This Week’s Message
Give It Away for Lent
By Susan Vogt
One year ago, I was facing Lent — again. I was ready to repeat my annual routine: no sweets, no complaining, extra prayer, and the usual fasting and abstinence. I realized, though, that I wasn’t growing or being challenged. I decided to find a practice that would remind me daily of this penitential season and join me to Jesus’ sacrifice of giving his life for others. What if I gave away one thing a day for the forty days of Lent? I wanted to live a more simple lifestyle both for spiritual reasons and to declutter my life. I decided to take this on as a challenge, hoping it would clean out not only my closets but also my soul.
I started my Lenten giveaway with shoes. I am not a big shoe collector, or so I thought. According to Soles4Souls (see soles4souls.org), the average American owns fourteen pairs of shoes. I figured I was under that and could go lower. Wrong! When I added up my shoes, it came to thirty pairs! I was horrified! I pruned it down to fourteen. I moved on to clothing. I had many clothes that I seldom wear. I discovered that I had enough extras to give more than one thing away each day and could go by categories. I started with the letter “s” (shirts, skirts, suits, slacks, sweaters, and scarves) and gathered up all the old-fashioned or makes-me-look-fat garments. I pulled out about seven items for each “s” and created some breathing room in my closet. I felt pretty good about pruning but ran into a problem.
At first, I just collected my intended giveaways in a corner. But then my stuff started over-flowing and getting in the way. In addition to giving things to charities, neighbors, and friends, I discovered Freecycle (see freecycle.org) and Vietnam Veterans of America (pickupforvets.org) who pick up at your home. My most satisfying experience was trying to get rid of an adult potty seat, the one item not claimed in my “free yard sale.” A woman was going to visit an elderly neighbor, saw the seat, and said: “The lady I’m visiting could use that!” She picked it up and went happily on her way.
What does this have to do with Lent and spirituality? I harkened back to my early religious education, remembering that Sunday is not an official day of Lent. It is a day of rest and rejoicing, not penance. I decided not to give away anything on Sundays, but rather to use the time to ponder how this experience was changing me. Was I becoming less attached? Was it a holy sacrifice or simply a way to clean my house? Just as Jesus was stripped of his clothes before his crucifixion, I found myself stripping away excess clothing and household items to focus on what’s most important in life: being generous and caring for those in need.
Although I haven’t achieved total humility, I did stretch myself to think daily about the abundance I have instead of what I lack. I’m more aware of how to share what I have with others, even if it pinches. I remind myself that my importance is not dependent on what I own. I feel more solidarity with those who are economically poor. I now shop differently. When tempted to buy something because it is such a bargain, I consider: Do I really need this? Is it something that I will eventually give away? Is there someone who needs it more than me? Can I buy it for them? Remember, eventually we all return to dust. The stuff of our lives just collects dust and makes it harder to prepare for that final journey.
Note: Susan Vogt is a regular contributor to Bringing Home the Word. A new edition of this electronic newsletter for families is posted every week on our website (see link below).
The Light Is On For You!
Confessions & Eucharistic Adoration
Begins Wednesday, March 4th
During the Holy Season of Lent, all Catholics are invited to experience Christ’s love and mercy through the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession). On five consecutive Wednesday evenings during Lent (March 4th through April 1st), all are invited to join us for The Light Is On For You! from 6:00pm until 8:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. These special evenings of prayer will include Evening Prayer and Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours; Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament; and two full hours of confession for those who feel called to participate. For some, this may be a time for confession and sacramental reconciliation. For some, it may be a time for silent prayer and adoration. And for others, it may be a time to begin or renew a spiritual journey. For more information, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please spread the word! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
The Way of the Cross
A Traditional Lent Devotion
Begins Friday, February 28th
For more than five hundred years, the Stations of the Cross are one of the most enduring and moving traditional devotions of the Roman Catholic Church. By uniting our prayers with those of the suffering Christ through both word and imagery, we make a spiritual pilgrimage with our Lord as he experiences the Passion of the Cross. During Lent, all are invited to join the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport in praying the Way of the Cross on six consecutive Friday afternoons (through April 3rd) at 3:00pm in Saint Ann Church. For more information about Lent in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please spread the word! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
The Woman at the Well
Two Night Mini-Retreat
Begins Thursday, March 12th
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 long encouraged all Catholic Christians to spend time each day reading from the sacred scriptures. In the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, we take seriously this admonition from Saint Jerome and any encouragement from the Holy Father. So, 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 is not just a scripture study program. It is part of our ongoing commitment to learn the Gospel, love the Gospel, and live the Gospel in our homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces.
During the coming months, Father Jim and Cliff Garvey 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 reflection and guided meditation 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 daily lives.
Our next Living Gospel, Living Jesus Mini-Retreat is scheduled for Tuesday, March 12th and Friday, March 13th in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. We will begin 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 The Woman at the Well from the Gospel of John (John 4:5-42). We will conclude with Night Prayer at 8:00pm.
This special event is free and open to all parishioners, friends, and all 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 (although all donations will be gratefully accepted). For more information, please see Father Jim before or after Mass; or contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! Spread the word! Bring a friend! All are invited! All are welcome!
Call to Prayer
Meet Me in the Desert
Prayer for the First Week of Lent
Lord of Lent, Lord of Easter,
as you went into the desert,
so do I follow,
putting aside all that distracts me,
all that grabs at me,
and all that falsely claims me.
To search inside,
to confront myself;
my best, my worst,
my good works and my sins.
And each time,
I find you there:
to call me again
with words of challenge
and words of mercy.
As I fall to my knees in prayer,
fasting, sacrifice, and penance,
somehow you reach out
and gently lift me up:
to renew me, to claim me
as nothing in this world can do.
Meet me in the desert, Lord:
renew me and claim me anew!
Glory to the Father,
to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever.
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!
Follow us on Twitter: @CCGRonline