Sunday, December 25, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “Even the holy men who lived before the coming of Christ understood that God had in mind plans of peace for the human race.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

There are four distinct sets of readings for the Solemnity of Christmas: Vigil Mass, Mass at Night, Mass at Dawn and Mass at Day.

Although the readings are very different, there is something they all have in common. Clearly, God entered into our world and our lives, and things, as they say, would never be the same.

Promises and expectations of peace and healing, forgiveness, hope and grace in great measure came into our world. What happened in that manger was a bursting into our world and consciousness of the presence of God into our humanity.

To be sure, it is beyond anything we could fully understand, a mystery in the truest sense of the word. It is no surprise that we have four sets of readings, as if one would do.

We look at this moment in time promised by God as the greatest mystery, full of grace, that broke death and sin, bringing life and grace.

Emmanuel! God with us!

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

St. Bernard Catholic School 2016 Christmas Concert

St. Bernard Catholic School students present their 2016 Christmas Concert!

St. Bernard Catholic School students performed their annual Christmas concert on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016.

Students in grades one to eight performed such classics as "Jingle Bell Rock," "Silent Night," "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," and "Mi Burrito Sabanero," among others, under the direction of Jerry Islas, director of music and choir.

The show also featured a performance of the school's after school program. Sound Art, under the direction of Lincoln Mendell.
   

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “What we love we shall grow to resemble.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Unplanned pregnancies are almost always more than just a surprise; often, they are shocking and difficult to deal with, especially for a couple that is not married. It can often fill them with fear and uncertainty.

It is, therefore, rather comforting to know that Joseph and Mary were no different. Although they were betrothed, they were not married. Joseph was prepared to end the relationship; but a biblical wonder occurred, a revelation from God.

In a dream, an angelic visitation put Joseph at ease by going to the root cause of his problem — fear. The angel told Joseph: “Do not be afraid.”

Fear can so easily block our vision, cloud our thinking, damage our courage, prevent us from becoming our best self. Joseph awoke from his dream with more resolve than ever, and this pregnancy became, as most eventually do, a blessing that would change not only Joseph and Mary’s lives but ours, too.

Is fear a predominant reality in our lives? Are we controlled by fear? Are we able to recognize our fears? Are we willing to allow the angelic revelations calling us to not be afraid to bring us to peace and trust and allow our fears to turn into blessings?

Again, we come to realize that God is in all, works through all, and can take the surprising and shocking realities of our lives and make them grace-filled blessings.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “The rivers of Grace cannot flow uphill, up the steep cliff of the proud man's heart.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Gaudete” means “rejoice” in Latin. Traditionally, the Third Sunday of Advent has been called Gaudete Sunday, because our Advent journey has almost come to an end.

There is always joy when one comes closer to reaching the goal, or arriving at the destination. But isn’t it more than just coming to the end? What happened to us along the way? Was there any change? Is our goal or destination the point of this journey, or is the journey itself the important thing?

If we have been listening to God’s word these days, we have heard a lot about justice and peace. We have understood that something or someone has changed the universe forever. We have understood how deeply loved we are by God and that this divine visitation has forgiven and healed everyone and everything.

The journey of faith stands beside a bustling holiday season. One says, “Buy, buy, buy,” and accumulate as much as you can, then get more. It's never enough! The other says: “Let go, simplify, empty yourself, embrace silence and peace, open.”

One distracts and clutters. The other focuses and prepares us to receive love and meaning deep within the spirit.

It is a great time. It is a great season. Everyone enters in different ways and to different degrees. It’s all good, but there is something that is greatest here. It has been the journey. It continues. It is near its end.

There is more grace and love to go around.

“Gaudete — rejoice!” We say it together this Sunday.

Together, may we discover what the journey has been about. Together, may the journey helps us to discover who we have become.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

St. Bernard Christmas schedule, 2016

During these weeks of Advent, the church has urged us to make the journey to the birth of the Lord.

By prayer, penance, and works of charity, we seek to be ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Please join our parish family for the special liturgies by which we experience the great love of God for us.

We wish you and you family a blessed Christmas, filled with peace and joy.

Liturgies for Christmastime and New Year's Day


MASSES

December 21 (Simbang Gabi)
7 p.m. Mass in English

Refreshments, games and “pabitin” will be held in the parish hall after Mass. For more information, call Maria Obrero at (323) 221-4321.

December 24 (Christmas Eve)
5 p.m.: Vigil Mass and children's liturgy in English
Midnight: Christmas midnight Mass in English and Spanish

The Christmas midnight Mass will be preceded by a concert of sacred Christmas music, performed by the St. Bernard Chancel Choir, at 11:30 p.m.

December 25 (The Nativity of the Lord)
8 and 9:30 a.m.: Mass in English
11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.: Misa en español

There will be no evening Mass on Christmas Day.

January 1, 2017
8 and 9:30 a.m.: Mass in English
11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.: Misa en español

PENANCE SERVICES

December 13
7 p.m. on  at St. Ignatius Church (322 N. Ave. 61, Los Angeles)

December 15
7 p.m. at Divine Saviour Church (610 Cypress Ave., Los Angeles)

Special events


CONCERTS

December 13 (St. Bernard Catholic School Christmas concert)
7 p.m. in the church

All are invited to attend the St. Bernard Catholic School Christmas Concert, presented by students of St. Bernard Catholic School. Admission is free.

December 24 (Chancel Choir Christmas concert)
11:30 p.m. in the church

Everyone is invited to attend a concert of sacred Christmas music, presented by the St. Bernard Church Chancel Choir, under the direction of Katherine White. Admission is free.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary Mass Homily on Thursday, December 8, 2016

By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

Watch the VIDEO



"You and I are supposed to be like Mary," Father Perry tells us in his homily for our 7 p.m. Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mass. "She's model of the church, model of every Christian. "The singular privilege that she had to bring Christ into the world has been shared with us. She models perfectly. But that's our role, to follow her as an example. We do it best when live the Gospel."

Download the AUDIO

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “The three most important virtues are humility, humility, and humility.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

“Eschatology” is a term that refers to the “end times” and the future glory that awaits those who are faithful to God’s gift of salvation.

It includes Christ’s second coming but refers also to the end of time, the final judgment, the resurrection of everyone and everything that is gathered together by the creator to share forever in divine glory.

It is not terrible but rather the most awesome of all things to come.

The first coming of Christ (which we celebrate in Christmas) already ushered in these eschatological times. The kingdom of God has already begun in the birth of Christ and is already here. But the fullness of this kingdom of God is yet to be fully realized – that will be in his second coming.

What happens in between? In between is where we are. John the Baptist understood his critical role to announce the first coming of Christ. An equally critical role falls to us to announce the second coming of Christ.

And even though we cannot pinpoint a day or exact time, nevertheless, we continue to proclaim the kingdom that is here and now and the fullness of that kingdom to come. We do so because our lives become a testimony to our belief in the kingdom; living the Gospel gives us a beginning share in the glory of that kingdom. Sharing that glory actually makes the kingdom to grow within us, through us and around us.

We are critical players in both the announcing of and living out this kingdom of God. If we don’t live it and share it, we lessen it. If we live it and share it, it thrives and blesses in the now.

John said: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

We have been baptized in his Spirit. We are anointed in the Lord. We share in his kingdom and proclaim it with our lives. We even receive him and are nourished by him as the bread of life and as our cup of salvation.

Is this time not anointed? Is this time not one to be proclaimed? Do we not share the privilege of John?

He announced the first coming.

We announce the second.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “The measure of love is love without measure.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

In California we are forever being told that we should be “earthquake ready.” As they always say: “It is not a question of if the big one will come, but when.”

Having said that, what does it mean to be ready? We are told to have a planned site where families can meet should they become separated. We are told to have our medications and enough water for a week. What about blankets and warm clothing, if it should happen during the winter. And do we have a place to store all of these things?

Jesus tells us that we need to be ready, because we do not know when the Lord will come. That, too, requires a little planning – it cannot and should not be haphazard and simply hoped for without any kind of planning.

That is why prayer, quieting the soul, and and opening the mind and heart are part of the plan or way that we remain prepared, alert, and waiting and ready.

Advent is a time of preparation to meet the Lord. We spend four Sundays carefully contemplating the meaning of his coming into our lives. We meet him in the past as we celebrate and remember his birth.

We prepare to meet him in the future, as we await his second coming. But the real preparation should be for today and everyday.

If the plan is to be ready and waiting, looking and seeking, and listening and watching, we will surely meet the Lord again and again and again.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Join us as we celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is Monday, Dec. 12.

Celebrations to commemorate the Virgin Mary's appearance in 1531 to a poor peasant farmer, St. Juan Diego, include a novena, rosary, and mañanitas (music and prayers) very early in the morning, a procession, and solemn Mass.

Music is important to this celebration, and roses and many other flowers decorate the altar and church. Many images of the virgin are brought to Mass for blessing.

The entire parish is encouraged to participate. All are welcome!

Novena and rosary


Recitation of the rosary

Dec. 10
6 p.m.

Dec. 11 
1:45 p.m.

Feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe




Las Mañanitas


Dec. 12 
5 a.m. (with praise, worship, and mariachi)

Masses

Dec. 12
6 a.m. Mass in Spanish

Dec. 12
6 p.m. solemn Mass in Spanish

After the solemn Mass, Mexican food will be on sale in the parish hall. There will be ballet folklorico entertainment.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Healing and reconciling during Advent

Healing and reconciliation are at the heart of our Christian life.

It is Jesus' call and gift to us.

Several priests will be available in special Penance/Reconciliation Services throughout our neighborhood during Advent so all can prepare for the birth of the Lord with a healed, reconciled and renewed heart.

This is time to clean house, to get rid of guilt and experience healing an renewal. All are welcome.

Penance services


December 13
7 p.m. at St. Ignatius Church (322 N. Ave. 61, Los Angeles)

December 15
7 p.m. at Divine Saviour Church (610 Cypress Ave., Los Angeles)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “Learn the lesson that, if you are to do the work of a prophet, what you need is not a scepter but a hoe.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

“Christ the King” is certainly a title that expresses the victorious and powerful importance given to Jesus.

Anyone hearing that title, attached to this last Sunday of the church year, would certainly recognize the place that Jesus holds in our eyes and hearts.

Then, as quickly as they succumbed to that clear awareness, they would undoubtedly fall prey to another.

Then how could he end up on a cross?

We as Christians understand the perplexing contradiction – a true paradox: In his moment of greatest weakness, he is strongest; in his hour of complete surrender he overcomes even death itself.

“Unless the seed dies it remains only a seed. But if it dies it can produce much fruit.”

His death and resurrection are one. His pain is his glory. His dying opens the way for his rising. The cross is his crown.

In his poverty he is rich. In his suffering he comes to full glory — but only to those who have eyes to see.

One criminal on the cross beside him sees failure, emptiness, mockery, ridicule, inability to do anything. But the other criminal dying at the other side of Jesus gets it, he recognizes Jesus’ strength in his weakness.

Seeing the same thing — yet seeing so much more — this criminal asks Jesus: “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus, speaking truly as king and Lord assures him: “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Christ the King truly reigns. He is true to his word, and we do believe he is merciful and full of love. His saving power is great, indeed, and will make up for a horrible lacking in us.

Like the good criminal today, how nice if we receive grace and are able to recognize and respond to it. How nice if we are able to see deeper and understand.

We look at Christ our king on a cross. We get it. We find in the emptiness of that moment all we need and all we are called to become.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I see photos and hear of your tears, legitimate deep fear, uncertainty

Father Greg Boyle, S. J.
By Father Greg Boyle, S.J.
founder and executive director,
Homeboy Industries

The poet, Warsan Shire writes:

“I come from two countries
One is thirsty
The other is on fire
Both need water.”

I've gotten texts: “What’s going to happen to America?” “Will he close Homeboy forever?” and a most often sent text: “I mean ... WTF?”

Homeboy Industries seeks to be what the world is ultimately invited to become: a community of kinship, exquisite mutuality, and tenderness. We stand against forgetting that we belong to each other.

Demonizing is always untruth. Always. No exceptions. That refusal includes the current president-elect and those who voted him into office.

Nonetheless, 100 million Americans and billions outside this country share the very fears expressed yesterday so vividly at the Homeboy headquarters.

The Gospel says: “The Kingdom of God is among you.”

Indeed, it is. We will continue to take seriously what Jesus took seriously: Inclusion. Non-violence. Unconditional and compassionate, loving-kindness. And acceptance.

At Homeboy, we believe, that only the soul that ventilates the world with tenderness has any chance of changing it.

So yes, we hold our heads high and maintain our spirit and we speak the Homeboy truth to power. We belong to each other. We still imagine that circle of compassion and still see no one standing outside that circle ... not gang members, not Muslims, not immigrants, not African-Americans, and especially not folks who voted for this president-elect.

We all belong and we all “need water.” Our resolve is even more tenacious to ventilate the world with tenderness.

Let’s get to it.

Father Greg Boyle, S.J., is the founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “Who loves me will love my dog also.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux (... a very human Bernard).

Everyone seems to agree that all things will come to an end or that there will be an end to the world as we know it. The differences of opinion arise around questions like When? How will it happen? Where will it begin? and What are the signs?

The word of God today brings little clarity to the issue except in two areas. Jesus’ commentary about the signs of the end times tells us that “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”

These signs have happened, are happening, and seemingly will continue to happen until the end. This past year alone left us breathless with pain and sorrow over floods, fires, and earthquakes, leaving thousands of people homeless, struggling, and suffering – and many dead.

We continue to be at war, and there is still much unrest and fighting and refusal to get along in the Middle East, many parts of Africa, and in the Middle East; tensions seem to be on the rise.

We have had a horrific year of terrorism and blatant hatred scarring the face of our earth.

Is it the end? Are we near?

But here is one area in which Jesus speaks loudly and clearly: “See that you not be deceived for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘the time has come.’ Do not follow them!”

No one knows when. No one has the plan. No one should be trying to figure it out, because even Jesus (in another quote) doesn't know. Only our Father who is in heaven knows. So we can let that one go.

It will come when it comes. Period.

The second issue Jesus foretells is more personal and perhaps more scary since signs of this are present and happening, too.

He says, before any of the above happens there will be religious persecution. Further, he says: “You will be handed over ... by relative, friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name.”

He also says don’t prepare, words will be given to you, not a hair of your head will be destroyed, you will secure your lives. In this seemingly contradictory message, it is clear that what happens in the flesh and what happens in our spirit, in a more eternal sense, will go on simultaneously.

God, the God of the living, will secure us and for us a life that is bigger and more than this one. The forces within and among us that are often destructive, and the final destruction of the world, are nothing in comparison with his everlasting love.

The message, simply put, remains to this day: Do not be afraid! Trust! Be alert! Be ready!

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Angel Tree brings joy of Christmas to imprisoned parents, their kids

Join us in the collective purchasing of gifts for children who have one or both parents currently in prison.

Angel Tree is a national program connecting parents in prison with their children through the delivery of Christmas gifts.

When the gifts are given to the children, a Gospel presentation is shared.

After all the Masses on Nov. 26 and 27, there will be a table set up for Angel Tree. You may pick up an “Angel Tag” to purchase gifts.

Volunteers are also needed help wrap and distribute the gifts and Gospel to the children.

For more information, call Mary Trujillo at (323) 255-6142.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Coming together as faithful citizens for the common good

Archbishop Joseph. E. Kurtz
By Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

The American people have made their decision on the next president of the United States, members of Congress as well as state and local officials. I congratulate Mr. Trump and everyone elected yesterday.

Now is the moment to move toward the responsibility of governing for the common good of all citizens. Let us not see each other in the divisive light of Democrat or Republican or any other political party, but rather, let us see the face of Christ in our neighbors, especially the suffering or those with whom we may disagree.

We, as citizens and our elected representatives, would do well to remember the words of Pope Francis when he addressed the United States Congress last year, "all political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity."

Yesterday, millions of Americans who are struggling to find economic opportunity for their families voted to be heard. Our response should be simple: we hear you. The responsibility to help strengthen families belongs to each of us.

The Bishops Conference looks forward to working with President-elect Trump to protect human life from its most vulnerable beginning to its natural end. We will advocate for policies that offer opportunity to all people, of all faiths, in all walks of life. We are firm in our resolve that our brothers and sisters who are migrants and refugees can be humanely welcomed without sacrificing our security. We will call attention to the violent persecution threatening our fellow Christians and people of other faiths around the world, especially in the Middle East. And we will look for the new administration's commitment to domestic religious liberty, ensuring people of faith remain free to proclaim and shape our lives around the truth about man and woman, and the unique bond of marriage that they can form.

Every election brings a new beginning. Some may wonder whether the country can reconcile, work together and fulfill the promise of a more perfect union. Through the hope Christ offers, I believe God will give us the strength to heal and unite.

Let us pray for leaders in public life that they may rise to the responsibilities entrusted to them with grace and courage. And may all of us as Catholics help each other be faithful and joyful witnesses to the healing love of Jesus.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz is the fourth and current archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “What we love we shall grow to resemble.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Today’s Gospel is a simple story involving a man, a tree, and love and hate.

Ultimately, love wins. It always does, because it gives — not takes — life.

Zacchaeus is placed at the center of this story between love and hate.

The townspeople did indeed hate him — and with good reason: He worked for the enemy collecting their taxes; he charged them more than he should have. He got rich off them.

He had an army of Romans to back him, since he was working for Rome. Even his physical details gave them opportunity to display their hatred for him.

When Zacchaeus tried to move up to the front of the crowd to see Jesus when he passed by, they blocked him and prevented him from doing so. Since he couldn’t see over them, the only thing left was to climb a tree. But just as much as the townspeople hated Zacchaeus, Jesus loved him.

He loved him not because he did anything to earn it. Jesus loved and offered love to Zacchaeus because he knew he needed it, believed in the power of love to help and save, and Jesus never missed an opportunity to teach others about love.

When Jesus arrived at Zacchaeus’ tree, he looked up, called for him to come down, and loved him by inviting himself to his home — an act of entering into intimacy and hospitality.

It worked immediately.

The town displayed more hate, but Zacchaeus countered it with love. He had already been affected; loved by Jesus, he changed on the spot. He loved Jesus back by publicly giving a sign of repentance (metanoia) and thereby saving face for Jesus.

Jesus was being indicted for entering the house of a sinner. But the sinner declared not just a little change; he declared a total change of heart.

Zacchaeus’ willingness to give a portion of his wealth to the poor (20 percent) would have been considered generous by any standard. He went way beyond — he publicly declared that he would give half of all his wealth to the poor.
And he also promised to pay back those he defrauded four times what they lost.

This was total conversion!

Then in one sweeping statement, Jesus restored wholeness and welcomed back Zacchaeus. He placed him on equal ground with everyone else who was there. He revealed the real meaning of community: not rejecting and condemning what is lost but seeking it out and welcoming it home.

"Today, salvation has come to this house because this man, too, is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost."

With whom do we wish to be identified: the town and hate, or Jesus and love?

Today’s Gospel is a simple story involving a man, a tree, and love and hate, but the results are miraculous.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “The rivers of Grace cannot flow uphill, up the steep cliff of the proud man's heart.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

What happens to a person who exalts himself, thinking he is better than others?

What becomes of a person who thinks that because she follows some rules or procedures that her life is better than someone else’s life?

Jesus, not surprisingly, has some strong opinions about this. The final line in today’s Gospel states it clearly: “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

But what is underneath all of this?

It would be dishonest to say that the Pharisee did nothing good. On the contrary, as he states: “I fast twice a week. I pay tithes on my whole income.”

These can hardly be criticized; in fact, they are praiseworthy, but it reminds one of the person who is so busy bragging about himself he can’t hear anyone else giving him a compliment.

Even this in itself is not the problem. What good is it to do good if it only becomes the platform to judge and condemn others? Who has the right to judge?

Is there any difference in condemning actions rather than persons? Might it not be just a little arrogant to condemn the rest of humanity?

It seems rather strange to lump all of humanity together as greedy, dishonest, and adulterous — that doesn’t appear to be how God sees it.

A good representative from the rest of humanity gives quite a different view of himself. He “stood at a distance” and he would “not even raise his eyes to heaven.”

Instead, beating his breast, he just prayed: “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

The contrast is embarrassing. One is so proud he condemns all of humanity; the other is so humble he only asks God for mercy.

Self-righteousness is the one thing attacked most consistently by Jesus. It is clearly the attitude that gets in the way of caring for anyone except self. Jesus’ own description of the self-righteous is the one who “despised everyone else.”

The self-righteous truly think that their efforts are the most important ones. Yet far more important than anything that we do is what God does for us and in us; far more important than our achievements is his love.

One filled with judgement and condemnation is probably not empty enough to be filled with love and compassion. Isn’t it obvious why Jesus was so concerned about this?

Is Jesus’ truth not our truth: “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “Expect much of God, and he will do much for you.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

We all like stories about the little guy beating the big guy in a struggle.

Today we hear the biblical David and Goliath story in yet another form. There is a deep sense of justice, of right, of good winning over bad. This story satisfies on the deepest levels.

Today, such a fight takes place with a mighty judge and not just a woman (the odds are already against her) but a widow. That means she has no property, no money, no power. Some injustice has been done to her.

The judge, however, seems to be siding with the forces that be: the money powers (since Jesus describes him as a corrupt judge). That usually means one is taking bribes and so they will decide in favor of those who can pay; therefore, this woman would have no chance.

But there is something powerful about someone who really believes in their point of view or their case. Even without any power, probably not even the means to have a lawyer, she keeps coming to the court day after day. She keeps shouting out her case day after day. Day after day, she keeps telling the judge and anyone she can about the injustice, as she seeks justice from the court.

Persistence, conviction, self-confidence, need, hope, and the willingness to fight on to victory, are the stuff that keeps her going. The judge’s corruption, and his greed and concern only for himself, prove no contest to this woman’s honest fight; she would not give up until justice was done.

This is the example Jesus gives for prayer.

Pray, always. Do not become weary of prayer. Ask again, and again, and again, and again. This is what it means to pray. The point is not the number of times. The point is not even just what we ask for. That can change as we ask. That can become more clear as we keep praying.

Sometimes we realize we are asking for the wrong thing. In order to be so persistent and to keep at it again and again and again, we have to believe in ourselves, our need, our prayer. Therein lies the power.

This also verifies what Jesus consistently says at every healing. He always turns to the person and finally says: “Your faith has saved you. You faith has healed you.”

At the end of this parable Jesus winds it all up with the real issue, the real question: “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “We find rest in those we love, and we provide a resting place in ourselves for those who love us.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

The Gospel today focus on two themes: the power of faith; and dutiful service.

The apostles frequently asked questions of Jesus: informational ones or specific actions from him.

Today was no different. They asked the Lord to “increase our faith.”

He did respond, but he didn’t do what they asked. Rather, he gave them a response contrasting two hyperbolas.

His first combined two proverbial ideas into one hyperbolic statement. He said that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed (hyperbole — one of the tiniest seeds) that you could say to this mulberry tree (one of the most deeply and tenaciously rooted), “be uprooted!”

Not likely, though.

Then he added to this idea another hyperbole by saying you could plant it in the sea — clearly one of the most unlikely places since this tree could not possibly grow there.

The exaggeration makes the point super strongly, which is exactly what hyperbole is meant to do — exaggerate through the example to make the point or meaning even stronger.

What the apostles were asking for was nothing in comparison to what Jesus wanted to give them — extraordinary faith and trust in God.

***

In A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous), and other 12-step programs, people in the group take on tasks or responsibilities of service to the group. At each meeting they usually give a little report to the group, and typically they finish their report with the words: “Thanks for letting me serve.”

Thanks? Why would one be thankful or grateful for being allowed to serve. The Gospel today gives some understanding to this simple yet profound attitude.

Most of us could never really relate to an example involving slaves. In our national consciousness we have developed an abhorrent response to the very idea of slavery. We wish we could erase the reality and any memory of it from our history.

But in Jesus’ time it was a part of the social fabric of both the Romans and the Jews. It was acceptable. In fact, some people sold themselves into slavery with the hope that one day they could be emancipated.

Even so, there were expectations of a slave, both from the master and from the slave. The slave knew what was expected. To do the service was to be responsible and fulfill one’s obligation as a slave.

Not anyone would think that a slave was to be thanked. It was simply their job. They were unworthy (that is, not worthy of praise), because they were only fulfilling their duty.

Duty was dignified. Duty could bring one’s freedom. Duty was a moral obligation and one’s responsibility.

Jesus was probably directing this parable at the Pharisees who routinely thought they deserved to be praised for what they did.

We are at our best when we realize who and what we are. As God’s creation we have been loved into existence and blessed each day. This is not because of what we do, but because of who God is. He loves us all — the good and the bad — equally and always.

His example to us is and was to love and to serve. In this we find meaning, life, satisfaction, joy, dignity, and have no problem saying the words: “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty” (Luke 17:10).

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: "The measure of love is love without measure.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Then Abraham said: “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”

The verdict is in and most would agree. Truth, love, compassion, generosity – most of these deepest human realities have the toughest time sinking roots all the way down into the heart and soul. They often brush up against the heart and soul, but sink all the way in? That’s a different story.

When roots appear and truly grab onto and into the heart and soul, things are never the same. Jesus is forever speaking about roots and conversion – change of heart and soul.

Today relates to one of the toughest ones: wealth — having more, getting more, keeping more – now this is a reality or illusion that allures most in life.

The famous saying remains true to this very day: “The rich get richer while the poor get poorer.”

Most rich don’t easily give it away unless doing so brings a nice tax break. Thank God for taxes for the rich — if it were so!

Statistics from the Survey of Consumer Finances sponsored by the Federal Reserve Board providing data since 1983 report the following about distribution of wealth in the United States: the bottom 40 percent of our families possess 0.2 percent of wealth; combined with the next two lowest groups, this bottom 80 percent possess 15.3 percent. That means that the top 20 percent possesses 84.7 percent.

It gets better.

The top 5 percent of families alone possess 58.9 percent of all the wealth. To round out the good bad news: 1 percent of U.S. families owns, possesses, has, keeps, a mere 34.3 percent of U.S. wealth.

Since this issue has been around a long time, is it any surprise that Jesus would have an opinion on it?

He tells a story to the Pharisees, the educated, rule keepers, people of means, who supported the system that supported them. These people believed and proved it to be true that given a real chance, you could be what you want to be. You could have what you want to have. You could keep what you want to keep.

And not surprisingly they thought themselves to be better than most because they lived good lives — with one little exception. They knew every loophole how to avoid all except the minimum.

Their usual question was: “What do I have to do? What is expected? What will get me: eternal life; salvation; the kingdom?” It wasn’t: “What can I do?” —  but rather – “What must I do?” Their philosophy was ‘do the least’  and  ‘get the most’! Can’t fault them. It’s in our genes – our DNA. We are sinners.

We like the easy way. We want to get more than to give.  We think we possess wealth; but in truth, it owns us! It is very hard to get this message across. Jesus knew that! “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

After centuries of enduring the sin and scourge of slavery, we can finally ask the question: “Can anyone be master over us?”

And the true and legitimate answer is resoundingly, yes.

But there is and can only be one master; and that is, of course, the true master — Jesus the Christ.

He does not lord it over us, even though we refer to him as Lord. No, this master gives life, heals life, blesses life, enhances life, sustains life, and renews life.

This master is life. In his own words he reveals: “I am the way, the truth, and the LIFE.”

There are some people in life who do horrible things, say horrible things and, when they are called on it, they double down.

Jesus also doubles down — but with love, blessings, grace, and peace. If we respond only a little, that is all it takes — then he doubles down on our efforts.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “Spiritual life is like living water that springs up from the very depths of our own spiritual experience. In spiritual life, everyone has to drink from his or her own well.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

“There’s nothing wrong with me! I’m not the one at fault! I didn’t do anything wrong. Why are you picking on me?”

These could have been some of the phrases Jesus used in response to the Pharisees and scribes who, once again, were criticizing Jesus because “he ate with sinners.”

Note: He didn’t just tolerate them or accidentally bump into them and treat them civilly. No, he ate with them. He sought them out. He spent quality time with them.

On this particular occasion, when he was criticized again for this behavior, three wonderful parables come out of his heart and mouth about “the lost.”

Jesus didn’t defend himself. Jesus defended, lifted up, and rejoiced in the lost ones with never a mention of self. In the parable of the lost sheep and lost coin, he focused on the attitude of the one searching for the lost.

They set out aggressively searching and best of all, when they found what was lost, they rejoiced and called their neighbors in to rejoice with them. This was something that had to be shared because in the finding there was great joy.

But something more is happening in the parable of the prodigal son. One son was lost, realized it, then came back repentant and in need of forgiveness. The father rejoiced.

The son seeking forgiveness found unconditional and profound love. The other son, however, was lost and never even realized it. He was lost in anger, self-righteousness, rejection, jealousy. Blinded by all of this, he lost even his respectful love of his father.

But this father, true to character, also loved this lost son without condition. He didn’t condemn. He didn’t chastise. He didn’t compare. He simply sought out his son’s inner spirit of love and tried to lead him to a place of acceptance, forgiveness, and joy for the finding of one who was lost.

He gently led one lost son to wholeness and peace by teaching him how to accept another lost son. This father was clearly an image of God our Father, who always loves without condition.

How do we treat members of our own families whom we consider lost (they don’t go to church, they haven’t been to confession, they are “living in sin”)?

The lessons today are multiple — there are lots of ways to be lost, there are lots of ways to seek out the lost.

There are lots of ways to be found. There are lots of ways to be loved.

There is a lot of life offered through the ways of Jesus, through the ways of the Gospel.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Celebration of the Canonization of Mother Teresa

Pope Francis declared Blessed Teresa of Kolkata a saint at the Vatican on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016.

That same day, Archbishop José H. Gomez, archbishop of Los Angeles, celebrated a special Mass honoring the canonization at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Faithful and clergy share their thoughts on the canonization of Mother Teresa.


Faithful and clergy share their thoughts on the canonization of Mother Teresa






Archbishop José H. Gomez delivers his homily




"A beautiful day of celebration for the universal church, and for all of us, especially here in the archdiocese," Archbishop José H. Gomez, archbishop of Los Angeles, aid in his homily. "In Mother Teresa, we have a model of holiness ... someone who is a saint of her time and place. The work of Sister Teresa's Missionaries of Charity continues here among the poorest of the poor. The seeds of love and mercy that our new saint planted continue to grow in our hearts, in our homes, in our ministries."


Produced by Michael J. Arvizu/St. Bernard Church

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

First day of school at St. Bernard Catholic School, 2016



St. Bernard Catholic School marked its first day of classes on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. Principal Philip McCreary led morning prayer and introduced new and present staff members. Parents also speak about what they hope their kids will learn and accomplish this year.



First day of school: New staff

St. Bernard Catholic School Principal Philip McCreary introduces his staff for the 2016-17 school year, which includes some new teachers!





First day of School: Letting go

Sometimes, it's hard to let go





First day of school: Philip McCreary, principal

St. Bernard Catholic School Principal Philip McCreary talks about the school's goals and expectations for the 2016-2017 year, which began on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016.





First day of school: Parents

St. Bernard Catholic School parents share their thoughts on the first day of school and what they hope their kids will learn and accomplish this year.




Produced by Michael J. Arvizu/St. Bernard Church

Monday, September 5, 2016

Celebration of our patron saint and the 92nd anniversary of St. Bernard Church

In August, with great joy, we celebrated the feast day of our patron saint and the 92nd anniversary of St. Bernard Church. 


Parishioners and clergy shared stories of their time at St. Bernard, who've they've met, what they learned, what they miss most, and their hopes for the future of our parish.


Celebration of our Italian community

Mass to honor the St. Bernard Church Italian community



"In these 92 years, St. Bernard's has faced many situations and challenges," Bishop Joseph Sartoris tells us in his homily for a special Mass celebrating the Italian founders of St. Bernard Church. "They faced the Great Depression. They faced floods, earthquakes, changes in demographics of people coming and going. And yet through all of that, they remained faithful to the spirit of those founders, faithful to the God they love, faithful to the lady they honored."



Stories



St. Bernard parishioners share stories of their time at the church, gatherings, parties, and what they remember most about growing up or serving in the parish.





Bishop Joseph Sartoris, former San Pedro Region auxiliary bishop, sits down with us and talks about his time as an associate priest at St. Bernard from 1966 to 1970. He speaks about Vatican II, the first Mass celebrated in the new church, and he recalls fond memories of his time ministering to the parish's families and youth.



Celebration of our Latino community

Mass to honor the St. Bernard Church Latino community





Celebration of our patron saint — St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Mass to honor our patron saint — St. Bernard of Clairvaux





Choice, culture, proximity sometimes thicker than blood


By Christina Blake 

When I was asked to speak about the Italian community of St. Bernard Church, the hardest part was where to start.
How do you sum your life experiences in what was once a vibrant and active church community? I could tell you about the dinner dances. I could tell you about the carnivals. I could tell you about the picnics or the St. Joseph's Table. But I think I will tell you about some of the people and events of which I have lasting memories. I was fortunate to grow up in the Italian community. I got to experience firsthand what it was like when the Italian community were vibrant members of this church community. I was one of the youngest members of the Italian Catholic Federation Branch 56 at St. Bernard. The ICF at St. Bernard was established in 1937 when our nation was still suffering the effects of the Great Depression. Growing up in this community I had many grandparents, numerous aunts and uncles, and I was the baby sister in many families, not just my biological one. Everyone knew everyone else; adults were expected to discipline any child that was misbehaving, not just their own. Everyone was family. We were related by choice, by culture, and by proximity which, at times, was a much stronger bond than blood. Being a part of the Italian community meant growing up in traditions that emigrated from Italy along with the people. I am the third generation in my family to complete my sacraments in this parish. My grandparents were married in the church in 1932 in what is now the parish hall. My mother completed her sacraments of initiation in this church, attended St. Bernard Catholic School, and married in this church. My brother and I completed our sacraments of initiation here, and I was married here. My children were baptized in this church. St. Bernard is my second home.
“We were related by choice, by culture, and by proximity which, at times, was a much stronger bond than blood. Being a part of the Italian community meant growing up in traditions that emigrated from Italy along with the people.”
Now I would like to take you all on a trip with me into the past. Jenny Lombardo, Pete and Anna Bonino, Jim and Clara Arcaro, Rose Caputo, Florence and John Scandurra, Celia Caizia, Tony and Del Ellena, Angie Penino, Gino Del Ponte, Joe Palesano. Do you remember those names? If you know any of those names, you were probably active in the Italian community from the 1950s to the 1990s. How about Monsignor [Patrick] McNulty's old “Boys Club”? Fred Merlo, Gino DelPonte, Art Looke, John Doble, and Victor Revito? If you drove by the church on Saturday morning, you probably would have noticed the work trucks. Like clockwork, they would be at St. Bernard bright and early to fix whatever was broken. I remember driving by and seeing Gino, Art, Victor, and dad's trucks, along with John's van, all squeezed together and filled with tools. I don't think there was a pew, kneeler, board, window, brick, or piece of tile that wasn't fixed by one of those men. I remember many times when a sermon would run a bit long — not that sermons ever run long, Bishop Sartoris! My dad would start looking around the church. After Mass, the men would huddle to compare notes. This needs to be fixed or that board looks loose, and the next Saturday morning the trucks would be parked in the front of the church. They all cared deeply for this church, but I personally think the guys got together to hang out more than anything. How many of you remember the ICF dinner dances? The dinner/dances are not what I remember most. What I remember is the setup. For days, the ladies of the ICF would cook the sausage, meatballs, and sauce for the dinner. We would go to set up the hall the morning of the dinner. The first thing you noticed when you walked into the hall was the wonderful smell! It was a combination of coffee, donuts, fresh bread, sauce, meatballs, and sausage cooking. I would smile at the ladies in the kitchen bickering over weather, or if the sauce needed salt, or how many sausages would fit in the cooker. I can tell you how many cooks can fit around the stove in the hall: about six or seven, depending on the dance. While cooking, they would all say, “This is the last time; I'm too old for this.” But as sure as the sun rises in the morning, six months later, they were back cooking for another dinner — same bickering, saying this was the last time. For most of those ladies, there was never a last time. They were always ready to jump in and help the parish. Now us kids, we would “kind of” help set up until we got bored or the adults got tired of redoing our work. Then we children would run amok. We ran around behind the stage, played the piano (OK, I admit, “played” is stretching the truth — banged on the keys is a better description), slid down the railing from the volleyball court. Like clockwork, as soon as Tony Palesano would hop on the railing and start to shoot down, Monsignor McNulty would walk through the volleyball court and catch him, then got snacks from Rose and Jenny. Those dinners were about being together. Everyone was dressed up. The men in nice shirts and coats, and the women in fancy dresses. I use to sit at the table, bored, watching John and Florance Scandurra and others dance to the music of a three-piece ensemble with the ever present accordion. It's never an italian dance without an accordion. I miss those days; they were great memories of being with family, even if they weren't related to me. I only wish that I could re-create those days for my kids. Many of the ICF members also made up the Altar Society. I remember coming in with my grandma and great aunt to help clean the church. I hated it, but when I would complain, Clara Arcaro would always pull me aside and say “chickadee, your family made up this church, there isn't a window, baptismal font or candle holder that someone you love didn't buy, and it's your responsibility to take care of your home.”
“I miss those days; they were great memories of being with family, even if they weren't related to me. I only wish that I could re-create those days for my kids.”
Then I would be asked to crawl on the floor under the altar to shine the wood or climb up to clean the sacristy. I thought that was cool, because I got to stand on the priest's chair to do it. The ICF Christmas parties were a blast. Everyone would get together, and because my brother and I were the youngest, we got all the good stuff. We even got to meet Santa (or Joe Palesano, as he was known the rest of the year). Jenny Lombardo and Pete Bonino would sing Christmas songs, then the rest of us would get scolded for not singing along. Then everyone would join in singing “Jingle Bells” as Joe was coming down the attic stairs dressed as Santa. Those were the best times, especially because everyone would give us their candy (except for the menthol ones; they always kept those to themselves). Little by little, the members of my ICF family passed away, and the ICF dwindled and passed. Luckily for me, my parents' generation all remained friends. I have no ICF grandparents physically here, but I still have many aunts and uncles, and brothers and sisters. I wouldn't want it any other way. Though the Italian community dwindled here at St. Bernard, I still have the memories of some good times, great people and a lot of phenomenal spaghetti sauce recipes. Christina Blake is a St. Bernard parishioner.


Diversity has created a complex richness at St. Bernard


By Carol Dal Ponte 


St. Bernard was established as a parish by Archbishop John J. Cantwell in 1924.

In the early years, Italians were the majority. They came to this area because there were other Italians already here.

As a kid, I remember all the shops and stores located on North Broadway that were owned by Italians. There were delis, bakeries, photo studios, etc., all serving the Italian community.

Also located on North Broadway was St. Peter's Italian Catholic Church, which still serves the Italian population.

St. Bernard is not located far from this area.

Any church that had Italians, had an Italian Catholic Federation (ICF). St Bernard’s Branch 56 is one of the oldest in Los Angeles.

In the early years, it was vibrant. Traditions like processions and festivals were celebrated. The ICF provided a place to socialize, meet other Italians, eat, sing, dance, and it served as a safety net for immigrants to learn about being American.

Spaghetti dinners were frequent, and one could always hear the women in the kitchen arguing about whose method of making the sauce yielded the best product. These dinners were social experiences, but also fundraisers for something the parish needed.

There were also discussions about whether it was better to be a northern or southern Italian. Despite differences, there was always a large group of men who worked together to provide needed repairs and improvements on the church.

After finishing a project, beer flowed. It wasn’t unusual for the men to hold a steak barbecue to thank the workers.

The original church site was at the corner of Avenue 33 and Verdugo Road, which is now the location of our parish hall. Bart and I were married there. The exterior looks pretty much the same today. The parish hall was a rickety old wooden building which is now the location of the parish’s multipurpose room.

“Not all those who have contributed to our parish have come from the Italian, Mexican or Filipino cultures. Some have come from many others. All have made an impact with their ideas and visions, wonderful food, and celebrations.”

For many years, the parish was assigned two priests — a pastor and an assistant — most often Irish, who were very much a part of parish daily life. Each new priest brought new talents and vision for St. Bernard.

The parish bulletin, written by the parish secretary, Charlotte [Gipson], to let us know who got married, who was ill, who had died, and other interesting little tidbits about what was happening in the parish and to whom it was happening. It was personal, centered, and much like a small town newsletter. We all looked forward to keeping up with parish news.

After World War II, as quotas allowed, more Italians immigrated. Soldiers stationed in California often brought their families here. Many Mexicans arrived to help improve their family’s standards of living.

My own family arrived in the parish in 1947, my husband’s in 1952.

Italians loved California’s Mediterranean climate. It reminded them of home. They didn’t have to bury their fig trees every winter. There were lots of jobs.

Pater Noster High School, now Ribét Academy, housed the Theme Hosiery factory. Many workers were employed making silk and nylon stockings not available during the war.

Van de Kamp's Bakery, at the corner of Fletcher Drive and San Fernando Road, credited soldiers' time served in the armed forces as years toward retirement benefits.

Things were good.

People understood education was a way out of poverty, and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (B.V.M.) at St. Bernard provided a good education.

“Relationships have been formed. They have become friends and godparents to our children. This diversity has created a complex richness that we hope will continue to grow. After all, together, we’re all just Catholic people who are part of St. Bernard Parish.”

Tuition was $2 month, and many parish children were enrolled in the school, including me and my husband. People knew each other — both parents and children — and many lasting relationship have endured.

Except for a couple of years in the early part of our marriage, we have lived in this parish. Our seven children all went to St. Bernard School.

The parish is home for us.

Italians might have begun building the early parish. Soon the Mexicans were the next majority and contributed lots of hard work and their own vision.

Now, Filipinos are probably the majority and contributing much. My daughter’s Filipino godfather was the architect for our current church.

Not all those who have contributed to our parish have come from the Italian, Mexican or Filipino cultures. Some have come from many others. All have made an impact with their ideas and visions, wonderful food, and celebrations.

Relationships have been formed. They have become friends and godparents to our children. This diversity has created a complex richness that we hope will continue to grow. After all, together, we’re all just Catholic people who are part of St. Bernard Parish.

Carol Dal Ponte is a longtime parishioner of St. Bernard Church.


Produced by Michael J. Arvizu/St. Bernard Church

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “The three most important virtues are humility, humility, and humility.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Transformation!

As Jesus talks about commitment to discipleship today, it may sound like he has lost it. It is one thing to ask us to renounce our possessions. People have given up all kinds of pleasures for different reasons: sacrificing for their children, saving up for years to get something they really want, giving away much of what they own because they see that others have a greater and more basic need.

But Jesus says more. “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sister, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

We know that Jesus is saying both more and less here, because this teaching fits into a whole Gospel and cannot be read accurately without being isolated from the rest.

Nowhere would Jesus ever advocate hating one's parents. Nowhere would Jesus suggest hating oneself. Jesus, like many others in the scriptures, and like any teacher or parent, used a communication device called a hyperbole — defined as a gross exaggeration to make a point.

But at the same time, he was absolutely serious about putting himself and the Gospel first — over everyone and everything.

The truth is that they are not necessarily opposed to each other. What Jesus brings before our eyes and our consideration is: do we wish to live or to really live?

Living and really living are very different things. For example, to say that, “I forgive someone, but I never want to talk to them again” is different from saying, “I forgive them and want the best for them, and will consider a new relationship, probably with different boundaries than before.”

There is a difference between forgiving and really forgiving. In other words, once again, Jesus is after transformation; he wants every relationship with every person and thing in our lives to be different. He wants us to reconsider and rename our relationship with family, friends, enemies, money, job, free time, service, compassion, and prayer.

If Jesus and the Gospel are first, it doesn’t mean we won’t have family and friends in our life. It doesn’t even mean we will spend less time with them. In fact, if Jesus and the Gospel come first, it might mean, in some cases, that I need to spend more time with family or friends.

It will ask us to look carefully at how we use our possessions, spend, buy, and live with everything.

The Gospel of Jesus is about placing a value on persons and things — always in the context of love. The very reason we sometimes give up something is for love – of other, of self, or of the thing itself — to preserve or share it generously with others.

Each of us will, no doubt, decide each of these things in light of our discipleship with Jesus, in light of where we are with the Gospel.

And each will discover personal growth at their own rate, in their own time, and say yes to transformation one step at a time.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Christianity meant to 'bring people together with Christ'

By  Jessica

I think that the denominations are a little, well ... I'm not sure what the word would be here.

I believe the point of Christianity is to bring people together in the journey of following Jesus Christ.

We all have different views on certain aspects of our faith. I doubt there are two people in any church who believe exactly the same things.

The Bible is interpreted and applied to each individual differently, based on their life experiences.

So why separate ourselves into all these different denominations when we could just work together?

What matters most is your love for God and your willingness to follow him.

Jessica is a nondenominational Christian from Rochester, New York. She decided not give her full name for this column.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week:  “It is no great thing to be humble when you are brought low; but to be humble when you are praised is a great and rare attainment.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Transformation!

As Jesus continues to speak about “entrance into the kingdom” or “being saved,” he does so by simply observing those around him.

At a dinner to which he was invited, he observes the way people are seeking the “high places” or the seats of honor. He gives some rather practical advice: Far better to sit at the “lowest” place, and then be invited by the host to come to a “higher” place, than to choose the highest and be relegated to the lowest because someone more important has arrived.

That will truly embarrass you. It is a case of the self-exalted being humbled. He also goes after his host by noting how many people (just like in this dinner) are invited to boost the social status of the host.

Many dinners are hosted primarily so that others will check out the guestlist to see who of great importance has attended. In this way, the host has been rewarded not for his generosity, but because of his self-seeking pride.

Jesus recommends: “Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.”

Transformation! Once again, Jesus is inviting us to something more.

Have you ever experienced a truly proud and arrogant person standing beside a truly humble person? The contrast is stunning.

The proud person is so completely self-absorbed, he has very little reserve to love.

The humble individual, on the other hand, delights and discovers the beauty in others, attracts true love and endearment from others, and becomes exalted by all — including God.

Is there really any choice? Would anyone really choose the proud and self-exalted road for themselves? Why? Why do people do it? Is it fear? Is it laziness? Is it grabbing on to an illusion? Is it the quick, fast food mentality that says: “I want and need a payback NOW! Right NOW!”

So, Jesus again goes to the deeper spiritual truth, the road less traveled, the insight far more beautiful but needing trust, to teach.

Transformation — how blessed are the eyes that see it, the ears that hear it, the mouths that speak it, and the hearts that trust it.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.