This Week’s Message
He Comes Not for Angels!
By Cliff Garvey
Unlike other letters in the New Testament, the author of Hebrews does not identify himself or his intended audience. However, the Church teaches that the Letter to the Hebrews was written by a friend or follower of Saint Paul; and that it was written to Jewish converts who were tempted to leave the new Christian community and return to the more traditional Jewish faith. Why? Many Christian converts were pressured by their families, friends, and neighbors. Some Christians suffered bullying, discrimination, and disinheritance. Because Christian worship was then comparatively simple, others missed the more elaborate customs and ceremonies of the temple and local synagogues. Others may have been Jewish faith leaders (and their families) who longed to regain lost influence and prestige. Whatever the reasons, the anonymous author of Hebrews begs believers to remember that the Christian faith was announced by angels, verified by witnesses, and confirmed by the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit.
More importantly, the author of the Letter to Hebrews reminds readers that despite our differences, all of us are ultimately brothers and sisters. We share the same human flesh and blood. And Jesus shares in our human condition. Like so many people, then and now, Jesus was born poor. His family fled their homeland in search of a better life. He walks the same streets, eats the same food, savors the same joys, and endures the same struggles and temptations. At the same time, Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. Jesus suffers like us, but unlike us, he is never defeated by life’s petty tyrannies, never defeated by human sins and shortcomings, never defeated by death itself. Indeed, Jesus does not just overcome or transcend death. Jesus defeats death! By his life, passion, and resurrection, Jesus defeats death for all time so that we can be liberated from the bondage of this one short mortal existence (Hebrews 2:14-15).
In our lives, we may endure betrayal, frustration, and deep disappointment, but these troubles do not last. We may suffer unspeakable grief, pain, and torment, but we will be delivered into eternal life by the power of Christ who came among us for the salvation of the whole world. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us that Jesus comes not to save angels, but to save us: you and me, broken, battered, sinful, wounded, warts and all. Like the ancient Christian converts, we are reminded: “Because [Jesus] himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested (Hebrews 2:18).” Jesus is tempted. Jesus is tested. Jesus suffers. Because of this, he identifies with our struggles. He understands our faults and failures. He feels our pain. He knows that life can be hard; life can be painful; life can be cut short in an instant. But Jesus also knows what comes next. And what comes next is eternal life!
We still have much in common with the ancient community of believers. We live during tumultuous times; during an era of deep division, worsening inequality, and obscene corruption. We live during a time when doing the right thing seems more complicated than ever. We live during a time when it is not cool to be a family of disciples. Given this, let us listen to the Letter to the Hebrews with the ear of an ancient faith. Let us be moved by the choir of angels. Let us be strengthened by the testimony of witnesses. Let us be inspired by the small miracles that surround us everyday. Most of all, let us stand up to the ways of the world by believing more deeply, loving more dearly, and forgiving more easily. Come what may, let us be steadfast in faith; let us remember that Jesus comes into the world not for angels, but for all of us! Amen!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Welcome, Bishop Mark!
Along with Baptism and Holy Eucharist, Confirmation is one of the three Sacraments of Initiation in the Roman Catholic Church. The Sacrament of Confirmation completes the grace of Baptism through the outpouring of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Courage, Knowledge, Reverence, Right Judgment, Understanding, Wisdom, and Wonder & Awe. These gifts seal or “confirm” the mystical union between the candidates and Christ and prepares them to actively participate in the prayer, worship, and apostolic ministry of the Catholic Church.
This year, fifty high school students from both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish have successfully completed the requirements of our Confirmation Preparation Program. During the past two years, they attended Mass together and completed a rigorous program of formation. In addition, they participated in the New Spirit Evening of Reflection; completed service projects; and prayed together as a community of young disciples. These students are now well-prepared to publicly renew their baptismal vows, profess their faith, and live as faithful and faith-filled Roman Catholics.
The Very Reverend Mark O’Connell, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston for the North Region, will join us again as special guest celebrant and homilist for our second and final celebration for this year of the Sacrament of Confirmation this Saturday, February 1st at 6:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church.
As always, the success of our youth faith formation program depends on volunteers. So, on behalf of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, Father Jim gives God great thanks and praise for Betsy Works, Associate Minister for Youth Faith Formation and for this year’s dedicated and hardworking team of catechists: Peter Brau, Jennifer Dort, Mary Duran, and Doug Greenfield. Their generous gifts of time and talent have ensured that all of our candidates are ready to accept and embrace the Gifts of the Holy Spirit at their Confirmation. Thank you! May God bless you!
As we continue our annual celebrations of the Sacrament of Confirmation, please pray for all of our candidates and for their parents, sponsors, and families. Please also pray in thanksgiving for our pastoral team and volunteers. For more information about our youth faith formation programs in Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, and the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Betsy at email@example.com. Peace, blessings, and congratulations to all! — Father Jim
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
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 in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com. Please join us! Spread the word! All are invited! All are welcome!
Holy Family Women’s Guild
Valentine’s Day Bake Sale
February 8th & February 9th
The Holy Family Women’s Guild will hold its famous Valentine’s Day Bake Sale during the weekend of Saturday, February 8th and Sunday, February 9th. After all weekend Masses, the Women’s Guild will sell biscotti, cakes, candy, and Italian cookies. All proceeds will sup- port Holy Family Parish. Here’s your chance to buy something sweet for someone you love and support Holy Family Parish at the same time! For more information, please contact Lydia Bertolino at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Established in 2005, the Holy Family Women’s Guild brings together women of all ages and backgrounds in prayer, fellowship, and service to the parish and wider community. Throughout the year, the Women’s Guild sponsors various fundraising events and social gather- ings. For more information about the Holy Family Women’s Guild and its good work in our parish, please contact Leeann Kennedy at 978-412-5405. New members are always welcome! Thank you for your generous support!
Electronic Giving Made Safe & Easy
Available at Both Parishes
Electronic giving is available at both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. It is easy, simple, and safe to make online donations to your home parish using a credit card, debit card, or electronic check. Donations can be made on a one-time-only or ongoing basis. And it takes just a few minutes to set up a secure personal account. Just choose the appropriate link below and click “Make a Donation.” Please prayerfully consider supporting your parish by giving electronically! For more information about electronic giving in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Thank you for your generous and ongoing support!
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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