Our Pastor’s Message
Forgive & Be Forgiven
If you have ever been hurt, then you know how hard it is to forgive. If you have ever had your feelings hurt, your body broken, or your reputation savaged, then you know how hard it is to love, to let go, and to let bygones be bygones. Likewise, if you have ever been guilty of grave sin, then you know how hard it is to seek God’s forgiveness. If you have ever been guilty of inflicting pain and suffering on a colleague, neighbor, or loved one, then you know how hard it is to ask for a another chance, a clean slate, or an opportunity for redemption. To forgive and to be forgiven are among life’s most difficult challenges. And yet, forgiveness and redemption are at the core of every Christian’s life of discipleship.
The Holy Season of Lent is a time for prayer, penance, and almsgiving. It is a time to renew our relation- ship with God and the Church. It is a time to forgive those who have wronged us; and it is a time to seek forgiveness from those we have wronged. During Lent, we are called to give until it hurts, to love without counting the cost, and to be agents of God’s boundless mercy in our homes, neighborhoods, parishes, and workplaces. This is the life of discipleship to which we are beckoned. This is the true life of the Christian.
To truly follow Christ is to follow his example of forgiveness. As he hung upon the Cross, suffering from a kind of torture that we can barely imagine, Jesus begged the Father to forgive his torturers. With his bloodied arms outstretched and nailed to the Cross, Jesus embraced the world with a love that is complete and eternal. It is a love that is offered to you, to me, and to every person (saint or sinner) who asks for it with an open and sincere heart. And it is a love that we are called to share with those we love and with those whom we find it hard to love. It is a love that we are called to share with those who love us and with those who hurt us. It is a love that is hard. It is a love that is good. It is a love that is true.
Ravensbruck is a small village approximately fifty miles north of Berlin, Germany. During the Second World War, a concentration camp for women was constructed there. Between 1939 and 1945, more than 130,000 women and girls were incarcerated at the camp. Approximately 40,000 were Polish; 26,000 were Jewish; 19,000 were Russian; 8,000 were French; 1,000 were Dutch; and the remaining prisoners were from other parts of Europe. According to historical accounts, more than 50,000 women and girls died of disease, starvation, or overwork at Ravensbruck. Thousands more were killed in gas chambers. Some sources claim that as many as 117,000 of the 130,000 prisoners were killed there during the war.
In the midst of these horrors, a word of forgiveness was written in the form of a prayer. It was composed by an unknown prisoner and placed beside the lifeless body of an unknown child. By some miracle of God’s grace, this prayer survived the war and has been passed on throughout the years to remind us of the enduring power of forgiveness, love, and mercy in a world that can be cruel and unforgiving. It is a prayer to share time and again with those who suffer and who long to forgive and to be forgiven:
do not remember only the people of good will,
but remember also those of ill will.
Do not remember all the suffering
that they have inflicted on us;
remember instead the fruits we have bought,
thanks to our suffering: our comradeship, our loyalty,
our humility, our courage, our generosity,
and the greatness of heart
which has grown out of all this;
and when they come to judgment,
let all the fruits we have borne be their forgiveness!
As Lent begins in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, let us pray together for the courage to make peace with God and with each other. Let us pray for an unknown woman and an unknown child, and for all the victims of bigotry, persecution, and violence. Let us pray for an increase of peace, hope, and love in our world. And let us pray for the grace to forgive and be forgiven — now and always.
Peace and blessings to all,
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Adult Faith Formation
Father Jim’s Lent Scripture Study
Begins Thursday, March 9th
During the Holy Season of Lent, all parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join Father Jim for a weekly lunchtime scripture study based on the book, “Matthew 26-28: Jesus’ Life-Giving Death” by Amy Welborn. Every Thursday during Lent (March 9th through April 6th) in Our Lady’s Hall, Father Jim will lead a one hour discussion and reflection on the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus that focuses on the Gospel of Matthew. Each weekly session will begin at noon. All interested friends and fellow parishioners are welcome to bring their own lunch and join us for as many sessions as possible during the Holy Season of Lent. A donation of $20.00 is requested from those who can afford it. Participants will be provided with a copy of the book, along with coffee, hot tea, or bottled water. If you would like to join us for this special scripture study series, please see Father Jim before or after Mass; or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Lent Mission & Retreat
Seasons of the Heart with Sister Elizabeth Wagner
March 22nd-March 24th
All are invited to join us for the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s Lent Mission & Retreat from Wednesday, March 22nd through Friday, March 24th at Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. Each evening will begin with Evening Prayer & Mass at 7:00pm. In addition, we will be blessed to welcome Sister Elizabeth Wagner as our special guest and spiritual director, who will lead us in prayer and reflection each evening after Mass. Sister Elizabeth lives a contemplative life at Transfiguration Hermitage, which she founded in Windsor, Maine, as a semi-eremitical community devoted to prayer and solitude according to the Rule of Saint Benedict. She is a hermit, award-winning writer, spiritual director, and retreat leader. Sister Elizabeth is also the formation director, gardener, and groundskeeper of the hermitage.
In addition to Sister Elizabeth’s nightly reflections during the mission and retreat, she will sign copies of her book, “Seasons in My Garden.” This captivating book intricate- ly weaves insights from her own spiritual growth with the passing of the seasons. It offers readers spiritual guid- ance and an understanding that the patient tending of the soul will help us grow into a tranquil garden that God can use to reflect his glory. Copies of the book will be available for sale at $16.95 per copy. The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s Lent Mission & Retreat is free but donations will be gratefully accepted during each evening’s celebration of Mass. For more information, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
The Assisi Project
Lent Icon Raffle
Our Lady’s Grand Annual Collection
The Assisi Project is a fellowship of “Franciscans in Spirit” who seek to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the inspiration of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. Our mission is to serve the Church and to give witness to the Good News of Christ by means of formation and prayer, pilgrimage and retreat, and educating others about our way of life. Beginning this weekend through Easter Sunday, the Assisi Project is sponsoring a Lent Raffle for this beautiful hand painted icon of the “Pieta” which appears on the front cover of this week’s newsletter. All proceeds from the Assisi Project’s Lent Raffle will be donated to Our Lady’s Grand Annual Collection. A donation of $1.00 per ticket is requested. Tickets can be purchased after various daily and weekend Masses in Our Lady’s Church; at our parish offices; and by contacting Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. The winner will be drawn on Easter Sunday, April 16th. Thank you for your generous support!
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
Electronic giving is now available at both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Via ParishPay, it is easy, simple, and safe to make online donations to your home parish using a credit card, debit card, or electronic check. Donations can be made on a one-time-only or ongoing basis. And it takes just a few minutes to set up a secure personal account. So, please prayerfully consider supporting your parish by giving electronically! For more information about electronic giving in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please visit parishpay.com or contact Father Jim at email@example.com. If you need any assistance with setting up an account, please contact Claire Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your generous and ongoing support of our parishes!
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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