This Week’s Message
Who? Me? Evangelize?
The Power of One, Part 1
By Kathy Coffey
Nick is paralyzed. I desperately want to help him get better. But how? I have heard rumors of a healer. He is powerful but surrounded by crowds. I talk with three other friends. How could we even get close? I start to see that what Nick needs is not the strongest stretcher-bearer, but one who understands his sickness. We check the house where the healer is staying. I notice an opening in the roof. What if? Readers of Mark 2:1-12 or Luke 5:18-26 know how the story ends. The four friends who lower the paralytic through the roof into Jesus’ astonished face may have chosen an unconventional route, but they bring their friend to Jesus. Mark responds generously: “When Jesus saw their faith,” he cured their friend and forgave his sins (Mark 2:5).
We are like Nick’s friends because we also ask: Who? Me? We may also reach the same insight: I don’t need all of the answers. I simply need to share the struggle. An ordinary act of kindness might bring someone to Jesus. And that is my goal.
Saint Paul VI declared: “The task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church…Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14).” There is no doubt about the importance of this mission. The Church does not exist for the sake of pastoral councils, schools, choirs, publications, hospitals, or religious orders — wonderful as those things may be. We exist to bring the good news to those hungering for a positive message with eternal consequences.
How does that call affect us personally? Most of us are not going to ring doorbells, trying to persuade unwilling listeners that we have a corner on the truth. Instead, we follow the model of Jesus, who amazed his listeners by “the gracious words that came from his mouth (Luke 4:22).” Clearly, he was not judging or hammering away at a point. The job description of Christians is not to be dour, cantankerous, or punitive, but to be a people who “announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9).” We do that primarily by the example of how we live: with confidence, reverence, and compassion. Are we convinced that we have good news to share? Or are we focused on our troubles, fears, and negativity? For the ordinary person, what form might evangelization take?
Some are called to foreign missions but most respond to the call at home. Dire conditions in Africa can seem more appealing at times than dealing with a stubborn toddler, patiently helping a needy friend, or caring for an elderly parent. But the Second Vatican Council called lay people to do their work well in the world — whether as parents, plumbers, attorneys, or farmers.
Opportunities arise naturally; we do not need to look far. It may mean sending a birthday card, eating a meal with a lonely friend, driving the children’s carpool yet again, remembering and celebrating another’s milestones, attending a funeral, visiting a hospital or retirement center, or volunteering in your home parish. To be effective, we match our talents to the needs of others. The days are past when people did work they weren’t suited for or a ministry they loathed “for the glory of God.” It is far better to honor and use the gifts that God gave us!
About the Author: Kathy Coffey is an award-winning author, educator, and retreat leader. She is also a regular contributor to “Bringing Home the Word.” Click on the link below for the latest issue.
Respect Life Month
Christ Our Hope
In Every Season of Life
From the time that we are knit together in our mothers’ wombs until we take our final breaths, each moment of our lives is a gift from God. While every season of life brings its own challenges and trials, each season also gives us new opportunities to grow in our relationship with God. Today the gift of life is threatened in countless ways. Those who are most vulnerable, rather than receiving the protection they deserve are all too often seen as a burden and as expendable. As new attacks on human life continue to emerge, we can be tempted to despair, but Christ instead offers us unfailing hope.
Hope is not false optimism or empty positivity. Christian hope is something much more profound and goes to the very depths of our identity as followers of Christ. Hope is the virtue “by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 817).”
Like us, Christ entered the world through the womb of a woman. He willingly experienced the fullness of human suffering. He breathed his last on the Holy Cross at Calvary in order that He might save us. Therefore, “God is the foundation of hope: not any god, but the God who has a human face and who loved us to the end (Spe Salvi, 31).”
Christians know that “they have a future: it is not that they know the details of what awaits them, but they know in general terms that their lives will not end in emptiness (Spe Salvi, 2).” For this reason, a woman experiencing a difficult pregnancy can find the strength to welcome her precious child into the world. A man facing a terminal diagnosis can see that the end of his earthly life is only the beginning of eternal life with Christ.
The Church teaches us that “the one who has hope lives differently (Spe Salvi, 2).” Christ’s promise of salvation does not mean that we will be spared from suffering. Rather, the promise of salvation ensures that even in the darkest moments of our lives, we will be given the strength to persevere. By virtue of this Christian hope, we can face any challenge or trial. When the seas of life swell and we are battered by waves, hope allows us to remain anchored in the heart of God. May we hold fast to Christ our hope, from the beginning of life to its very end. (Source: USCCB)
Healing God’s Family & Rebuilding the Church
An Evening of Prayer with Saint John XXIII
Thursday, October 10th
More than eight centuries ago, the Crucified Christ called out to the young man who would become 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 small chapels in and around his hometown. Over the years, however, Francis came to understand more fully that his vocation to live the Gospel and share God’s love was vital to rebuilding the Church all around our suffering world.
In this spirit and in appreciation for the ongoing crisis facing the Catholic Church in our own time, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport has gathered together in commemoration of various feast days and memorials to pray for the healing of God’s family and for the courage to rebuild our wounded church. In addition, we have begged 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 next Evening of Prayer for the Healing of God’s Family on Thursday, October 10th in celebration of the Feast of Saint John XXIII, who served as pope from 1958 until 1963, opened the Second Vatican Council in 1962, was canonized by Pope Francis in 2014, and is venerated around the world as patron of Christian unity. This special evening of prayer will begin at 6:00pm with Evening Prayer and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. At 6:45pm, we will pray the Holy Rosary for the healing of God’s family. And at 7:15pm, we will conclude with Night Prayer and Benediction.
During Evening Prayer, Cliff Garvey will offer a brief reflection on the life and legacy of Saint John XXIII. We hope and pray that you and your family will be able to join us for all or even just part of this special evening of prayer, reflection, and devotion. For more information about this special event, please contact Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! Bring a friend! All are invited! All are welcome!
Youth Faith Formation
First Eucharist Preparation Program
Begins October 12th – 13th
The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport offers a creative and innovative way for children to prepare for the Sacraments of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession) and First Holy Communion. Our program is designed to prepare both children and their parents for these sacraments; to encourage lifelong relationships with Jesus Christ and the Roman Catholic Church; and to help families grow together in prayer, fellowship, and service.
Our program is simple and family-friendly! First, our top priority is to invite all families to attend one of our seven weekend Masses. Second, all second grade children and their parents, grandparents, or guardians are asked to attend two 90 minute workshops during the fall season and three 90 minute workshops during the winter-spring seasons. Each of these “Faith & Family Workshops” is offered at three different times so that each family can choose which option works best for them.
Our program begins during the weekend of October 12th-October 13th! Calendars and registration materials are posted below. Registration forms can be returned by mail or hand-delivered to our parish offices (located at 74 Pleasant Street in Gloucester). If you have questionsor need assistance with youth faith formation in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Betsy Works at email@example.com. Please join us! Spread the word! All are invited! All are welcome!
Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish
Baked Bean Supper
Friday, October 18th
All parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join Our Lady’s Guild for its Annual Baked Bean Supper on Friday, October 18th from 5:30pm until 8:00pm in Our Lady’s Hall. A donation of $15 is requested for each adult; and $10 each for each child (age 10 and under). Tickets will be available at the door. Our menu will include hot dogs, linguiça, baked beans, coffee, soft drinks, and homemade desserts. Proceeds support Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. For more information about this special evening of good food, fun, and fellowship, please contact Beth Fosberry at 978-790-0196 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! Spread the word! Bring your family! Bring your friends! 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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