This Week’s Message
Seeing With New Eyes
By Father Richard Rohr, OFM
One of the most difficult biblical themes to explore is how we deal with evil. There is something in our psychology that makes it hard to see, hear, or face evil realistically. Throughout history, we have viewed the problem of evil similarly. We are forever looking for the enemy and finding him “out there.” Someone else or some other group is almost always the problem, so we feel justified in blaming others. This enables us to live hatefully, even violently, and without guilt. Jesus says: “The hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God (John 16:2).”
Starting with Cain and Abel, history is an account of who killed whom and who “deserves” to be killed. So much of history is searching for a suitable enemy. In simple terms, he hit me, so I am free to hit him back. Two millennia after Jesus became history’s forgiving victim, we continue to miss his message! That same dynamic is evident in Leviticus 16, where we read about the scapegoat ritual. On the Day of Atonement, a goat was brought to the Holy of Holies where the priest would lay hands on the animal. All of the sins and failures of the people were ceremoniously laid on the goat, and they would drive the goat into the desert. Through that ingenious liturgical rite the people distanced themselves from sins by finding an easy target on which to project them. Liturgically, it worked! In fact, it works so well that we have never stopped creating scapegoats.
We convince ourselves that we are righteous. Our hatred is moral because the stakes are so high when our country, people, way of life, or religious beliefs are under siege. Finding and dealing with evil “out there” holds us together as a nation as we define ourselves by what we are against. Jesus shows us another way. Many of his healings are really efforts to reintegrate persons into the community. There is no room for scapegoating in his teaching. He does not expel sinners but forgives them. He even commands that we love our enemies. There is no contaminating element to expel in Jesus’ teaching. Forgiveness and reconciliation are the opposite of scapegoating, punishing, and excluding the supposed enemy. The great conversion occurs when we see that we are our own worst enemies.
Saint Paul is another model. He is a converted persecutor and accuser who once glorified in his identity as a hater of Christians. No one was holier than Saul, the dutiful Pharisee, until the scales fell from his eyes on the road to Damascus. There, for the first time, he recognized that he had become hate in the name of love, evil in the name of goodness. Few of us like to see ourselves in the extremes of Saint Paul, but through God’s grace, we too can begin to see with new eyes. We can choose the path of transformation that Jesus calls us to, rather than make the more comfortable outlet of projecting evil onto others. Jesus calls us to be reconcilers: to deal with evil by holding it with grace rather than hating it; to be people who cannot hate anymore; to refuse to allow ourselves to be pulled onto one side of every dilemma. The gospel is destabilizing. It calls us to nonviolence and wisdom. It calls us to see God in every circumstance and person, perhaps most of all in those we are tempted to reject, fear, or attack.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The Reverend Richard Rohr, OFM, is a Roman Catholic Priest, Franciscan Friar, and Founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is also a best-selling author, and contributor to “Bringing Home the Word.” If you enjoyed this week’s message, be sure to check out “Bringing Home the Word!” A new edition of this online resource for individual and family prayer and reflection is posted every weekend here on our website (see below).
Our Mass & Worship Schedule
Wednesday, March 6th
The Holy Season of Lent is a time for prayer, penance, and almsgiving during which all Chris- tian disciples are called to renew their faith in preparation for the celebration of the Resurrec- tion of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Easter. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, March 6th, which is a Holy Day of Abstinence and Fasting for all Roman Catholics. In the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, we will celebrate Mass and distribute ashes according to the following schedule: Mass at 8:00am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church; Mass at 12:00pm in Saint Ann Church; and Mass at 7:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. In addition, we will cele- brate a Service of the Word (with the distribution of ashes) at 5:00pm in Saint Joachim Church. For more information about the Holy Season of Lent in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Grand Annual Collections
Every Dollar Makes a Difference
Last year, thanks to your generous support, both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish were able to balance their respective budgets. Two big reasons for this accomplishment is the success of our Grand Annual Collections. In each of our parishes, the Grand Annual Collection bridges the gap between our weekly gifts and our financial obligations (such as salaries and benefits, insurance premiums, utility bills, snow plowing, and essential parish programs). The Grand Annual Collections also help us to maintain our historic church buildings.
In order for each parish to balance its budget and ensure its long-term financial stability, we must meet our goals of $75,000 for Holy Family Parish and $45,000 for Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. These fundraising campaigns are essential components of our annual parish budgets. Each year, we ask all parishioners to contribute what they can to our Grand Annual Collections. Every gift, large or small, helps us to achieve our goals and balance our budgets. Offertory envelopes are located at the doors of all of our churches. Please place your offering in the collection basket during Mass or mail it directly to me.
Although we have made good progress toward reaching our goal, we have much work ahead before the end of the fiscal year on June 30th. As we begin the final quarter of the fiscal year, all parishioners are encouraged to prayerfully consider giving to the Grand Annual Collection at either Holy Family Parish or Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Every penny raised goes directly to the parish of your choice. Please join me in praying that each of us, according to our means, will give generously to one of these all-important fundraising efforts. Thank you in advance for your generous and ongoing support of our amazing parishes! Peace and blessings to all! — Father Jim
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
The Assisi Project
12th Annual Fall Pilgrimage
November 7th-November 16th
For the twelfth consecutive year, our spiritual directors, Father Jim and Cliff Garvey will lead the Assisi Project’s week-long, small-group pilgrimage to Italy. From November 7th through November 16th, we will journey again to Assisi and literally walk in the footsteps of Saint Francis and Saint Clare. Each morning of our pilgrimage will begin with Morning Prayer and Mass. Father Jim will celebrate Masses at the Basilica of Saint Francis, the Basilica of Saint Clare, the Basilica of Our Lady of Angels, the Carceri Hermitage, and the Sanctuary at La Verna. Each afternoon, our pilgrims will have free time and guidance to explore Assisi at their own pace. Each evening, we will gather as a community for Evening Prayer, supper, a spiritual reflection, and faith sharing.
As a fellowship of pilgrims, we will explore the Basilicas of Saint Francis and Saint Clare. Each of these blessed shrines contains the tombs of the saints, holy relics, historic frescoes, and other priceless works of art, along with quiet chapels for personal prayer and worship. We will also visit the Cathedral of Saint Rufinus, where Francis and Clare were baptized; the Church of Saint Damian, where Christ spoke to Francis and hastened his conversion; the Carceri Hermitage where Francis and his first followers retreated for solitude and silence; and the little chapel known as the Porziuncola or Little Portion, which is considered the home church of the worldwide Franciscan community.
In addition, we will spend leisurely afternoons in and around the Piazza del Commune, Assisi’s city center, with its sidewalk cafes, unique shops, and ancient Roman temple (now a Catholic Church consecrated to the Blessed Mother). Our more adventurous pilgrims will also have an opportunity to visit the Rocca Maggiore, the great medieval fortress with its stunning views of Assisi, Mount Subasio, and the Spoleto Valley. And finally, we will travel to La Verna, the mountain sanctuary in Tuscany, where Saint Francis received the stigmata. At La Verna, we will celebrate Mass, enjoy a traditional Tuscan lunch, and participate in the daily procession that commemorates how Francis received the five wounds of the Crucified Christ. We are also planning a few surprises for this year!
The cost of this extraordinary pilgrimage is $3,499 per person which includes roundtrip airfare and fees (from Boston Logan Airport); all ground transportation (except personal taxi service); eight nights accommodation (single room and private bathroom) at Casa Santa Brigida; and all meals in the guest house (breakfast, lunch, and supper). Prospective pilgrims should note that this pilgrimage is limited to just fourteen participants; involves some strenuous physical activity; and that access to some pilgrimage sites in Italy is limited for those with physical disabilities. For more information about the Assisi Project’s 12th Annual Fall Pilgrimage, please contact Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reserve now! Space is limited to just fourteen pilgrims!
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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