This Week’s Message
The Gift of Forgiveness

By Father William H. Shannon

Every day I say a prayer at least seven times which, if I truly thought about its full meaning, would scare me half to death. I say the Lord’s Prayer through which I ask God to treat me the way I treat others. I suspect — even though I don’t like to admit it — that I secretly hope that God will treat me much better than I treat others. I am not a nasty person; at least I don’t think that I am. But there are times when I treat others rather shabbily, times when I find it hard to forgive. Oh, I can go through the external motions of being gingerly polite, but rancor may still be in my heart. So, let’s admit it. It takes courage to say the Lord’s Prayer.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we read: “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions (Matthew 6:14-15). In this text, Jesus is blunt. If you forgive, God will forgive you. If you do not forgive, God will not forgive you. That’s it. Forgive or else. What does Jesus mean by such strong words? First, let’s be clear about what he doesn’t mean. He doesn’t mean that ours is a God of retaliation, a God who tells us, “I’ll show you. If you don’t forgive, I will get even. I won’t forgive you either.” Jesus reveals a God who loves us and continues tolove us, no matter what we do. The point Jesus is making is more subtle. He is telling us that God, as much as God might want to do so, cannot forgive us if we do not forgive others. He is telling us that forgiveness cannot be received by an unforgiving heart.

Outside of my office window is a cement sidewalk. I think to myself: How nice it would be if I could look out and, instead of seeing slabs of concrete, encounter a colorful garden of lovely flowers growing in the middle of that space. I might even ask a friend with a green thumb to plant such flowers there for me. Alas, as much as he might want to please me, it is impossible for my friend to do so. The concrete is too hard to receive the roots of the flowers. Likewise, a hardened heart can be no more open to forgiveness than concrete is to flower seeds. We must have our hardened hearts softened and opened by God’s grace so that God’s loving forgiveness can flow into us, then through us to others.

Do you remember the story of the Israelites in the desert protesting to Moses that they have no water? God ordered Moses to strike a huge rock with his staff and, behold, water gushed forth in abundance. Early Church writers often prayed for the gift of tears that would open their hearts and enable them to receive God’s loving forgiveness. In the Roman Missal, there is a beautiful “Mass for the Forgiveness of Sins” which is known more colloquially as the “Mass for the Gift of Tears.” The opening prayer is strikingly beautiful: “Almighty and most gentle God, who brought forth from the rock a fountain of living water for your thirsty people, bring forth, we pray, from the kindness of our hearts, tears of sorrow, so that we may lament our sins and merit forgiveness from your mercy.” The situation may well arise when this lovely prayer will prove helpful for any one of us.

About the Author: Father William Shannon is a retired priest of the Diocese of Honolulu, Hawaii. Now retired, Father Shannon is a former Capuchin Friar, parish priest, and diocesandirector of seminarians. If you enjoyed this week’s message, please check out “Bringing Home the Word!” A new edition is posted here every weekend! See link below!

CCGR Weekly Newsletter (1-1-19) 
Bringing Home the Word (12-30-18)


Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Tuesday, January 1st
A Prayer for Charity

Dearest Mother Mary,
you lived for many years
in the little country town of Nazareth.
You had neighbors, good and bad.
You had occasion to talk about them to others,
and to listen to what others said about them.
But we know, Mary,
that in all of your conversations
with friends and neighbors,
you never committed any sins.
Dearest Mother Mary,
help us to realize
that there are no people who are so bad
that we cannot say something good about them.
Teach us to speak of the good things people do,
instead of the bad things.
And when we must speak of evil deeds,
let us condemn the deed, never the doer.
Your own Son died on the cross
to wipe away such deeds
and to save those who do them.
When conversations become hurtful,
help us to turn toward other subjects
with prudence and sensitivity.
Dearest Mother Mary,
you were always a good neighbor.
When the temptation to indulge
in the sin of gossip comes,
may the very thought of you help us.
You are the mother of divine love:
teach us to practice charity and kindness
in all of our interactions
with all people everywhere. Amen.

Learn More: Mary, Mother of God


Our New Year’s Day Mass Schedule
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
December 31st & January 1st

All are invited to join the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport for Holy Mass as we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on Monday, December 31st and Tuesday, January 1st. Our Masses will be celebrated according to the following schedule:

New Year’s Eve – Monday, December 31st
Vigil of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Saint Ann Church at 4:00pm

New Year’s Day – Tuesday, January 1st
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Saint Joachim Church at 8:00am
Our Lady of Good Voyage Church at 10:00am

All are reminded that the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God is a Holy Day of Obligation for Roman Catholics. It also commemorates the World Day of Peace throughout the world. For more information, please contact Father Jim at Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! Happy New Year!

Learn More: Mary, Mother of God (Video)


Brain Teasing Special Event
Trivia Night with Father Jim
Saturday, January 19th

All parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join us for a brain-teasing, mind-blowing, and fast-paced special event: “Trivia Night with Father Jim” on Saturday, January 19th from 7:00pm until 10:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish Hall. Throughout the evening, Father Jim (who is secretly a quiz master and aspiring game show host) will ask a series of questions on a wide array of topics ranging from music and sports, movies and television, books and history, religion and good, old-fashioned trivia.

Tickets are $20 per person. Participants will be organized into teams of eight, so all are welcome to organize a team in advance or take your chances at the door! Tickets will be available at the door, in our parish office, or by contacting Father Jim. All are invited to bring food and snacks. Coffee, tea, bottled water, and soft drinks will be offered for sale (along with a cash bar). Father Jim promises cool prizes and raffles, too!

Don’t miss this chance to impress your friends and neighbors with your knowledge of facts, figures, and trivia! Don’t miss this chance to share a few laughs with family and fellow parishioners! Don’t miss your chance to win a great prize! And don’t miss this chance to raise somemuch needed funds for Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish! For more information, please contact Father Jim at Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! Merry Christmas!


About Us

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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