This Week’s Message
Becoming Instruments of Christ
By Cliff Garvey
For the past three weeks, approximately fifty fellow parishioners, along with Father Jim and myself, read, reflected, and discussed Father Albert Haase’s book, “Instruments of Christ: Reflections on the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi.” This little book packs a challenging and powerful message about our vocation as disciples to be “instruments of Christ” or “little Christs” in our families, in our workplaces, in our parishes, in our communities, in our country, and in our world. Father Haase makes two bold suggestions about how we can truly become “instruments of Christ.”
First, Father Haase writes that “peace” is about more than just an absence of war or the cessation of conflict. “Peace” is about pursuing peace, making peace, and becoming peacemakers. It’s about sharing six basic seeds of peace with our family, friends, and neighbors: love, faith, forgiveness, hope, light, and joy. And it’s about sowing these seeds of peace now, today, tomorrow, and always in all that we think, say, and do. Second, Father Haase advises us that to be true disciples, we must become “instruments of Christ” or “little Christs” to those we meet, those we love, and those we find it hard to love. To become a “little Christ” is to truly live the Great Commandment to love God and to love others. To become a “little Christ” is to pursue the common good over individual interests; to live for God and for others; to live for “us” rather than just for “me” in every aspect of our lives.
To live this way is not easy; to pursue peace in our world is not easy. Father Haase writes that “peace is the product of priorities and preferences arranged in consideration of ‘thee’ not ‘me’… It’s about giving, not receiving; it’s about pardoning, not being pardoned.” Indeed, the so-called “Peace Prayer of Saint Francis” is a plea to God for the courage to put others before ourselves. It is a plea to God for the grace to love amidst hate, to hope amidst despair, to find joy amidst sadness, and to bring light to those in darkness. The Peace Prayer of Saint Francis is a plea to God for the energy to console the sick, to welcome the outcast, and to give until it hurts. Most of all, the Peace Prayer is a plea to God for the strength to love and to forgive over and over and over again. Needless to say, because we are all broken and wounded in some way, becoming and persevering as true disciples can seem impossible. After three weeks together, those who participated in our book group had no easy answers. And yet, there are three simple spiritual exercises that can help us make progress in becoming “little Christs” in our world: a daily examination of conscience, intercessory prayer, and some form of service.
A daily examination of conscience is about taking a personal inventory of our thoughts, words, and actions. What did I do well today? How did I stumble today? How can I do better tomorrow? It’s not about seeking perfection; it’s about making progress. It’s about turning away from the mirror of self and turning toward the window that looks out at the world and praying about how we might make it better. Likewise, intercessory prayer is about transforming our prayers from a litany of requests for our own needs into a litany of requests for the good of others. After all, if I’m praying more for oth- ers, then I’m praying less for myself, for what I desire, or for what I want. Lastly, everyone (young or old, rich or poor, healthy or living with a serious illness or disability) can contribute something to building up God’s kingdom. Some are able to volunteer their time, talent, and treasure with great generosity. Others are able only to offer a prayer, smile, or kind word to those we meet along the way. However God calls us to serve, that service can bend our lives toward seeking what is good for others, rather than just what might be good for ourselves.
Finally, in a beautiful chapter entitled “Sowing Light Amid Darkness,” Father Haase writes: “Godly deeds such as love, forgiveness, consolation, understanding, and charity… illumine a world often darkened by the ego’s hatred, revenge, callousness, apathy, and greed.” Amen to that! Let us pray together then, now and always, for the determination and discernment to find our own individual ways of becoming instruments of Christ’s peace in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces, and in our increasingly troubled world. May the Lord give you peace!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Pastor’s Call to Prayer
The Peace Prayer of Saint Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, love;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may seek not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are called to eternal life.
Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) lived more than eight centuries ago, but the prayer that carries his name is barely one century old. Its origins can be traced back no further than 1912 to a small spiritual newsletter that was published in France. Its real author is known only to God. Nevertheless, the so-called “Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi” has had a lasting international impact and influence that should not be underestimated. It is a prayer that calls to all people, of all backgrounds, of all faiths, at all times. In its universality, it has become one of the best loved and most prayed of all Christian prayers.
The Peace Prayer also contains all of the beauty, fullness, and simplicity of Franciscan spirituality, with its enduring emphasis on acceptance, discipleship, faith, forgiveness, friendship, love, mercy, peace, and service. Now more than ever, it seems, we need Saint Francis and we need the Peace Prayer that bears his sacred name! Let us pray together with open hearts and joyful voices: “Lord, make us instruments of your peace!” Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
Throughout this year, in commemoration of the Assisi Project’s Tenth Anniversary (2007-2017), Cliff Garvey and I are offering a series of adult faith formation programs designed to help us better understand the life and legacy of Saint Francis of Assisi, his influence on Pope Francis and the Catholic Church, and the timeless traditions of Franciscan prayer and spirituality. This series began last winter with a book study of Donald Spoto’s compelling biography, “Reluctant Saint: The Life of Francis of Assisi”; and it continued last month with a book study of Father Albert Haase’s “Instruments of Christ: Reflections on the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi.” If you were unable to join us and would like to read Father Haase’s book on your own, please see me or contact me at email@example.com.
Peace and blessings to all,
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Learn More: Saint Francis of Assisi
Holy Family Parish
Annual Crowning Ceremony
Sunday, July 23rd
In anticipation of the Feast of Saint Ann and Saint Joachim, all parishioners, friends, and guests of Holy Family Parish and the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join us for the Annual Crowning of Saint Ann and the Blessed Virgin Mary after our 8:15am Mass on Sunday, July 23rd. As a community of faith, let us unite our hearts and voices in prayer for the intercession of our patrons: Saint Ann, pray for us! Saint Joachim, pray for us! For more information about this special annual event, please contact Mary Rubino at 978- 281-0009. Please join us! All are welcome!
Holy Family Parish
Holy Hour & Benediction
Saturday, July 29th
In commemoration of the Feast of Saint Ann and Saint Joachim, all are welcome to join us on Saturday, July 29th for a period of prayer in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in Saint Ann Church. This special holy hour will begin with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Daytime Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours at 3:00pm. At 3:30pm, we will pray the Holy Rosary and conclude with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. All parishioners, friends, and guests of Holy Family Parish and the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join us for this special time of prayer. For more information, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are welcome!
Holy Family Parish
Annual Summer Barbecue
Saturday, July 29th
All parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join Holy Family Parish for our Annual Summer Barbecue & Picnic in celebration of the Feast of Saint Ann and Saint Joachim on Saturday, July 29th beginning with Mass at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church. After Mass, our barbecue and picnic will be held in the courtyard behind the Parish Center and on the lawn of the Saint Ann House of Prayer. The Knights of Columbus (Council 215) will cook hamburgers and hot dogs. Soft drinks will be provided. Parishioners are asked to bring lawn chairs and a side dish to share with the community (chips, baked beans, summer salads, and desserts). We will also have fun activities for kids! For more information, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Bring your family! Bring a friend! 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. Working together as a Roman Catholic community united in prayer, fellowship, and service, we are committed to living the Gospel of Christ, sharing God’s love and mercy with all people, and rebuilding the Church in Gloucester & Rockport. All are invited! All are welcome! Always!
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