This Week’s Message
Face to Face with the Figure of Christ
By Cliff Garvey
Before beginning my work for the Church, politics was my passion. I volunteered on political campaigns in high school. I studied politics in college and graduate school. I worked for two United States Senators. I worked as a political con- sultant. And for more than a decade, I taught political science at a local university. This experience tells me that what we are hearing nowadays from many of our political leaders is tainted with bigotry and racism. For the first time in my life, I fear for our brothers and sisters who are immigrants or refugees, disabled or sick, gay or transgendered. For the first time in my life, I am actually afraid for those who seem, sound, or somehow look “different.”
As Catholics, how are we called to think about the bigotry that has risen to the top of our country’s political culture? The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design (CCC 1935).” And the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) states: “Racism is an evil…Racism is a sin…New forms of racism must be brought face-to-face with the figure of Christ.” The teachings of the Catholic Church are clear about racism in all of its ugly forms.
As Catholics, how then are we called to respond to racism? In 1979, our bishops published a pastoral letter entitled “Brothers & Sisters To Us” that declared: “Let the church proclaim to all that the sin of racism defies the image of God and degrades the sacred dignity of humankind which has been revealed by the mystery of the Incarnation. Let all know that it is a terrible sin that mocks the Cross of Christ and ridicules the Incarnation. For the brother and sister of our brother Jesus Christ are brother and sister to us.” Then the bishops went even further. They boldly declared: “Let the church speak out, not only in the assemblies of the bishops, but in every diocese and parish in the land, in every chapel and religious house, in every school, in every social service agency, and in every institution that bears the name Catholic.”
Despite these strong words, an eerie silence emanates from many chanceries and pulpits. Although Father Jim preached last weekend against the rising tide of racism, many bishops and pastors seem reluctant to confront racism with the “figure of Christ.” Last week, an article in “America” magazine reported that while our bishops have broadened the scope of their public comments about political issues, there is widespread agreement that they should be more outspoken about immigration, social justice, and especially racism. Just last weekend, for example, some Catholic leaders publicly criticized Pope Francis, but those same leaders seem reluctant to openly criticize politicians for comments that are insensitive, uncharitable, or even outright racist. Why is that? Fear? Finances? Partisanship?
In the end, this is not about politics; and anyone who knows me knows that this is not about favoring one political party over another. It is instead about standing for what is right and rejecting what is wrong. It is about who we are and who we should be as a community of disciples. It is about treating the least among us as we wish to be treated. It is about accepting the reality that we cannot possibly love God if we do not love our neighbor, whether that neighbor is black, brown, or white; rich or poor; gay or straight; Christian or non-Christian; legal or illegal. We are all God’s children!
In this spirit, let us confront bigotry, racism, and injustice with the “figure of Christ” made manifest in all of our thoughts, words, and deeds. Let us pray for the purveyors of racism so that their hearts and minds might be moved by God’s grace to truly love and serve the poorest among us. Let us pray for the victims of racism so that their lives might be brightened by those who live by the light of Christ. Let us pray for each other so that we might find the courage to practice the Golden Rule in our homes, communities, and workplaces. Finally, let us pray for our bishops so that they might rediscover their prophetic voices and cry out again and again: “Racism is an evil! Racism is a sin! New forms of racism must be brought face-to-face with the figure of Christ!”
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Youth Faith Formation
Gathering for New Altar Servers
Thursday, February 1st
Father Jim is full of energy, but as the only full-time priest assigned to the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, he needs our help! For this reason, he hopes to create a team of youth altar servers to assist him at Mass. All young disciples (ages 8 through 17) are invited to participate on a weekly or monthly basis. Training will begin on Thursday, February 1st at 6:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. Being an altar server is a great way to make new friends, grow in discipleship, and learn about the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church. Parents and grandparents are welcome to serve, too! For more information, 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!
Year for Vocations
Vocation Friday: A Vigil of Prayer
Friday, February 2nd
As Catholic Christians, we believe that God calls us to live as faithful disciples. But in what form of life are we called to live our discipleship? What is your calling? What is our vocation? These questions can sometimes take a lifetime to answer. But with hearts open to prayer and discernment, God can help us to find our way in the world. Each and every one of us (regardless of age or gender) can discover, rediscover, and respond to God’s plan for our lives. This year, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rock- port is celebrating a “Year for Vocations”, a time for us to pray and reflect on who God calls us to be and what God calls us to do with the one life that we are blessed to live on this earth. In this spirit, we will gather on Friday, February 2nd from 12:00pm until 6:00pm for “Vocation Friday” in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church.
Our vigil will begin at 12:00pm with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Daytime Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. At 3:00pm, we will pray a Rosary for an increase in vocations to the priesthood. And we will conclude at 5:45pm with Evening Prayer and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. These “Vocation Fridays” also will be held on the First Friday of every month: March 2nd, April 6th, May 4th, June 1st, July 6th, August 3rd, September 7th, October 5th, November 2nd, and December 7th. Our hope is that all parishioners and their families will be able to join us for at least one of these special afternoons of prayer, discernment, and devotion at some point during the “Year for Vocations.” If you are not able to join us this month, please pray with us this powerful “Prayer for Guidance” by Saint Francis of Assisi:
Most High and Glorious God,
bring light to the darkness of my heart.
Give me right faith,
and perfect charity.
give me insight and wisdom,
so that I might always discern
your holy and true will. Amen.
Throughout this “Year for Vocations”, our prayer is that each of us, in our own way, will learn to pray, discern, and respond to God’s call with faith, hope, and love in our hearts. For more information, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Feast of Saint Blaise
Traditional Blessing of Throats
Saturday, February 3rd
On Saturday, February 3rd, all are invited to join us in celebrating the Feast of Saint Blaise, Bishop & Martyr. Saint Blaise lived during the fourth century and served as Bishop of Silvas (Turkey). During the Roman persecution of Christian believers, he was martyred for refusing to deny his faith in the Risen Christ. Tradition holds that as Blaise was being arrested, a mother approached him with her young son who had a fish bone lodged in his throat. At Blaise’s command, the child coughed up the bone and was healed. For more than one thousand years, he has been venerated as the patron saint of those suffering from illnesses of the throat.
The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport will celebrate the traditional Blessing of Throats on Saturday, February 3rd, the Feast of Saint Blaise, during the celebration of Mass at 8:00am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! And through the intercession of Saint Blaise, may God deliver us from every disease of the throat and from all other illnesses! Saint Blaise, Bishop & Martyr, pray for us!
Electronic Giving Made Safe & Easy
Available at Both Parishes!
Electronic giving is available at both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. 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. Just choose the appropriate link below and click “Make a Donation.” Please prayerfully consider supporting your parish by giving electronically! For more information about electronic giving in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please see Father Jim; or contact Claire Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your generous and ongoing support!
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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