By Cliff Garvey
Earlier this week, the Catholic Church throughout the world celebrated the Feast of Saint Bonaventure, Friar, Bishop, and Doctor of the Church (1221-1274). He was baptized Giovanni di Fidanza and raised in a small town about sixty miles north of Rome. As a child, he nearly died by was saved by the miraculous prayers of Francis of Assisi. One tradition holds that by God’s grace, Francis himself healed the sick boy and prophetically exclaimed “Bona ventura!” or “Good luck!” — hence the name he was give after joining the Order of Friars Minor.
As a brilliant student at the University of Paris, Bonaventure befriended and studied with the young scholar who would become Saint Thomas Aquinas. In fact, the received their degrees together in 1257. Thomas once asked his friend about the source of his great learning and wisdom. Bonaventure looked up from his studies and simply pointed to the crucifix. Another time, Thomas found the young friar enraptured in prayer while working on a draft manuscript of his famous book, The Life of Saint Francis. Thomas said with admiration: “Let us have a saint to write about a saint!” Later in life, Bonaventure became the Minister General of the Franciscan Order and was named the Cardinal Archbishop of Albano (Italy).
Despite his erudition and influence, Bonaventure remained humble of heart and lived a life deeply rooted in the Franciscan disciplines of prayer, penance, and simplicity. Once when summoned to Rome by Pope Gregory, Bonaventure stopped to rest at a convent near Florence. It was here that two papal messengers found him. They were sent with news of Bonaventure’s appointment as a cardinal. But they discovered him washing dishes in the kitchen. He told the astonished messengers to hang his new cardinal’s hat on a tree nearby and come back after he had finished his chores and evening prayers. Imagine that!
Some years ago, a group of my friends and fellow parishioners decided to read Saint Bonaventure’s The Life of Saint Francis as our introduction to the life and times of the Poor Man of Assisi. This seemed like a logical choice because Bonaventure’s book served for centuries as the Catholic Church’s official biography of Saint Francis. But most of us were disappointed because we wanted a more down-to-earth, nuts-and-bolts biography, rather than one that hypes or idealizes its subject. Years later, I learned that Bonaventure was not necessarily writing a hagiography, but a work that would bridge deep divisions within the Francisan Order. One faction demanded that the friars remain true to the order’s strict original rule. Another faction essentially wanted the rule to change with the times. Sound familiar?
In his book, The Franciscan Saints, Robert Ellsberg writes: “During a time of contending factions within the order, Bonaventure tried deftly to steer a middle course between the radical freedom of Saint Francis and the disciplined order of a religious community. To reinforce this moderate interpretation of the Franciscan charism, he composed an influential life of Saint Francis. For his successful efforts, he would become known as the Second Founder.” Of course, then as now, the lesson here is that a “middle course” can be charted that both preserves tradition and facilitates reform. A middle course can be plotted that builds bridges, not just walls. A middle course can be taken that protects public health and safety, but also allows us to live our lives, love our families, and make ends meet. Now more than ever, let us pray together for this kind of guidance and wisdom! Saint Bonaventure, pray for us!
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
Our Pastor’s Message
Moving Forward — Updated
By Father Jim
As you know by now, Cardinal Sean O’Malley has asked every pastor in the Archdiocese of Boston to develop a plan for a prudent and limited re-opening of our churches. Each plan must be approved by our regional bishop. During the past month, I have been working with fellow parishioners and members of our pastoral team to develop a plan to resume the celebration of public Masses beginning on Sunday, July 26th. Although each of us longs for the day when we can join together in common prayer, we remain united in our deep concern for the health, safety, and well-being of our friends, families, and fellow parishioners in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport.
Among our challenges is seating capacity. Both the Archdiocese of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 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. In order to comply with these requirements, 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. Needless to say, this could make it very difficult to accommodate everyone who may wish to join us for Mass.
In order to attend a public celebration of the Holy Eucharist, each parishioner must reserve an assigned seat via an easy-to-use reservation system at ccgronline.com/mass. For parishioners who do not have access to a computer or the internet, some seats will be reserved for a registration by telephone. Every parishioner who successfully registers will receive a confirmation message via e-mail or telephone. It is important to remember that we cannot welcome anyone into our churches unless they participate in this registration process. This coming week, the registration system will open on Thursday, July 23rd at 10:00am and will close on Saturday, July 25th at 5:00pm. Registrations will proceed on a first-come, first-serve basis. No exceptions.
Another challenge is cleaning. Each of our churches must be thoroughly cleaned after every moment of public worship: funeral services, baptism and wedding ceremonies, and all celebration of the Holy Eucharist. This includes cleaning bathrooms, entrances, worship spaces, sacristies, sanctuaries, and every surface that someone might touch. Under these circumstances, we feel compelled to modify our weekend worship schedule (see safety checklist below) so that all of our churches can be properly cleaned before each use. In addition, all parish programs, meetings, and ministries (including Daily Mass) remain suspended until further notice. Our parish office will also remain closed, but pastoral assistance is available by e-mail or telephone.
I fully appreciate that some parishes have opened more quickly than us. It is not my place to second guess the decisions of other pastors and parishes. As your pastor, however, my focus must remain doing whatever is possible with limited resources to keep our people safe and well; and to provide some form of spiritual nourishment. This remains a time for prayer, patience, and prudence. The coming weeks and months will test our bonds of prayer, fellowship, and service like never before. And these times will challenge us to consider new ways of living the Gospel, sharing God’s love, and rebuilding the Church in Gloucester and Rockport. But working together as humble servants in the Lord’s vineyard, we can do anything! Ever together! Peace, blessings, and sincere thanks to all for your ongoing prayers and support!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Call to Prayer
A Prayer by Saint Bonaventure
Most Sweet Lord Jesus,
pierce my inmost soul
with the most joyous and healthful wound of your love,
and with true, calm, and most holy apostolic devotion,
so that my soul may always desire and melt
with true love and longing for you;
yearn for you and your courts;
and long to be dissolved into your presence.
Grant that my soul may hunger for you,
the Bread of Angels, the refreshment of souls,
our daily and heavenly bread,
having all sweetness and savor
and every delightful taste.
May my heart always hunger and feed upon you,
whom the angels desire to look upon.
May my inmost soul be filled
with the sweetness of your savor.
May it ever thirst for you:
the fountain of life,
the fountain of wisdom and knowledge,
the fountain of eternal light,
the torrent of pleasure,
and the fullness of the House of God.
May my soul ever compass you,
seek you, find you, run to you,
come up to you, meditate on you,
speak of you and do all things
for the praise and glory of your name,
with humility and discretion,
with love and delight,
with ease and affection,
with perseverance to the end.
May you alone always be my hope,
my entire confidence,
my riches, my delight, my pleasure,
my joy, my rest and tranquility,
my peace, my sweetness,
my food, my refreshment,
my refuge, my help, my wisdom,
my portion, my possession, my treasure
in whom my mind and heart
may be ever fixed and firm
and rooted immovably. Amen.
The Assisi Project
New Podcast Series
Founded by Father Jim and Cliff, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit that is dedicated to helping believers of all ages to more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare. In response to the pandemic, Father Jim asked Cliff to look back on nearly two decades of ministry as a catechist, spiritual director, and leader of retreats and pilgrimages; and to create a regular series of podcasts (audio recordings) as a way of continuing his adult faith formation ministry. As of this weekend, Cliff has already created nine podcasts with more on the way! These podcasts are free and always available! Just click on the links below:
- The Buoy in the Road
- Choose Love
- Mad As Hell?
- Mary, Mother of All Peoples (Parts 1 & 2)
- Saint Damien of Molokai: Martyr for Charity
- The School of Mary: Praying with Our Lady of Lourdes
- Our Daily Prayers
- Our Mission: Becoming Franciscans in Spirit
Members of the Assisi Project range in age from 12 to 94 and live in Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, throughout the Archdiocese of Boston, all across the United States, Canada, Brazil, Italy, Spain, and Angola. Part of our work together is our prayer together. So we pray each day for all who ask for our prayers all around the world. If you would like the Assisi Project to pray for you, your family, your special intention, or the soul of a deceased friend or loved one, please contact Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During this time of pandemic, when we are encouraged to remain at home, all are invited to pray and reflect on the Gospel Life by making use of the many resources on our website (click link below). These resources include our Daily Prayers, Franciscan Rosary, Way of the Cross, our new podcasts, and more than fifty reflections and stories about Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. Come and pray with us online! May the Lord give you peace — now and always!
Balancing Our Budgets
Our fiscal year ended on June 30th! We need your help now more than ever! Your weekly gifts are essential to the financial health and well-being of both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Our parishes depend solely on the generosity of our fellow parishioners to pay bills, make ends meet, and help to ensure the financial stability of our parishes communities. All friends, neighbors, and fellow parishioners of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are encouraged to mail their offering or to give electronically. Our mailing address is 74 Prospect Street, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930. In addition, our We Share program is a safe and easy way to make donations to your home parish using a credit card, debit card, or electronic check. Put simply, we need your help now more than ever! For more information about how to support our parishes during these challenging times, please contact me at email@example.com. Thank you for your generous support! May God bless you and your family! 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!
Follow us on Twitter: @CCGRonline