This Week’s Message
Honoring Our Parents
By Kathy Coffey
Honor your father and mother (Exodus 20:12). What nugget of wisdom does the Fourth Commandment teach us? Today, some parents and children are estranged. Others wish their parents were alive to honor them. But the following story shows how delightfully some children still honor their parents. Jan celebrated her sixtieth birthday with friends, far from her children who lived in five different states. She told her kids: “No gifts. All I need are memories of you.” Then the postal service delivered a special box. Within it were sixty slips of paper on which Jan’s children had written sixty special memories. She read and cherished each one, mixing laughter and tears.
Why honor our parents? In the world of the Bible and in good homes now, parents provide images of trust, hope, and serenity that enable the young to face formidable obstacles. To their children, they convey the message, spoken or unspoken: “You are loved. You are wonderful.” All humans are constantly making the passage from the known to the unknown. Parents who have endured disappointment, even tragedy, can help their offspring travel that passage with dignity. They say: “We have made mistakes. We have lost our jobs, our health, or our dearest loves. But it didn’t kill us. Something in people endures, continues to trust, and moves forward in confidence.”
Furthermore, parents are memory keepers. When their children hit snags, they remind them of what glorious people they are. And if humor, perspective, or packages from home can lighten the load, they give those, too. The wisest parents honor their children in turn. They count on their children’s good sense to pilot them through difficulties, so they restrain their so-called “free advice.” They clarify the boundaries of their role: providing safe harbors, but holding the ropes loosely. They encourage children to explore God’s beautiful world, not burdening them with unnecessary anxiety. They recognize the arenas where the young have more expertise, inviting them to shine there.
Many parents struggle with handing on their faith to a generation that seems unenthusiastic at best. There, too, honor comes in. Realizing the gift of faith, no matter how important, cannot be coerced or controlled, parents can follow the advice of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. Agonizing over her son’s shenanigans, she once said: “What’s a mother to do but pray and dote, pray and dote?” If the roles of parent and child seem too idealized, we need only look to Jesus and his mother for role models. The wedding at Cana provides the perfect example of their honoring each other. Mary wisely tells Jesus of the need: “They have no wine.” Then she backs off. She trusts his instincts to resolve the crisis.
Despite his reservations, Jesus in turn honors his mother. Whether he was responding to her or to the couple’s dire need, we may never know. Despite the exhaustion and pain of his passion, Jesus continues to honor Mary, making sure even from the cross that his beloved disciple would continue to carefor her. In Jesus’ day, women with no son or husband for protection often became desperate beggars. Knowing that sad reality, Jesus makes sure that John will take her into his home. Saint Ignatius imagined that the first appearance of Jesus after the resurrection, although not recorded in scripture, must surely have been to Mary. As parents and children who follow Jesus, we are called to do likewise.
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, a weekly resource for families that encourages prayer and reflection based on scripture and tradition. A new edition is posted every Saturday at the link below.
A Prayer for Peace
By Pope Francis
Lord God of peace, hear our prayer!
We have tried many times over many years
to resolve our conflicts by our own powers
and by the force of arms.
How many moments of hostility and darkness
have we experienced!
How much blood has been shed!
How many lives have been shattered!
How many hopes have been buried!
Lord, come now to our assistance!
Grant us peace, teach us peace,
guide our steps in the way of peace.
Open our eyes and our hearts,
and give us the courage to say:
“Never again war! With war, all is lost!”
Instill in our hearts the courage
to take concrete steps to achieve peace.
God of Abraham,
God of the Prophets, God of Love,
you created us and you call us
to live as brothers and sisters.
Give us the daily strength to be instruments of peace;
enable us to see everyone who crosses our path
as our brother and sister.
Make us sensitive to the plea of those who beg us
to turn our weapons of war into implements of peace,
our trepidation into confident trust,
and our quarrelling into forgiveness.
Keep alive within us the flame of hope,
so that with patience and perseverance,
we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation.
In this way, may peace triumph at last,
and may the words of division, hatred, and war
be banished from the heart of every person.
Lord, defuse the violence of our tongues and our hands.
Renew our hearts and minds,
so that the words which always bring us together
will be “brother” and “sister”
and our way of life will always be that of
Shalom! Peace! Salaam! Amen!
World Day of Peace
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 Tuesday, December 31st and Wednesday, January 1st. Our Masses will be celebrated according to the following schedule:
New Year’s Eve – Tuesday, December 31st
Vigil – Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Saint Ann Church at 4:00pm
New Year’s Day – Wednesday, January 1st
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Our Lady of Good Voyage Church at 8:00am
Saint Joachim 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 email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! Happy New Year!
Youth Faith Formation
First Penance & Reconciliation
Saturday, January 11th
As the new year begins, sixty of our youngest fellow parishioners from both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish are preparing for the Sacrament of First Holy Communion in our youth faith formation program. On Saturday, January 11th at 9:00am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church, our community of young disciples will continue their preparation by participating in the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession) for the very first time.
First Penance is an important milestone on a child’s journey of faith. It teaches them (and reminds all of us) about conscience, humility, forgiveness, and God’s boundless gifts of love and mercy for each and every person. As preparations for First Holy Communion continue, please pray for all of our students and their families, and for all of our catechists and volunteers.
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. For more information about the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation, please see Father Jim or a member of our pastoral team or check out easy-to-use guide at the link below. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! Happy New Year!
Youth Faith Formation
Call for Altar Servers
Help Father Jim Serve God’s Family!
Father Jim is full of energy and excitement, but he some- times needs our help! He is continuing to build a team of youth altar servers to help him at Mass. All young disci- ples, age 8 through 17, are invited to participate on a weekly or monthly basis. Parents are welcome to serve, too! Training is available! Being an altar server is a great way to grow in discipleship and to learn about the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church! For more information, please see Father Jim before or after Mass; or contact him at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! Happy New Year!
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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