This Week’s Message
Our Spiritual Communion
By Pope Francis
Brothers and sisters! The month of May is a time when the People of God express with particular intensity their love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is traditional during this month to pray the Holy Rosary at home with our families. The restrictions of the pandemic have made us come to appreciate all the more this family aspect of the Church from a spiritual point of view. For this reason, I encourage everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Holy Rosary at home during the month of May. This can be done either as a group or individually. You can decide according to your own situations by making the most of every opportunity. The key to doing this is always simplicity.
I also wish to provide two prayers to Our Lady that you can recite at the end of the Rosary, and that I will pray myself during the month of May in a spiritual communion with all of you (see prayers below). I share them with you here so that they will be available to everyone. Dearest brothers and sisters, contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary, our Mother, will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial. I keep all of you in my prayers, especially those suffering most greatly. And I ask you, please, to pray for me. I thank you. And with great affection, I send you my blessing.
you shine continuously
on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you,
Health of the Sick,
who, at the foot of the cross,
was united with Jesus’ suffering,
and persevered in your faith
as Protectress of the Roman people.
You know our needs,
and we know that you will provide;
so that as at Cana in Galilee,
joy and celebration may return
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves
to the will of the Father
and to do what Jesus tells us.
For he took upon himself our suffering,
and burdened himself with our sorrows
to bring us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.
Pastor’s Note: This week, our homepage and newsletter feature recent reflections and prayers shared with the world by the Vatican News Service — perhaps the very best online resource for news, information, and spiritual guidance for Catholics all around the world. During these difficult days, when we cannot gather together, both Pope Francis and Father Federico (see below) remind us again that we can still pray together; and that while we long for the Holy Eucharist, we can still be spiritually nourished by our prayers, study of the scriptures, and acts of spiritual communion. As we begin another week of self-isolation, let’s continue to pray together for God’s mercy, healing, and protection from the coronavirus. Peace and blessings to all! — Father Jim
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
Call to Prayer
Mary, Mother of the Church
By Pope Francis
In this present tragic situation,
when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety,
we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother,
and we seek refuge under your protection.
Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes toward us
amid this coronavirus pandemic.
Comfort those who are distraught
and mourn their loved ones who have died,
and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply.
Be close to those who are concerned
for their loved ones who are sick, and who,
in order to prevent the spread of the disease,
cannot be close to them.
Fill with hope those who are troubled
by the uncertainty of the future,
and the consequences for the economy and employment.
Mother of God and our Mother,
pray for us to God, the Father of Mercies,
that this great suffering may end
and that hope and peace may dawn anew.
Plead with your Divine Son, as you did at Cana,
so that the families of the sick
and the victims be comforted,
and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.
Protect those doctors, nurses,
health workers, and volunteers
who are on the frontline of this emergency,
and are risking their lives to save others.
Support their heroic efforts and grant them
strength, generosity, and continued health.
Be close to those who assist the sick night and day,
and to priests, who in their pastoral concern
and fidelity to the Gospel,
are trying to help and support everyone.
Blessed Virgin, illumine the minds
of men and women engaged in scientific research,
so that they may find effective solutions
to overcome this virus.
Support national leaders,
so that with wisdom, solicitude, and generosity,
they may come to the aid of those lacking basic necessities
and may devise social and economic solutions
inspired by vision and solidarity.
Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences,
so that the enormous funds invested
in developing and stockpiling arms
will instead be spent on promoting effective research
on how to prevent similar tragedies
from occurring in the future.
Beloved Mother, help us to realize
that we are all members of one great family,
and to recognize the bond that unites us,
so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity,
we can help alleviate countless situations of poverty and need.
Make us strong in faith,
persevering in service, constant in prayer.
Mary, Consolation of the Afflicted,
embrace all your children in distress
and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand
and free us from this terrible pandemic,
so that life can serenely resume its normal course.
To you, do we entrust ourselves,
who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope,
O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.
Living Beyond the Crisis
Our Spiritual Communion, Part 2
By Father Federico Lombardi, SJ
When those of us who are now old were children, during catechism class we were told often about spiritual communion. They told us that we could unite ourselves spiritually to Jesus, who offers Himself upon the altar even if we are not able to make a sacramental communion by physically receiving the consecrated host. Spiritual communion was a religious practice that aimed at making us feel continuously united to Jesus, not only when we received Holy Communion during Mass, but also at other times and places. It was not an alternative to sacramental communion, but in a certain sense continued it and prepared us for it, such as visits to the Blessed Sacrament and other moments of prayer.
After a certain point in time, we heard practically nothing more about [spiritual communion]. The emphasis on participation at Mass by receiving Holy Communion, which is certainly good in itself, has led to other traditional dimensions of Christian devotion being overshadowed. I began to think again, more intensely, about spiritual communion on one exceptional occasion. During World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011, a sudden storm during the night destroyed most of the tents where the unconsecrated hosts were being prepared in anticipation of the more than two million young people expected for the final Mass. And so, at the main Mass celebrated by the Holy Father, only a very few of the young people were able to receive sacramental communion, precisely because there were so few hosts.
Many people were upset, at least at first. It seemed to some as if World Youth Day had failed because something essential was missing from the culminating religious moment of the event. It took a great deal of time and energy to help people understand that although the physical act of receiving the Sacred Host is exceptionally important, it is not the only indispensable manner of being united with Christ Jesus and His Body, the Church.
Nowadays, during his morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis encourages the faithful to pray with him, without being physically present, to make a spiritual communion…I am reminded of a holy card with a little picture of a priest raising the consecrated host in his hands. Around the image, like the hours of a clock, there were the morning hours of different countries and continents where priests would be celebrating Mass. At that time, Mass was only celebrated in the morning! It was meant to remind us that the Sacrifice of Jesus, who died for us, was being continually renewed around the world, and that we could always unite ourselves spiritually with him and his oblation. Spiritual communion, when we cannot receive sacramental communion, can also be called a communion of desire, because we desire that our own lives be united with Jesus, and especially to his sacrifice for us upon the cross.
During this prolonged time of Eucharistic fasting that is forced upon us, many people who are accustomed to frequent sacramental communion are increasingly feeling the lack of their “daily bread” of the Eucharist…Fasting is a deprivation, but it can also be a time of growth…Eucharistic fasting can become a time of growth: growth in faith, growth in desire for the gift of sacramental communion, growth in solidarity with those who for whatever reason cannot benefit from it, or growth in freedom from habits of carelessness in receiving. May we come to understand anew that the Eucharist is a gratuitous and surprising gift of the Lord Jesus. It is neither trivial nor banal. May we desire it with our whole heart. Can this be a consequence of these troubled times?
Call to Prayer
By Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val
At your feet, O my Jesus,
I prostrate myself
and I offer you repentance
of my contrite heart,
which is humbled in its nothingness
and in your holy presence.
I adore you in the Blessed Sacrament of your love.
I desire to receive you into the poor dwelling
that my heart offers you.
While waiting for the happiness
of sacramental communion,
I wish to possess you in spirit.
Come to me, my Jesus,
since for my part, I am coming to you!
May your love embrace my whole being,
in life and in death.
I believe in you. I hope in you.
I love you. Amen.
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
- Francis: The Journey and the Dream
By Murray Bodo
- A Retreat with Francis & Clare
By Murray Bodo & Susan Saint Sing
- The Jesus Prayer Rosary
By Michael Cleary
- Called to Be Holy
By Cardinal Timothy Dolan
- Live Like Francis
Reflections on Franciscan Life in the World
By Leonard Foley
- Instruments of Christ
Reflections on the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis
By Father Albert Haase, OFM
- Saint Francis, Pope Francis: A Common Vision
By Gina Loehr
- Jacinta: The Flower of Fatima
By Cardinal Humberto Medeiros
- Thoughts in Solitude
By Thomas Merton
- A Retreat with Anthony of Padua
By Carol Ann Morrow
- 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
- The Jesus Prayer
By John Michael Talbot
- The Jesus Prayer Rosary
By Michael Cleary
- Saints Who Battled Satan
By Paul Thigpen
- 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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