Our Pastor’s Message:
Imitating Christ in the Desert
In this weekend’s brief passage from the Gospel of Mark, we read that Jesus is led into the desert where he is tempted by Satan, cared for by angels, and returns to Galilee with this emphatic proclamation: “The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel (Mark 1:15).” Although this reading is short, it teaches us a great deal about the struggles of the spiritual life and about the true meaning of the Holy Season of Lent.
For forty days and nights, Jesus is both tempted and consoled: tempted by the forces of sin and darkness; consoled by the forces of grace and light. During this time, Jesus experiences the harsh realities of the spiritual life. He experiences times of desolation when he feared that God had abandoned him and that God was not listening to his prayers. And he experiences times of consolation when he felt God’s deep and abiding love and mercy.
Despite these stark realities, Jesus returns from the desert confident and refreshed. He tells his followers to be faithful and contrite – to believe in God’s love and to be confident of God’s mercy. As believers, we are called to faith and penance at all times, but most especially during this Lenten season. For many of us, however, this calling poses a daunting and lifelong challenge. How can we have faith when we see such sadness and savagery in our world? How can we have faith when what little time we might have for prayer and reflection is compromised by legitimate concerns about ice jams, snow shoveling, and finding a way to work when the transit system collapses?
As always, the Gospels have a compelling answer. In them, the scriptural word for repentance is the Greek word “metanoia” which means a complete change of heart, mind, and behavior. In short, metanoia means conversion. So when Jesus calls us to repentance, he calls us to change. Jesus calls us to be ever mindful that whatever happens in life, he is there – walking with us, shoveling with us, and waiting at a frigid train station with us. In this way, we are called to imitate Christ in the desert. We are called to be faithful both during times of desolation and times of consolation. We are called to be faithful both during times of adversity and times of ease and comfort. And we are called to conversion: to look beyond the challenges and concerns of the moment and to search for God with all our heart and with all our strength.
In his Confessions, Saint Augustine writes to God: “You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests with you.” As we begin our Lenten journey, let us pray for the grace to believe, to change, and to find rest in God’s merciful embrace. Amen! Finally, all are reminded that because of ongoing parking problems caused by recent winter storms, all weekday Masses during Lent (except Saturdays) will be celebrated at 8:30am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. On Saturday mornings, Mass will be celebrated at 8:30am in Saint Ann Church. All Sunday Masses will be celebrated according to our regular schedule.
Peace and blessings to all,
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Disciple Maker Survey
As all of us already know, “Disciples in Mission” is the title of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Planning Commission’s proposal that created the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, a collaborative of Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. That pastoral plan states: “Disciples in Mission seeks to revitalize the Catholic Church in Boston by positioning our parishes more solidly for the task of evangelization, the work of reaching out to our brothers and sisters and drawing them more fully to Christ Jesus.”
Over the course of the past nine months, our two parishes have made good progress – praying and working together as a Catholic community united in prayer, fellowship, and service. But of course, much work remains to be done! Part of that work is an honest self-assessment of where we have been, where we are, and where we are headed as communities of faith. Beginning this weekend, all parishioners are strongly encouraged to participate in the Disciple Maker Survey, a national study commissioned by the Archdiocese of Boston and conducted by the Catholic Leadership Institute.
The Disciple Maker Survey (or Catholic Parish Survey) poses a series of questions about your personal relationship with our parish and your personal relationship with Christ and his Church. The survey can be completed in approximately ten minutes by clicking HERE or by completing one of the printed surveys that are available in both our pastoral office and in the vestibules of our churches. Led by Father Jim, our pastoral team is working hard to help you grow in faith and to nurture your personal relationship with Christ Jesus. Your honest feedback will be a great gift to both the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport and to the Catholic Church throughout the world. So, please help us help you by completing this survey as soon as possible.
If you have questions or would like more information about Disciples in Mission, the Disciple Maker Survey, or the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Father Jim at 978-281-4820 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Cliff Garvey at 978-281-4820 or email@example.com. Thank you in advance for your time and assistance! Please pray for our pastor, for our pastoral team, and for all who live, work, and worship in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport! Peace and blessings to all!
Winter Fuel & Utilities Collection
Please Give Generously!
On Sundays and Feast Days, the Morning Prayer of the Catholic Church contains a canticle from the Book of Daniel that reads in part: “Frost & chill, bless the Lord! Ice and snow, bless the Lord!” Needless to say, it is becoming increasingly difficult for even the most faithful among us to give God thanks and praise for the seemingly endless stretch of heavy snowfall and cold. Indeed, like any household or family business, the winter season poses a serious financial challenge to the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport (both at Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish). Every year, our parishes are confronted with tens of thousands of dollars in fuel and utility bills. After the recent winter storms, these bills will surely grow. And whether you own or rent your home, you already know that utility bills have risen dramatically this season.
This year, we ask all parishioners to contribute whatever they can to our Winter Fuel & Utilities Collections. Every contribution, whether it’s $1, $10, or $100, goes a long way toward helping our parishes pay their fuel and utility bills. At Holy Family Parish, our goal is to raise $20,000 between now and March 20th, which is the first day of spring. So far, we have received $2,744 in donations. At Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, our goal is to raise $10,000 between now and March 20th. So far, we have received $4,567 in donations.
Please feel welcome to place your offering in the collection basket at Mass or mail it to us at your earliest convenience. Donations by check should be made payable to the parish of your choice with “Winter Fuel & Utilities” written in the memo line of the check. As this important fundraising effort continues, please pray that all parishioners, according to their means, will give generously! Thank you in advance for your prayers and ongoing support of Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish! Peace and blessings to all!
Assisi Project Online Retreat
Lent with Saint Francis of Assisi
Each week during the Holy Season of Lent, all are invited to join the Assisi Project for a special online retreat based on the lives and writings of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. Every Sunday during Lent, our website will be updated with a new prayer, reading, and spiritual reflection designed to bring us closer to Christ through the inspiration and intercession of Saints Francis and Clare.
During the First Week of Lent, we read from the “Admonitions” of Saint Francis of Assisi. An admonition is a kind of warning or cautionary reminder. In addition, we reflect upon the theme of “Distractions.” This reflection challenges us to remain focused on deepening our personal relationship with Christ even in the midst of the competing demands of life in the modern world. Please join us at assisiproject.com! For more information about the Assisi Project, please visit our website, see Father Jim before or after Mass, or contact Cliff Garvey at 978-281-4820 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you know a friend, family member, or fellow parishioner who might like to participate in our online retreat, but does not have access to the internet, please contact us so that we can mail them a hardcopy of each week’s reflections. May the Lord give you peace!
Established in 2014, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is a collaborative of two historic parishes: Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Our collaborative is comprised of Saint Ann Church in Gloucester, Saint Anthony’s Chapel in Gloucester, Saint Joachim Church in Rockport, and Our Lady of Good Voyage Church in Gloucester. We are a Roman Catholic faith community united in prayer, fellowship, and service. For more information about becoming a member of one of our parishes, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please join us! All are welcome!
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