This Week’s Message
A Season of Grace
By Cliff Garvey
Several years ago, Pope Francis said: “A Christmas without light is not Christmas. Let there be light in our souls and light in our hearts. Let there be forgiveness for others, which is light; let there be no hostility, which is darkness. Let there only be the beautiful light of Jesus.” With these words, the Holy Father reminds us that Jesus is the embodiment (or incarnation) of God’s grace. This grace can be understood as God’s free gift of himself. And it has the power to bring us closer to the Lord and to each other. It has the power to transform our lives.
Likewise, Father Raniero Cantalamessa speaks about God’s gift of grace in terms of the world’s longing for peace. In an Advent retreat given to the papal household, he said: “If one could hear the loudest cry that is in the hearts of billions of people, one would hear, in all the languages of the world, only one word: peace!” At some level, all of us, in our heart of hearts, beg God for peace: peace in our families, workplaces, parishes, and hometowns. We pray for peace in our country and in our world. We long for peace in our lives as we face the everyday challenges and uncertainties that arise from addiction, divorce, finances, grief, and stress.
If we reflect honestly about our divided country, our wounded church, and our suffering world, then we might conclude that although we wish for peace, we sometimes do not work very hard at achieving it; and sometimes we do not work very hard at sharing it with others. For example, have you ever failed to turn around during the Sign of Peace at Mass? Have you ever offered a limp handshake or reluctant nod, even to people you have known for years? What would happen if we took the Sign of Peace more seriously? What would happen if we always turned around, if we walked across the aisle, if we sincerely and enthusiastically shared God’s grace and peace? Let’s try it! Let’s try it this weekend!
Whatever happens, we should not think of God’s grace and peace as “horizontal” gifts that are shared between nations, communities, or even people like us gathered at Mass or around the Christmas tree. Rather, God’s gift of grace is “vertical.” It is a gift between God and us as acommunity of faith; between God and us in our families, between God and you and me as individual disciples. It is a gift from heaven to earth. But we cannot hope to be instruments ofGod’s peace if we have not accepted God’s gift of grace into our lives with truly open hearts.
Pope Francis once said: “We cannot be messengers of the consolations of God if we do not first experience the joy of being consoled and loved by Him. This happens when we listen to the Word!” The Holy Father always tells us that we will never find God’s grace in the gifts of the world: money, power, success, or sophistication. Instead, we find it through acts of love, mercy, and generosity. We find it in words of consolation, tenderness, and encouragement. We find God’s grace in the scriptures. And we find it in a manger in Bethlehem. God’s Word is alive! God’s Word is the Child Jesus who will soon be born among us!
Here’s the best part about this season of grace: God offers this gift to everyone! The light of Christmas burns brightly for all people: no matter who they are, no matter where they are, no matter what they have done. No heart is too dark. No mind is too dark. No past is too dark. No sin is too dark. No life is too dark to receive God’s grace at Christmas. And so, as our Advent journey continues, let us open our whole lives to God’s blessings of grace and peace; and let us strive to share those great gifts with the whole world!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
A Vigil of Prayer
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Wednesday, December 12th
Begins at 4:00pm
On December 12, 1531, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Juan Diego and assured him that his uncle would recover from a serious illness. The Virgin then told Juan Diego to gather roses in his cloak and present them to the local bishop. When the cloak was opened, the roses fell to the floor and miraculously revealed the famous image now known as Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Since the sixteenth century, God’s faithful people have grown in reverence for the iconic image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and her basilica in Mexico City is the world’s third most-visited pilgrimage site. And over time, the Church has grown in appreciation for this miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1945, Pope Pius XII accorded her the titles of Empress of the Americas and Patroness of the Americas. In 1961, Pope John XXIII invoked her intercession as Mother of the Americas. And in 1966, Pope Paul VI gave her a Golden Rose, a special ornament that signifies a papal blessing or devotion.
In 2013, Pope Francis bestowed upon the sacred image a second Golden Rose upon which is engraved words in Latin that mean: “My Mother & My Hope.” Pope Francis has said repeatedly that Our Lady of Guadalupe should be venerated as the mother of all people, especially all who suffer, all who feel excluded or worthless, and all who feel as though “they weep in vain.” Among those who weep in vain are the victims of bigotry, violence, and public policies that discriminate against the poor, the sick and refugees from around the world. We are called to stand with them as brothers and sisters in prayer and solidarity. In this spirit, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport invites you and your family for a special Vigil of Prayer on Wednesday, December 12th, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church.
Our Vigil of Prayer will begin at 4:00pm with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and a Rosary for Peace & Healing in our divided country, our wounded church, and our troubled world. From 5:00pm until 6:30pm, along with silent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Father Jim will hear confessions. We will conclude at 6:30pm with Evening Prayer and Benediction. For more information about this special event, please see Father Jim before or after Mass; or contact him at email@example.com. Please join us! All are in- vited! All are welcome! Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, pray for us!
A Call to Prayer
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Wednesday, December 12th
As we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, let us be mindful that she watches over us as Mother of the Americas and Mother of All Peoples. Since 2016, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has designated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe as a day of prayer for all immigrants and refugees. In this spirit, let us pray together for her intercession for all families who long for a better life; and let us pray for peace and justice in our country and around the world.
Hail Mary, Lady of Peace,
we pray for peace in our world,
make us peacemakers.
Hail Mary, Friend of Common People,
unite us across economic lines;
let us together raise up the cause of the oppressed.
Hail Mary, Mother of the Americas,
help us to appreciate the cultures of all people
and to work for the common good of all.
Hail Mary, Mother of the Child Jesus,
we pray for all children
who are victims of war and hunger;
let us stand up for them.
Hail Mary, Spouse of Joseph the Worker,
we pray for the rights of working people
all around the world;
may their dignity be always respected.
Hail Mary, Mother of All Generations,
inspire us to speak for the elderly
who lack good health care and shelter.
Hail Mary, Homeless Mother,
we pray for all people without homes;
let us be advocates for affordable housing.
Hail Mary, Mother of All Colors,
show us how to love all people
by challenging racism and discrimination.
Hail Mary, Mother of the World,
may we become global citizens,
working for justice and peace
throughout the world.
Glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, pray for us!
Our Lady of Good Voyage, pray for us!
Mass Intentions Book
Thursday, December 13th
The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s Mass Intentions Book (January 2019through June 2019) will be opened on Thursday, December 13th from 11:00am until 1:00pm in our parish office. On that day, all parishioners are welcome to book one Sunday Mass and one weekday Mass at Saint Ann Church, Saint Joachim Church, or Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. On that day, all Mass intentions must be booked in person. No email, fax, or phone requests will be accepted. No exceptions! All remaining Masses can be booked on or after Tuesday, December 18th. For more information, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your cooperation and support! Peace and blessings to all! — Father Jim
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!
Follow us on Twitter: @CCGRonline