Monday, December 15, 2014

This Advent be joyful, humble & hopeful

By Auxiliary Bishop Rutilio del Riego
Diocese of San Bernardino

The following audio is an excerpt from a homily given by Aux. Bishop Rutilio del Riego during the Simbang Gabi kick off Mass held at St. Vincent Ferrer, Menifee on Gaudete Sunday, Dec. 14. 

In his homily Bishop del Riego presents three individuals to serve as guides during Advent, the Prophet Isaiah, St. John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary. Reflecting on these three individuals, we are called to be people of hope, people who are humble and people of joy. 

*Please excuse the poor audio quality.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Surviving the Clash of Cultures

By Deacon John De Gano
St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside

We are collectors of stuff, aren’t we?

We buy things on sale when we don’t really need them. We find things and bring them home thinking that someday we’ll put it to good use only to discover years later that we still haven’t moved it from that temporary storage place we put it for safe keeping.

If we’re not careful, we run out of room in our house and then have to rent a storage space just for the overflow.

It’s the American way…

Many years ago Cheryl and I were picking up a supply priest visiting from India at Ontario airport and as we returned by freeway to St. Catherine he observed several storage facilities and asked what they were for.

“You see, Fr. Vincent,” we began, “when people have too much stuff they rent a space to store it…”

“Oh, so they go there every day and get what they need?”

“Well, no… not exactly.”

We had just witnessed a clash of East-West cultures.

The American lifestyle, with its over-consumption (bordering on hoarding)… vs. the (east) Indian way, of extreme poverty and limited access to even the basic needs that we sometimes take for granted.

Fr. Vincent served in our parish for two summers while working on his doctorate in Rome, Italy.

We introduced him to our young adults and frequented local restaurants like Denny’s and IHOP (which he nicknamed the International House of Priests) or the buffet lunch at the Indian restaurant by the airport.

When he returned to India at the end of his visit, he would no longer be the rector of the seminary there but rather his bishop would put him in a rural parish where his opportunity for travel would be seriously curtailed.

And so, with that knowledge we endeavored to make sure his time here was well spent.

One day, after morning mass, Fr. Vincent asked what ‘Vegas weddings’ were (he’d heard the term in the confessional)?

Ricardo, a seminarian, Cheryl and I all agreed that seeing Vegas was worth a thousand words… and so we planned a mid-week trip to fabulous Las Vegas!

Cheryl (the smart one of the bunch) remained behind (claiming that pesky job thing) while the rest of us (a priest a seminarian and a future permanent deacon) sped off across the desert on what became a whirlwind tour of Las Vegas and environs, including a stop at Ethel M’s chocolate factory tour/botanical gardens, and Ocean Spray Cranberry World -- West (now closed).

Then, as the sun set and the lights of the city came to life, we drove down the iconic Strip to Union Plaza and the much touted “Freemont Experience.”

With the lightshow ending, I suggested we go try our luck inside one of the nearby casinos… but soon discovered another culture clash. Neither Fr. Vincent nor Ricardo had brought any discretionary money with them (for food, a room for sleep nor to gamble with, etc.) Nada.. As I stood there mouth agape, cash burning a hole in my pocket, I realized that Jesus was right…

“My (God’s) ways are not your ways…”

Who, I thought, goes to Las Vegas without money?

Then my heart sunk even lower.

Fr. Vincent had seen enough and was ready to head home.

Ricardo agreed. He was saving his money and was already dreaming about the drive he would make alone to Colorado in a couple of weeks…

Apparently, I, the only one who had actually rescheduled his life in order to make this doomed excursion, was going to leave Vegas, having spent less than a dollar on slot machine action.

Who would believe such a tale?

Since it was a long drive home, we stopped to eat at the New York, New York Casino (what was then the newest casino). This was nothing like the cramped parlors we’d seen downtown. It was huge, open and even had a park-like setting inside (Las Vegas it seems was having its own culture clash, as well!)…

I called Cheryl to let her know we were on our way and I crawled into bed at 2:30 a.m., ending this 12-hour marathon exchange of cultures. We had survived, and forged a wonderful friendship between us.

And, if that wasn’t enough, I was also gifted with an incredible story to add to my collection of memories; to dust off occasionally; and to share with others struggling to understand why things oft go awry..

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving is a reminder for us to live in Gratitude

By Bishop Gerald Barnes
Diocese of San Bernardino

Review readings: Sir 50: 22-24; 1 Cor 1:3-9; Lk 17:11-19

Earlier this month we gathered in the chapel to remember those who have died. We brought to that liturgy the memories of our family members and friends who have died. It was a time in which the Church provides us, all of us, a time to mourn, to remember, to cry and to come back to the Lord filled with hope of the resurrection. We all need a time to feel the loss and to rest, knowing that through our faith, there is eternal life.

We are given an opportunity today to gather together once more, but to give thanks. We give thanks in so many ways throughout the months and in different points in our lives, but today we focus on giving thanks to the Lord. When we gather at Thanksgiving, we give thanks for our families, we give thanks for our country and all those who have served and continue to help build up our nation, and we give thanks to others who have been able to touch our lives. We also give thanks for our work.

Gratitude is what we bring to the altar today.

Often times we bring our worries, our sadness, our grief to the altar, but today we offer gratitude. I invite you to share one thing that you are grateful for with one another.

I think one of the things that I can be grateful for, as I reflect, is the fact that we, as a diocese, are able to make a difference in the lives of the people we serve. We do so by walking with them, listening to their stories, and hearing their pain and hopes. We, in turn, might be able to do something to touch the lives of the people.

The readings today tell us that we need to give thanks. It is a reminder for us. As Christians we should be living with an attitude of gratitude. We are to put gratitude first, be grateful to God. That is why we celebrate the Eucharist. It is an act of gratitude.

The Lord asks in the Gospel today, “ Where are the others?” He is asking us, where are you? Where are you in expressing your gratitude? That is something we need to do more often than one day out of the year. But today we do it together. We give thanks to God together.

You know, we don’t realize it at times how grateful we need to be, until we see that something or someone is missing. Sometimes it takes seeing someone who is in a less fortunate place than we are… and we see them giving thanks. We see that their circumstances have touched their lives to the point that they are different. They are filled with gratitude. That is what we are called to have, that deep sense of gratitude. The gratitude that colors, shades and directs everything we do. We live for gratitude.

There’s that story of a lost dog that had three legs, a broken tail, blind in one eye, and one ear cut off. He went by the name of lucky. But yes, he is lucky… fortunate… blessed to be alive! We sometimes focus on other things, and not thanking God that we are alive!

We come to this Eucharistic celebration with gratitude for what God has given us. And we offer ourselves to Christ, to God in gratitude. So I come to this Eucharistic table giving thanks to God for each one of you. Each one of you works, in your own way, to carry out the mission of Christ in the Church of San Bernardino. I pray for you and I ask you to continue praying for me. Happy Thanksgiving.

Acción de Gracias es un recordatorio para que nosotros vivamos en gratitud

Por el Obispo Barnes
Diócesis de San Bernardino

Lecturas de hoy: Eclesiástico 50:22-24; I Corintios 1:3-9; Lucas 17:11-19

A principios de este mes nos reunimos en la capilla para recordar a aquellos que han fallecido. Trajimos a la liturgia las memorias de nuestros familiares y amigos que han fallecido. Era una época en la que la Iglesia nos ofrece, a todos nosotros, un tiempo para dar luto, recordar, llorar y volver al Señor lleno de esperanza de la resurrección. Todos necesitamos un tiempo para sentir la pérdida y para descansar, sabiendo que a través de nuestra fe, hay vida eterna.

Se nos ha dado la oportunidad hoy de reunirnos una vez más, pero dar gracias. Damos gracias de muchas maneras a lo largo de los meses y en diferentes momentos de nuestras vidas, pero hoy nos enfocamos en darle gracias al Señor. Cuando nos reunimos para el día de Acción de Gracias, damos gracias por nuestras familias, damos gracias por nuestro país y por todos los que han servido y continúan a ayudar a construir nuestra nación, y damos gracias a aquellos que han sido capaces de tocar nuestras vidas. También damos gracias por nuestro trabajo.

La gratitud es lo que traemos al altar hoy.

Muchas veces traemos nuestras preocupaciones, nuestra tristeza, nuestro dolor al altar, pero hoy ofrecen gratitud. Yo los invito a compartir con uno al otro, una cosa por la que estas agradecido.

Al reflexionar, creo que una de las cosas de las que puedo estar agradecido, es el hecho de que nosotros, como diócesis, somos capaces de hacer una diferencia en las vidas de las personas que servimos. Lo hacemos caminando con ellos, escuchando sus historias y escuchando su dolor y esperanzas. Nosotros, a su vez, podríamos ser capaces de hacer algo para tocar las vidas de las personas.

Las lecturas de hoy nos dicen que tenemos que dar gracias. Es un recordatorio para nosotros, como cristianos, que debemos vivir con una actitud de gratitud. Hemos de poner gratitud primero, dar gracias a Dios. Es por eso que celebramos la Eucaristía. Es un acto de gratitud.

El Señor nos pregunta en el Evangelio de hoy: "¿Dónde están los demás?" Él nos está preguntando, ¿dónde estás? ¿Dónde estás en expresar su gratitud? Eso es algo que tenemos que hacer más a menudo que solo un día del año. Pero hoy lo hacemos juntos. Damos gracias a Dios juntos.

Ya sabes, a veces no nos damos cuenta de lo agradecido que tenemos que ser, hasta que vemos que algo o alguien falta. A veces se necesita ver a alguien que está en un lugar menos afortunado que nosotros... y los vemos dando gracias. Vemos que sus circunstancias han tocado sus vidas hasta el punto de que son diferentes. Están llenos de gratitud. Eso es lo que estamos llamados a tener, el profundo sentido de gratitud. La gratitud que colorea, sombra y dirige todo lo que hacemos. Vivimos para la gratitud.

Hay esa historia de un perro perdido que tenía tres patas, una cola rota, ciego de un ojo y una oreja cortada. Se llamaba afortunado. ¡Pero sí, él tiene suerte... afortunado... bendecido por estar vivo! ¡A veces nos enfocamos en otras cosas, y no damos gracias a Dios de que estamos vivos!

Venimos a esta celebración eucarística con gratitud por lo que Dios nos ha dado. Y nos ofrecemos a Cristo, a Dios en gratitud. Así que vengo a esta mesa de la Eucaristía dando gracias a Dios por cada uno de ustedes. Cada uno de ustedes trabaja, a su manera, para llevar a cabo la misión de Cristo en la Iglesia de San Bernardino. Rezo por ustedes y les pido que sigan rezando por mí. Feliz día de Acción de Gracias.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

"Oh God, take me back!"

The following are excerpts taken from a Homily Father Miguel Ceja gave at the Memorial Mass for Deceased Priests held on Nov. 6 at Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral, San Bernardino. Scripture reference: Lk 15: 1-10

By Father Miguel Ceja
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Riverside

My friends, the entire biblical message is more thoroughly rejected than accepted by people. That is, the need for our repentance. Most biblical scholars agree that repentance is the very first step into the fullness of our humanity.

The Old Testament prophets without exception preach that repentance is the only way to reestablishing the covenant with God. In the New Testament, John the Baptist preaches repentance and the people flock to hear him. Then Jesus announces the Good News of God’s kingdom and his first specific instruction to the people is contained in one word, repent.

Jesus teaches us that our heavenly father values our repentance more than anything else we might do. He compares the joy over our repentance to that of the shepherd who has found the lost sheep that has strayed from the flock and to that woman who has found her most treasured procession after a long and frantic search. “I tell you,” Jesus says, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.”

The crux of the problem, with this biblical call to repentance, is that it is a call to change our whole way of life. St. Paul describes it as putting on a new man, reforming our lives. It is reordering our priorities. It is rethinking the way in which we see ourselves and see others. It isn’t easy to accept this biblical concept of repentance, especially when we have convinced ourselves that we are more or less perfect just as we are. We are all doing just fine, thank you. We aren’t about to change all that.

There was a woman who was preparing to attend a special event. She had been looking forward to it, with pleasure, for a long time. The new dress she had bought for the occasion was carefully laid out on her bed. But her little daughter did not want her to go out that night. She wanted her parents to stay home and she put up quite a fuss about it. 
When the mother was out of the room, the little girl thought she had found a way to keep her mother home. She took out a pair of sewing shears and she slashed the new party dress, ruined it completely. 
When the mother came back to the room she was almost stupefied by what she saw. Instead of exploding and becoming very angry, she just fell on the bed and started crying bitterly, completely oblivious to her daughter’s presence in the room. When the little girl saw her mother’s reaction, she realized the seriousness of what she had done. She started tugging at her mother’s skirt, calling out “mommy.” But her mother continued to ignore her, acting as though she was not even in the room. The girl cried out a little more desperately, “mommy, please!” At last, her mother responded, “yes, what is it you want?” And the little girl answered, “Mommy, please take me back.”
That little girl went to the heart of the matter. She didn't say I’m sorry or that I won’t do it again. She didn't say a lot of the things that might need to be said later. She had sensed, somehow, that the problem was the broken relationship between herself and her mother. So she cried out “mommy, please take me back.”

My brothers and sisters, that is what is at the heart of today’s Gospel. This is the point at which all true repentance begins. Every time we ask God to forgive us we are saying, please take me back. Every time we ask God’s forgiveness we are acknowledging the basic problem, our broken relationship with him. Every time we ask God to forgive us, we are positioning ourselves before God for that healing of our broken relationship.

“I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.”

We share in this joy by first acknowledging God’s forgiveness and then accepting it. It is not a matter of convincing God that he should forgive us. It’s not about moving God to be compassionate through our tears and pleadings. It is not about changing God’s mind and heart. Our loving God never withdraws his love and mercy. It is a matter of changing our own mind and heart. It is a matter of understanding why there will be more joy for the one repentant over the ninety-nine who have no need to repent. The reason is, of course, is that the ninety-nine don’t exist.

All of us, without exception, are called to repentance, are called to change. We are called to a better way of life every day of our life.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Just as God’s love and mercy are greater than the things that separate us from him, so too should our love and mercy be greater than the things that separate us from one another. To forgive is to acknowledge that only love can overcome the evil that divides and alienates. To forgive is to acknowledge that only love can heal the wounded relationships with one another.

So we repent. We begin by clearing out the debris from the past that continues to separate us from God and neighbor. Oh God, please take us back. I am a sinner, Lord. Forgive my self-righteousness. Forgive me for all those half-hearted efforts to understand the problems of others. Forgive me for all those times when I was too busy to listen. Forgive me for being unkind to other human beings. Forgive me for abusing and exploiting other human beings. Oh God, please take me back.

We are the Church of Jesus Crist. Lord, forgive us for our failure to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ effectively in word or in deed. Forgive us for not being salt of the earth and light of the world. Forgive us for hiding our commitment to peace and justice under a bushel basket. Because there are those who have not heard of the promise of eternal life and we are sustained by it. Oh God, please take us back. We know you never withdraw your love and mercy, so we pray, Oh God, please take us back!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rededicate yourself to living the Gospel

The following is an excerpt from a homily given during daily Mass at the Diocesan Pastoral Center with local Serra International group representatives.

By Bishop Gerald Barnes
Diocese of San Bernardino

Do you know the last time you sat down to dinner with some very good friends and people who you respect and admire? It can be a family gathering or a gathering with friends and it’s just nice to be there. Now image all of a sudden you don’t know where it came from, but something comes out of left field that upsets the dinner, the friendship. Can you understand that feeling? Then you understand how those with the Lord at dinner felt.

They didn’t invite him to insult them. They didn’t invite him so that they could be rebuked by him. It was very insulting. I don’t know the last time you were really insulted or rebuked, but it is difficult. But He rebukes and he insults these people.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, who had some pretty harsh things to say in her day to the Church and her Carmelite order. It got her into trouble, but she carried on. She felt that what was critical, basic, and central to the order and in the Church was being lost.

It’s kind of what Pope Francis is saying to us today. We have, in some way, lost some of the central message of the Gospel, which is to actually live it. Live the Gospel. He is reminding us that if we live the Gospel, it will be disturbing to others. We are not to just talk about it, take sides, be involved in polemics, and casting judgments, but actually living the Gospel.

This is something that some of us have lost. We have become too comfortable. We make all kinds of excuses. It is always somebody else’s problem, or my age, or my physical condition, or a loss of this or that. We have excuses and have lost the centrality of who we are.

We are reminded today in the fruits of the spirit in the first reading today. We are asked today to really look at what our life is all about. Are we truly on fire with the Gospel? Are we truly living that message in our lives today?

Serra International representatives
We have been blessed with the presence of the Serrans today. The Serrans are an outstanding organization of lay people that work internationally to promote vocations to the priesthood. It is a very good and necessary work for the Church. But sometimes even the Serrans lose their zeal. Sometimes Serrans become complacent and put other things first. They are as human as everyone else. Today they make a statement by their presence here. Their statement or action is to come to identify themselves with the purpose of their association. ‘This is why we joined. We recommit ourselves today by being present in this liturgy.’

In the scriptures today, there is a message for everybody. So we come back to the Lord, thanking him for waking us up again. He is asking us, in his way and through his hard words, to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the Church: the proclamation of the Gospel of Joy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

We are called ... to the polls

By Bishop Gerald Barnes
Diocese of San Bernardino

A few years ago I was talking with the mayor of a prominent city in our diocese about the reports of extremely low voter turnout in a recent election. Not Catholic but a man of faith, this mayor said to me very directly that many of those who did not vote were “your people.” He went on to say that if local Catholics voted in greater numbers it would lead to positive change in the city.

I remember wishing that I could disagree with his assertion. But I had to admit that it was a fair challenge. As we approach another national election next month my mind returns to that conversation. I have said this before in these pages but I want to emphasize again that it is so very important that we, as Catholics and as Americans, exercise our right to vote.

We know that matters of public policy often have moral implications that are of great concern to our Church. That is why the Bishops of the United States repeatedly sound the call to “Faithful Citizenship.” The best way for us to ensure that Catholic values are reflected in the laws of the land, and those who make and enforce those laws, is for us to vote.

Or as the Catechism of the Catholic Church reads, “One must pay tribute to those nations whose systems permit the largest possible number of citizens to take part in public life in a climate of genuine freedom.” (No. 1915)

Yet the same dwindling voter participation among the general population is also seen in our Catholic communities. Some may have grown apathetic to the idea that that their vote can make a difference on the bitterly partisan political landscape that we have today. Others may be unfamiliar with the process, eligible to vote but not yet registered. Still others bristle when anyone from their Church promotes anything that even whiffs of civic or political participation, invoking the idea that matters of church and state must be completely separated from one another.

Surely we do not expect that Catholic dogma be imposed in our laws and on our elected leaders. At the same time, we are called, as our Diocesan Vision states, to “impact family, neighborhood and society with the Gospel.” Like it or not, participation in government and politics is an important way that we can do that. And voting is an ultimate expression of that participation.

You can make a convincing argument that it is more important now than ever before for us to voice (and vote) our Catholic values in the public square. We have seen religious liberties that we historically took for granted threatened by government actions and court rulings. Issues of health care, immigration and marriage, to name just a few, are being debated and legislated by our elected and appointed leaders. They must know where we stand!

And where we stand, of course, is the Gospel: recognizing the worth and value of every human life, coming to the aid of the poor and disenfranchised, and respecting God’s plan for creation.

This fall our diocese is working with Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC) to teach lay Catholics to promote voter participation in their parish. ICUC has more than 20 years of experience in faith-based community organizing in our diocese. My predecessor, Bishop Phillip Straling, was instrumental in ICUC’s formation. They are offering their skills and experience in how to improve voter participation, but parish ministers will do the work, as it should be.

My fellow bishops of California and I are also asking Catholics to pay special attention to State Proposition 47, which very much aligns with the growing ministry of Restorative Justice in our diocese and in our state. I invite you to learn more about Prop 47, see the California Catholic Conference's statement.

It is my hope that you not only vote in next month’s election but that you do so having done proper reflection and examination of your conscience. Consult the scriptures and the many relevant documents of Church teaching, and take any conflicts or questions that you have to the Lord in prayer.

And no matter the outcome, please receive the election results with civility and respect, and pray for those elected to office.

May God bless you and may He continue to bless our nation.

Somos llamados ... a votar

Por Obispo Gerald Barnes
Diócesis de San Bernardino

Hace unos años, hablaba yo con el alcalde de una ciudad prominente en nuestra diócesis sobre los reportes de la extremadamente baja participación en una reciente elección. No católico pero sí un hombre de fe, este alcalde me dijo directamente que muchos de los que no votaron eran “su gente”. Él dijo además que si los católicos locales votarán más, eso llevaría a un cambio positivo en la ciudad.

Recuerdo haber deseado estar en desacuerdo con su aseveración. Pero tuve que admitir que era un desafío justo. Al avecinarse otra elección nacional el mes próximo, mi mente vuelve a esa conversación. Lo he dicho antes en estas páginas pero quiero enfatizar de nuevo que es muy importante que nosotros, como católicos y como americanos, ejerzamos nuestro derecho al voto.
Sabemos que algunas cuestiones de política pública a menudo tienen implicaciones morales que son de gran preocupación para nuestra Iglesia. Es por eso que los Obispos de los Estados Unidos hacen repetidamente el llamado a ser “Ciudadanos Comprometidos”. La mejor manera de asegurarnos que los valores católicos se reflejen en el derecho común, y quienes crean y hacen cumplir esas leyes, es votando.
O como lo expone el Catecismo de la Iglesia Católica, “Es de alabar la conducta de las naciones en las que la mayor parte posible de los ciudadanos participa con verdadera libertad en la vida pública”. (No. 1915)
Sin embargo, la misma decreciente participación de los votantes en la población general se ve también en nuestras comunidades católicas. Algunos tal vez consideren apática la idea de que su voto puede marcar una diferencia en el ambiente político amargamente partidista. Otros tal vez desconozcan el proceso, elegibles para votar pero aún no registrados. Y otros se encrespan cuando alguien en su Iglesia promueve algo que huele a participación política, invocando la idea de que las cuestiones de la iglesia y el estado deben estar completamente separadas.
Seguramente no esperamos que el dogma católico se imponga en nuestras leyes y en nuestros líderes electos. Al mismo tiempo, somos llamados, como lo expresa nuestra visión diocesana, a “impactar positivamente a la familia, el vecindario y la sociedad con el Evangelio”. Nos guste o no, la participación en el gobierno y la política es una manera importante en que podemos hacerlo. Y el voto es una expresión máxima de esa participación.
Pueden hacer un argumento convincente de que es más importante ahora que nunca antes que expresemos (y votemos) nuestros valores católicos en el ámbito público. Hemos visto libertades religiosas que históricamente hemos dado por sentadas amenazadas por actos del gobierno y determinaciones jurídicas. Cuestiones de atención médica, inmigración y el matrimonio, por mencionar algunas, las debaten y legislan ahora nuestros líderes electos y nombrados. ¡Ellos deben conocer nuestra opinión!
Y nuestra opinión, por supuesto, es el Evangelio: reconocer el valor de toda vida humana, acudir al auxilio de los pobres y los despojados de sus derechos, y respetar el plan de Dios para la creación.
Este otoño nuestra diócesis está trabajando con Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC) para enseñar a líderes laicos a promover la registración y participación de los votantes en su parroquia. ICUC tiene más de 20 años de experiencia en organizar comunidades de fe en nuestra diócesis. Mi predecesor, el Obispo Phillip Straling, fue fundamental en la formación de ICUC. Ellos están ofreciendo sus aptitudes y experiencia en cómo mejorar la participación de los votantes, pero los ministros parroquiales harán el trabajo, como debe ser.
Mis hermanos obispos en California y yo estamos pidiendo también a los católicos que presten especial atención a la Propuesta Estatal 47, la cual se alinea mucho con el creciente ministerio de Justicia Restitutiva en nuestra diócesis y en nuestro estado. Los invito a que se informen más sobre la Propuesta 47.
Espero que no sólo ustedes voten en la elección del mes próximo sino que lo hagan después de una debida reflexión y un examen de conciencia. Consulten las escrituras y los muchos pertinentes documentos de la enseñanza de la Iglesia, y presenten cualquier conflicto o interrogantes que tengan al Señor en oración.
Y sin importar el resultado, por favor reciban los resultados de la elección con urbanidad y respeto, y oren por los funcionarios elegidos.
Que Dios les bendiga y que continúe bendiciendo a nuestra nación.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

¡La generosidad y misericordia de Dios no tiene fin!

Por Obispo Auxiliar Rutilio del Riego

Lecturas: Isaias 55:6-9; Salmo 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18; Filipenses 1:20-24, 27; Mateo 20:1-16

Los siguientes son extractos de la homilía el Obispo del Riego dio durante la primera misa en español en Santa Francisca Xavier Cabrini, Crestline el 21 de septiembre.

Lo primero que nos dice el Señor por el profeta Isaías es que no tendremos miedo de buscarle y acercarnos a él. Él se acercado a nosotros. En el antiguo testamento fue el que se acercó al pueblo, el que eligió al pueblo, el que libero al pueblo, el que acompaño al pueblo, el que los llevo a la tierra prometida, el que les dio sus líderes.

En el nuevo testamento fue Dios mismo que se hizo uno con nosotros, Emanuel – Dios con nosotros. Es que se hace presente cada vez aquí que celebramos la eucaristía en su palabra y en el sacramento en una manera especialísima. Entonces no tengamos miedo de buscar al Señor y acercarnos a él.

Como el pueblo judío, algunas veces no hemos olvidado o desobedecido gravemente. A veces nos hemos alejado de él por una conducta contraria de su voluntad. Pero no debemos pensar que Dios es indiferente o rencoroso. ¡No! Dios es muy generoso.

Lo escuchamos en la primera lectura y en el salmo. Él ofrece su misericordia y su perdón. Como hemos dicho en el salmo, el Señor está cerca de los que lo invocan. Él es misericordioso, lento en la ira y lleno de amabilidad. Él es compasivo y misericordioso, mucho más que ningún humano puede ser.

En el Evangelio, podemos ver otro ejemplo de que bueno es Dios. Recuerda que Jesus nos narra una historia del propietario que tiene una viña y que necesita trabajadores, Mateo 20:1-16. Hoy todavía tenemos jornaleros, personas que están buscando trabajo en Home Depot o en otros lugares. No son gente vaga que no quieren trabajar. El propietario viene varias veces durante el día, contractando a los jornaleros con la promesa de un salario justo. Esto sucede cada día, hasta en el día de hoy.

En el momento en donde se tiene que pagar los jornaleros, Jesus, que maestro más extraordinario, paga primero a los últimos. A cada grupo se paga el mismo, pero se enojan. Pero, ¿cómo? Usted los ha dado el mismo a los que vinieron al final que a nosotros. ¡Esto no es justo! Y digo el señor, un momento. Nosotros nos pusimos acuerdo que un denario era generoso y justo. ¿Yo no puedo ser generoso a todos?

¿Qué es la lección? Es que Dios es muy generoso. ¡No nos paga los que merecemos, sino mucho más! No nos invita al ministerio que merecemos o que somos dignos, sino el que él quiere. Así nadie puede decir que Dios no me va llamar a ningún ministerio, porque yo no soy digno. Es que él no llama a los dignos, el elige a los que él quiere.

El Papa Francisco habla sobre esto casi a diario. Es bueno que lo escuchemos y que lo pensemos y leamos. Dios es tan bueno, tan compasivo, tan misericordioso, que no lo podemos imaginar. Tiene un plan de salvación que es realmente para todos. No hay nadie que puede ser perdido. No hay nadie que podemos decir, este no tiene solución. Es que Dios, nuestro Señor, Él es tan generoso que puede sacar personas de las piedras. Puede cambiar los corazones como lo ha hecho a través de la historia.

Santa Monica no perdió la confianza en que dios iba cambiar el corazón de su hijo. Y Dios cambio el corazón de su hijo. Pedro y los apóstoles no desesperaban como Judas creyendo que Jesus no podía perdonarlos, y menos, invitarlos a ser discípulos y apóstoles de Dios. Pero fue Judas que se equivocó. Porque Jesus si tuvo compasión y encargo el ministerio a Pedro y los demás apóstoles que se iban avergonzado de él.

Entonces ningún de nosotros, cualquiera que será nuestra situación, podemos desesperar de Dios. No podemos desesperar ni siquiera de nosotros mismos, porque somos creaturas de Dios. Porque hay amor de Dios entre nosotros. Si no, no hubiera vida.

Es bueno que lo recordemos y también lo pasemos humildemente, pero sinceramente a los demás. Hay hermanos y hermanas que tal vez están pasando por pruebas y dificultades muy profundas y están pasando por tiempos de desánimo o tentaciones de desesperación. Nunca podemos desesperar de Dios porque su amor es para siempre. Su amor no tiene fin.

God’s generosity and mercy knows no bounds
By Auxiliary Bishop Rutilio del Riego

Readings: Isaiah 55:6-9; Psalm 145: 2-3, 8-9, 17-18; Phil 1:20-24, 27; Matt 20: 1-16

The following are excerpts from a homily Bishop del Riego gave during the first Spanish Mass at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Crestline on Sept. 21.

The first thing that the Lord tells us through the prophet Isaiah is that we should not fear from searching for him, for he is with us. In the Old Testament we see that he came to the people. He chose his people. He liberated his people. He was with his people, showed them to the promised land and gave them leaders.

In the New Testament God, himself, became present among us, Emmanuel – God among us. He makes himself present to us here in a very special way whenever we celebrate the Eucharist, in his word and in the sacrament. Therefore, we shouldn’t be afraid of searching out for him and drawing close to him.

Like our Jewish ancestors, we sometimes forget him and disobey him. Sometimes we distance ourselves from him through actions that are contrary to his will. This is not, however, reason for us to believe that God is indifferent or vengeful towards us. No! God is much too generous.

We hear it in the first reading and in the psalm. He offers his mercy and forgiveness. Like we said in today’s psalm, the Lord is near to those who call upon him. He is merciful, slow to anger and great in kindness. He is more compassionate and merciful than any man could ever try to be.

In the Gospel, we see another example of the goodness of God. Here we see Jesus narrating the parable of a landowner with a vineyard in need of workers, Matt 20:1-16. Today we still have day laborers, people in search of work. You can find them at Home Depot or in many other places. These people aren’t lazy or any less deserving. They just want to work. The property owner comes at several times during the day to offer the men a job with the promise of a fair wage. This happens every day, even now.

When it is time to pay the day laborers, Jesus, who is such a great teacher, says that the last were paid first. Each group of workers is paid the same amount, but that angers some. How could this be? You have paid the people who just came to work the same wage. That is not fair! But the owner replies, wait a minute. We agreed on a generous and just wage. Can I not be generous with everyone?

What is the lesson here? It is that God is very generous. He does not reward us what we deserve, but so much more! He doesn’t invite us to serve in a ministry that we might deserve, but the one that HE wants us to be in. So no one can say that God cannot call be calling him or her to a ministry because they are not worthy. He does not call those who say they are worthy, but those who He decides He wants.

Pope Francis speaks of this almost on a daily basis. It is good that we are reminded of this and that we reflect on this. God is so good, so compassionate, so merciful that we cannot even imagine. His plan for salvation is, in truth, for everyone. No one can say they are a lost cause. No one can say of another, there is no hope for him. God is so great that he can turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. He can transform lives like he has done throughout the ages.

St. Monica never lost hope in God transforming the heart of her son. In the end God did transform the heart of her son. Peter and the Apostles did not lose hope like Judas and thought that Jesus wouldn’t be able to forgive him. Judas was wrong. Jesus indeed was compassionate and charged Peter and the others to be Apostles of God, despite what they had done.

Therefore, none of us, whatever our situation may be, can lose hope in God. We cannot lose hope in each other either, because we are a part of God’s creation. The love of God lives in us. If it didn’t, we could not possibly live.

It is good that we remember this and that we share this humbly, but sincerely with others. There are brothers and sisters out there that might be going through trials and difficulties or feeling discouraged and desperate. She should never despair, because the love of God is always with us. His love is eternal.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Role of Faith in Our Lives

By Deacon John De Gano
St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside

This summer our diocese had the opportunity to put our faith into action on behalf of immigrant children and mothers who were being shuttled by ICE officials to reception centers for coordination with and transportation to sponsors throughout the country.

And as with all things human, we had a mixed bag of responses – from warm receptions and smiles to confusion and mistrust to angry voices and threats.

We recall this aspect of humanity every Holy Week as we retell Jesus’ passion, beginning with his warm welcome into Jerusalem and ending with his arrest, crucifixion, death and burial.

And, hopefully, we are a bit humbled that we could be like ‘those’ who sang Jesus’ praises one day and yelled for his death the next.

The full gamut of emotions.

What leads people to do this?

Is it only political ideology? NIMBYism? Or just plain fear?

In the Gospel of Mark, we see the disciples come between Jesus and the little children and their parents, who bring their children to Jesus for a blessing.

They may have had every good intention. They were tired, hot, bothered, anxious to get back home and to their comfy beds. Perhaps all they wanted was a nice bath, to feel ‘human’ again after their storm-tossed adventure on the Sea of Galilee? And they wanted to protect Jesus from the crush of the crowds of well-wishers and spies who sought to trip him up and get him arrested.

Jesus has to chide the disciples. Not for the good they sought to do, but for getting in the way of God’s plan. Jesus was on the road to Jerusalem and the cross. He knew that he would not be this way again. He wanted to reach out and touch everyone he could before that fateful entry into Jerusalem made it impossible for him to do so.

Many of us fear the unknown. We are uncomfortable in our skin. And we want to protect our loved ones and ourselves.

Rumors become fact. Fact becomes fiction. And the media often fans the distrust and anger to make “news.”

It is in times like these that faith sustains us. Faith grounds us and brings us peace. It gives us hope and compels us to serve God and our neighbor as we would ourselves.

Abraham welcomed the three strangers at his door, insisting that they allow him to provide them food, drink and a place to rest awhile before they continued on their appointed rounds. For his graciousness, God blessed his family and made them a great people. Abraham was accounted a friend of God by his actions.

During the Black plague, priests and those learned in the ways of herbal medicine did their part to stem the sickness, often at the cost of their very lives. They placed their faith in God and eventually the cause of said plague was discovered and the disease confined and eradicated.

We have to step up and, in faith, serve the stranger at our door.

Like the Good Samaritan, we need to show mercy and compassion to those who we do not know so that they might, in turn, do the same for others.

Unlike Jesus, we will never know all those we have touched in this life, but if we do not reach out we have wasted the gift of our embrace. The gentle touch of our hand and the smile that has the ability to melt hearts.

St. Augustine wrote, “Our hearts are restless (burdened) until they rest in you, o Lord!”

Let us not be hearers of the word only, but doers, as well.

Step out in faith. And in love.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Don't let fears sink your ship

By Father Benjamin Alforque, MSC

In Matt 14:22-33, Jesus is seen sending off the disciples in a boat to the other side of the lake. He then also dismissed the crowds. When he was alone he went up to the mountain by himself to pray. In the early hours of the new day, he came walking on the waters towards the boat where the disciples were. Apparently the disciples were not afraid of the tossing sea; but they were afraid of ghosts: they thought he was a ghost walking on the water. Jesus had to assure them that it was he, and there was no cause for fear.

Peter, who always makes the first excited move, but almost always in a wrong way, volunteered to come to Jesus on the water. Notice: he asked Jesus to command him to walk on the water; not to command the water to let him walk on it towards Jesus. Jesus did as Peter asked him; but when Peter began to be afraid of the strong wind, he began to sink. Again, we take note of this detail: Peter did not notice the water tossing, because he was able to walk on it. But he noticed the strong wind above the water, and that he feared. Only then did he begin to sink. Thus: he was not afraid because he was sinking; rather, he began to sink because he was afraid! Jesus saved him by extending to him his hand, catching the sinking Peter. He pointed to his little faith that produces doubt. The wind ceased when both entered the boat; and those in the boat knelt down before Jesus, proclaiming: Truly you are the Son of God.

Friends, The Dawn of the New Day has come: Jesus. Jesus prays to the Father and gets the strength from him in his mission and care for the Church. He comes, bringing in the new day, full of grace and blessing. On the other hand, humanity continues to seek him. They bring to him the prayers each early new day. The disciples, the Church, under the leadership of Peter, the Popes, have always sailed in the rough waters of challenges and trials. They would falter, and begin to sink, if their sights and senses were only focused on these problems. For apart from Jesus, they , we – the Church – cannot save themselves, we cannot save ourselves. Only by being with Jesus, who has promised us that he will always be with us, and who always stretches out his hand to us, would we be saved in a stilled and silenced world. Jesus, the Lord of the tempests, will never abandon us, the ship of Peter, the Church.

Be Not Afraid! Yes, how many times have we doubted, singly or collectively, the power of God and his mercy and steadfast love in times of troubles and difficulties. We often forget that he is always with us through thick and thin every moment of our lives until forever! In these times of forgetfulness, we vacillate. We only hear the strong winds and feel the stormy sea, and forget that Jesus is with us. Is the boat sinking? No! Tossed by the waves of indifference, injustice, violence and war? Yes! We are persecuted but we are not forsaken! With Jesus, we need to pray to the Father. With Jesus we need to navigate in the stormy seas of human history. If we fear, we will falter and sink. But Jesus is with us always. Therefore, there is no reason to be afraid!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

God speaks of Life in recent events

By Bishop Gerald Barnes
Diocese of San Bernardino

Two family-owned businesses take legal action so that they don’t violate the tenets of their faith by providing their employees with contraception and abortifacients as required by the new federal health care law. They prevail in the nation’s highest court.

Hundreds of children and families from Central America flood into Texas seeking refuge and reconciliation with loved ones, and are subsequently transported to a Border Patrol station in our diocese.

Are these unrelated events?

At first glance you might think so. But when we look at these stories through the lens of our Catholic faith we see a common thread – our belief in the inherent dignity and worth of every human life.

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 30 that two businesses, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, would not be subject to a new federal mandate that they pay for contraception and abortifacients as part of health insurance coverage, we applauded. It had no direct bearing on our Church’s legal challenges to the so-called HHS mandate but it was a win for religious freedom and the right for individuals and groups to act according to their conscience on matters of health care. Underlying this outcome, of course, is our concern for the unborn and also our belief that the plan for creation is God’s, not ours. It is in this context that many see the issue of “Life.”

At the same time, we are equally concerned about the lives of those coming to our country to be reconciled with family and to escape the violence and destitution of their home country. Recently, we have seen a spike in the number of families and even unaccompanied children seeking asylum inside the southwestern borders of our country. The drive toward comprehensive immigration reform remains stalled in political gridlock so federal immigration authorities made a decision to transport busloads of migrants from their point of entry in Texas to a U.S. Border Patrol facilities in Southern California, including one in Murrieta.

It has been a moment to renew our cry for reform but, more importantly, it has also called us to accompany these brothers and sisters on their perilous journey, to let them know that the Church is with them and values their life. That is why we chose to receive a group of 46 women and children from Central America in one of our churches this month. “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Mt. 25

This for us is also a “Life” issue.

The reality that the continuous ethic of life in our Church informs many sociopolitical issues and not just one is elusive for some. Prayer and deep reflection about what it means to uphold the dignity and worth of every human life, be it an embryo or an immigrant, can help us “connect the dots.” Let us be patient with ourselves and our brothers and sisters who may not see things as we do.

But as I watch these recent signs of the times I can’t help but feel that God is speaking very clearly to us. If we don’t stand for Life, who will?

Dios habla de la Vida en acontecimientos recientes

Por Obispo Gerald Barnes
Diocesis de San Bernardino

Dos negocios familiares toman acción legal para no quebrantar los principios de su fe al proveer anticonceptivos y abortivos a sus empleados como lo requiere la nueva ley federal de servicios médicos. Prevalecen en el tribunal de mayor instancia en la nación.

Cientos de niños y familias de Centro América arriban masivamente a Texas en busca de refugio y reconciliación con sus seres queridos, y subsecuentemente son trasladados a un puesto de la Patrulla Fronteriza en nuestra diócesis.
¿No hay relación entre estos acontecimientos?

A primera vista podría parecer así. Pero cuando miramos estas historias con el lente de nuestra fe católica vemos algo en común – nuestra creencia en la dignidad y el valor inherente de toda vida humana.

Aplaudimos cuando la Corte Suprema dictaminó el mes pasado que dos negocios, Hobby Lobby y Conestoga Wood, no se verían sujetos a una nueva ordenanza federal que ordena el pago por anticonceptivos y abortivos como parte de la cobertura de seguro médico. Esto no influyó directamente en los desafíos legales que la llamada ordenanza HHS presenta a nuestra Iglesia pero fue una victoria para la libertad religiosa y el derecho de los individuos o grupos de actuar conforme a su conciencia en cuestiones del cuidado de la salud. Subyacente a este resultado, por supuesto, está nuestra preocupación por los aún no nacidos y también nuestra creencia de que el plan de la creación es de Dios, no nuestro. Es en este contexto que muchos ven la cuestión de “Vida”.

A la vez, nos preocupan igualmente las vidas de quienes vienen a este país para reunirse con su familia o para escapar de la violencia y destitución de su país natal. Recientemente, hemos visto un aumento en el número de familias y hasta niños sin acompañante que buscan asilo dentro de las fronteras del suroeste de nuestro país. El impulso por una reforma migratoria completa sigue atascado en un estancamiento político, así que las autoridades federales tomaron la decisión de trasladar autobuses llenos de migrantes de su punto de ingreso en Texas a puestos de la Patrulla Fronteriza Estadounidense en el Sur de California, incluyendo uno en Murrieta.

Ha sido un momento para renovar nuestro clamor por una reforma, pero, lo más importante, nos ha llamado también a acompañar a estos hermanos y hermanas en su arriesgado viaje, para hacerles saber que la Iglesia está con ellos y valora su vida. Es por eso que decidimos recibir a un grupo de 46 mujeres y niños de Centro América en una de nuestras iglesias este mes. “Era un extraño y me hospedaron”. Mt 25

Esto para nosotros es también una cuestión de “Vida”.

A algunos les resulta difícil entender la realidad de que la continua ética de vida en nuestra Iglesia informa muchas cuestiones sociopolíticas y no sólo una. La oración y una profunda reflexión sobre lo que significa defender la dignidad y el valor de toda vida humana, sea un embrión o un inmigrante, puede ayudarnos a “atar cabos”. Seamos pacientes con nosotros mismos y con nuestros hermanos y hermanas que tal vez no vean las cosas como las vemos nosotros.

Pero al mirar estas recientes señales de los tiempos, no puedo evitar sentir que Dios nos está hablando muy claramente. Si nosotros no defendemos la Vida, ¿quién lo hará?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Visita de las reliquias de Santo Toribio Romo nos causa a reflexionar

Por Obispo Auxiliar Rutilio del Riego

Los siguiente es un resumen de la homilia que el Obispo Auxiliar Rutilio del Riego presento en la Misa en la precencia de las reliquias de Santo Toribio Romo celebrada el 15 de julio en la parroquia de Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro en Indio. 

Hubo muchos mártires en el principio de la iglesia. Los cristianos muy pronto fueron rechazaron de la sinagogas y perseguidos por los Romanos. Un escritor cristiano escribió que la sangre de los mártires es la semilla de los cristianos. Jesus había dicho que si a él le perseguían, también los servidores lo perseguían. Se ha cumplido esta profecía.

Cuando contando las comunidades en nuestra Diócesis, todas han tenido una era de mártires. En las islas Filipinas tenemos a San Lorenzo Ruiz y San Pedro Calungsod. En Vietnam tenemos a San Andres Dung-Lac y los compañeros mártires. En Corea tenemos a San Andres Kim y sus compañeros. Y en México tenemos una multitud de santos en la persecución terrible del principio del siglo XX. Incluso en esta nación, los primeros católicos sufrieron discriminación. Fue la discriminación que los motivaron a moverse para fundar un sistema alternativo a las escuelas oficiales. De allí nacieron las escuelas católicas.

Un pastor luterano escribió un libro sobre el costo del discipulado. Dice que a seguir a Jesus no es una garantía que uno va ser aceptado. Sino a veces vas hacer ridiculizado o criticado o incluso martirizado. Esta es la realidad hasta el día de hoy.

El Papa dice que le causa mucho dolor el ver como siguen los cristiano siendo perseguidos a través del mundo. Él dice que en este tiempo, en este momento, hay más mártires que hubo en el principio de la iglesia. En este momento hermanas y hermanos nuestros están sufriendo persecución por su fe en muchos países. En países como Siria, Iraq, en varios países en África, como Nigeria, Pakistán, países islámicos. El testimonio de los mártires sigue siendo visible en este momento.

Los mártires no son superhéroes, aunque si es verdad que son grandes héroes y heroínas. Son discípulos de Jesus, que con la gracia de Dios y solo con la gracia de Dios pudieron mantener fieles hasta el punto de dar su vida antes de negar su fe. Santo Toribio fue un mártir no solo en el final de su vida, pero fue un testimonio de Cristo en predicando el evangelio, acompañando a los pobres, celebrando los sacramentos, aconsejando a las personas. Él no fue mártir solo en el final, él fue un testimonio de fe desde el principio. Y esto lo tenemos porque conocemos su vida.

Santo Toribio está muy cerca de los inmigrantes. Probablemente 90 por ciento que están aquí son inmigrantes. Entonces esta cercanía de Santo Toribio a los inmigrantes de su tiempo se extiende a los inmigrantes de este tiempo. Por eso muchos nos acercamos a él con confianza. Por eso veneramos sus reliquias. Esta devoción a Santo Toribio no es solo porque en la historia muchos experimentaron su intercesión, sino que cuando vivía conocía el los dificultades y los problemas que pasan las personas que tuvieron que abandonar México en los tiempos de la violencia y la persecución. El puede comprender los que muchos de los inmigrantes presentes han pasado y la situación que están pasando ahora miles de niños y madres que vienen de Mexico, de Guatemala, de Honduras, de El Salvador u otros países.

La veneración de reliquias en la iglesia comienza muy pronto. El primer testimonio de la veneración de las reliquias es en el año 157. En ese año fue cuando el obispo San Policarpo fue martiriado. Despues de morir la gente empezaron de venerar las reliquias de este santo obispo.

Veneramos las reliquias porque son parte de alguien que dio un testimonio de fidelidad hasta el punto de dar la vida. Es un ejemplo de un compromiso total con el Señor.

Entonces hoy pedimos la intercesión de Santo Toribio por los muchos hermanos y hermanas que han venido de Mexico y otros países en busca de seguridad y oportunidad para vivir dignamente. No creemos que es algo maligno en esto. Pedimos la intercesión de Santo Toribio para los hermanos y hermanas que todavía viven con temor. Tambien pedimos la intercesión de Santo Toribio por los legisladores, para que en una manera sincera busquen caminos y leyes que respondan a las necesidades en presente y reformen las leyes que sean necesarios para la dignidad de todos sea respectada.

Buscamos un lugar en la comunidad para contribuir nuestros talentos y dones que hemos recibidos de Dios. Queremos contribuir al edificación de esta comunidad aquí y del Estados Unidos. Por todos esto pedimos la intercesión de Santo Toribio.

Santo Toribio Romo, ruega por nosotros. ¡Que Viva Cristo Rey!

Visitation of St. Toribio Romo relics causes us to reflect

By Aux. Bishop Rutilio del Riego

The following is a summary of a homily given by Bishop del Riego during a Mass in the presence of the relics of St. Toribio Romo celebrated July 15 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Indio.

There were many martyrs in the early Church. Christians were rejected by the synagogues and persecuted by the Romans. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians wrote one of the early Christian writers. Jesus had proclaimed this and his prophesy was fulfilled. He said: They have persecuted me and they will persecute you.

Talking about the communities that form our Diocese, we can point out that in each community has had an era of martyrs. In the Philippines we have the testimony of St. Lorenzo Ruiz and St. Pedro Calungsod. In Vietnam, we have St. Andrew Dung-Lac and companion martyrs. In Korea, we have St. Andrew Kim and companions. In Mexico we have the persecution in the beginning of the 20th century in which St. Toribio Romo was martyred.

A Lutheran pastor wrote a book about the cost of discipleship. We all know from experience that following Jesus does not guarantee acceptance or applause. Often what it produces is ridicule, criticism, rejection, discrimination and even martyrdom.

Pope Frances said recently: it causes me great pain to know that Christian in the world is subject to such discrimination. Persecutions against Christians today, the Pope continues, are actually more than in the first century Church. There are more Christians martyred today than in the first era.

The martyrs are witnesses. Martyrs are not super men or super women. They are disciples of Jesus, who with God’s grace; remain faithful to Christ and the Church; even to the point of valuing their faith more than their lives. They are willing to give their lives rather than deny the lord. This is what St. Toribio did. St. Toribio was a witness to Christ by accompanying the people, so that their God-given rights would be respected and honored. St. Toribio knew that people had the right to practice their faith and he advocated for that freedom of religion.

St Toribio has been recognized as a great advocate for immigrants, because he knew the difficulties encountered by the people who migrate. Members of his own family migrated to the United States, looking for opportunity when there was none in Mexico. I know that some of them are living in the Sacramento area today. We are that close to him.

Today we have the relics of this great saint. Christians have venerated the relics of saints, especially the martyrs since the early years of the Church. As far as we know the Christians began to venerate the relics of St. Polycarp, who was martyred in 157 AD in Smyrna.

We venerate the relics of this saint because they remind us of the good example of those who gave their lives rather than denounce their faith.

Today we ask for the intercession of St. Toribio for our brothers and sisters who have crossed Mexico and entered the U.S. to search for a sense of security and opportunity for their children and for themselves. Many have died on the way. We remember especially our brothers and sisters who have died in the desert, while some have drowned in the river. We also ask for the intercession of St. Toribio Romo for those who have suffered so much in the past and in the present.

How can we not ask for our unaccompanied minors who are reaching our communities today? Today we ask for his intercession for the many brothers and sisters who still live in fear. We ask for his intercession for the legislators, that they may gather together and reach a consensus that is both fair and compassionate and change the immigration laws.

St. Toribio Romo, pray for us! “Viva Cristo Rey!”

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Trust in God prompts us to action

By Auxiliary Bishop Rutilio del Riego

The following comments are taken from Bishop del Riego's homily on the Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, June 21.

Sometimes when we forget God, we think we can handle things on our own and still prosper. It’s a mistake. We cannot prosper outside of the plan of God. It seems to me that this message for us is to be taken to heart. We want to be thankful to God for life.

“If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?”

If God is so provident with nature, how is he not going to be provident, generous with his children?

This Gospel message is sometimes misunderstood or manipulated. Yes, we place our trust in God. This trust in God, however, cannot be an excuse for inaction or for a false sense of security. It is an invitation to collaborate. Our trust in God makes it possible for us to act, to work, to collaborate. With trust we commit ourselves not to lost causes but to things that promise results. Because we trust in God, we work. We do our best not only for ourselves, but for others.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

This summer, be open to God’s grace

By Deacon John De Gano
St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside

The story of the two disciples encountering Jesus on the Road to Emmaus should serve as a reminder to each of us during our summer vacation to keep a sharp eye out for God and his “breaking in” to our hectic lives.

Vacation planning can be the cause of tremendous anxiety, scheduling camp sites at the beach or a log cabin in one of the national or state parks or even a room at the inn of your choice (remember the Holy Family had trouble booking a room in Bethlehem) in some distant locale.

Then there’s cancelling the newspaper, halting the mail and arranging for the neighbors to set out and take in our empty trash cans from the curb while we are gone. All before we set foot out of our door.

We pack our suitcases, load up the car, set the alarm and as we lock the front door we are filled with trepidation and a flurry of thoughts – Did I turn off the stove? Unplug the iron? Put food out for the cat?

After rechecking, we are at last in the car and on our way…

Are we having fun yet? Or are we too distracted to notice?

The two disciples from Emmaus were not having fun. They were fleeing Jerusalem when they encountered the stranger on the road. Distracted and arguing with each other, they paid him no notice. Only when he interrupted their conversation did they realize he was walking beside them.

Surprised and agitated by his questions, they tried to quickly brush him off, but he responded with great knowledge and understanding. They soon forgot their problems and desired to spend more time listening to the stranger.

Only later when he was gone did they recognize their encounter with Jesus, noting that their hearts burned within them.

How about us? If we encountered God today would we be too distracted to recognize Him? Would we stop and listen or would we brush past Him and keep on walking? Or worse, would we pull out our canister of pepper spray and let Him have it for interrupting our conversation?

As Catholic Christians, we should always expect to have encounters with Christ. Wherever we are. Wherever we go. Whether we are in the mood for it or not. In the beauty of nature or the eyes of the poor, the hungry and the forgotten.

We must not allow ourselves to become distracted but to remain alert for the signs of an encounter with Jesus Christ. Nor should we “check out” of our faith simply because we are on vacation or we will miss too many opportunities.

Jesus made time in his schedule for the crowds who followed him from place to place. And he asks us to do the same for him. If we do we will receive God’s grace and have vacation stories that friends and family will be eager to hear us tell… over and over again.

Like the ones on the road to Emmaus, we will be blessed and proclaim: God has truly risen and has appeared (to his disciples)!

Let our Easter joy continue to unfold before us as we go forth secure in our faith and ready to meet and greet the Lord when he appears.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Love really can conquer all

By Father Ben Alforque, MSC

Children, are you afraid that your childhood dreams will not come true? Young people, are you confused which way and which truth to follow? Young adults, do your feel threatened by an uncertain difficult future? Old people, the sick, and the dying, are you afraid of death?

Love and forgiveness here on earth can set us free from our fears. When we love fully, with all the risks and vulnerabilities at stake, for the good of the other we share in the audacity and bravery of Jesus. When we forgive ourselves and others, because we truly love, we share in the loving forgiveness of Jesus. Then we are liberated to embrace all kinds of people and all kinds of situations, because we desire only the good, even if it hurts!

In a profound sense, our love and forgiveness make us share in the resurrected life of Jesus: we are made new. We have been hurt, our bodies and emotions wounded, our souls in agony. But the Spirit of Jesus is in us, empowering us to be free to love and to forgive. The Spirit makes us radically different from those imprisoned by fear due to selfishness, greed and victimization of injustice. No, we rise up. Let us rise up and proclaim the Resurrection of Jesus and be free, in our woundedness, to love and do good, to truly care for one another and all of creation, to live in common as brothers and sisters, one family of God!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Answer the call to holiness

By Bishop Gerald Barnes
Diocese of San Bernardino

The following are excerpts from  Bishop Gerald Barnes' message to the youth receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation this year.

When you were baptized your parents or your god parents got to choose your name. At confirmation you get to choose your own name. There should be a reason why you have chosen that name.

Over a year ago we received a new pope. His name was Jorge, but he chose the name Francis. When you read what the Pope has said, listen to what he is saying and see some of the things he is doing, you are going to see something of St. Francis of Assisi in him. He is very much influenced by St. Francis.

We chose the name of a saint, because there is something we admire about them. We are not going to be like them. We are who we are. We are not going to be a Veronica or a Matthew, but we can learn from them to be the best that we can be. We chose their name because there is something about them that speaks to us.

Now saints come from all walks of life. Some came from wealthy families and some came from very poor families. Some were old and some were young, even teenagers. They had different backgrounds, some being doctors, lawyers, religious, priests, etc. Something happened in their lives that made them become saints. These people we call saints received the gifts of the Holy Spirit and did something with those gifts. They used the gifts to be courageous, to stand up for what is right, to be generous, to pass on the faith, to fight for their people. They did something with those gifts.

Confirmation at St. Edward, Corona
At confirmation, you get the same gifts that they got. They didn’t get more and you are not getting less. You get the same gifts that these men and women did. Why? Because you are meant to be saints! You are meant to be holy. God made you to be holy and to be the saints of today and tomorrow.

In order to do that, God is giving you the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The question is: What are you going to do with them?

Unfortunately some who are confirmed think they are finished, as if it is a graduation. They think they don’t have to learn anymore. They stay with the faith of a teenager. They don’t grow. Some people think that just because they are confirmed they don’t have to go to church anymore. That is what some people think.

That is not how it should be.

You are called to be saints. So what will you do? You have examples in the saints. Everyone who is baptized is called to mission, to ministry, to live their faith. Some baptized are called to special ministries like serving as a catechist, visiting the imprisoned, reaching out to the poor or servings as a religious or priest. No one can force you. You have to want it.

I pray that you who are confirmed continue on your walk of faith. Do not let it end at Confirmation, but let our faith be a part of you every day and at every event of your life. Amen.

Responde la llamada a la santidad

Confirmación en San Eduardo, Corona
Por Obispo Gerald Barnes
Diócesis de San Bernardino

Cuando fuiste bautizado tus padres o padrinos eligieron tu nombre. En la confirmación tú podrás elegir tu propio nombre. Debería haber una razón por la que elegiste ese nombre.

Hace más de un año recibimos un nuevo Papa. Su nombre era Jorge, pero eligió el nombre de Francisco. Cuando lees lo que ha dicho el Papa, escuchas lo que esta diciendo y vez algunas de las cosas que está haciendo, veras algo de San Francisco de Asís en él. Él está muy influenciado por San Francisco.

Elegimos el nombre de un santo, porque hay algo que admiramos en ellos. No vamos a ser como ellos. Somos quien somos. No vamos a ser Veronica o Mateo, pero podemos aprender de ellos para llegar a ser lo mejor que podamos. Elegimos su nombre porque hay algo en ellos que nos llama la atención.

Los santos proceden de todas las clases sociales. Algunos nacieron en familias ricas y algunos en familias muy pobres. Algunos eran viejos y otros jóvenes, incluso adolescentes. Tenían diferentes profesiones, algunos eran médicos, abogados, religiosos, sacerdotes, etc. Algo pasó en sus vidas que hiso que se conviertan en santos. Estas personas que llamamos santos recibieron los dones del Espíritu Santo e hicieron algo con esos dones. Los utilizaron para ser valientes, y hacer el bien, fueron generosos en transmitir la fe y lucharon por su pueblo.

En la confirmación, vas a recibir los mismos dones que ellos recibieron. No recibieron más y tú no recibirás menos. Recibirás los mismos dones que esos hombres y mujeres recibieron. ¿Por qué? Porque estás destinado a ser santo/a! Dios nos hizo para que seamos los santos de hoy y de mañana.

Con el fin de hacer esto, Dios te está dando los dones del Espíritu Santo. La pregunta es: ¿Qué vas a hacer con ellos?

Desafortunadamente algunos de los que son confirmados piensan que ya han terminado, como si fuera una graduación. Ellos piensan que ya no tienen que aprender. Se quedan con la fe de un adolescente. No crecen. Algunas personas piensan que el hecho de que se confirmen significa que ya no tienen que ir a la iglesia. Eso es lo que algunas personas piensan.

Esto no debe ser así.

Todos ustedes están llamados a ser santos. Entonces, ¿qué vas a hacer? Tienen ejemplos en los santos. Todos los bautizados son llamados a la misión, al ministerio, a vivir su fe. Algunos bautizados están llamados a ministerios especiales como catequista, visitar a los presos, ayudar a los pobres o sirviendo como religioso/a o sacerdote. Nadie te puede obligar. Tienes tú que desearlo.

Ruego para que ustedes que están confirmados continúen en su camino de fe. No dejen que su crecimiento se termine con la Confirmación. Dejen que su fe sea parte de ustedes todos los días y en todos los eventos de su vida. Amén.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Easter and the New Evangelization

By Ted Furlow, Director
Diocesan Office of Planning

Easter Sunday has always been my favorite, He is risen! It doesn’t get much better.

I can remember them as a young boy, as an altar server, as a young dad, and now as a grandfather. My Easter Sundays have been cold, rainy, and impossibly hot, with the only constant being that they are always “crowded”. On Easter, my Mom was a “pop out of the pew and get to the altar early” kind of gal, always worried that they might run out of hosts due to the overload of strangers.

This Easter was no exception, my church was packed like the 91 on a Friday afternoon, and I was lucky to receive a half a host from a rapidly emptying ciborium. But it was great to see a full church for a change, and despite the jostling in the pews, working around people unsure whether to stand or kneel, and not getting to sit in our “usual spot”, it was good to see new faces. The pews were packed with relatives, friends, and out-of-towners.

Most important, were the CEO Catholics – you know, Christmas and Easter Only. Important, because they are who Pope Francis is calling us to evangelize, to reach out for, and to renew as part of our community. In Evangelii Gaudium, Francis repeatedly refers to the “others”, and our duty to respond to them. These occasional Catholics are a ready example of the target of that evangelization; they are the “others”.

Both the New Evangelization of Francis and the mission of our Diocese call us to proclaim gospel values so that people’s lives may be filled with Hope. On Easter I had a single mom and her darling daughter, perhaps a six year old, sitting in front of us. There were the telltale signs that Sunday Mass was not a regular part of their agenda – the uncertainty of what to do next, the visible curiosity of the little girl about the liturgy, and unfamiliarity with the worship guide.

We have Little Church for the kids on Sunday’s, and the girl was encouraged by her Mom to go with the others. She returned wearing both a wide ribbon banner with “Alleluia” letters glued to it, and a huge smile. It was clear that her Easter experience of God had been a success.

At the kiss of peace, we engaged both the Mom and the girl in conversation, introducing ourselves, welcoming them to our church, commenting on the girl’s enthusiasm, and just trying to be a friendly face in what appeared to be an unfamiliar setting. We continued our conversation at the end of mass and out into the parking lot where we thanked them for coming and hoped that we would see them again.

For Catholics, a bit out of touch on this evangelization thing, there is bound to be a question of how to begin. While theologians and catechist drone on about formation and methodologies, let me offer my thought.

It starts with a smile and saying “hello”.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Passion shows Jesus' love for us

By Auxiliary Bishop Rutilio del Riego
Diocese of San Bernardino

The following are excerpts from a homily Auxiliary Bishop Rutilio del Riego gave during a Mass on Palm Sunday at St. Joseph Parish, Upland. 

Review readings

The Passion narrative today begins with something rather surprising. It begins with Judas’ betrayal. It not only begins with Judas’ betrayal but also recounts Peter’s denial, first with simple words and then with curses and outright denying he has ever met Jesus. Even more surprising is that we hear all the disciples abandoned him. So the crime from the Passion is not only with those who did not know Jesus, but also with the very disciples of Jesus then and now. No one can be excused.

The Gospel of today can focuses on two elements. One is Jesus, the center of the narration, and the other is in the sin of humanity. In order to recognize that sin affects us all, the narration begins with the sin of the disciples. The religious leaders are really the ones who condemned Jesus. The political leaders condemn Jesus. The teachers and scribes, who knew of the scriptures, who were specialists in knowing the Word of God and the law, condemned Jesus. The Romans, the ones who did not believe in the True God, represented here by Pilate and the centurions, condemn him. Pilate condemned him even though he knew Jesus was innocent. He washes his hands of him, but he cannot wash away the blood in his hands. He has condemned an innocent man. No one is excused.

The sin is not just for some people, but it belongs to all of us. Today the Lord has revealed to us the truth. This is the time for us to recognize that. The Holy Father has done so. In an early interview shortly after he was elected pope, they asked him, “Who is Jorge Bergoglio?” He said that the best way to describe him was that he was a sinner that God had mercy upon. If the Holy Father has described himself as a sinner who the Lord has had mercy on, then no one else can say that sin does not touch them.

While sin is what brings Jesus to the cross, the central element of the Passion of Christ is Jesus himself. And how does Jesus appear? What does Jesus reveal to us? First that Jesus goes to the Cross voluntarily. He does not go because he is weak or because he is oblivious to what is about to happen? He knows will happen. He knows what is to come. This knowledge doesn’t leave him calm and numb to the pain that he is about to go through. The scriptures say he experienced a mortal sorrow or a sorrow even to death. Jesus is not someone who did not feel pain. Jesus wasn’t numb to the spitting and torturing. When he was in the praetorium and they stripped him, dressed him in red robes, placed a crown of thorns on his head, reed in his hand and began to make fun of him, Jesus was not immune to that.

The crucifixion was not something beautiful. It was an incredible torture. Jesus was not numb to the pain of the crucifixion. He felt alone and abandoned. “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” He was not only reciting a psalm, but communicating what he felt. We know that he died by surrendering his spirit to his father, but that does not nullify his experience, his pain and body and soul.

We ask: why did Jesus accept all of this? Nobody on Earth can claim that Jesus doesn’t know what is going on, because he has been there. There are people that are abandoned in our homes. Husbands and wives are abandoned. The elderly are abandoned. Youth of all ages are abandoned. People are unfairly imprisoned, not only because of the law but also because of ourselves. No one can say that Jesus doesn’t understand his or her own situation or that he is a stranger to suffering.

Many of us may have experienced a time when we felt that God has abandoned us. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me since I don’t feel your presence like I used to? I go to church and I don’t feel anything. I leave the same as when I first entered. I pray and I don’t know if I’m just talking to myself? I pray for my son or daughter who is following the wrong path and you don’t listen. Do you not care? My God, my God, why have you abandoned?

Jesus identifies with us, not because we deserve him, but because we need him. Jesus does not, throughout his entire ordeal, express feelings of enmity, condemnation or of wanting to take revenge. He goes to the cross out of love of us, for the love of those who tortured him and led him to his death. This is the messiah that God had promised us. This is Jesus, one who has the capacity to have infinite love for us. He accompanies us in our sadness, in our broken world without limit. That is why we believe in the ability to experience a renewal of the self, of the parish, of the diocese, of the Church and the entire world. The love of Jesus is infinite.

St. Paul in the letter to the Phillipians writes:

“…he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

We are going to live this out as we enter into Holy Week. Jesus, we proclaim, did not finish on the Cross, but lives forever. He is the Lord of Heaven and Earth, savior of all mankind. He continues to live and intercede for us. And we experience his presence in this celebration of the Eucharist. Amen.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Beyond the Days...

By Deacon John De Gano
St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside

While Lent is still fresh in our minds, with its prayer, fasting and almsgiving practices to help us conquer and/or regain self control over our hearts and minds and bodies, we should set an even longer goal than 40 days (with time off for good behavior) to continue to reflect on what we were able to accomplish. We might consider making a permanent habit from our temporal “giving up.”

After all, we have proved to ourselves that we can survive with fewer distractions (TV, cell phone, etc.), smaller meals and more time with family and with God in prayer and in church.

How powerful a witness would it be to our non-Catholic brothers and sisters if we were to expand our fasting or abstinence? If we spent more time with scripture, attending missions and faith formation sessions, volunteering at our parish, our schools and assisting with literacy programs?

Of course these things would mean that we would have to re-prioritize our present lives in order to accommodate this further growth in faith and holiness.

And that worries some people…

“When is enough enough?”

We were talking about ‘the call’ of God in one of our Adult Confirmation sessions when I was asked that very question last year by a young man who wanted to know what the parameters of service to God were. How long he had to serve? How many ministries?

I was smart enough not to answer right away and took a week to gather my thoughts together, reflect on the Holy Scriptures and took my time developing the answer(s) I had come up with to his question.

The following week I asked him a slew of questions, such as, “What do you do now?” “How often do you go to church?” “Do you feel God calling you to do something but because you are lazy, or frightened, or exhausted you are looking for someone to tell you to ignore his request?”

“Could it just be indigestion?”

He responded that he was already thinking about vacations and retirement… from church life.

If this is happening to you, you might want to investigate getting a spiritual director to help you sort out your feelings and priorities.

In the story of the Transfiguration, Peter witnesses the meeting of Jesus with Moses and Elijah and wants to build three booths for them, presumably so they (and he) could stay atop the mountain swapping stories and having a good time.

Jesus has to remind Peter that there’s still work to be done.

So when we feel that we can’t give another inch. That somehow God will swallow us whole and there will not be anything left of our person if we do one more thing for God, remember that Holy Scripture tells us that God will not give us more than we can handle.

Life doesn’t have to be pretty. Or pain-free. Just that God will be there to walk beside us.

As long as we continue to draw breathe.