This Week’s Message
Coping with Chronic Illness
By Susan Hines-Brigger
When you enter our home, it appears to be a normal family household. But look more closely and you will see a deeper story. Behind the butter in the refrigerator sits my medicine. On top of a cabinet, near my baking supplies, is the container where I put used needles after my daily injections. Welcome to life with a chronic illness. I have multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disorder affecting the central nervous system. I was diagnosed nine years ago, shortly after the birth of the second of our four children. First, I lost hearing in one ear. Then one side of my face went numb. My vision and balance have been affected. And I temporarily lost all feeling in my right leg. Each day, I battle overwhelming fatigue and the fear of this disease’s unpredictability. But life goes on. It has to. Clothes must be laundered, homework has to get done, and there are parties to plan.
When first diagnosed, I felt isolated. No one I knew had MS. I knew little about the disease and did not feel comfortable calling my doctor every time I had a question. Being fiercely independent, I vowed to take this on myself. I did not want to burden others, nor did I want to be labeled a complainer. I scanned the Bible for comforting passages. While many resonated, I wasn’t finding the comfort that I thought I would. That is, until I stumbled across the Letter to the Romans and began to read: “For as in one body, we have many parts, and all the parts donot have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another (Roman 12:4-5).” Suddenly, it hit me. In my search for comfort, I wasmissing community, a key part of my Catholic faith.
So, as many do nowadays, I took to social media to share my struggle. Before long, an old friend from high school wrote back. She, too, has MS. Within months, another high schoolfriend was diagnosed. A mom at my kids’ school does not have MS, but she also lives with achronic illness. She wrote to let me know that she gets it. We pray for one another, supporting each other when we are weak. And though we come from various faith backgrounds, we are a community: formed person by person, story by story.
I have come to realize that my friends and family are the living manifestation of Saint Teresa of Avila’s words: “Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which he is to bless his people.”
The faith community provides a wonderful network of support during times of need. I was reminded of this when the mother of one of my daughter’s classmates died suddenly. The parish rallied around the family. For some, that meant making meals. Others literally wrapped their arms around the family. Still others offered prayers. I have experienced those blessings as I deal with MS. Those moments when I feel lowest are when I am reminded of Christ’s presence. Sometimes it is a kind word from a friend, an unexpected visit, or just a momentary sense of calm. Faith is my security blanket. It gives me something to hold onto when I am frustrated or sad. My faith tells me: “Do no give up. Hang in there. There is hope.”
About the Author: Susan Hines-Brigger is Managing Editor of Saint Anthony Messenger Press. She is also a contributor to Bringing Home the Word. Check out the latest edition at the link below.
World Day of the Sick
Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes
Tuesday, February 11th
On Tuesday, February 11th, the Catholic Church throughout the world will commemorate the 28th Annual World Day of the Sick on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. In the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, this special day is a unique occasion for us to prayfor those who live with chronic or terminal illnesses, celebrate God’s healing, love, andmercy for all who suffer, and give sincere thanks for all who love and care for the sick.
In his message for the World Day of the Sick, Pope Francis writes: “Dear brothers and sis-ters: In your experience of illness, you certainly need a place to find rest. The Church de- sires to be more and more…a home where you can encounter grace, which finds its expres- sion in closeness, acceptance, and relief. In this house, you can meet people who are healedin their weakness by God’s mercy, will help you bear your cross, and enable you to findmeaning in your suffering. In this way, you may look beyond illness toward a great hori-zon of new light and fresh strength in your lives.”
As we commemorate the World Day of the Sick, let us lift our hearts and voices to our Cru- cified and Risen Lord on behalf of those who are sick, those who are suffering, and those who are dying. May God bless them, comfort them, and strengthen them with the balm of his healing, love, and mercy. Let us pray, too, for our friends and family members who em- brace the hard and heartbreaking ministry of caring for the sick. May God bless them with faith, hope, and love in the face of sickness and suffering.
A PRAYER FOR THE SICK
By Pope Francis
Lord Jesus Christ,
watch with those who wake;
watch or weep and give your angels
charge over those who sleep.
Tend your sick ones.
Rest your weary ones.
Bless your dying ones.
Soothe your suffering ones.
Pity your afflicted ones.
Shield your joyful ones.
All for your love’s own sake. Amen.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!
Catholic Kids Camp
The Way of the Cross
Begins Tuesday, February 18th
LIVING GOSPEL LIVING JESUS
The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is pleased to announce that all children (ages 5 through 11) are invited to participate in our next Catholic Kids Camp: Living Gospel, Living Jesus from Tuesday, February 18th through February 21st from 8:00am until 12:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. During this exciting week of fun, fellowship, and prayer, our young disciples will encounter the men and women who met Jesus on the Way of the Cross. Our learning plan features active and engaged participation in games, music, prayer, skits, and craft projects. Here’s our schedule for the week:
- Day I: Tuesday, February 18: Pilate and the Temple Leaders
- Day II: Wednesday, February 19: Veronica & Simon
- Day III: Thursday, February 20: Soldiers & Women of Jerusalem
- Day IV: Friday, February 21: Mary, John & Joseph of Arimathea
Each day of our Catholic Kids Camp will begin with Mass at 8:00am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. All parents, grandparents, and guardians are encouraged to join us! After Mass, Betsy Works and a team of volunteers willlead the children to Our Lady’s School for a faith-filled and fun-filled morning of activities, learning, and good times with friends both old and new. Catholic Kids Camp is an exciting educational program that you children and grandchildren will love!
The tuition for this innovative youth faith formation program during the winter school vacation is just $30 per child for the entire week. Scholarships are available for those families that cannot afford tuition. In addition, adults and children (age 12 and up) are welcome to join us as volunteers and will be much appreciated! For more information about youth faith formation in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Betsy Works at firstname.lastname@example.org. Save the dates! Spread the word! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Lent Day of Prayer & Reflection
The Call of Levi
Saturday, February 29th
LIVING GOSPEL LIVING JESUS
Pope Francis once said: “In the name of Saint Francis, I say to you: I have neither gold nor silver to give you, but something far more precious, the Gospel of Jesus.” In this spirit of growing closer to Christ and to each other through the holy scriptures, all parishioners, friends and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join us for a “Lent Day of Prayer & Reflection: The Call of Levi” on Saturday, February 29th from 8:00am until 12:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church.
During this four-hour morning retreat, we will pray with and reflect upon Christ’s call to Levi and to all sinners: “Follow me (Luke 5:27).” In addition, we will discuss the Lord’s admonition to the Pharisees: “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners (Luke 5:32).” Overall, we will explore in some real depth the universal themes of discipleship, forgiveness, and God’s love for all people — no matter who they are, what they’ve done, or where they’re from.
Our day of prayer will proceed according to the following schedule: Celebration of Holy Mass at 8:00am; First Reflection & Faith Sharing at 9:00am; Eucharistic Adoration & Rosary at 10:00am; Second Reflection & Faith Sharing at 11:15am; Angelus & Closing Prayer at 12:00pm. After our scheduled program, all are invited to join us for a delicious potluck lunch. Throughout the morning, there will be scheduled breaks and time for faith sharing, fellowship, and questions. Coffee, tea, bottled water, and refreshments will be served.
Our Lent Day of Prayer & Reflection is part of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s year-long series: Living Gospel, Living Jesus. If you would like to join us for this special event, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. Also, if you are able and willing to help with our potluck lunch, please contact Cliff as soon as possible! Please join us! Spread the word! Bring a friend! All are invited! All are welcome! Always!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your generous and ongoing support!
Winter Weather Cancellations
For the latest information about weather related cancellations 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!
Follow us on Twitter: @CCGRonline