Thursday, March 21, 2013

A big tent, indeed

By John Andrews
Director, Department of Communications

At the spirited, standing-room-only Mass in honor of our new Pope Francis Tuesday night, Bishop Barnes asked those in attendance to recite the Our Father in the language of their choice.

The collective sound was indecipherable – a glorious garble that reflected the diversity of the diocese and of our Mother Church.

The election of Pope Francis sure seems to have invigorated us. We see it in the news coverage of the first days of his papacy. We are feeling it in the faith communities of the diocese, and it was apparent in the spirit of Tuesday’s Mass.

If you listened to the excited conversations among the people, the Holy Father seems to have something for everyone. Many are drawn to his humility, the way he asked for a blessing from the crowd at St. Peter’s Square before giving them one. Others like his renewed emphasis on living modestly and serving the poor, you know, really living Jesus’s call to us in Matthew’s well known Gospel (25). It cannot be missed that the Hispanic people of our diocese are feeling great affirmation and pride in the election of a pope who shares their cultural identity.

I think it goes even beyond that. At the Mass there were Tongan Catholics, Filipino Catholics, Vietnamese Catholics, Korean Catholics, African Catholics, African-American Catholics, Chamorro Catholics, Indonesian Catholics, Mexican and Latin American Catholics as well as those, like myself, who are of European descent. We all brought our own language, dress, song and movement to the Mass. We were so visibly different from one another yet we were still one.

In his homily, Bishop Barnes acknowledged the tensions that we sometimes experience here over our differences while hoping that Francis, the embodiment of so many firsts, can bring us back to what we share. “Sometimes we feel that division even amongst ourselves and we need someone to remind us who we are as a church to bring us to that unity and that respect for each other,” he said.

It certainly appeared that gaps were being bridged Tuesday. As I was preparing to depart I caught a glimpse of Father Ed Molumby in his preferred cultural attire (priest collar and black Stetson hat) engaged in a warm conversation with an Indonesian layman in regal peci (hat) and sash. Old school meets new world. A local reporter who covers the diocese and I have talked recently about the divergent opinions among Catholics on various social issues, borne out in recent national surveys. “You guys are a big tent,” he says. Can’t argue with him but I would say that’s true in more than one sense. We are a tent of many cultures that are equally passionate about the Catholic faith and ready to walk the path that Pope Francis will set for us. Let us walk together.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

We welcome Pope Francis

By Bishop Gerald Barnes
Diocese of San Bernardino

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we welcome with great joy Pope Francis. Let us lift our hearts in prayer at this momentous occasion. We give thanks to God for the presence of the Holy Spirit among the College of Cardinals and the Spirit’s guidance in the election of a new shepherd for our Mother Church. Pope Francis comes to the throne of St. Peter at a time of great opportunity and also of great trial in our world. It is our hope and prayer that he will be heard as a voice of Christ’s light and truth by all of God’s people.

His election also reflects a blessed reality of our church. Coming to us from Latin America, we have a pope who for the first time in centuries mirrors the global reach of our faith.

In this transition of leadership we have experienced a time of great unity in our diverse and vast Church. Now, regardless of any expectations we may have had for the election of a new pope, let us go forward with an open spirit to the path that Pope Francis will lay for us. As the body of Christ, we must respond to and live the vision of faith that the Holy Father articulates for us. So let us do our part in making the reign of His Holiness, Pope Francis a blessed one! And let us continue to pray in this Year of Faith for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our Church and in our world. 

May God bless you.

Damos la bienvendia al Papa Francisco 

Por Obsipo Gerald Barnes
Diócesis de San Bernardino

Hermanos y hermanas en Cristo,

Hoy damos la bienvenida con gran alegría al Papa Francisco. Levantemos nuestros corazones en oración en esta ocasión trascendental. Damos gracias a Dios por la presencia del Espíritu Santo en medio del Colegio de Cardenales y la orientación del Espíritu Santo en la elección de un nuevo pastor para nuestra Iglesia. Papa Francisco llega al trono de San Pedro en un momento de grandes oportunidades y también de gran prueba en nuestro mundo. Es nuestra esperanza y oración que él será escuchado como la voz de la luz y verdad de Cristo por todo el pueblo de Dios.

Su elección también refleja la realidad de nuestra iglesia. Viniendo a nosotros desde Latinoamérica, tenemos un papa que por primera vez en siglos refleja el alcance mundial de nuestra fe.

En esta transición de liderazgo hemos vivido una época de gran unidad en nuestra Iglesia diversa y vasta. Ahora, independientemente de las expectativas que hayamos tenido para la elección de un nuevo papa, sigamos adelante con un espíritu abierto al camino que el Papa Francisco pondrá para nosotros. Como el cuerpo de Cristo, debemos responder y vivir la visión de fe que el Santo Padre articula para nosotros. Así que vamos a hacer nuestra parte para que el reinado de Su Santidad, el Papa Francisco sea bendecido. Sigamos orando en este Año de la Fe para que el Espíritu Santo nos guie en nuestra Iglesia y en nuestro mundo.

Que Dios los bendiga.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Live at the Papal Conclave

By Father Erik Esparza
Diocese of San Bernardino

Father Erik Esparza, who is currently studying in Rome, shares his experience awaiting for the results of the first day of the conclave at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City.

In his first video report, Father Esparza describes the atmosphere as having "a spirit of unity, we are here as a church. We are confident in the power of the holy spirit..."

Day 2 - Habemus Papam

In his second report, Father Esparza takes us to St. Peter's square to lay witness to the white smoke and the appearance of Pope Francis. He reflects on the new pope from Latin America. "It speaks volumes of where the church is continuing to grow in different parts of the world. We look to this humble man as he begins his service to the Church..."

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A timeout for Catholics

By Father Reno Aiardi, I.M.C.
Director, Mission Office

Prayerful best wishes for a blessed, enriching and Holy Lenten Season. Thank you for thinking, praying and sharing in mission during this Holy Season of Lent.

We deeply appreciate and thank you for everything you do for Rice Bowl during Lent 2013. Only God can reward you properly for what you will do for the poor in the care of the Propagation of the Faith, Missionary Childhood Association and CRS Rice Bowl.

While I was visiting a family with grandchildren, two of the young grandchildren got into a little fight. They were placed in a “time out” as punishment. When I was growing up, my parents were much more prone to administer corporal punishments in the form of “spankings” for misbehavior. Today, parents hope that by invoking the “time out” rule, the child will learn their lesson. If I were to describe the season of Lent as “40 days of time out,” it might be easy to assume that Lent must be a punishment for misdeeds.

The Church does not see it that way. To understand our use of Lenten “time out,” think about a time out in the context of sports. In sports such as basketball or football time outs are strategic moments used for planning, to change direction or control momentum. Time outs are crucial to a team’s effort in winning. They are not penalties afflicted on the team; they are assets reserved for use at a critical point in the game. They are used for focusing, regaining perspective and to make needed changes. A time out is when you huddle with your coach, leaving the court or field of play just long enough to renew your energy and to focus your effort on the rest of the game. This is the Church’s understanding of Lent. Lent is a season of time out from the hectic rush of life; and opportunity to “huddle up” for counsel and reflection, a time to focus on what really matters.

May this season of Lent be just such a time out for each of us and let it be a time to huddle closer to God to gain confidence through our prayer, fasting and works of charity. Let us use this Lenten time out to review the basics for playing on God’s team, remembering who we really are as God’s children. Forty days seems like a long time for a time out, but it can be a good one if we use it wisely.