This Week’s Message
Sunday of the Word of God
By Pope Francis
A profound bond links sacred scripture and the faith of believers. Since faith comes from hearing and what is heard is based on the word of Christ, we believers are bound to listen attentively to the word of the Lord, both in the celebration of the liturgy and in our personal prayer and reflection…
Regular reading of sacred scriptures and the celebration of the Eucharist make it possible for us to see ourselves as part of one another. As Christians, we are a single people, making our pilgrim way through history, sustained by the Lord, present in our midst, who speaks to us and nourishes us. A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event but rather as a year-long event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the scriptures and of the Risen Lord, who continues to speak his work and to break bread with the community of believers. For this reason, we need to develop a closer relationship with sacred scripture. Otherwise, our hearts will remain cold and our eyes shut, struck as we are by so many forms of blindness.
Sacred scripture and the sacraments are thus inseparable. When the sacraments are introduced and illumined by God’s word, they become ever more clearly the goal of a process whereby Christ opens our minds and hearts to acknowledge his saving work. We should always keep in mind the teaching found in the Book of Revelation: The Lord is standing at the door and knocking. If anyone should hear his voice and open the door for him, he will enter and eat with them (Revelation 3:20). Christ Jesus is knocking at our door in the words of sacred scripture. If we hear his voice and open the doors of our minds and hearts, then he will enter our lives and remain ever with us…
Sacred scripture accomplishes its prophetic work above all in those who listen to it. It proves both sweet and bitter. We are reminded of the words of the prophet Ezekiel, who when commanded by the Lord to eat the scroll of the book, tells us: “It was in my mouth as sweet as honey (Ezekiel 3:3).” Likewise, John the Evangelist, when living on the Island of Patmos, echoes Ezekiel’s experience of eating the scroll, but he adds: “It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter (Revelation 10:10).”
The sweetness of God’s word leads us to share it with everyone we meet in this life and to proclaim the certain hope that it contains. In turn, its bitterness often comes from our realization of how difficult we find it to live that word consistently or our personal experience of seeing it rejected as meaningless in life. We should never take God’s work for granted, but instead let ourselves be nourished by it, so that we may acknowledge and live more fully our relationship with God and with our brothers and sisters…
Yet another challenge raised by sacred scripture involves love. God’s word constantly reminds us of the merciful love that calls his children to live in love. The life of Jesus is the full and perfect expression of this divine love which holds back nothing but offers itself to everyone without reservation…To listen to sacred scripture and then to practice mercy: this is the great challenge before us in life. God’s word has the power to open our eyes and enable us to renounce our stifling and barren individualism and instead embark on a new path of sharing and solidarity. Amen!
About This Week’s Message
This week’s message is an excerpt from Aperuit Illis (or Opened For Them) an Apostolic Letter in which Pope Francis announces that beginning this year, the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time will be henceforth celebrated all around the world as the Sunday of the Word of God. This is an opportunity for us to renew our devotion to, study of, and prayer with the sacred scriptures. The pope has long-encouraged all Catholic Christians to spend some time each day reading from the Gospels; and now he calls us to do more — to truly live the Gospel of Christ, to truly share God’s love and mercy with those we meet alongthe way, and to truly rebuild the Church by modeling our lives after the life of Christ and his saints.
Here in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rock-port, we are responding to the Holy Father’s call by embarking on a year-long journey to grow closer to Christ, to the Church, and to each other by praying with, reflecting upon, and discussing sacred scripture in all of our adult and youth faith formation programs (see page two and the insert in this weekend’s newsletter).
Pope Francis writes: “We should never take God’s word for granted, but instead let ourselves be nourished by it, so that we may acknowledge and live more fully our relationship with God and with our brothers and sisters.” May this be both our prayer and our mission for the coming year! For more information about adult faith formation in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. For more information about youth faith formation, please contact Betsy Works at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! Spread the word! All are welcome! Peace and blessings to all! — Father Jim
Becoming Salt & Light
Reflections on the Gospel of Matthew
Two Night Mini-Retreat
Begins Thursday, February 6th
LIVING GOSPEL LIVING JESUS
Saint Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin, once said: “Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ.” In this spirit, Pope Francis has encouraged all Catholic Christians to spend time reading from the sacred scriptures on a daily basis. And more recently, he decreed that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time henceforth be celebrated throughout the world as the Sunday of the Word of God.
Here in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, we take seriously the admonition by Saint Jerome and the encouragement from the Holy Father. So throughout the year, we will gather around God’s altar to venerate the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist and to learn more about the Living Gospel and the Living Jesus. This will not be just another series of scripture study programs. Rather, it is part of our commitment to learn the Gospel, love the Gospel, and live the Gospel in our homes, neighborhoods and workplaces.
During the coming months, Cliff Garvey and I will host a series of two-night mini-retreats based on the sacred scriptures that will include Evening Prayer and Eucharistic Adoration, along with a guided exegesis (or interpretation) of a bible passage, followed by questions, comments, and conversation about how the Word of God lives in our hearts and is lived out in our everyday lives.
Our first mini-retreat is scheduled for Thursday, February 6th and Friday, February 7th beginning with a Holy Hour at 6:00pm, followed by our reflection and discussion beginning at 7:00pm. This month, we will read, discuss, and pray on “Becoming Salt & Light” from the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 5:13-16). We will conclude with Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours at 8:00pm.
This special event is free and open to all parishioners, friends, and those who seek to grow closer to Jesus Christ through the sacred scriptures. Copies of the Catholic Prayer Bible by Paulist Press will be provided without cost to all participants (but donations will be grateful accepted). If you have questions or need more information, please contact Cliff at email@example.com. Please join us! Spread the word! Bring a friend! All are invited! All are welcome!
Brain-Teasing Special Event
Trivia Night with Father Jim
Saturday, February 8th
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 “Trivia Night with Father Jim” on Saturday, February 8th from 7:00pm until 10:00pm in Our Lady’s Hall. Throughout the evening, Father Jim (who secretly longs to be a game show host) will ask a series of questions on a wide array of topics including music and sports, movies and television, books and history, politics and religion!
Participants will be organized into teams of eight. Tickets are $20 per person and are available at the door, in our parish office, or by contacting Father Jim. All are invited to bring their own food and snacks. Coffee, tea, bottled water, and soft drinks will be offered for sale (along with a cash bar). Father Jim also promises raffles with some very cool prizes!
Don’t miss this opportunity to impress your friends andfellow parishioners with your knowledge of facts, figures, and trivia! Don’t miss the chance to share a few laughs! Don’t miss the chance to win a great prize! And don’t miss the chance to raise some much need funds for Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish! For more information, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! Spread the word! All are invited! All are welcome!
Youth Faith Formation
Confirmation Preparation Program
Year 1 Begins on February 9th
For many teenagers, the Sacrament of Confirmation has 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 sad situation by transforming our sacramental preparation program into an engaging process for the whole family.
First, we place primary importance 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 part of that 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 at the weekend. We will continue to ask parents to dedicate one hour each week to their child’s religious education by joining us for one of our seven weekend Masses!
Second, all high school students (beginning in the ninth grade) are asked to actively participate in our two-year preparation program 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 9th. During the second year, students will attend seven additional workshops and a mini-retreat that are designed to help them grow in prayer, fellowship, and service; prepare them to receive the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit; and jumpstart their spiritual lives as faithful and faith-filled young disciples.
If your child is now in high school and sincerely wants to prepare for the Sacrament of Confirmation, please complete a registration form and return it to us as soon as possible! Registration forms are available at the link below. For more information about 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!
Winter Weather Cancellations
For the latest information about weather related cancella- tions during the winter season, please visit our website: ccgronline.com. Announcements will also be made via WBZ1030 and cbsboston.com. All parishioners of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are reminded that if public schools are closed due to inclement weather on a particular day, then our weekday Mass and all parish programs (including all adult and youth faith formation programs) will be cancelled, too. Peace and blessings! Stay safe! Stay warm! —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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