This Week’s Message
Unafraid Into the Desert
By Cliff Garvey
As our Lenten journey begins, we find ourselves faced with the desert, the darkness, and the challenge of temptation. In this weekend’s reading from Saint Luke’s gospel, we find Jesus renewed, reinvigorated and “filled with the Holy Spirit” after his baptism (Luke 4:1). But soon after, that same Spirit leads Jesus into the desert for forty days of temptation, trial, and tribulation at the hands of the devil. During his time in the desert, Jesus is tempted three times by this devil, who offers him food, power and glory, and an opportunity to test God’s love for him. Each time, Jesus declines the devil’s advances and turns faithfully back to God. If only we had such faith and trust!
In this classic gospel reading, Jesus is tested in a struggle between good and evil. But because God is with Jesus and because Jesus trusts in God’s goodness, Jesus chooses God over the tricks and temptations of the darkness. Each year, the Church begins the Holy Season of Lent with an account of Christ’s temptation in the desert. By doing so, the Church offers us an opportunity to confront head-on the enduring challenge of our faith journey: to love and serve God with all our heart, soul, and strength in the face of ongoing temptations from our troubled world. This gospel reading also reminds us that each one of us is called into the desert; called to the test; called to choose good over evil; and called to choose divine light over sinful darkness. It isn’t easy. It isn’t easy to resist temptation. It isn’t easy to resist that chocolate dessert even after we decide to fast during Lent. It isn’t easy to decline the upper hand over a colleague, friend, or loved one. It isn’t easy to trust in God when it seems so much easier to trust the convenient ways of the world.
In his book, “Transfiguration: A Meditation on Transforming Ourselves and Our World”, Father John Dear writes: “All we have to do is make our lives fit into the story of Jesus. We have to get our lives to make sense in light of the Gospel.” But that takes courage, dedication, perseverance, prayer, and trust. And all too often, most of us are too busy, too frazzled, and too stressed out to resist temptation, let alone walk willingly into the desert! Most of us count ourselves lucky just to make it to Mass on Sunday, let alone do battle with the devil. And most of us are frightened of the kind of trial that Jesus experiences in the desert. Indeed, each and every year (including this year), I resolve to fast from sweets during Lent, to pray better and pray more, and to reach out to someone in need. But each and every year, I flail, fail, and stumble my way through Lent. I arrive at the Good Friday service feeling embarrassed by my own selfishness and my own weakness. I arrive at the Easter Vigil thanking God that Lent is over. Each and every year during Lent, I just can’t seem to make my life fit into the story of Jesus. I feel like a failure. And I know that I’m not alone.
As I entered into the desert of Lent this year, however, the Lord presented me with a small but powerful gift of grace. While skimming Father Dear’s book, which I had nearly cast aside because it was not quite what I had expected as a meditation on the Transfiguration of Jesus, I was shocked into attention by this passage: “The commandment ‘Do not be afraid’ appears exactly 365 times in the Bible, more than any other commandment of God. Likewise, the one message that Jesus says to his terrified disciples over and over again, more than any other saying in all four Gospels, is ‘Do not be afraid.’ Jesus knows how terrified we are, and he has compassion on us. That is why he touches us. He is gentle and kind. He gives us the best wisdom he had: ‘Rise and do not be afraid.’ With his touch, his word, his example, and his love, he gives us the faith and the strength to stand and live.”
Do not be afraid! I remained stunned by the awesome simplicity of this commandment and its relevance for all of us as we begin our Lenten disciplines. Despite all of my prayer and reading and study over the years, I had somehow forgotten that Jesus understands my embarrassment, my lack of discipline, and my weakness. He knows and understands my fear of failing during Lent. He knows and understands my anxiety about entering into the upcoming Triduum knowing that He suffered for me but I might be too cowardly to suffer with him through my meager Lenten resolutions. He knows and understands that while my intentions are good, they count for nothing if I do not turn to Him in faith, hope, and love when the darkness lurks in the shadows of my life. And Jesus know all of these things about you, too. He knows these things about each and every one of us. He calls us to rise and to be unfraid as we follow him into the desert during the next six weeks.
This Lent, let us resolve to pray for each other, for our pastor and pastoral team, and for all who live, work, and worship in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. Let us resolve to enter the desert of Lent without fear, confident that Jesus enters with us, that he offers his hand to us, that he will lead us through the darkness of temptation into the light of God’s love and mercy. And let us remember that when we stumble and fall, Jesus is there. He reaches out to us and says: “Rise and do not be afraid!”
May the Lord give you peace during Lent and always!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Lent Mass for Families
This Weekend! All Are Welcome!
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says: “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs (Matthew 19:14).” In response to the Lord’s call, all parents, grandparents, godparents, and children are invited to join Father Jim for a Lent Mass for Families on either Saturday, February 13th at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church or Sunday, February 14th at 11:45am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church.
During Mass, Father Jim will offer a special homily about the Holy Season of Lent and a special blessing for all families and children. In addition, because Lent is a season for prayer, penance, and charity, every child and family will be asked to help us raise $1,000 during Lent for the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, a service organization in our parishes that provides food and financial assistance to local families in need. During the Family Mass, each child will receive a “campaign can” to collect coins for this effort. Thank you in advance for your generous support! As we celebrate our Lenten Family Masses, let us reaffirm: Mass is our class! Christ Jesus is our teacher! And every family in our pews is a gift from God! For more information about the Mass for Families, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please spread the word! All are invited! All are welcome!
Holy Family Women’s Guild
Valentine’s Day Bake Sale
Weekend of February 13th-14th
Valentine’s Day is here! The Holy Family Women’s Guild will host a Valentine’s Day Bake Sale this weekend, Saturday, February 13th after the 4:00pm Mass in Saint Ann Church and on Sunday, February 14th after the 8:15am Mass in Saint Ann Church. We’ll have homemade cakes and cookies, quick breads, and other delicious baked goods. Here’s your chance to buy something sweet for someone you love and support Holy Family Parish. For more information, please contact Lydia Bertolino at firstname.lastname@example.org or Janet Lucido at email@example.com. Thank you in advance for your generous support! Please join us! All are welcome!
The Light Is On For You!
Confessions & Eucharistic Adoration
Wednesday, February 17th
During the Holy Season of Lent, all Catholics are invited to experience Christ’s love and mercy through the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession). On six consecutive Wednesdays during Lent (February 17th through March 23rd), at Our Lady of Good Voyage Church from 6:00pm until 8:00pm, all are invited to join us for “The Light Is On For You!” These special evenings of prayer will include Evening Prayer and Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours; Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament; and two full hours of confessions for those who feel called to participate. Please note that this program will be preempted on Wednesday, March 9th for our Lent Mission & Retreat. For some, this may be a time for sacramental reconciliation. For some it may be a time for silent prayer and reflection. And for some, it may be a time to begin or renew a life of faith. Wherever you are on your faith journey, please join us! All are welcome! For more information about the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please visit our website: ccgronline.com; or contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn More: Guide for Making a Good Confession
The Parables of Mercy
A Year of Mercy Scripture Study
Friday, February 19th
During the Holy Season of Lent, all are invited to join Father Jim for a weekly lunchtime scripture study based on the “Parables of Mercy.” As part of our community’s commemoration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, each Friday during Lent (February 12th through March 18th) in Our Lady’s Hall, Father Jim will lead a one hour discussion on various parables of Jesus that focus on God’s love and mercy for his people, including the Two Debtors & Their Creditor; the Good Samaritan; the Widow & the Judge; the Rich Man and Lazarus; and the Lost Sheep.
Father Jim’s next scripture study session is scheduled for Friday, February 19th at 12:00pm! Interested friends and parishioners are welcome to bring their own lunch and to join us for as many sessions as they can. If you would like to join us for this special scripture study series, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. A donation of $20.00 per person is requested from those who can afford it for the entire series. All participants will be provided with a copy of the book, “The Parables of Mercy” by Father Mitch Pacwa, SJ, along with coffee, hot tea, or bottled water. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Stations of the Cross
Fridays During Lent
The Stations of the Cross are one of the most enduring and moving devotions of the Roman Catholic Church. By uniting our prayers with the sufferings of Christ through both word and imagery, we make a spiritual pilgrimage with Lord on his way to the Cross. During Lent, all are invited to join us in praying the Stations of the Cross on six consecutive Fridays (February 12th through March 18th) according to the following schedule:
Saint Ann Church
Fridays at 3:30pm
Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
Fridays at 7:00pm (Begins with Mass)
Please note that Mass will be celebrated at 7:00pm before we pray the Stations of the Cross at Our Lady of Good Voyage on Friday evenings. For more information about Lent in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Father Jim firstname.lastname@example.org or see a member of our pastoral team. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
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 worship sites include Saint Ann Church in Gloucester, Saint Anthony 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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