Friday, February 28, 2014

St. Bernard Ash Wednesday schedule

Ash Wednesday is March 5. The St. Bernard Catholic Faith Community invites you to enter Lent with a spirit of prayer and penance.

Imposition of blessed ashes

All day, every hour, the liturgy of the word in English with imposition of blessed ashes will be celebrated.
  • In the church:
    On the hour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (En español a las 4, 5 y 6 p.m.)
  • In the parish hall:
    On the hour from 6 to 8 p.m. (En español a las 8 p.m.)

Masses with imposition of blessed ashes

  • 8 a.m. (daily Mass in English)
  • 7 p.m. (bilingual)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

Jesus lifts the bar. He says he didn’t come to abolish the law, not even a letter of it; rather, he came to fulfill it. In so doing, he asks not the minimum, but more than the mind can imagine.

He re-asserts the law: “Thou shalt not kill!” But then he goes beyond what the mind can imagine – he lifts the bar: “But I say to you, whoever is angry with brother will be liable to judgment.”

As always, we are dealing with teaching when Jesus speaks. It is a mysterious mixture of wisdom, prophecy, precepts, and idealism. It can surely never be fully realized, but he places it before us as both a simple and, at the same time, profound call. He is inviting us to experience nothing less than the kingdom of God here and now.

Think about it. Could he say, “I tell you, do the minimum. Just don’t kill.” No. Not the Lord of life. He says: “Don’t even be angry.” Is it possible? Yes. Is it sustainable? Hardly. But he keeps calling, inviting, alluring, attracting, because through his call we have everything to gain.

Jesus lifts the bar. Are we ready for the challenge?

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

Friday, February 14, 2014

The origins of St. Valentine's Day

St. Valentine.
By American Catholic

The Catholic Church no longer officially honors St. Valentine, but the holiday has both Roman and Catholic roots.

A quick quiz: St. Valentine was:

    a)  a priest in the Roman Empire who helped persecuted Christians during the reign of Claudius II, was thrown in jail and later beheaded on Feb. 14.

    b)  a Catholic bishop of Terni who was beheaded, also during the reign of Claudius II.

    c)  someone who secretly married couples when marriage was forbidden, or suffered in Africa, or wrote letters to his jailer's daughter, and was probably beheaded.

    d)  all, some, or possibly none of the above.

If you guessed d), give yourself a box of chocolates. Although the mid-February holiday celebrating love and lovers remains wildly popular, the confusion over its origins led the Catholic Church, in 1969, to drop St. Valentine's Day from the Roman calendar of official, worldwide Catholic feasts. (Those highly sought-after days are reserved for saints with more clear historical record. After all, the saints are real individuals for us to imitate.) Some parishes, however, observe the feast of St. Valentine.

The roots of St. Valentine's Day lie in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated on Feb. 15. For 800 years the Romans had dedicated this day to the god Lupercus. On Lupercalia, a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and would then keep the woman as a sexual companion for the year.

Pope Gelasius I was, understandably, less than thrilled with this custom. So he changed the lottery to have both young men and women draw the names of saints whom they would then emulate for the year (a change that no doubt disappointed a few young men). Instead of Lupercus, the patron of the feast became Valentine. For Roman men, the day continued to be an occasion to seek the affections of women, and it became a tradition to give out handwritten messages of admiration that included Valentine's name.

There was also a conventional belief in Europe during the Middle Ages that birds chose their partners in the middle of February. Thus the day was dedicated to love, and people observed it by writing love letters and sending small gifts to their beloved. Legend has it that Charles, duke of Orleans, sent the first real Valentine card to his wife in 1415, when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. (He, however, was not beheaded, and died a half-century later of old age.)

More resources

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Together in Mission and the city of love and truth

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez

What would the kingdom of God look like on earth? To find one word — it would be a city of love and truth.
It would be a world where people lived for the love of God and loved their neighbors as God loves us.

It is beautiful to imagine what the world would be like, even for just for one day. People living for God and loving one another — with patience, kindness and forgiveness — seeking justice and what God wants in all things.

The city of love and truth is not a dream. It is what we are working for every day in our homes and parishes and in all our various ministries.

Jesus intends his Catholic Church to be a sign of the Kingdom he came to build on earth.

The church is called to be a community of love in the service of love. By our work to open our neighbors’ hearts and stir their consciences, by the example of our love for our fellow believers — we show others the way to the city of love and truth.

The Acts of the Apostles gives us a beautiful picture of how the first followers of Jesus lived: “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles … to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. ... All who believed ... had all things in common; they would … divide them among all according to one’s need.

From those first days, the church has always been one family of God — devoted to proclaiming Christ’s teachings, gathered around the Eucharist (“the breaking of the bread”), and sharing what we have with one another.

Our Together in Mission program is a beautiful expression of this original Christian tradition of love and mutual care.

Since 1993, your generous contributions to Together in Mission have provided more than $300 million to our poorest parishes and schools.

There is no other program like Together in Mission in this country. We are the only local church that gives all of its annual appeal monies to our neediest brothers and sisters. And the 37 parishes and 56 schools that receive these monies could not continue without our help.

This weekend, Feb. 15 and 16, we begin this year’s Together in Mission campaign in all our parishes. I ask you to please give generously and with love to our brothers and sisters who have less.

The money you share is not given simply to “institutions” — to parishes or schools. What you give is not for their gain. Our Catholic institutions don’t exist for their own sake. Our parishes and schools exist to proclaim the Gospel of love and carry out the Church’s service of love.

With the money you give, these parishes and schools are serving the neediest families in our communities. Your Together in Mission contributions go to children who have nowhere else to turn.

This year, Together in Mission will be providing support to more than 38,000 parishes and 11,000 students.

You can hear stories of the difference that Together in Mission makes in a new on-line video we have created. I was struck by the testimony of our principals:

“Our kids walk through gang neighborhoods and past neighborhoods with bullet holes. Our children go home at night and might not have dinner. But … we provide safety that every child deserves; we provide meals every child deserves. None of our families can realistically make the tuition. … Without Together in Mission we truly would not be able to keep our doors open.”

I urge all of you to watch this new video. It is a powerful tribute to what you are doing through your generous support for Together in Mission. It’s available on our new Together in Mission website:

Jesus himself commands us to love our neighbors. But he can only command us to love because he has loved us first. Our love is always a response to the gift of God’s love given to us in Jesus.

The love that Jesus commands is not abstract. The love he commands requires us to make practical decisions and concrete commitments.

Giving to Together in Mission is one commitment we can make to respond to God’s love in our lives.

What we give in turn is given to others. We are each a part of a beautiful chain of love that begins with God’s love for us and continues through our love for others. And together we are building the city of love and truth.

So let us pray for each other this week — and for our poorest brothers and sisters.

And let us ask Our Lady of Angels, patroness of this great Archdiocese, to pray for the success of this year’s Together in Mission campaign. Through her intercession, may our love for others tell of our love for God. 

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

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

“Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn.”

These words Isaiah speaks clearly and effortlessly in the word today. He sees the struggles with darkness that afflict so many today in their problems with health, finances, family issues, work, and school. Some people experience these struggles every day and seek just to hang on to hope. They never resolve these ongoing struggles, but every day seek God’s healing and supporting love to get them through the day.


We just finished our Together in Mission 2013 campaign and begin our campaign for 2014.

“More help – didn’t we just do this?” The answer is yes, and we do it because we can. There are schools, churches and communities of faith who hang on every day and couldn’t make it without our help. This is a "keep the doors open" campaign. This is a "reach out and lift up" campaign. This is what we do as Catholics. It is what we have always done as Catholics. This is us at our best: loving, supporting, helping, strengthening, giving, sharing our faith. This is “letting our light break forth like the dawn” campaign.

We are not asked to do more than we can. We are asked to be generous, extending a pledge over five months so that we can give a little more than we might in a single collection. This is a pledge of love to help the brothers and sisters of our faith.

Please come next week thinking about your pledge. Gratefully and joyfully we join together in the mission of Jesus Christ.

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

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Young people have a part to play in God’s plan of love

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez

Editors’ note: The Archbishop’s column is a personal message to the young people in the Church. It is adapted from his homily at the annual Catholic Schools Week Mass, held this year at Bishop Garcia Diego High School in Santa Barbara on Jan. 31.

I don’t usually read Rolling Stone magazine. But in the current issue the cover story is about our Holy Father, Pope Francis. So I guess the pope is officially “cool.” Because Rolling Stone says so.

I think the
pope is great, too. I’ve had the blessing to meet with him and celebrate Mass with him. He is a holy man — a man who knows Jesus and wants to serve him with all his life. And there is nothing greater than that!

And since he was elected last year, Pope Francis has the whole world talking about God and religion and the relation of faith to life. That’s not easy to do in this culture, which is so secular and so concerned with things like entertainment and money. But Pope Francis has found a way to do it.

And our Pope has a special love for young people. At World Youth Day last summer, he said to all the young people in the Church:

“The Lord needs you, young people, for his Church. … Today too, he is calling each of you to follow him in his Church and to be missionaries. The Lord is calling you today! … You are the ones who hold the future! I ask you to be builders of the world, to work for a better world. … Don’t be observers of life, but get involved. … Immerse yourself in the reality of life, as Jesus did.”

That’s what a Catholic education prepares you for — whether in our schools or in religious education in the parish. It’s all about getting young people ready. So that you can listen to what God is saying to you in your heart. So that you can answer his call and follow Jesus — generously and with courage.

My young friends, God has made you. You are children of God! That’s something amazing.

You didn’t just appear on this earth out of nowhere. The creator of the universe made you. He wanted you — each one of you — for a reason. God thought about you before you were born. And he’s still thinking about you. He knows your name. God is still deeply interested in your life.

Each one of you has a part to play in God’s plan of love. That’s what Pope Francis is talking about. You are called to be friends with Jesus. To follow him and to be a witness to his Gospel.

Your Catholic formation — in your schools, in your parishes, in your homes — is getting you ready to be involved in the realities of this world — in our culture, in our neighborhoods, in our economy and government.

Jesus wants us to change the world. Every day. Little by little. He wants us to make the world a better place, more like the Kingdom of God. More caring, more compassionate, more peaceful, more just.

God is sending us out to other people. To the people in our homes, in our classes, in our neighborhoods. To the people we work with. To everybody we meet in our daily life. He wants us to share the love of God with everyone.

We change the world by our love, by our holiness. By trying to be saints and missionaries in our everyday lives. It’s not about words. Our words don’t mean anything without the witness of our lives. Just be kind. Be gentle. Just live your faith — in simple ways, with joy. With happiness. Try to be good sons, good daughters. Good brothers and sisters. And good friends.

If we have love in our hearts, then those around us will feel that love. Because love is like a fire. All it takes is a little spark, and you can set others on fire with your love.

pope is right, my young friends. You are the future — the future of the church and the future of the world.

So let’s keep trusting in Jesus. Let’s keep praying and reading the Gospels. Jesus will never let you down. Even in your toughest times, he is with you. Go to him. Talk to him. Ask Jesus every day, all the time: “Lord, what do you want me to do?”

I am praying for you every day. Please pray for me in my ministry. I need your prayers.

And I ask our Blessed Mother Mary to watch over you and your families. May she intercede for all of us. May she teach us to say “yes” to the call of Jesus — that we may follow him always as disciples and missionaries.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

St. Vincent de Paul Bundle Sunday

The St. Vincent de Paul Society's truck is here today to receive donations of any useable items including clothing, household goods, small appliances or furniture pieces, books, toys, tools, kitchenware, and anything and everything in working and useable condition, including electronics to be recycled.

You may recycle your electronics free of charge at the SVDP thrift store, at 210 N. Ave. 21 in Los Angeles. For more information, call (323) 224-6280.