By Cliff Garvey
In 2000, Pope John Paul II declared that the Second Sunday of Easter would be celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday. Since then, God’s faithful people have rallied around a devotion to this feast, to the image of the Risen Christ who appeared in a vision to Saint Faustina, and to the chaplet that begs God’s mercy for us and for the whole world. Here in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, our parishioners pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet six mornings each week before Mass.
But why? Why does this devotion call to so many people? What can we learn from it? And perhaps most importantly, how can we share its special grace with the world around us? As always, Pope Francis can help us to better understand our longing for God’s mercy and our obligation to share it with our brothers and sisters in need. The Holy Father once said: “Let us never forget that mercy is the keystone to the life of faith and the concrete way through which we make visible the Resurrection of Jesus (2017).” In this way, mercy is not simply about forgiveness or the remission of punishment. Mercy is instead basic goodness, kindness, and generosity. It is the core ingredient of the love that we express to our friends and families; the consideration that we show to our colleagues and neighbors; and the charity that we offer to the poor, the sick, and the lonely.
Pope Francis also said: “Mercy makes us understand that violence, resentment, and revenge have no meaning; and that the first victim is whoever lives these sentiments because it deprives them of their own dignity.” We can see the hard truth in this admonition when we watch cable news or scroll through a social media feed. When we engage in bigotry, bitterness, gossip, and divisive rhetoric, we exchange mercy for meanness. We become agents of both destruction and self-destruction. We fail as disciples to live the Gospel in all that we think, say, and do. We fail to share God’s mercy in our homes, workplaces, and communities. And we fail to build up the world around us at a time when so many seem so intent on tearing it down.
For some, the devotion to Divine Mercy may involve a daily devotion in church. But for all of us, our truest devotion must not be to the ritual of a chaplet or sacred image. It should be a resolution to practice what we preach. It should be resolution to see the Risen Christ in all people, in all situations, and in all things created by God’s loving hand. It should be a resolution to respect all people regardless of their race, religion, or life experience. It should be resolution to reach out to the poor, the sick, the lonely, and the unwanted. It should be a resolution to rise above the dark shadows of anger, bitterness, and division that creep into our lives and communities. It should be a resolution to love God and love others.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote: “The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will be extremists for hate or for love?” During these troubled times, when so many of our brothers and sisters are suffering, let us ask ourselves: What better time to become extremists for love than Divine Mercy Sunday? What better time to renew our devotion to sharing God’s mercy with our families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers? What better time to pray: “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world!” Amen! Alleluia!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Pastor’s Note: Even though we cannot gather together right now for praise and worship, we can still pray together. Using the links below, all are invited and encouraged to sanctify the various times of the day with these prayers for God’s mercy, healing, and protection from all illness. Let’s pray together! Ever together in prayer! — Father Jim
Living Mercy, Part 2
By Cliff Garvey
Father Jim and I argued recently about something stupid. The quarrel lasted too long. Neither of us gave an inch. We dug in. We clung to our positions like dogs with bones. We said things that we should not have said. By the time it was over, we had more or less forgotten the reason for our argument, but for several days, it created some tension between us. To his great credit, Father Jim apologized first. And for the record, all is well. But this incident caused me to think and pray about what it means to forgive and what it means to be merciful. Ever the student, I looked to the dictionary and found that mercy means compassion and forgiveness. It means that whenever we can, we should feel and express sympathy for another person; we should let go of our anger, our hostility, and our resentment toward a friend, neighbor, or relative because of some flaw or perceived offense.
Mercy is akin to generosity, leniency, sympathy, and tolerance. It is never angry or cruel or ruthless. It never complains or gossips. It never holds a grudge. Mercy liberates. It is like a spring flower that melts the dirty remains of winter snow. It is like a sea breeze that clears the air. It is like bright sunshine that warms the heart and the soul. Mercy breathes life into old friendships and family relationships. It is enduring and timeless. It is born in scripture, heaven-sent, the work of angels. It is also the calling of sinners like you and me.
One day, I think, history will remember Pope Francis as an Apostle of Mercy. He seems to understand better than anyone that mercy is not just an abstract concept to be studied in a dictionary or theological treatise. It is instead a way of life. The Holy Father writes this about God’s mercy for us: “That mercy is dynamic, not so much a noun with a fixed and definite meaning, nor an adjective, but rather a verb — to show mercy or to receive mercy — that spurs us to action in the world. In addition, that mercy is every greater; it is a mercy that grows and expands, passing from good to better and from less to more. Jesus sets before us the model of mercy who is God the Father, who is ever greater and whose infinite mercy in some sense constantly grows. God’s mercy has no roof and it has no walls (2016).”
Think about that! God’s mercy is alive, boundless, compassionate, and loving. It can cover all faults, all failings, all crimes, and all sins. But mercy is not just the Lord’s ongoing and active love for his children. He expects us to share that love and preach it with every thought, word, and deed. He expects us to be merciful and forgiving; he expects us to be peacemakers in an increasingly bitter and divided world. He expects our hearts to grow and stretch and expand with mercy just as divine mercy grows and stretches and expands to cover every person, in every culture, in every country all around the world.
It is an ugly thing when friends argue. And it is a beautiful thing when those friends shake hands, laugh at their stubbornness, and share God’s mercy with each other. It is a movement of grace when we realize in our hearts that we are all bruised and broken; we all need to forgive; and we all need forgiveness. Pope Francis says: “Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope.” During this season of new life, let us pray for the courage to bring God’s big, bold, and bountiful gift of mercy into our homes, communities, and workplaces. And let us pray that mercy finds new life in our divided country, our wounded church, and our suffering world. Amen! Alleluia!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
Available at Both Parishes!
Brothers and sisters! Our parishes depend solely on your generous gifts in order to pay for the salaries and benefits of our priests and remaining pastoral team members; groundskeeping, utility bills, insurance premiums, and necessary repairs in our churches and parish buildings. Now more than ever, your generosity will ensure that the good work of our parishes can continue after this crisis ends; and also the long-term financial stability of both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish.
All are encouraged to mail their donations or slide them through the mail slot at our parish office. Another increasingly important component of our ongoing fundraising efforts is electronic giving. Our We Share program is a safe and easy way to make secure online donations to your home parish using a credit, debit card, or electronic check. For more information about supporting our parishes during this difficult time, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your generous support! Prayers, and blessings for all! — Father Jim
The Assisi Project
Over the past six years, the Assisi Project and the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport have gathered to read and pray with a long list of books from various genres. The primary goals of our shared study has always been to grow closer to Christ, closer to the Church, and closer to each other. During this time of pandemic, when we are called to pray and worship within the safety and solitude of our homes, we can still accomplish our goals by dedicating ourselves to a period of prayer, reflection, and spiritual exercise each and every day.
In this spirit, the Assisi Project has taken an inventory of leftover books that we now joyfully offer to our friends and followers all around the world. For a requested donation of $10 per book (plus $5 for shipping), we will send your requested book. Along with every book, we will send a prayer card that was blessed on the relics of Saint Francis of Assisi; and we will add you and your family to our prayer list and we will pray for you every day. Here is a list of available titles:
- Punching Holes in the Darkness
By Robert Benson
- Padre Pio’s Words of Hope
Edited by Eileen Dunn Bertanzetti
- Echoes of the Word
By Enzo Bianchi
- Enter Assisi: An Invitation to Franciscan Spirituality
By Father Murray Bodo
- The Jesus Prayer Rosary
By Michael Cleary
- Called to Be Holy
By Cardinal Timothy Dolan
- Instruments of Christ
Reflections on the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis
By Father Albert Haase, OFM
- Jacinta: The Flower of Fatima
By Cardinal Humberto Medeiros
- Healing Flame of Love
By Brother Leonard O’Dowd, OCSO
- The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium)
By Pope Francis
- Rejoice and Be Glad (Gaudete et Exsultate)
By Pope Francis
- The Parables of Mercy
Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization
- The Scandal of Redemption
By Saint Oscar Romero
- The Little Flowers of Saint Francis
Edited by Jon Sweeney
- Live Like Francis
Reflections on Franciscan Life in the World
By Leonard Foley
- The Jesus Prayer
By John Michael Talbot
- The Jesus Prayer Rosary
By Michael Cleary
- Saints Who Battled Satan
By Paul Thigpen
- Saint Clare of Assisi: Light from the Cloister
By Bret Thoman
- Fioretti: The Little Flowers of Pope Francis
By Andrea Tornielli
- Seasons in My Garden (Autographed)
By Sister Elizabeth Wagner
If you would like to participate in the Assisi Project’s Spring Book Sale, please contact us at email@example.com or send your donation and contact information to the Assisi Project, Post Office Box 3158, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01931. All funds raised during this online book sale will be donated to the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport so that our pastor, Father Jim, can buy groceries and pay bills at both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Quantities are limited! Thank you in advance for your generous support! Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us! Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us! Our Lady of Angels, pray for us! Now more than ever, may the Lord give you peace!
All parishioners, friends, and neighbors are reminded that Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, has suspended all public Masses until further notice. The Cardinal has issued a dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass for all Roman Catholics in the Archdiocese. Also, in order to do what we can locally to safeguard the health and safety of our fellow parishioners, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport has made the following necessary changes until further notice:
- Our parish office is closed to visitors.
- Pastoral assistance is available by phone or email.
- Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-281-4820.
- All churches and parish buildings are closed to the public.
- All adult & youth faith formation programs are suspended.
- All parish programs, ministries, and social events are suspended.
For more information about new policies regarding funerals and weddings, please contact us. All are invited and encouraged to pray with us at home using resources below. Additional resources are being added almost daily! Let us now pray for each other! Every together in prayer! Stay tuned for further updates! Peace and blessings to all! — 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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