the deeper value and worth of another.

Jesus lived such humility. He saw greatness in the poor, sick, and even the sinner. He loved others no matter how humble or simple or seemingly of small value. To him, others were of great worth. He scorned those who put themselves higher and considered others of less worth.

At the table of God’s kingdom, humble pie is never served. Humility, however, secures a very good seat at the table of the Lord.

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