Sunday, December 31, 2017

Rededicate you and your family to God

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

Quote of the Week: “Blood makes you related. Loyalty makes you family.” — Unknown.

From the very first chapter of the scriptures, when it comes to family, it is clear what God intends: “Be fruitful and multiply.”

Today’s feast focuses on the holy family: Joseph, Mary and Jesus.

From the beginning of Genesis we see God’s desire and plan for a regenerating of the species through a fruitful multiplication.

God tells Abram (who becomes Abraham in the Covenant with God): “Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so shall your descendants be.”

Even in Abraham’s old age God provides for the beginnings of a mighty nation with many descendants. Sterility is no obstacle for God. But there is more in the feast today as we listen to the Gospel of Luke.

The Jews had a very deep faith understanding of the God-gift that family was, both in thanksgiving and the deepest sense of dedication. After 40 days the child was to be presented to God.

In this particular family story, prophecy and grace, and the beginning of redemption, surround this ordinary family event. Devout Simeon declares: “My eyes have seen your salvation ... a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel.”

And he continues: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted.”

Even Mary’s future pain and sorrow is predicted.


Is this what we can expect from family, whether a small family like Jesus’s, or the enormous human family promised to Abraham by God?

Is it always to include suffering? Will there always be struggle? Is there no doubt that both falling and rising is in the picture?

And so what makes it holy?

“The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.”

The favor of God falls upon all of us, especially those anointed with God’s own Spirit in baptism.

There is no question about God’s promise of fruitfulness — just count the over 6 billion presently inhabiting the earth.

There is no question about the favor of God — available to any and all who open their heart to him.

Perhaps the call of this feast day is to rededicate our self, our life, our day and our future to the God of Abraham, and our God, too.

Perhaps this is what makes each of us and any family “holy.”

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

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Sister Dolores was a woman of wisdom and grace

Sister Dolores M. O'Dwyer, photographed at St. Bernard Church on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, shortly after her retirement Mass. (Photograph by Michael J. Arvizu/St. Bernard Catholic Church)

Raised from a source of strength

Dolores Margaret O’Dwyer, B.V.M., was born on Aug. 28, 1923, the third child of William and Margaret Meaney O’Dwyer of San Francisco, Calif. She joined siblings William and Mary Catherine. Dolores’ parents were born and married in Ireland before immigrating to the United States and settling in the Mission District of San Francisco.

Her father had a fun-loving personality, opposite yet complementary to the quiet, serious and pious personality of her mother. Both parents had strength at the foundation of their characters. The O’Dwyer family belonged to St. Paul Parish and Dolores attended and graduated from St. Paul elementary and high school, where she was taught and influenced by the BVMs.

Religious vocations apparently ran in the O’Dwyer family. Dolores was inspired first by her mother who belonged to the Third Order of St. Francis and instilled in her children that religious life was something wonderful. Her brother William joined the Lasallian Christian Brothers and later become a diocesan priest. Her sister, Sister Mary Catherine (Paul Anthony), entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) congregation in 1932 and died in 2001. Dolores herself entered on Sept. 8, 1941, and received the name Wilmetta upon her reception on March 19, 1942. She professed her first vows on March 19, 1944, and lived 76 years as a BVM.

Dolores taught in elementary schools for 24 years. She was missioned at St. Odilo in Berwyn, Ill.; St. George, Christ the King, and St. John in Seattle; St. Clare in Portland, Ore.; and Holy Family in Glendale, Calif.

In the middle of Dolores’ teaching years, tragedy struck the O’Dwyer family. Dolores’ mother, who had been diagnosed with dementia, was exceptionally restless on Oct. 1, 1956, so Dolores’ father decided to take his wife for a ride, which included a stop at the bay to gather sea grass as they used to do in their early days in Ireland.

After returning home, Dolores’ father fell asleep and awoke after midnight to discover his wife was gone. It is believed that she thought it was morning and had headed to Mass at St. Anthony Church, only to be struck and killed by a Greyhound bus.

In a letter to friends, Dolores wrote about the comfort the family received from the BVM community. “There was a special BVM rosary [in the afternoon] ... My Dad was greatly impressed and [remarked], ‘I gave two daughters [to the BVMs] and got a hundred in return.’ My cousin who is a Sister of Mercy was there and was overcome by the charity and love of the BVMs ... Please accept [our] thanks ... for your part in making this tragedy easier to bear. All your letters and promises of prayers have made us all so happy.”

Sister Dolores M. O'Dwyer greets wellwishers at the conclusion of the 5 p.m. Mass on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012. Sister Dolores was St. Bernard Catholic School principal for 36 years before her retirement. (Photograph by Michael J. Arvizu/St. Bernard Catholic Church)

An award winning principal, dedicated to Catholic education

In 1968, Dolores became the principal at St. Bernard in Los Angeles and remained there for 36 years. She truly became the center of the St. Bernard community. The pastor wrote, “The greatness of your service to St. Bernard School and Church is not measured only in the number of years you have given, many as they are. Your service is measured especially by the love you have shown, the dedication that is always evident and the God-given talents you have shared with generations of students and families.”

Dolores was a woman of wisdom and grace as she face numerous educational challenges and proved herself an innovative leader. She received the Distinguished Principals Award from the Department of Elementary Schools of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) in 1991. The executive director of NCEA stated, “Sister Dolores has a clear, integrated philosophy of Catholic Education, is highly regarded by peers, students and parents. She firmly believed that a Catholic School is a place where children are allowed to grow to maturity in finding God and contributing to society.” In recognition of this award, she was also honored as the “Principal of the Year for the Western States.”

As a member of the 1994 delegation of the NCEA and the People-to-People Organization, Dolores visited and studied Catholic schools in Australia and New Zealand. In 1998, Catholic Charities honored her with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her involvement in Catholic Youth Organization athletics. Dolores engaged with her students by attending all school activities and challenging the athletes to learn the skills of the sport and to play as a cohesive team, skills that helped them succeed later in life.

From left, Diane Barber, Sister Joan Maga, Sister Dolores M. O'Dwyer, and Mary Lou Krajewski pose with Sister Dolores at a celebration in honor of her 36 years as principal of St. Bernard Catholic School principal. (Photograph by Michael J. Arvizu/St. Bernard Catholic Church)

Dolores’ contribution to Catholic education was tremendous. Her determination, unselfish devotion, love, faith and skills as an educator influenced the lives of many students, parents, teachers and staff. She was a source of inspiration as she taught by example that every person is loved and cherished by God, and that we are all one family. She truly made a difference.

Not slowing down, even in retirement

After retiring in 2004, Dolores volunteered as a tutor at St. Bernard and pursued her other interests, which included crocheting, cooking, reading, indulging her cats, and cheering on the Los Angeles Lakers. She had a delightful wit and a cheerfulness about her, and was honest to a fault. She loved to sing and dance, and enjoyed a good party, all of which fit quite well with her Irish heritage.

Dolores moved to Mount Carmel in 2012. It was a difficult transition at first, but eventually one could hear her singing, sometimes through the night. The last verse of “Amazing Grace” was a favorite tune: “When we’ve been there ten thousand years/Bright shining as the sun,/We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise/Than when we first begun.”

Dolores longed to join her parents, brother and sister. Finally, last Saturday, Jesus came for her. One can imagine Dolores speaking the words from Song of Songs: “Hark! My lover—here he comes ... My lover speaks; he says to me, ‘Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!’” With this invitation, Dolores followed her beloved to a new dwelling place; her voice joined the heavenly chorus.

Sing on, Dolores! Sing on!

Dolores died on Dec. 16, 2017, at Caritas Center in Dubuque, Iowa.

She was preceded in death by her parents, brother Rev. William O’Dwyer, and sister Mary Catherine O’Dwyer, B.V.M. (Paul Anthony). She is survived by cousins and the Sisters of Charity, B.V.M., with whom she shared life for 76 years.

Dolores was 94.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

When the ordinary becomes extraordinary

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

Quote of the Week: “The proof of love is deed.” — Venerable Catherine McAuley.

“... For nothing is impossible for God.”

That famous line known by all who have developed within themselves a biblical spirituality is the foundation of today’s scriptures.

God spoke through Nathan the prophet to King David, making it abundantly clear that the issue was not what David could do for God, but what God could do for David.

The letter to the Romans echoes the same message when it proclaims the truth: “To him [God] who can strengthen you. ...”

God is clearly seen as powerful, capable, loving, and desirous of calling, sending and sustaining his faithful ones.

The most intimate statement of the same truth is revealed in the Annunciation in today’s Gospel.

The angel Gabriel brings the call of God to Mary to be the one chosen to bring God into the world in human form through her child, Jesus, the great Incarnation: … “For nothing is impossible for God.”

Then the seemingly “ordinary,” but “wonderful and terrible” events, begin to unfold.

For the eyes of faith, these “ordinary” events would have extraordinary causes and significances. An “ordinary” pregnancy would be the result of God pouring out his spirit in an abundant and fruitful way.

God’s entrance into our world in human form would happen in an “ordinary” birth. Elizabeth, advanced in age, would also experience an “ordinary” pregnancy and give to the world her son John, known as the John the Baptist.

Mary would understand that in her humbleness, her nothingness — God had made her great. Mary gives all of the glory to him, for she understood that “nothing will be impossible for God.”

In her simple understanding and acceptance of her call she responds: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

How many of us people of faith seem so discontent with the “ordinary”? How many yearn for and are fixated on the extraordinary, the miraculous.

Can we not believe that in the “very ordinary” God is present? Can we not believe that in the daily stuff of life that God is working, calling, sending, giving, sustaining?

It is not the events of our lives that need to change; it is more the understanding and appreciation that God is there in “ordinary” life experiences: pregnancy, loss of a job, change of life, graduation, failing a class, death of a loved one, being talked about, giving thanks, marrying, separating. Both in the good and bad — in all of it — God is there.

The challenge is to believe that through it all we are loved.

We will be loved. The grace of God will see us through, for “nothing is impossible for God.”

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

Sunday, December 17, 2017

What really matters is our spiritual journey through Advent

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

Quote of the Week: “Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it. He came to fill it with his presence.” — Paul Claudel.

“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 much 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 that is 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, 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 undeniably 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!

As church, 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 Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Announcing the second coming is OUR job

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

Quote of the Week: “The message of Jesus is not ‘Repent,’ but ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near.’” — John Shea.

“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 also refers 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 announcing and living 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 and are nourished by him as the bread of life and 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?

John 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 Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Following Mary in Advent

Archbishop José H. Gómez
By Archbishop José H. Gómez

This past Sunday I had the joy to join thousands of you and your families in East Los Angeles for the 86th annual procession and Eucharistic celebration in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

It was beautiful way to begin Advent — a celebration of faith and hope, strength and solidarity.

And it caused me to reflect that our Christian faith can always be lived with joy, even in times of uncertainty and struggle.

Worshipping with us on Sunday were many young people and families living under the threat of deportation, caught in the web of a broken immigration system and waiting for Congress to decide the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

Yet there was great joy because we know that Our Lady of Guadalupe goes with us on this journey we call life. Indeed, this procession in East L.A. was started decades ago by families who were fleeing the worst religious persecution ever witnessed in the Americas.

These refugee families became pillars in our community and in the midst of their hardship and loss, their example still shows us the way. They found hope and grace in turning to the Mother of God.

Reading the news these days, it can seem like we are living in challenging and confusing times.

Christ’s disciples are always called to live and work and carry out our mission in the midst of the anxieties of our time or place.

This is one of the quiet lessons of the Advent and Christmas season.

Read again and reflect on the beginnings of Luke’s and Matthew’s gospels. You see how the “biographies” of Jesus, Mary and Joseph are shaped by the politics and history of their nation.

A government decision, the census, causes the movements that bring them to Bethlehem on Christmas night. A king’s fears and ambitions for power change their lives — forcing them to flee the country as refugees.

Mary is at the center of the story. And she is at the heart of Advent.

As we do during each Advent, this week we will celebrate her Immaculate Conception, which marks the beginning of our salvation. Three days after that, we will remember her appearance at Guadalupe, which marks the beginnings of American history and reminds us of her continued role in the God’s plan of salvation.

Our world is not a chaos of passing events. God is always God and his love is always at work, no matter what is happening in our society or in the world.

Mary gave herself totally to God’s plan and by her “yes” to God, she gives us an example for how to find joy in these times we are living in.

What God asked of Mary, had never been asked of anyone before — to carry in her womb the One who was to be the Savior of her people and the whole human race. She was asked to do that, no matter what sacrifices it would require in her life.

Every step of her life with Christ required that Mary “put out into the deep,” as Jesus told his apostles to do.

She had to face her fears of the unknown, of where God might be leading her next. She had to let go of all her priorities and plans — she had to let go of everything she might have wished for her life.

Reflecting on Mary this week, I found myself returning to the words that St. Elizabeth spoke at her visitation: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

This is how we can rejoice even in times when God’s purposes seem mysterious or challenging or hard to accept.

We find God’s blessings when we believe — when we open the door to our hearts and welcome Jesus, when we trust that his Word gives us the path to follow for our lives.

Believing in God does not mean that all sadness or suffering are swept away.

But the more we trust in God’s loving will for us, the more we will find the strength and courage we need to handle whatever comes our way — knowing that we are not alone, that God is with us in the mystery of his love.

So, in this first week of Advent, pray for me and I will be praying for you.

And let us try to follow Mary more closely, because no one on earth was more closely united to Jesus, no one who knew him better than Mary.

May Our Blessed Mother always go with us to guide us to the encounter with Jesus, the one who brings us true joy.

Archbishop José H. Gómez is the fifth archbishop of Los Angeles. His weekly column is provided by and appears in Angelus, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez at (213) 637-7000, or follow him daily on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Advent is a time of renewal, change of heart

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

Quote of the Week: “The kingdom of God is the already but not yet.” — R. Alan Woods.

The season of Advent is about preparing us for the “coming of the Lord.”

This purpose in Advent is really twofold.

The immediate purpose is to prepare for the coming of Jesus in his birth at Christmas. With this purpose, there is the built-in tension between the Christmas of the Christian and the Christmas of the world.

One is spiritual and filled with joy, as we await then celebrate the incarnation — God becoming man — as he enters this world through Mary’s conception and birth.

The other is materialistic and centered on Santa Claus, gifts, binge shopping, and debt for the new year.

There is no question that the season affects nearly the whole world and is important spiritually, economically, socially, and on unconscious levels.

The other purpose is equally as strong throughout the entire season of Advent.

The second coming of Jesus Christ is the long-awaited arrival at the end of time.

This one demands from us our spiritual attention and deepest personal commitment. This is the “moment” when there will be no hiding, escaping, mistaking, or Plan B. When this moment comes, we must be ready; when this moment comes, it will all be “over.”

First Sunday of
This is the time when Jesus Christ will take back everything that has come from God to return it to God. This is the time referred to as the “final judgement.”

Therefore, it should be no surprise that the word of God repeats again and again: “Prepare the way of the Lord; be ready; stay awake; be alert; open up; listen.”

The language of the Bible that greets us during this time is apocalyptic, strong, demanding, forceful, promising, hopeful, and it seeks our commitment.

This is John the Baptist’s time; this is the time of renewal and change of heart.

If we ready our spirit for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, we should have a spirit that is open and ready to meet Jesus Christ, any way he comes — in his word, the Gospel, one another, in our sins and struggles, or the darkness of our world.

This is what the church believes. This is why we celebrate.

Indeed, the good news of Advent is: “The Lord Jesus shall come! Rejoice!”

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

Sunday, November 26, 2017

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.

We have all probably loved or cared for someone in our life so much that we declared: “If he’s not welcome here, then neither am I”; or “If you don’t let her play, then I don’t want to play either.”

Our response says: “To not accept my friend is to not accept me.”

Jesus not only speaks in this manner, but he says two more things which clearly makes this one of his most demanding teachings. It is also the testimony of his manner of living.

First: He identifies not just with his friends, or with those whom he loves, or those who love him.

Rather, he identifies with the “least,” the most “insignificant.”

He tells us that what we do to them we do the same to him; what we fail to do to and for them, we fail to do to and for him. In so doing, Jesus raises the bar of loving and caring to include everyone.

At the same time, he raises even higher the bar of expectation so that our lives are called to become lives of love, service, caring, generosity, compassion, outreach, understanding, forgiveness, reconciliation, and respect.

Our Lord is seeking nothing less than total transformation of our thinking and acting. 

Second: Jesus makes this issue so important that he presents it as the condition of our judgment. He describes the scene in which these words are spoken as the judgment scene with the Son of Man seated upon his throne.

There could not be a more frightful or definitive place to speak these words.

In other words, Jesus means for these words to be taken quite seriously.

And why would he not? Isn’t the safety and salvation of all in this life dependent upon this kind of caring?

If individuals and whole peoples can end up being the “least” and most “insignificant,” doesn’t this teaching grant them the possibility of hope? Isn’t the opposite of this hope simply suffering and despair?

Imagine proclaiming this passage to someone in prison or on death row. Imagine hearing this spoken to us by our worst enemy, or by the person we cannot or will not forgive.

It seems to be an impossible teaching; it is way too much to expect!

Unless, of course, it is meant to invite us to become more like Christ himself and to transform us into a people who love one another as God loves us.

So says Jesus: “I have the words of everlasting life!”

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

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Go home, think, speak about one thing you're grateful to God for

"Go home today and think about and speak about one thing you're grateful to God for. One thing, that you name it," Father Perry tells us in his homily for our annual Thanksgiving Day Mass.

"And then after Thanksgiving dinner, you say in front of everyone else, 'I want to thank God for ...' and name one thing. This is a good Samaritan who receives a generous blessing and is filled with gratitude."

USCCB president makes Thanksgiving Day appeal for protection of the vulnerable

Cardinal Daniel N.
By Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo

As we do every year, we will pause this coming Thursday to thank God for the many blessings we enjoy in the United States. My brother bishops and I, gathered last week in Baltimore, were attentive in a special way to those who are often excluded from this great abundance — the poor, the sick, the addicted, the unborn, the unemployed, and especially migrants and refugees.

My brothers expressed a shared and ever-greater sense of alarm — and urgency to act — in the face of policies that seemed unthinkable only a short time ago: the deportation of Dreamers, young hard-working people who should be the lowest priority for deportation; the anxiety and uncertainty of those with Temporary Protected Status from countries like Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras, which are still recovering from natural disasters and remain ill-equipped to humanely receive and integrate them; and an unprecedented reduction in the number of people we will welcome this year into our country who seek refuge from the ravages of war and religious persecution in their countries of origin.

One common feature of all these developments is their tendency to tear apart the family, the fundamental building block of our, or any, society. These threats to so many vulnerable immigrant and refugee families must end now. My brothers have urged me to speak out on their behalf to urge the immediate passage — and signature — of legislation that would alleviate these immediate threats to these families.

Another common feature of these policies is that they are symptoms of an immigration system that is profoundly broken and requires comprehensive reform. This is a longer-term goal, one that the bishops have advocated for decades to achieve, and one that must never be overlooked. Only by complete reform will we have the hope of achieving the common goals of welcoming the most vulnerable, ensuring due process and humane treatment, protecting national security, and respecting the rule of law. We are committed to such reforms and will continue to call for them.

So this year, I give thanks for the gift and contributions of immigrants and refugees to our great nation. I also pray that next year, families now under threat will not be broken and dispersed, but instead will be united in joy around their tables, giving thanks for all the blessings our nation has to offer.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving all!

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “The greatest talents often lie buried out of sight.” — Plautus.

When we give to the poor, do we give so that we will receive thanks? Do we give because we believe that reaching out in love and compassion is a right or good thing to do?

Where is the reward? Is it receiving thanks from the person or aligning our actions and cares of the heart with something we believe?

Today’s Gospel speaks of multiplying one’s talents or burying them out of fear.

Using and giving our energy, time and talents to others, and using and sharing our money with others, are ways of multiplying.

Burying any of these out of fear freezes, paralyzes, stagnates, lessens and destroys even the hope that something more might come about by the use or sharing of our talents, energy, time or money.

To put it in Gospel terms: “For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what little he has will be taken away.”

Giving and sharing talents, time, energy and money is a gift given and received; giving and sharing are a reward.

This is the great secret revealed by Jesus. This is the key given to open the doors of inner peace and happiness. Jesus understood this. Jesus taught this. Jesus gives this as gift.

Every once in awhile, people will say, “Father, after I have given so much money to the church,” or “so many hours of service. Doesn’t the church owe me something in return? Surely, the church should make an exception for me.”

It is an interesting comment. When we give to the church of our talent, energy, time, or money, do we need to ask ourselves why we give? Is it to give thanks to God for all he has given? Is it so we can be paid back in special favors? Is it to be recognized?

Or is it because we have discovered that Jesus’ words are absolutely true?

It is because we hear the echo of Jesus’ words in our heart: “Come share your master’s joy”?

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Misa fúnebre, bendicion y último adios para Clemencia Buendía, feligrés de la iglesia de San Bernardo

Clemencia Buendía
Por la familia Buendía

Clemencia Buendía era la mayor de nueve hijos. Nació en Manzanillo, Colima, México en 1936. Su familia era pobre pero humilde y apreciaban lo poco que tenían. Esa humildad la preparó para la vida. Su vida era tener fe en Dios. Dios la guió en su camino por la vida. Estamos seguros que nunca nos faltaba nada. Reuniones familiares hicieron reír a mamá. Estaba contenta con tener sus hijos, nietos, y bisnietos todos juntos en su casa. Por toda su vida, mamá nos dio amor, paciencia y compasión. No era fácil crear a seis hijos, pero ella siempre nos hizo sentir su amor y apreciación. Dios la bendijo con un regalo que no todos reciben. Tenía el privilegio de dar a luz uno de sus nietos. Todos sabemos que esto fue una de las más felices memorias de su vida. Su generosidad no era solamente para su familia; fue extendida a sus amigos, comunidad, y parroquia. Clemencia era miembro del Grupo Guadalupano por muchos años. Siempre estaba lista para asistir en cualquier proyecto de la iglesia, y lo hizo con amor y entusiasmo. Esta era nuestra mamá — verdadera a su fe, a sí mismo, y a su familia. Hay tristeza en nuestros corazones, pero estamos contentos sabiendo que mama y papa estan juntos de nuevo en la vida eterna. Agradecemos a Dios por darnos nuestra mama. Vivirá siempre en nuestros corazones y en nuestras memorias.

Clemencia murió a los 80 años en Los Angeles noviembre 3 de 2017.

Clemencia es sobrevivida por hijos Noel Buendía y George Luis Buendía; hijas Angelica M. Gonzalez, Yolanda Faucher, Leticia Buendía-Cruz, y Sylvia Kerns; 17 nietos, siete bisnietos, tres hermanas, y cuatro hermanas.

Homilía para la Misa fúnebre de Clemencia Buendía, feligrés de la iglesia de San Bernardo

Bendicion y último adios para Clemencia Buendía, feligrés de la iglesia de San Bernardo

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Looking Ahaead

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

Quote of the Week: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” — Rick Warren.

While dining at the house of one of the leading Pharisees, Jesus tells all in attendance a parable.

This parable was not planned; rather, it was the result of something that took place at this meal.

The Gospel tells us: “The people were observing him [Jesus] carefully” while he (Jesus) was “noticing how they were choosing places of honor at the table.”

It’s kind of harmless, it would seem. Not to Jesus. Jesus recognized something so common about people and also something so detrimental to their interior life.

Seeking praise and honor, trying to be noticed or recognized, wanting to be first or most important — these are behaviors that we so easily can spend a lot of effort trying to achieve.

Jesus points out on a social level how embarrassing it can be when we mistakenly assume our importance in the eyes of others, which can lead to our being “put in our place” and humbled.

Far better, he says, to assume a humble place and perhaps find ourselves exalted, praised, lifted up to a higher place and then enjoy the esteem of others.

But I suspect that there is more at play here.

What happens within us when we are seeking, plotting, planning, and trying to achieve and get from others some sense of our personal importance?

Is it important how others see us? Is it more important how we see ourselves? Most important of all, might we not just be a little bit concerned how God sees us?

Of course, always with love, compassion, mercy and peace.

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

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “Love and do what you will.” — St. Augustine.

“The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Is this hyperbole, exaggeration, to make a point?

How could a Jew — Jesus — make such a statement? For a Jew, the law and the prophets sum up love for God and the hearing of God’s voice in one’s daily life.

In Christian terms it might be summed up: “The whole Gospel depends on these two commandments.”

Could we say that?

We must.

The word of God in today’s scripture readings works together beautifully as usual.

The first reading lays out before us what “love of neighbor” looks like: “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors … you shall not act like an extortioner toward him by demanding interest from him. If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset; for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body.”


Act humanely.

Care for one another.

Do unto others what you would want done unto you.

Do no one harm.

Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

Why? How does God love us? No conditions, no limits. God loves us first, loves us always — loves for eternity.

God loves us when we don’t love him. God loves the good and the bad, and the bad and the good, equally. He gives us his sun, and his Son, his rain, and his reign, to all, no questions asked.

Just reflecting a tiny bit ought to lead us to this very simple yet very profound truth.

“The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” and “The whole Gospel depends on these two commandments.”

Are we willing to hear this? Are we willing to open our hearts to this?

Are we willing to live this?

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

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” — Mother Theresa.

Actions always have consequences.

For example, it's logical to conclude that if you eat contaminated food you may get sick.

Jesus makes that point in today’s Gospel.

If you use a particular currency, you are subject to the laws and limitations that are part of that currency. It seems reasonable to presume that since the Pharisee had a Roman coin he was probably using that currency.

Israel was an occupied territory of the Roman Empire. Using Roman currency had it benefits; it was a strong currency. But it also had its limitations: taxes were imposed.

So Jesus applied the logic to the question presented to him: “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar?”

If you use Roman currency, you are obligated by your use to pay taxes: “Pay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar,” was Jesus’ reply. That’s just logical. That really wouldn’t or shouldn’t be opposed to God’s law.

It would appear that the question set to trap Jesus trapped the Pharisee. Jesus took it a step further and answered a question that was implied but was not asked. He said: Repay “to God what is God’s.”

What does belong to God? Well, everything!

Are we giving all to God? Jews recited their Schema daily: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”

Actions always have consequences. To be in relationship with Caesar involves giving him certain things.

To be in relationship with God means giving all to him, since all comes from him, belongs to him, and shall return to him.

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

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”  — Hunter S. Thompson.

Perhaps only once a year the familiar question might go something like this: “Are you going to the party on Friday night?”

The equally rare and stunning response follows: “Are you kidding? I wouldn’t miss it! This is the social event of the year!”

What kind of event would qualify for that response? A presidential ball? The consecration or funeral of a pope? The grand opening of a world class opera house. The unveiling of a newly found Picasso. The last game of the World Series?

In today’s Gospel, it is the wedding of a king’s son. This is an event that, if invited to attend, one would never want to reject. Not only would it truly be the social event of the year, this would be a personal invitation from the king! To reject the event for whatever reason would also be to reject the king himself. It’s unthinkable!

Or to put it in other words: cancel everything; rearrange everything; put everything on hold; everything takes a back burner to this one!

This is Jesus’ way of presenting, once again, the kingdom of God. Here it is among you. It has arrived. It is now. It is forever. It is the single most important event you could and will ever know.

To reject the invitation of the kingdom is to reject God himself. It’s unthinkable!

This is the third week in a row that the liturgy presents this reality to us. The kingdom of God is offered; there are those who will not receive it, who cannot recognize it, who reject the offer.

Jesus says: “The offer will be taken away from you and given to someone else.”

These are startling words. This is truly unthinkable. The only response that makes real sense is simply: “I wouldn’t miss it. This is the event of a lifetime. This is the event that brings eternal life. Thank you for the invitation. I accept! I accept! I accept!”

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

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “What the caterpillar call the end of the world, the master calls the butterfield.” — Richard Bach.

We estimate 3,700 years of “salvation history,” beginning with the time of Abraham to the present.

The earth is estimated to be about 4.6 billion years old. The Milky Way galaxy that contains the solar system was probably formed around 13.6 billion years ago.

The universe is calculated to be about 13.7 billion years old.

The beginning of civilization, dated from 160,000 to 130,000 years ago, was the beginning of the African and Oceanic Ice Age civilizations, as modern humans displaced the neanderthals.

Looking at these dates alone, one must conclude that God is in it for the long run.

Today, Isaiah speaks of a fertile vineyard producing wild grapes. God proclaims that he would “take away its hedge, give it to grazing, let it be trampled, make it a ruin, [neither let it be] pruned or hoed, [let it] be overgrown with thorns and briers, not send rain upon it.”

Israel and Judah are respectively referred to as the vineyard and the cherished plant; God would take from them the fruitfulness he had promised, because they produced nothing as they lived for “bloodshed” and refused to seek “justice.”

In the Gospel, we hear another vineyard story in the parable of the vineyard and the evil tenants who leased the vineyard. Instead of producing a yield of good grapes, they beat the servants and even killed the son (the heir) of the owner of that vineyard.

Even the Pharisees were able to answer Jesus’ question: “What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?” They answered correctly: “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.”

What they didn’t understand was that he was referring to them: “Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

God does not destroy. God does not punish this act or that. God does not kill. God is in it for the long run.

If humans have existed on this planet for 160,000 years, God has definitely hung around with us, put up with a lot, loved us in spite of ourselves, and continues to grace and gift us without conditions and limits

As always, the subjective variable is expressed in this question: “Are we open and willing to produce good fruit?”

God is in it for the long run.

Are we?

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

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Bishops Conference president calls for prayers, care for others after tragic shooting in Las Vegas

Archbishop Daniel
N. Dinardo.
By Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo,
archbishop of Galveston-Houston 

On Oct. 2, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), expressed "deep grief" after a deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas.

We woke this morning and learned of yet another night filled with unspeakable terror, this time in the city of Las Vegas, and by all accounts, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

My heart and my prayers, and those of my brother bishops and all the members of the church, go out to the victims of this tragedy and to the city of Las Vegas.

At this time, we need to pray and to take care of those who are suffering.

In the end, the only response is to do good – for no matter what the darkness, it will never overcome the light.

May the Lord of all gentleness surround all those who are suffering from this evil, and for those who have been killed we pray, eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “Conversion is a daily thing.” — Jim Caviezel.

Words are cheap.

We often hear them from our politicians during election campaigns. Promises, promises, and more promises — taxes are going to be lowered while at the same time revenues will go up; we are going to be out of debt and yet we are going to spend more; everything that is wrong will become right.

A lot of words are spoken.

This also occurs in religious circles and the world of faith.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks a question — “What is your opinion?” — then presents the situation.

Two sons each respond to their father when asked to go out to work in his vineyard. One says “Yes” (but never goes), and the other says “No” (but has a change of heart and goes out to work).

Jesus’ question follows: “Who did his father’s will?”

The answer — “The one who did his father’s will” — can be understood in one word: “conversion,” or a change of heart.

Conversion is the core idea of all three readings today; a change of mind, heart and will is what conversion is all about.

The emptying of self in the second reading is about going through deep, profound conversion — “God emptying himself and taking the form of a slave.”

The Gospel speaks exactly the opposite truth of the world. The world says: “Grab onto power, hold it tight, use it everywhere you can; you must be in control; winning is everything.”

But the word of God speaks a different truth: “Let go; give yourself over to God; empty yourself; deny yourself; die in order to rise, to live anew and forever.”

This is what we call the Paschal Mystery. This is the example of Jesus and why he is proclaimed the Christ.

Words are cheap; promises are easy. Admitting “I am wrong” and changing one’s ways is conversion. It is the Gospel, and it is salvation.

Citing the brother who said “No” but changed his mind and did it, Jesus concludes: “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.”

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

Friday, September 29, 2017

Respect Life Sunday | Domingo Del Respeto Por La Vida

This Sunday, our nation’s Catholics are called to renew their personal commitment to defend all human life.

Many Catholics understand this being only to refer to abortion and the pro-life movement. But the church expresses the belief that all human life is sacred "from the womb to the tomb."

Every aspect of human life is to be respected and protected. With that in mind, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops puts forth a worthy list of concerns in its pro-life activities and invites all Catholics to share their concerns over: abortion, post-abortion healing, assisted suicide, conscience protection, contraception, euthanasia, stem cell research, IVF/reproductive technology, and the death penalty.

Every Catholic should become as informed as possible in understanding these issues and in forming their conscience.

Visit the USCCB's Respect Life Program for more information related to Respect Life Month.

Este domingo, los Católicos de nuestra nación serán llamados a renovar hoy su compromiso personal para defender toda vida humana. 

Muchos Católicos entienden esto únicamente con lo referente al aborto y al movimiento pro-vida. La iglesia expresa su creencia de que toda vida humana es sagrada "desde el vientre hasta la tumba." 

Todo aspecto de la vida humana debe ser respetado y protegido. Con esto en mente, la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Los Estados Unidos (USCCB) ofrece una lista digna de preocupaciones sobre: el aborto, la sanación después del aborto, el suicidio asistido, protección de conciencia, anticonceptivos, eutanasia, estudios con células madre, FIV/tecnología reproductiva, y pena de muerte. 

Todo Católico debe estar bien informado y tener en claro todos estos temas y tomar conciencia. Para información relacionada con el Mes del Respeto Por la Vida, visite, USCCB.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us were it found us”. — Anne Lammot.

You have worked for eight hours, you are covered in sweat. You have tired muscles and are aching with exhaustion and hunger. You receive your agreed upon wage for eight hours. Now that is fair.

Someone comes to your work site at the end of the day, works one hour and receives the same wage as you. Now that is unfair!

Does this seem logical? Is there anyone who could create a worse scenario than Jesus does in this Gospel today?

Fair is fair. Unfair is unfair. Jesus, get it right!

But once again that is exactly the point. In the good news that Jesus proclaims, God is beyond fair and unfair. He generously, extravagantly, ridiculously and unconditionally pours out his love, grace and the gift of his salvation. It isn’t earned. It isn’t given out because we put in our required time or efforts. It is pure gift. It is pure love.

He doesn’t give it to some and withhold it from others. He gives it to all. He gives it all of the time.

The scriptures say it in many ways, but one of the most familiar passages says: “He sets his sun to shine on the good and the bad. He pours out his rain on the good and the bad.”

Does this not say it clearly? This good news is so often heard and most often ignored. Most people, when this is played out in real life, find it to be bad news.

If someone doesn’t earn something, they should not get it. That’s fair. That’s good news to most.

The bad news is to find out that someone gets something they did not deserve or earn. Then Jesus comes along and reveals a Father who always loves and always gives, always offers.

It really is too good to be true. But what if we lived a week believing this?

What if, even when we sinned, we believed and trusted and even expected that God was going to lead us to peace and healing, help us to learn even from error and sin, and that he would give to us just as generously than if we were doing good or even submerged in prayer?

Or does he withhold his love?

This parable, remember, is telling us about the kingdom of God. It is very different from the kingdom of man.

Thank God for the kingdom of God and for all the differences in that kingdom. That really is good news!

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

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

Don’t the words that litter the liturgy today speak for themselves? There are so many, both the negative and positive.

Beginning with the negative: “wrath,” “anger,” “hateful,” “sinner,” “vengeance,” “refuse,” “enmity,” “death,” “decay,” “iniquities,” “destruction,” “chide,” “requite.”

The positive side speaks, too: “forgive,” “healing,” “mercy,” “pardon,” “set aside,” “cease,” “overlook,” “compassion,” “redeems,” “kindness.”

The reading from Sirach alone, but also coupled with the psalm, overflows with words — words that speak to the power of forgiveness and healing that it brings.

One would think that no further words were needed to bring clarity to the concept of forgiveness and why it is necessary and essential to spiritual wholeness. Yet Jesus’ response to Peter’s question/answer pushes the point to its obvious conclusion, as he once again speaks of the kingdom and tells us the kingdom response that we need to learn and need to live.

In his story of the forgiven servant who does not learn the necessity of forgiving others, we see, as if through a mirror, the ugliness that ensues when one does not learn the lesson of forgiveness.

Indeed, to be forgiven is the best teacher. Once we have experienced it, we can never go back — at least, that is Jesus’ hope for us all.

To forgive, to be forgiven, then to forgive and be forgiven again, is the cycle that should never cease in our lives.

The kingdom of God is like this!

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

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Statement on President Donald J. Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program

Archbishop José H. Gómez
By Archbishop José H. Gómez

I am deeply disappointed by President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

I speak as a pastor not a politician. I cannot address the constitutional or political questions raised by this program. But as a pastor I think we need to clearly understand what this decision means. Today our country is announcing its intention to deport more than 800,000 young people. This is a national tragedy and a moral challenge to every conscience.

As Americans, we are a people of compassion. I do not believe this decision represents the best of our national spirit or the consensus of the American people. This decision reflects only the polarization of our political moment.

Americans have never been a people who punish children for the mistakes of their parents. I am hopeful that we will not begin now.

It is not right to hold these young people accountable for decisions they did not make and could not make. They came to this country through no fault of their own. They were brought here by their undocumented parents or family members when they were little children.

America is their home, the only country they have ever known. Most of them are working hard to contribute to the American dream — holding down jobs, putting themselves through college, some are even serving in our nation’s armed forces.

If we deport them, in many cases we would be sending them back to countries that they have not seen since they were infants or toddlers.

President Trump is right that immigration policy should be made by Congress, not by presidential executive order. Unfortunately, his action today may complicate the search for a legislative solution.

We need to remember that then-President Obama established the DACA program in 2012 because members of Congress could not get beyond their partisan self-interests to come together and fix our nation’s broken immigration system.

It is time for Congress to step up. If we are going to restore the rule of law in this country, then those who make the laws need to take responsibility. We should not allow still another Congress to go by without addressing our nation’s broken immigration system.

America is their home, the only country they have ever known. Most of them are working hard to contribute to the American dream — holding down jobs, putting themselves through college, some are even serving in our nation’s armed forces.

The situation is serious here in Los Angeles. We are home to more than 1 million undocumented persons, many of whom have been living and working here for decades. Nationwide, 790,000 young people have received deportation relief and work permits through DACA. Of those, 223,000 are living here in California, more than any other state.

For the Catholic Church, here in Los Angeles and throughout the nation, these are our people, our family. They are our brothers and sisters; our classmates and co-workers. We pray together and worship together. We will continue stand together as a family and the Church will continue to defend their rights and dignity as children of God.

I am praying today and urging our leaders in Washington to set aside their partisan differences and come together to pass legislation that would simply codify the existing DACA program.

Doing this would permanently lift the threat of deportation that right now hangs over the heads of more than 1 million hard-working young people. It would give them permission to work and it would bring peace of mind and stability to our communities.

This is a commonsense proposal and it should not be controversial.

As Americans, we are a people of compassion. I do not believe this decision represents the best of our national spirit or the consensus of the American people. This decision reflects only the polarization of our political moment.

Congressional leaders in both the House and Senate have expressed sympathy for these young people and expressed their desire that Congress should provide a permanent legislative solution. There is broad and overwhelming public support for DACA — not only among ordinary Americans but among corporate and civic and religious leaders. There should be no reason not to enact a simple bill that would make DACA the law of the land.

I am praying that Congress will rise to this moment and help these young people. And I am praying that finding a solution to DACA will mark the beginning of new work to seek immigration reform solutions in all areas: securing and protecting our borders; modernizing our visa system so we can welcome newcomers who have the skills our country needs to grow; and providing a compassionate solution for those who are undocumented and right now living in the shadows of our society.

Archbishop José H. Gómez is the fifth archbishop of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez at (213) 637-7000, or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “My sun sets to rise again.”  — Robert Browning.

“Paschal Mystery” is today’s word of God in two words.

It is expressed in several different ways. Jeremiah the prophet declares: “You duped me, O Lord; you triumphed; all the day I am an object of laughter; ... has brought me derision and reproach; I will speak his name no more — but then it becomes like fire burning in my bones.”

The psalm eloquently describes the yearning of the spirit for God and the emptiness without him: “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God; my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.”

The letter to the Romans pointedly challenges: “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.”

Then Jesus foretells his journey and the journey of every disciple: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me; whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

The Paschal Mystery involves dying, emptying, losing, finding, struggling, enduring, thirsting, longing, waiting, being rejected, and the cross. And all of this is about discovering more how to love, how to hope, how to give, how to live.

It would be foolish to think we can make it through this life without the cross. There is physical and emotional suffering, failure, the dashing of our hopes and dreams, betrayal and rejection, misunderstanding, loss of esteem and in the end, death itself.

Are these the crosses we all must bear? Is the cross bearing these struggles like Jesus did, without losing faith or hope in God, looking into the face of hatred and injustice with love and forgiveness, always discovering more within his spirit which could help him to find himself by losing himself?

Jesus models for us a limitless ability to trust and love and find life — even in dying.

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me; whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Are we ready to follow and live the life of the disciple? Are we ready to embrace the Paschal Mystery?

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

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “The first step towards change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.”  — Nathaniel Brandon.

A true insight or new awareness should include logic and makes good sense, but more importantly is something deeply spiritual.

We can know facts and details for years without ever rising to the point of insight or new awareness. But when the light goes on and we discover the meaning of something (insight or awareness) we are usually changed in some fashion forever.

Today, Peter and the disciples are changed forever. Matthew, Mark and Luke record this conversation with Jesus and the disciples in which Peter comes to a new awareness. It is only in Matthew, however, that Jesus remarks that “flesh and blood has not revealed this truth to you but my heavenly Father.”

It is on this insight that Jesus proclaims Peter as rock, the one on whom the church is to be built and the new reality from which true forgiveness and reconciliation would flow.

True power — not control — would be shared from this understanding of Jesus, the Christ. True power from our relationship with the Christ – this is the reality that is our rich insight.

How many times have we experienced gifts, discoveries, beauty and wonders flowing out of friendship? It isn’t just knowing a person or simply having them as a friend (the fact of relationship); rather, it is in the unfolding and developing relationship that the goodness and gifts begin to emerge.

They often come through our misunderstandings, and the crashing of different ideas and tastes, and the struggles that come through hurts and letting go — the forgiveness and healing within relationships.

It is not surprising that the conversation between Jesus and Peter that will follow in the Gospel is the harshest statement that Jesus speaks to Peter in all of the Gospels: “Get behind me, Satan.”

The relationship is proclaimed, and then the biggest crashing of ideas happens. Yet Jesus is firmly committed to his friendship and love with Peter and the other disciples. He means to empower them with his love and truth. He means to guide and help them to grow even through confusion and sin — even betrayal.

How deep is his love for them. How deep is his love for us. Even in sin and our own little betrayals, Jesus is firmly committed to his friendship and love with us.

May this insight, this new awareness, grow within us that we may discover the power of Christ’s love within us each day.

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

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” —  Corrie Ten Boom.

When was the last time you heard God speak to you? Was it an audible voice? Did it come through Verizon? Or was it more like the experience of Elijah in the word of God today?

But even Elijah had some difficulty hearing the voice of God. He looked, or rather listened, and did not hear what he expected to hear? Nor did he find the voice where he thought it would obviously be.

Surely, it would be in the “strong and heavy wind” that was “rending the mountains and crushing rocks.” But it wasn’t there that he heard the voice. No doubt it would be in the “earthquake” or the “fire,” since these also were strong, powerful, mighty and quite impressive.

But no, it wasn’t there either that the voice of God was to be heard. The voice of God was only a whisper. The voice of God was in quiet and silence. The voice of God was profoundly not impressive yet spoke directly to Elijah’s heart.

But in the Gospel today the experience is quite the opposite. It is in the midst of a mighty wind on the lake that was tossing the boat in huge waves that Jesus came to the apostles and even invited Peter to walk across the stormy sea.

True, he faltered, but at Jesus’ beckoning he stepped into the rough waters and confidently (at first) began to walk to Jesus.

Fear, however, is a powerful thing, and it often overcomes our deepest convictions. Even then, Jesus reached out to Peter and pulled him back to safety.

When was the last time you heard God speak to you? Was it an audible voice? Did it come through Verizon? Are we looking only in the dramatic and powerful places?

Are we receptive to God everywhere in our lives? Is God present in our struggles, pain, disappointments, failures, silence, dramas, and sin?

Jesus asks Peter and ourselves very directly: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

And doubting is OK. We aren’t perfect. We are very human. We all experience fear. But, hopefully, we too will finally say: “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

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

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Looking Ahead

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

Quote of the Week: “The best proof of love is trust.” —  Joyce Brothers.

The disciples had a profound experience that went something like this, according to St. Matthew: Jesus was transfigured before their eyes; his clothes were shining bright.

Suddenly, the prophets Moses and Elijah were speaking with him. The disciples were apparently not afraid. Peter even said that it was good that they were there, experiencing this moment.

He offered to erect three tents one for each of the esteemed persons in this vision before him. But then things changed. Something more happened. Something filled them with fear and trembling. It was unmistakable. It was unthinkable. It was wonderful.

A cloud cast a shadow over them and a voice came from the cloud IT WAS GOD! But this voice delivered an interesting and inviting message: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”

God was pointing to Jesus in a unique and wonderful way; in doing so, he was offering the disciples an opportunity to recognize something glorious occurring before their eyes. Now they were afraid.

Why could they not accept this remarkable gift from God not in fear but in peace? Why could they not realize that this was perhaps a onetime gift that would never be repeated and, therefore, had to be savored and appreciated?

They were afraid, and Jesus told them not to be afraid. Typical Jesus: He reached out and touched them to reassure them and reached in to offer them peace.

Great lessons fill these scriptures today for us. Let us be alert and prepared for the unmistakable, the unthinkable, the wonderful.

Let us not be afraid to discover God alerting us to the presence of his Son in whom he is well pleased.

Let us not miss this opportunity of grace.

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