This Week’s Message
By Father Raniero Cantalmessa
What does being with Jesus mean today for us? The basic requirement, of course, is to live in a state of grace, with a conscience free of any serious sins. No one can be with Jesus while leading a double life, the one that people see, and an entirely different life that only God sees. But this is not enough. Being with Jesus means cultivating an intimate relationship with him, making his presence in our lives real and vibrant. Being with someone means far more than just living together, even under the same roof. When we ride a subway, we aresurrounded by a crowd, but we are “with” nobody. Being “with” someone means having a mutually personal relationship, similar to any other encounter between two unique individuals, each with his or her own insights and experiences.
We need to ask ourselves a question. Is Jesus for us a person or just a personality, celebrity, or cult figure? There is a big difference between the two possibilities. Personalities include people like Julius Caesar, Napoleon, George Washington, or any number of people who have a following in our day. A personality is someone whose name is on everyone’s tongue, someone you can freely write or talk about, but not someone you can talk to or speak with.
Unfortunately, for the vast majority of Christians, Jesus is a personality and not a person. He is part of a set of dogmas, doctrines, or heresies. He is the one whose memory we celebrate in the liturgy, proclaiming the Eucharist as his Real Presence. But as long as we remain on an objective level, without Jesus becoming subjective, that is without developing a personal relationship between ourselves and himself, he remains external to us, outside of ourselves, someone that touches our minds, but does not warm or enter into our hearts. And despite everything, there he remains — a remnant of the past because we instinctively place twenty centuries between ourselves and him.
Nevertheless, Jesus said: “I am with you always, until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).”After his Resurrection, Jesus is alive and present in the Spirit — he is spiritually present, not physically present as he had been with his apostles. But this new presence is even strongerand more real than his physical presence. Saint Paul writes: “Even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer (2 Corinthians 5:16).” This means that his spiritual presence is better than the apostles enjoyed precisely because it is internal, not external. Therefore, Christ is not only beside us but dwells within us…
Having an intimate relationship with Christ must have absolute priority. Great courage and assurance come to a Christian…from doing everything with Jesus and feeling him present inevery situation. “I am with you always” also means “I am with you in every situation and in every problem.” Think of two newlyweds deeply in love with each other. From the very dawn of the day, each one is busy, both outside and inside of their home, but it is clear where their hearts are and where their thoughts turn as soon as they are free from the demands of the moment. That is how it must be for us with Jesus. This is a very high goal and maybe only saints achieve it. And yet it is a grace to know that it is possible, to want it, to steer ourselves toward it, and to ask the Holy Spirit to help us realize it.
ABOUT THIS WEEK’S MESSAGE
In response to the crisis facing the Roman Catholic Church after new allegations of clergy sexual abuse and its cover up by our leaders, Pope Francis called the American bishops to participate in a recent retreat that was directed by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, who has served as Preacher to the Papal Household since 1980. The retreat talks, which were just made public, exhort our bishops to be more humble, more prayerful, and more focused on their role as shepherds of our souls.
Although Father Raniero shared these talks with an audience of bishops, they have much toteach all of us about living the Gospel, sharing God’s love, and rebuilding the Church. This week’s message is excerpted from the retreat’s first reflection and challenges us to reconsiderour personal relationship with Jesus. Let us pray together for the grace to reflect on these words with open hearts and to grow closer to our loving and merciful Savior. — Father Jim
The Conversion of Saint Paul
Evening of Prayer & Reflection
Friday, January 25th
HEALING GOD’S FAMILY & REBUILDING OUR CHURCH
More than eight centuries ago, the Crucified Christ called out to the young man who wouldbecome Saint Francis of Assisi: “Go! Rebuild my church which as you can see is falling into ruin!” Francis took the Lord’s command literally and set out to repair and rebuild small chapels in and around his hometown. Over the years, however, Francis came to understand that his commitment to living the Gospel and sharing God’s love was instrumental in rebuilding the Church throughout the world. In this spirit and in appreciation for the crisis facing the Roman Catholic Church in our own time, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport will gather on important feast days throughout this year to pray for the healing of God’s family and for the courage to rebuild our wounded Church. In addition, we will ask the saints to pray for us and guide us in the hard work of discipleship during these difficult times.
All are invited to join us for our first Evening of Prayer for the Healing of God’s Family on Friday, January 25th, the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, from 5:00pm until 7:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. We hope that you and your family will be able to join us for all or even just part of this special event of prayer and devotion. This special evening of prayer will begin at 5:00pm with Evening Prayer and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. During Evening Prayer, Father Jim will deliver a reflection about the life and message of Saint Paul the Apostle. After a holy hour of silent adoration, we will pray the Holy Rosary at 6:30pmfor the healing of God’s family. We will conclude at 7:00pm with Night Prayer and Benedic-tion. For more information, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
The Assisi Project
Saturday Morning with Saint Francis
Saturday, January 26th
Founded in 2007 by Father Jim and Cliff Garvey after their first pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of “Franciscans in Spirit” with friends and followers in the United States, Canada, Africa, and Europe. Our mission is to help adults of all ages more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ and grow closer to the God’s Holy Church through the inspiration and intercession of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi.
The Assisi Project meets on the last Saturday of every month in Saint Ann Church for Mass, formation, fellowship, and faith sharing. Our next “Saturday Morning with Saint Francis” is scheduled for January 26th beginning at 8:00am (weather permitting). This month, we will continue our year-long study of the Franciscan Saints and we will explore the life and times of Brother Juniper, one of the first and most faithful followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. All parishioners and friends of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join us!
Members of our fellowship all around the world, who range in age from 16 to 93, also pray for those who ask for our prayers. If you would like to join us or if you would like us to pray for your special intention, please contact Cliff at email@example.com. Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us! Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us! Our Lady of Angels, pray for us! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! May the Lord give you peace!
Youth Faith Formation
Confirmation Preparation Program
Year I Registration Now Underway!
For too many teenagers, the Sacrament of Confirmation has sadly become a kind of graduation from the Catholic Church rather than the joyful beginning of life as an adult disciple within the Church. We hope to end this tragic ambivalence by transforming sacramental preparation into an engaging process for the whole family.
We place primary focus on attending Mass. For more than a century, the Church asked every parish to offer sacramental preparation programs for children and teenagers. During recent decades, however, we neglected to remind parents of their baptismal promise to be the first teachers of their children in all matters related to faith and morals; and that the most important component of their responsibility is attending Mass as a family.
In our increasingly busy world, it has become common for parents to entrust their children to us for an hour of instruction, but then not join us for Mass each weekend. So, we will continue to ask parents to dedicate one hour each week to their child’s religious education by joining us for just one of our seven weekend Masses!
In addition, all high school students (beginning in ninth grade) are invited to participate in our two-year program of formation for the Sacrament of Confirmation. During the first year, students will attend seven interactive workshops about the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church. These sessions begin on Sunday, February 10th. During the second year, students will attend additional workshops and a mini-retreat designed to help them grow in prayer, fellowship, and service; to prepare them to receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit; and to jumpstart their lives as faith-filled young disciples.
If your child is now in high school and wants to prepare for the Sacrament of Confirmation, please complete a registration form (see link below) and return it as soon as possible! For more information about our youth faith formation programs in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Betsy Works at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Winter Weather Cancellations
For the latest information about weather related cancellations during the winter months in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please visit our website at ccgronline.com. Announcements will also be made on WBZ1030-AM and cbsboston.com. All parishioners are advised that if public schools are closed on a particular weekday due to inclement weather, then our daily Mass and all adult and youth faith formation programs will be cancelled on that day, too. In addition, please note that if the Town of Rockport declares a snow emergency, all Masses at Saint Joachim Church will be cancelled (even on Sunday). Peace and blessings to all for a safe winter season! — 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!
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