This Week’s Message
The Corrective of ‘We’
By Father Thomas Richstatter, OFM
One reason that I am Catholic is because Catholicism is a healthy corrective to the way that I would prefer to live and pray. Catholicism is a “we” religion. It is about community. Why do I consider Catholicism a healthy corrective? Here’s an example: Three times each week, I go to the gym for an aerobics class. When the alarm rings in the morning, I would much rather stay in bed, but I am convinced that, even though I don’t like it, exercise is more healthy than sitting in front of the computer all day, typing with one hand and eating with the other. And just as the gym is an antidote to my inactivity and overeating, Catholicism is a healthy corrective for my American individualism.
There are many wonderful things about living in America. But besides being the land of the free and the home of the brave, America is also the land of the “Lone Ranger.” Americans love our individual freedom and independence—not only in the way we live, but also in the way we worship. Studies show that Americans, regardless of their religious denomination, like to be independent in their beliefs. I decide what I want to believe and I decide how to pray. Identifying with an established denomination (Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, etc.) is not important for most Americans, who tend to move easily from one church to another. Conversion and salvation are understood as deeply personal, individual experiences. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; was blind but now I see.” Yes, American religion is about “I” and “me” and “my.”
Our religion is a healthy corrective to the excess individualism of American religion because Catholic identity is essentially corrective. All of our official Catholic prayers are first-person plural: “we” and “us” and “our.” At Mass, we pray: “Father, all-powerful and ever-living God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord…Grant that we, who are nourished by his body and blood, may be filled with his Holy Spirit, and become one body, one spirit in Christ (Eucharistic Prayer III).”
Family and community are at the heart of our Catholic identity because the God we worship is a triune community of love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The principal petition at every Eucharist is not for some individual gift of grace but for the gift of unity, the grace to become one body, one spirit in Christ. We pray that we become family, community, and Church. As Christ’s Body the Church, we together are to continue Christ’s mission to the world. It is not about what I want, but Christ, in his body the Church, wants. Together with the whole Church, we pray: Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.
Personally, I do not always find this community aspect of Catholicism comfortable. Often I would rather pray how I want. I get upset when community needs disturb the way I have always prayed. Why do I have to listen to the Bible proclaimed in Spanish just because the neighborhood is changing? I like to sing but I am not comfortable singing a hymn in Korean. But in a deeper place, I want to welcome and be considerate of my sisters and brothers because I know that what is most comfortable for me is not always what is best for my growth. It is more comfortable to stay in bed than to get up and exercise. I realize when I need a healthy corrective!
Our pastoral team hopes that you appreciated and enjoyed this week’s message by Father Thomas Richstatter, OFM. Father Richstatter has been a member of the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) since 1957; and a Roman Catholic priest since 1966. Although now retired, he has served as a pastor, high school teacher, university lecturer, and seminary professor. Father Richstatter is also a prolific author, having published more than 100 articles and books over the years. If you enjoyed this week’s message, be sure to check out “Bringing Home the Word!” A new edition of this great resource for prayer and reflection is posted here every week (see below). Peace and blessings! — Father Jim
A Prayer for Veterans
Sunday, November 11th
In 1945, Raymond Weeks, a World War II veteran from Birmingham, Alabama, petitioned General Dwight D. Eisenhower to support his idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate the sacrifice of all veterans. Almost nine years later, President Eisenhower signed a bill into law that established what we know now as Veterans Day. For the next four decades, Mr. Weeks led the nation’s annual salute to all who served in their country in uniform. In 1982, President Reagan called him the “Father of Veterans Day.” This year, as our country honors and thanks itsveterans for their courage and commitment, let us pray for them, their families, and for our beloved country.
God of peace,
we pray for those
who have served our nation
and have laid down their lives
to protect and defend our freedoms.
We pray for those who have fought,
whose spirits and bodies are scarred by war,
whose nights are haunted by memories
too painful for the light of day.
We pray for those who serve us now,
especially those in harm’s way.
Shield them from danger
and bring them home.
Turn the hearts and minds
of our leaders and our enemies
to the work of justice and a harvest of peace.
Spare the poor, Lord, spare the poor!
May the peace you left us,
the peace you gave us,
be the peace that sustains us,
the peace that saves us.
Christ Jesus, hear us!
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer!
Saint Ann, pray for us!
Saint Joachim, pray for us!
Saint Peter & Saint Anthony, pray for us!
Our Lady of Good Voyage, pray for us!
Holy Family Parish
Annual Christmas Fair
Saturday, November 17th
All parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join Holy Family Parish for our Annual Christmas Fair on Saturday, November 17th from 9:00am until 2:00pm in Saint Ann Church Hall. This year’s fair will feature various tables, including homemade baked goods and cookies, Christmas decorations, Santa’s Corner, Chinese Raffle, White Elephant, and our famous Basket Wheel! In addition, raffles tickets are now available for cash prizes, an Apple iPad, and a Red Sox Game Package.
We gratefully are accepting donations! We are especially thankful to Greely Funeral Home and Pike-Newhall Funeral Home for their donations of the raffle prizes. The Christmas Fair Committee and Holy Family Women’s Guild are working overtime to make this year’s fair another great success! So, please support this all-important fundraising event by joining us on Saturday, November 17th! For more information, please contact Lydia Bertolino at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Month of All Souls
Final Mass of Remembrance
Sunday, November 18th
During November, the 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. So far this month, we have already celebrated two Masses of Remembrance. Our final one is scheduled for Sunday, November 18th at 10:00am in Saint Joachim Church. During this Mass of Remembrance, the names of our dearly departed loved ones, friends, and fellow parishioners will be read aloud. As the month of All Souls continues, let us unite our hearts and voices in prayer for those we have lost. For more information about our final Mass of Remembrance,, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Advent & Christmas Concert
An Annual Holiday Tradition
Sunday, December 2nd
All parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join Tom Misuraca, LuAnn Pallazola, and the Adult & Youth Choir Ministries for our Fourteenth Annual Advent & Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 2nd at 2:00pm in Saint Ann Church. As always, this year’s musical selections have been carefully chosen to help prepare our hearts to celebrate more faithfully the Holy Season of Advent and the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas. For more information about this holiday tradition, please contact Tom Misuraca at email@example.com. Please join us as we share the gift of sacred music during the upcoming holiday season! Spread the good news! 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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