This Week’s Message
My Heart Beats in Assisi
By Cliff Garvey
On Friday, November 3rd, Father Jim and I, along with fourteen other pilgrims from the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport (and other parishes), will journey to Assisi and Mount La Verna in Italy, where we will walk in the footsteps of Saint Francis and Saint Clare. During this week-long, small-group pilgrimage and retreat, we will celebrate Masses at the tombs of Francis and Clare, venerate their relics, pray in the cathedral where they were both baptized, sing God’s praises in the small church where Francis found his vocation and Clare lived out her own vocation, and trek to the mountain sanctuary where Francis received the stigmata (the five wounds of the Crucified Christ).
This year’s pilgrimage marks the Assisi Project’s tenth anniversary as a “Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit.” It is hard to put into words how much Assisi and the Assisi Project have meant to Father Jim and me over the years. And it is harder still to believe that a decade has passed since we visited Assisi for the first time, fell in love with that blessed place and its people, and decided that we would do whatever we could to bring the spirit of Assisi back to our parishes and to bring pilgrims back to Assisi to experience its powerful spirit for themselves. Since then, we have returned there many times with groups both large and small. We have visited during every season of the year. We have met pilgrims from all around the world. And what remains constant is the palpable sense of peace that pervades even the air in Assisi.
Over the years, I have met many holy men and women in Assisi who have changed my life. Archbishop Francisco Viti became a spiritual father whose guidance and support during a dark time brought God’s light back into my life. Gianpaolo Bramini drives us up and down the Italian peninsula, but he is much more than a taxi driver. He is a dear friend who struggles to balance the demands of his work with his deep devotion to his wife and daughters. Gianpaolo embodies what it means to be a good man in a dark world. He is an inspiration to us. And Signora Maria, a local shopkeeper, working well into her ninth decade of life, speaks not a word of English, but everyone can tell you that we have a bond of friendship and affection that is stronger than the barriers of language that divide us.
Lastly, Sister Marcellina and the Sisters of Saint Bridget host, care, and pray for us as if we were part of their community. Sister Marcellina is the kindest, truest, and most selfless person on earth. She is our friend, sister, and spiritual mother. By every word and deed, she shows us what it means to be a good Christian; and she teaches us the true meaning of Christian charity. Even across a vast ocean, I can sometimes feel the power of her prayers for us. Sister Marcellina may never be canonized, but in my heart and in the hearts of those touched by her kindness and love, she is already a saint.
It is in my heart that these good people live. Although I am blessed to see them once or twice each year, I know them as dear friends not because I see them regularly, but because they have taught me so much about the spirit of Assisi — a spirit of faith, hope, and love; a spirit of peace, prayer, and discipleship that animates their lives and touches the lives of pilgrims from every corner of the world. After ten years and twenty-four visits to Assisi, I can say honestly that I love my country; I love my cabin in the north woods of Maine; and I love Gloucester and Rockport. But my heart beats in Assisi!
During our upcoming pilgrimage, at every pilgrimage site along the way, our pilgrims will offer prayers for all who live, work, and worship in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport: that through the intercession of Saint Francis, Saint Clare, and Our Lady of Angels, the Lord will continue to unite us in prayer, fellowship, and service; and give us the courage to live the Gospel, share God’s love, and rebuild the Church. As we pray for you during this pilgrimage, please pray for us and for our safe travels. If you would like us to pray for your special intention in Assisi, please see Father Jim or contact me by Thursday, November 2nd at 4:00pm at either firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Assisi Project, please visit our website: assisiproject.com. Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us! Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us! Our Lady of Angels, pray for us! May the Lord give you peace!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Respect Life Month
God creates us with a capacity to know and love him, and we have a natural desire to seek the truth about him. Fortunately, we don’t search for God without help. God calls us to himself and God writes his law on our hearts to help us draw closer to him. Conscience helps us hear the voice of God. It helps us recognize the truth about God and the truth about how we ought to live. Conscience is a “judgment of reason” by which we determine whether an action is right or wrong. Jesus told the apostles: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments (John 14:15).” We deepen relationship with God by following him; and by doing so, we become more fully who we are called to be. Wherever we are on our journey with Christ, we can grow closer to him by continuing the work of forming our consciences, so that we may follow him ever more closely. Although not a complete list, these suggestions can help to inform and strengthen our consciences with God’s truth.
Pray. Through prayer and participation in the sacraments, we encounter the living God. Spending time with the Lord, in silent adoration or prayer, opens our hearts to him. And in drawing closer to the Lord, we allow God’s grace to conform our minds and hearts to Christ, so that we might better discern in every moment how we ought to act.
Learn. Without formation, it is difficult for our consciences to guide us well in concrete situations. As Catholics, we have the immense gift of the teachings and traditions of the Church; and we can turn there for help in forming our consciences. For example, we can refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, learn about Christian moral principles, and research what the Church teaches about a difficult issue to help us grow in knowledge of God’s truth. In turn, this helps us understand more how to live in a way that leads to true peace and happiness.
Reflect. We are formed by stories that we hear throughout our lives. And as followers of Jesus we may be uncertain about how we should respond. Throughout the ages, many saints have faced similar challenges and questions. Immersing ourselves in the lives of the saints can encourage us and help us to develop habits of heart and mind that allow us to grow in faith, hope, and love.
Friendship. A life of following Jesus is difficult without help from a community. When we devote our energy to holy friendships and people who are also trying to know, love, and serve the Lord, we gain partners who can enlighten our lives. Conversations with other Christians are an important part of discerning how to respond to the challenges of discipleship.
As Christian disciples, we face two notable challenges in forming and following our consciences. The first challenge is indifference. When we are bombarded with images, news, stories, and sound bites, it is easy to become numb to other people and to the world around us. Conscience calls us to be attentive to the suffering of others. We are called to listen for God’s voice in our lives. Having a well-formed conscience does not mean that we have all the answers to all of the complex problems in the world. But it does mean that we are sensitive to the needs and struggles of all of our brothers and sisters, all around the world.
The second challenge is coercion. Increasingly, we see that some people and groups use the power of the media and even the power of the government to coerce people into violating their consciences. As people of faith, we know that conscience should guide our actions, not just popular opinion. In this spirit, let us devote ourselves anew to follow the Lord wherever he leads us. Let us take courage from holy men and women when we face challenges and remember what Jesus promised to his apostles before ascending into heaven: “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).” Be not afraid! God is with us! Always! (Source: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)
Solemnity of All Saints
A Holy Day of Obligation
Wednesday, November 1st
Since late antiquity, the People of God have honored the holy men and women who have been canonized by saints in the Roman Catholic Church. The Solemnity of All Saints honors all saints, known and unknown, who have gone before us in faith and pray for the salvation of all souls. In commemoration of this Holy Day of Obligation on Wednesday, November 1st, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport will celebrate Masses according to the following schedule:
Tuesday, October 31st· Vigil Mass
Saint Joachim Church at 7:00pm
Wednesday, November 1st· Holy Day Masses
Our Lady of Good Voyage Church at 8:00am
Our Lady of Good Voyage Church at 12:00pm
Saint Ann Church at 7:00pm
For more information about the Solemnity of All Saints in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Month of All Souls
Masses of Remembrance
During the coming Month of All Souls, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport will celebrate three Masses of Remembrance for those whose funerals were celebrated in our churches and have thus journeyed home to the Lord during the past year. These Masses will be celebrated according to the following schedule: Saturday, October 28th at 4:00pm Saint Ann Church; Sunday, November 12th at 11:45am Our Lady of Good Voyage Church; and Sunday, November 19th at 10:00am Saint Joachim Church. At each Mass of Remembrance, the names of our dearly departed loved ones, friends, and fellow parishioners will be read aloud. During the Month of All Souls, let us unite our hearts and voices in prayer for those we have lost. For more information about the Month of All Souls, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Our Lady of Good Voyage
Fried Dough Breakfast
Saturday, November 4th
All are invited to join Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish for its Annual Fried Dough Breakfast on Saturday, November 4th from 9:00am until 11:00am in Our Lady’s Hall. Coffee, tea, and our delicious fried dough and sweetbread will be served. In addition, freshly baked homemade sweetbread will be available for purchase. For more information, please contact Matt Parisi at email@example.com. Please join us for this special morning of fried dough and fellowship! 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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