By Jim & Susan Vogt
When our children were young, we frequently heard, “It wasn’t me! I didn’t do it!” As adults, insisting on our innocence is still second nature: “If I didn’t start the fight, pollute the river, or own a slave, then why should I take responsibility?” The answer is at the foot of the cross. Who killed Jesus? Not you or me. Pontius Pilate gave the command. Soldiers nailed him to the cross. And religious leaders incited the crowd. But we cannot lay the blame on any one individual or group. Instead, we all participate in the evil of the crucifixion because we all sin.
Sin infects our attitudes, our institutions, our corporations, and our politics. It is called social sin, and it is something for which we are all responsible. Social sin is evident when we see poverty. Human nature often leads the privileged to assume that less privileged people are where they are because of laziness, a poor work ethic, or a lack of ability. We saw this error of thinking in our children and their questions. When our children were young, we rode our bicycles through different neighborhoods. As we rode, our children would ask questions like: “Why don’t these families fix up their homes?” or “Why can’t they find a good job?”
Our family did not cause our neighbors’ poverty. But as Christ’s followers, we must take responsibility to do something about it. Christ’s parable of the last judgment does not leave wiggle room when the Lord says: “Depart from me…for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, a stranger and you gave me no wel- come, naked and you did not give me clothing…What you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me (See Matthew 25:41—45).”
So, does this mean all will be right if we donate our old clothes to Goodwill, help build a house with Habitat for Humanity, work at a soup kitchen, and visit the sick — or all of the above? Yes and no. These actions are necessary but not sufficient. No matter how many mouths we feed at the soup kitchen, we must ask ourselves why, when we’re capable of eliminating hunger, do we lack the political will to do so? Why, in this rich country, is there still poverty? The answer often lies in our isolation from the needy. Direct service increases our awareness of needs around us, but then we must take the next step to change the system that allows these needs to continue. Following are ways in which Catholics can make a difference:
First, purify your soul by prayer and fasting. The prayer must be genuine, not self-righteous. Fasting puts us in solidarity with those who do not have the luxury to voluntarily forego food or drink. Second, do not engage in anonymous sinfulness. Racism is not always a result of deliberate maliciousness, but rather a result of allowing an unjust system to continue. By sitting on the sidelines and doing nothing, we are complicit in the neglect of our neighbor.
Third, get to know someone who is poor, a person of color, or someone who is part of an op- pressed minority. It is difficult to move beyond superficial contact to immerse yourself in someone’s story and struggles, but it will sensitize your conscience and give you perspective. And lastly, use this heightened awareness to propel you into social justice. You don’t have to tackle everything. Commit to taking a first step, getting involved in one cause that contributes to systemic change for the common good. Once you know the right things to do, it is wrong to ignore your responsibility. “It wasn’t me! I didn’t do it!” will be your condemnation.
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
Litany to Saint Peter
Viva San Pietro!
On Monday, June 29th, the Catholic Church around the world celebrates the Feast of Saints Peter & Paul. This weekend, we commemorate and pay tribute to Saint Peter as a beloved and revered patron of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. Tradition holds that Saint Peter was the first of the apostles to perform miracles after the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This weekend, let us pray that through his prayers, he will perform a new miracle for God’s mercy, healing, and protection from the coronavirus. Viva San Pietro!
Saint Peter, Prince of Apostles,
Saint Peter, to whom were given the Keys to Heaven,
Saint Peter, so ardent for the glory of Christ,
Saint Peter, whose heart was pierced with one look from Jesus,
Saint Peter, who grieved for his denial of the Son of God,
Saint Peter, whose cheeks were furrowed
by a stream of tears that flowed until the end of your life,
Saint Peter, who cried out:
“Lord, you know that I love you!”
Saint Peter, bound in chains for Christ,
Saint Peter, delivered from prison by an angel,
Saint Peter, who rejoiced to suffer with Jesus,
Saint Peter, whose mere shadow cured the sick,
Saint Peter, whose voice even the dead obey,
Saint Peter, so that we may love one another,
so that we may taste and see the sweetness of the Lord,
so that we may be zealous in loyalty to your successor,
Pope Francis, the Vicar of Christ,
so that we may help, at least through our prayers,
the unity of your scattered sheep,
so that we may be prudent and watchful in prayer,
so that we may die the death of the just,
Saint Peter, the Rock, pray for us!
Lord Jesus Christ,
who upon Saint Peter, your blessed apostle,
you bestowed the pontifical power
of binding and loosing,
and to whom you gave the Keys of Heaven,
grant that his powerful intercession
may ensure our deliverance from the bondage
of sickness and sinfulness,
through you who lives and reigns
with our Father in Heaven and the Holy Spirit,
forever and always one God,
a world without end. Amen!
Saint Peter, Patron of the Church, pray for us!
Saint Peter, Patron of Fishermen, pray for us!
Saint Peter, Patron of Bakers, Builders, and Shoemakers, pray for us!
Saint Peter, Patron of Long Life & Good Health, pray for us!
Saint Peter, Patron of the Papacy,
pray for our beloved Holy Father, Pope Francis!
May God bless him with courage and perseverance!
Our Pastor’s Message
A Time for Prudence (Updated)
By Father Jim
Prudence is one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (along with faith, fortitude, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and wonder at God’s living presence in the world). It is also one of the Four Cardinal Virtues (along with fortitude, justice, and temperance). Prudence is defined as the quality of being cautious; as acting with great care and concern for the future. According to Saint Thomas Aquinas, the virtue of prudence helps us to act with wisdom. It requires us to take counsel; consider options that point toward what is good and right; make wise decisions; and implement those decisions with diligence and empathy. Saint Thomas calls prudence “right reason in action.”
By now, you know me well enough to know that I do not think of myself as being a particularly prudent person. My natural impulse is to forge ahead, plan on the fly, and adapt as we move along. But now is not the time for instinct. Too much is at stake. Lives are at stake. The future of our parishes and all that we have worked toward during the past six years hangs in the balance. Now is the time for caution. Now is the time for prudence. Now is the time for right reason in action.
As you know, Cardinal Sean has asked every pastor to develop a plan for a cautious and limited re-opening of our churches. Before any church can open for public prayer and worship, each plan must be personally approved by our regional bishop. Last weekend, I met for the fourth time with a working group of parishioners and pastoral team members that is helping me to develop a plan to re-open Saint Ann Church, Saint Joachim Church, and Our Lady of Good Voyage Church on a very limited basis. While every member of this group appreciates the desire to resume the public celebration of Holy Mass, we are united in our deep concern for the health, safety, and well-being of our friends, neighbors, and fellow parishioners in Gloucester and Rockport.
It is worth repeating once again that we should be mindful of the unique character of our communities. While many parishes slow down during the summer months, our churches typically experience a sizeable increase in the number of people who worship with us. This requires us to effectively communicate our re-opening plan with both year-round residents and summer visitors. Another serious challenge is church capacity. Archdiocesan and state government regulations strictly limit seating to 40% of overall capacity in each church. At the same time, these regulations also require at least six feet of social distance at all times. This latter requirement will make it nearly impossible for us to accommodate everyone who wants to join us for Mass.
In order to fully comply with the social distancing requirement, we can seat only 28 parishioners in Saint Joachim Church, 28 parishioners in Saint Anthony Chapel, 36 parishioners in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church, and 56 parishioners in Saint Ann Church. In addition, each church must be thoroughly cleaned after every moment of public worship: funeral services, baptism and wedding ceremonies, and all celebrations of the Holy Eucharist. This includes cleaning bathrooms, entrances, worship spaces, sacristies, sanctuaries, and every surface that someone might touch.
In order to attend any public celebration of the Holy Eucharist, all parishioners will be required to reserve an assigned seat via an easy-to-use online reservation system. For parishioners who do not have access to a computer or the internet, some seats will be reserved for registration by telephone. Every parishioner who successfully registers will receive a confirmation message via email or telephone. And it is important to keep in mind that for safety reasons, we cannot welcome anyone into our churches unless they participate in this registration process. It is our plan to test this system over the course of the next few weeks, further customize the system for our parishes, and re-open our churches for public worship on Sunday, July 26th.
Please keep in mind that this date is tentative and could change based on guidance from the Archdiocese of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Under these circumstances, our Daily Mass Schedule (along with all other parish programs and minis- tries) will remain suspended. Our parish office will also remain closed for the time being, but pastoral assistance is always available by e-mail or telephone. Beginning on Wednesday, July 29th, the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession) will be available by appointment only. More information will be available soon about baptisms, weddings, and funerals. But for the foreseeable future, our Sunday Mass Schedule will be reduced to the following celebrations:
- Vigil Mass (Celebrated Privately & Posted Online)
- Sunday at 8:15am in Saint Ann Church
- Sunday at 10:00am in Saint Joachim Church
- Sunday at 11:45am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
Other important factors worth repeating are that the new safety measures will change the ways we enter and exit our churches; where we sit; how we reach those seats; how we worship; and how we receive Holy Communion. In accordance with Cardinal Sean’s guidelines, everyone who enters our churches must wear a mask; maintain a safe social distance at all times; and receive Holy Communion in their hands. Missalettes will be removed from all churches, but parishioners are invited to bring their own personal worship aids. There will be no instrumental music or communal singing at any of these public Masses. And in an effort to reduce the risks associated with public worship, we are now required to take the temperature of every person who enters our churches (using a touch-free thermometer). Needless to say, your patience, cooperation, and support are need now more than ever!
As I have shared with you before, I fully appreciate that some parishes have opened more quickly than us. It is not my place to second guess the decisions and practices of other pastors and parishes. My singular focus must remain on how Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish can respond to this crisis and how we can do whatever we can with limited resources to keep each other safe and well. This is a time for patience, prayer, and prudence. The coming weeks and months will test our bonds of prayer, fellowship, and service. They will challenge us to consider new ways to live the Gospel, share God’s love, and rebuild the Church. But always working together as humble servants in the Lord’s vineyard, we can do anything! Ever together! Peace, blessings, and sincere thanks to all!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Coming End of the Fiscal Year
We Need Your Help!
Brothers and sisters! As we approach the end of the fiscal year on June 30th, your weekly gifts are essential to the financial health and well-being of both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. We depend solely on the generosity of our fellow parishioners to pay bills, make ends meet, and help ensure the both the short-term and long-term financial stability of our parishes. Our parishes depend solely on your generous gifts in order to pay for the salaries and benefits of our priests and pastoral team members; groundskeeping, utility bills, insurance premiums, and necessary repairs in our churches and parish buildings.
Put simply, we need your help now more than ever! 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 effort 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 and ongoing support! Prayers, and blessings for 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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