This Week’s Message
A Season of Discovery
By Cliff Garvey
Advent is a season of prayer, penance, and preparation for the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas. It is a season to pray and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. And it is a season that challenges us (in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holidays) to pause, to be quiet (even for just a few moments), and to consider what is about to happen in our world when a poor child is born among us in a faraway place called Bethlehem.
Think of the greatest journey of your life. Perhaps it was your honeymoon. Perhaps it was a memorable vacation with family and friends. Perhaps it was a pilgrimage to some holy place. Or perhaps it was leaving home and living on your own for the first time. Think about the new sites, new sounds, and new challenges. Think about the new joys, new experiences, and all of the life-changing memories. Now imagine that same great journey with a heart closed to love, new friends, and new experiences. Imagine that same great journey with a mind closed to new cultures and new ideas. Suddenly, your life’s greatest journey loses its luster.
Now imagine a whole life with a closed heart and a closed mind. Imagine a whole life that is not changed or renewed or transformed each and every year by the Miracle of Christmas. Then imagine a whole world where everyone refuses to open their hearts and minds. Imagine a world where Mary says: “No, I am too young for such a big responsibility.” Imagine a world where Joseph says: “No, I am not raising someone else’s child.” Imagine a world where the shepherds say: “No, we are too busy to follow a star.” Imagine a world where the Magi say: “No, we are too rich and powerful to pay homage to a newborn king.” Then a imagine a world where people still say: “No, there is no room for you here.”
During Advent, the Church does not offer bling or blinking lights. It offers a simple wreath and four candles. It offers the warmth of our humble efforts at prayer, fellowship, and service. And it offers us the opportunity to discover (or rediscover) the life-changing experience of Christ’s birth at Christmas. This season of discovery reminds us that God intervenes into the darkness of human history. It reminds us that God humbles himself and is born among us as a poor child. This child comes to save each and every one of us; and to save our long-suffering world. And here is the best part about this season of discovery: We don’t have to go on a long journey. God comes to us!
God comes to us in the form of a child. God comes to us in the form of a child who is all love and all mercy, all friendship and all goodness, all patience and all kindness. God comes to us just as he came to Mary and Joseph, to the prophets and shepherds, to the Magi, to the apostles and first believers, and to all of the saints. God reaches out to us with an embrace of end- less love, friendship, and mercy. He reaches out to each and everyone of us. All we have to do is reach back and welcome him into our lives with open hearts, open minds, and open arms.
During Advent, this season of discovery, let us pray for the courage to embark on a spiritual journey that leads to the blessed stable in Bethlehem. Let us pray for the grace to reflect on the true meaning of the season. Let us open our minds to the Christmas miracle that will soon occur in our midst. Let us prepare to welcome the Christ Child into our hearts. And let us prepare to reach back to God, who forever reaches out to us with his boundless love and mercy.
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Each weekend, we work hard to offer our fellow parishioners a message that educates them about some aspect of Catholic teaching or tradition; informs them about some upcoming feast or big event in our parish communities; or inspires them to more faithfully live the Gospel, share God’s love, and rebuild our wounded Church. We are grateful for all the positive feedback that we receive about our newsletter and website.
In praying and thinking about this year’s weekly Advent messages, I remembered a parish mission and retreat that Cliff Garvey, our Associate Minister, preached several years ago at another parish. I asked Cliff if he would be able and willing (on short notice) to turn those talks into reflections that could be shared in our weekly newsletter. I hope and pray that you will be inspired by these reflections during the next three weekends. Peace and blessings to all during this Holy Season of Advent! —Father Jim
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!
Advent Mission & Retreat
Discernment Day By Day
Begins Wednesday, December 5th
SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER: SISTER ELIZABETH WAGNER
All parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockportare invited to join Father Jim and Sister Elizabeth Wagner for our “Advent Mission & Re- treat: Discernment Day By Day” from Wednesday, December 5th through Friday, December7th in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. Each evening will begin with Mass at 7:00pm. We are blessed to welcome back Sister Elizabeth Wagner as our special guest and spiritual di- rector, who will lead us in prayer and reflection each evening after Mass.
What is God’s will for our lives? How can we be sure? How do we make sound decisions?Questions like these can both tantalize and torment us throughout our lives! As we con- clude our year-long focus on discernment, our three-night mission and retreat will seek to unfold some basic principles about good discernment; offer guidance about making every- day decisions; and share sound wisdom about making major life decisions. Sister Elizabeth will also be selling and signing copies of her best-selling book, “Seasons in My Garden”,along with homemade fruit cake, jam, and hot sauce.
Sister Elizabeth Wagner lives a contemplative life at Transfiguration Hermitage in Windsor, Maine, which she founded as a semi-eremitical community devoted to work, prayer, and solitude in accordance with the ancient Rule of Saint Benedict. Sister Elizabeth is a hermit, award-winning author, spiritual director, and retreat leader. She is also the formation direc- tor, gardener, and groundskeeper of the hermitage. Our Advent Mission & Retreat is free but donations will be gratefully accepted during Mass to support our adult faith formation ministry. For more information, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! Spread the word! All are invited! All are welcome!
Bishop Cheverus Medal
Congratulations & Thanks
To Joan Foster & Herbert Morais
On behalf of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, Father Jim congratulates Joan Foster of Holy Family Parish and Herbert Morais of Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, who received the Bishop Cheverus Medal from Cardinal Sean O’Malley during a Solemn VespersService on Sunday, November 25th at Immaculate Conception Church in Malden.
For more than four decades, Joan Foster has faithfully served Holy Family Parish in a variety of ministries: both as catechist and coordinator of religious educations programs; as a member of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, and as past president of the Legion of Mary. Joan continues to serve in the Legion of Mary by reaching out to our aged, disabled, and homebound fellow parishioners. She gave living witness to the Sacrament of Marriage by lovingly caring for her late husband, Robert Foster. Joan is much loved by her family, friends, and fellow parishioners, but most especially by her five children, eight grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Likewise, Herbert Morais has faithfully served Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish for many decades as both Sexton and Facilities Manager, as a past president of the Holy Name Society, and as a past imperator and longtime volunteer in organizing the Annual Crowning Feast of the Holy Spirit. Herbie continues to welcome parishioners and to serve as an usher at our 6:00pm Vigil Mass. Herbie is much loved by his family, friends, and fellow parishioners, but most especially by his wife, Maria, their two daughters, and four grandchildren.
The Bishop Cheverus Medal was created in 2008 to recognize distinguished service by lay ministers in their home parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Boston. The medal is often given in heartfelt appreciation for the unsung heroes of God’s Holy Church. In a letter to one recent recipient, Cardinal Sean wrote: “I have learned of yourselfless dedication and commitment and your many contributions to advancing Christ’s mission. We are blessed by your service to the Archdiocese and we are privileged to name you for this honor.”
Please join Father Jim, our pastoral team, and all who live, work, and worship in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport in congratulating Joan Foster and Herbert Morais for being chosen as among this year’s recipients of the Bishop Cheverus Medal! Please thank Joan and Herbie for all that they do with love and good cheer for all of us! And please pray for them and their families! Peace and blessings to all!
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
A Holy Day of Obligation
December 7th & December 8th
In honor of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday, December 8th, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport invites you and your family and friends to join us for Mass ac- cording to the following schedule:
Friday, December 7th | Vigil Mass
Our Lady of Good Voyage Church at 7:00pm
Saturday, December 8th | Holy Day Masses
Our Lady of Good Voyage Church at 8:00am
Saint Ann Church at 10:30am
Since late antiquity, the People of God have believed that the Blessed Virgin Mary was sinless and conceived im- maculately in the womb of her mother, Saint Ann. This ancient devotion was not defined as church doctrine until 1854. Since then, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception has been patroness of many causes and countries, includ- ing the United States of America. So, please join us as we honor our Blessed Mother and beg her powerful interces- sion for our divided country, our wounded church, and our suffering world. 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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