Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Celebrate Consecrated Life

By Bishop Gerald Barnes
Diocese of San Bernardino

In 1997, our Holy Father , John Paul II called for consecrated life to be promoted throughout the universal church, declaring February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord to be observed as World Day for Consecrated Life. In the US when February 2 is not a Sunday, we celebrate on a date close to the Feast. For us in the Diocese of San Bernardino, the celebration will be Jan. 31, with Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral at 3:00PM.

It is a wonderful opportunity for our people to reflect and thank God for the gift that consecrated life has been and continues to be for the church. We think of the Women and Men Religious, Sisters, Brothers, Priests who have touched our lives, showed us the face of God and filled our lives with meaning, purpose and hope. We wish to express our deep gratitude to the many Congregations of Men and Women for their presence and for their active roles in service and ministry in every part of our multicultural diocese. Our lives continue to be transformed, challenged and supported by their faithfulness to call and to the charism of their Congregations, as they give form to the Diocesan vision and carry out the Mission of our God among us.
While we stop and reflect on the beautiful gift of the vocation to Consecrated Life, we must also stop and reflect on the need for more women and men to respond to that call. I pray that our homes and faith communities will be places where we encourage our people to listen to the voice of Jesus. I pray that when the Lord calls and asks, “Whom shall I send?”, there will be those who respond as eagerly as the Prophet Isaiah-“Here I am, send me!”

Brothers and Sisters in Consecrated Life, may God help you in your lives and service in and with the church. May you have the spirit, health and energy to carry out the mission in gratitude and hope, making a gift of your own charism to others, always witnessing to the greatest charism, which is charity. Amar es entregarse! I assure you of my constant remembrance in prayer and I warmly offer you my blessing on this special day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Baptism: Founded Hope

By Deacon John DeGano
St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside

One of the most rewarding duties I have as a permanent deacon at my parish of St. Catherine is the baptizing of infants (those under the age of seven). It is an honor to be a witness and welcome a new member into God’s family.

One day, a distraught mother called me with this question, “Can I change who is the God father of my child?”

In the course of the ensuing conversation, I learned that while her brother was not a danger to others, he was in jail.

“Who would want him for a Godfather?”

Who indeed?

“Pray for him.” I said. “Things aren’t going very well for him right now and being a God parent might be just the thing that turns his life around.”

Her story is a fitting reminder from the Year of St. Paul that God’s mercy and forgiveness is available to anyone. Even to a feared persecutor of Christians, as Saul (later Paul) was to learn on the Road to Damascus.

God did not give up on Saul and, as Paul, became the great missionary to the Gentiles and a pillar of his church.

I’m sure Paul’s many detractors might have asked the disciples the same thing, “Who would want him for a missionary?”

The answer, “God.”

Somehow we have this mistaken notion that Catholics are a bunch of saints. That we spring to life fully mature and never in need the sacrament of reconciliation.

The truth of the matter is we’re a bunch of self-professed sinners, seeking to get right with the Lord and one another in community. We recognize our weaknesses and admit our faults. We seek God’s forgiveness and mercy. And we rejoice and marvel at God’s unbridled love for his creation.

Through prayer, fasting and almsgiving we attempt to gain control over our waywardness and through the sacrament of Baptism we are reborn a new creation in God, free from the bounds of sin and called to become our best selves.

But it is a process.

Our personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ begins with the sacrament of Baptism but it doesn’t end there. Like any infant, we must grow spiritually. We must be fed. We must be nurtured. And like a child, we must be instructed and trained. We must form our faith.

God parents assist the parents in this process. They may be saintly, but that is not a requirement. They need to be active, trying to live their Catholic faith to the best of their ability. And this includes knowing when they have sinned, seeking out the sacrament of reconciliation and making amends.

Since we all fall short of perfection on occasion, it would be of mutual benefit if each of us reflected on our own baptism on a regular (monthly?) basis. We need to remind ourselves that salvation is a free gift from God. That we don’t deserve it, can’t earn it, but our loving Father, desiring to share his eternal life with us offers it to those who will humbly receive it.

Let us celebrate this gift and embrace one another with joy, mercy and love. Knowing that none of us are saints yet, but through our openness to the Holy Spirit let us pray for one another that God’s founded hope in us may bear much fruit.

The same founded hope Jesus had when he prayed to his Father concerning the disciples:

"I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” -- John 17:20-21

Let us believe together.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Prayers needed for the People of Haiti

By Bishop Gerald Barnes
Diocese of San Bernardino

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I ask that you join me today in prayer for the people of Haiti as they endure the devastating impact of the earthquake that struck their country yesterday. May God's strength and mercy be with them as they mourn the loss of loved ones and attempt to cope with the destruction of their homes and communities. May the souls of those lost to the earthquake rest eternally with our Lord. We also ask God to accompany and guide those who will take on the enormous task of relief and recovery from this disaster. As we are all part of one human family, we share in the pain of our Haitian brothers and sisters and with them we hope for relief and healing.

Editor's note: Bishop Barnes has asked the parishes to take a second collection during Mass this weekend to help in the post-earthquake relief efforts.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Debt Reduction by Learning to Button Your Shirt!

By Kathleen Hurt
Diocesan Development Office

Happy New Year! What is the most common thing one can do for New Year’s? Make a New Year’s Resolution! What are your New Year’s resolutions?

Some common resolutions are: lose weight (I say that one almost every year), spend more time with family (my husband may say he wants me to spend less time with my family☺), and lastly, the most common resolution, get out of debt!

Well I don't know about you, but I know how to lose weight – eat less and work out more. In addition, if I want to spend more time with my family, I need to call them more. But, for most, the answers of how to get out of debt aren't as clear. But here’s a simple solution: learn how to button your shirt.

Have you ever tried buttoning your shirt from the middle? It gets all messed up, right? Yet when we start at the top and work our way down, we button our shirt with ease. When we follow the logical progress of things it just makes life easier, happier and more fulfilling.

Handling our money is the same way. When we follow some core values when it comes to our money we can experience that same ease, happiness and fulfillment.

Where might you find these core values, you ask? In the Bible and Catechism of course!

Time and time again we hear that we must give of our first fruits. This is not just something your pastor or pastoral coordinator made up to get you to give more money to the Church. It is a value that is repeated numerous times throughout the Bible. In fact it is estimated that 20-25% of all verses in the Bible deal with the issue of how we act as stewards of what we possess.

These scriptural references are created to help guide us in living with God’s peace and love. Sit for a couple minutes a day and listen to God’s voice within as you recite the scripture below.
“And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord.” Leviticus 27:30

“Will man rob God? Yet you have robbed me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.” Malachi 3:8

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24

“. . . but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures . . .” Luke 8:14

Giving is the first button of our finances. When we do this first everything else falls in place.
Kathleen Hurtt is the Diocesan Development Fund (DDF) Coordinator for the Diocese of San Bernardino