This Week’s Message
Harmony & Communion:
A Cure for Our Suffering World
By Pope Francis
The pandemic has highlighted how vulnerable and interconnected everyone is. If we do not take care of one another, starting with the least among us, with those who are most affected, including creation, we cannot heal the world.
Commendable is the effort of so many people who have been offering evidence of human and Christian love of neighbor, dedicating themselves to the sick even at the risk of their own health. They are heroes! However, the coronavirus is not the only disease to be fought; the pandemic has shed light on broader social ills. One of these is the distorted view of the person, a perspective that ignores the dignity of the person. At times, we look at others as objects to be used and discarded In reality, this type of perspective blinds and fosters an individualistic and aggressive throwaway culture that transforms the human being into a consumer good.
In the light of faith, we know instead that God looks at a human person in another way. God created us not as objects but as persons loved and capable of loving. God has created us in his image and likeness. In this way, God has given us a unique dignity: a calling to live in communion with him, in communion with our sisters and brothers, and with respect for all creation. We might say that he created us for communion and harmony. Creation is the harmony in which we are called to live. And in this communion, in this harmony that is communion, God gives us the ability to procreate and protect life; and to till and conserve the land. It is clear that one cannot procreate and safeguard life without harmony. Without harmony, life will be destroyed.
We have an example of the individualistic perspective, that which is not in harmony, in the Gospels — in the request made by the mother of James and John to Jesus (Matthew 20:20-38). She wanted her sons to sit at the right and left of the new king. But Jesus proposes another vision: a vision of service and giving one’s life for others. Jesus confirms it by immediately restoring sight to two blind men and making them disciples. Seeking to climb in life, to be superior to others, destroys harmony. It is the logic of dominion, the logic of dominating others. Harmony is something else; it is service.
Let us ask the Lord, therefore, to give us eyes attentive to our brothers and sisters, especially those who suffer. As Christian disciples, we do not want to be indifferent or individualistic. These are the two unpleasant attitudes that run counter to harmony. Indifferent: I look the other way. Individualistic: I look out only for my own self-interest. The harmony created by God asks that we look at others, the needs of others, and problems of others, in communion. We want to recognize the human dignity in every person, whatever his or her race, whatever his or her language or condition might be. Harmony leads us to recognize human dignity.
The Second Vatican Council emphasizes that this human dignity is inalienable because it was created to the image of God. It lies at the foundation of all social life and determines its operative principles. In modern culture, the closest reference to the principle of inalienable dignity is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that Saint John Paul II defined as a “milestone on the long and difficult path of the human race” and as “one of the highest expressions of the human conscience.” Rights are not only individual, but also social; they are of peoples, nations. The human being, in his or her personal dignity, is a social being; created in the image of the Triune God. We are social beings. We need to live in social harmony, but when there is selfishness, our outlook does not reach others, focuses only on ourselves, and makes us ugly, nasty, and selfish.
The renewed awareness of the dignity of every human person has serious social, economic, and political implications. Looking at our brother and sister and the whole of creation as a gift received from God inspires attentive behavior, care, and wonder. In this way, the believer, contemplating his or her neighbor as a brother or sister, not as a stranger, looks with compassion and empathy, not with contempt or hostility. Contemplating the world in the light of faith, with the help of grace, we strive to develop our creativity and enthusiasm in order to resolve the problems of the past. We understand and develop skills that arise from our faith — gifts from God places at the service of humanity and all creation.
While we work for a cure for a virus that strikes everyone without distinction, faith exhorts us to commit ourselves seriously and actively to combat indifference in the face of violations of human dignity. This culture of indifference accompanies the throwaway culture. Faith always requires that we let ourselves be healed and converted from our individualism, whether personal or collective. May the Lord restore our sight so that we can rediscover what is means to be members of the human family. And may this sight be translated into concrete actions of compassion and respect for every person; and for the care and protection of our common home.
ABOUT THIS WEEK’S MESSAGE
Earlier this month, Pope Francis resumed his weekly General Audience. These gatherings are an opportunity for the pope to offer a blessing and catechesis (a.k.a. religious instruction) on some matter related to the Christian life. Since 2013, Pope Francis has hosted 320 such audiences which are translated into seven different languages. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Holy Father’s new series is about healing the world from the physical, social, and spiritual sicknesses of the present day.
The Holy Father calls for a renewed commitment to the common good, a renewed spirit of social responsibility, and a renewed dedication to taking better care of each other and our mother earth. During the coming weeks, Pope Francis will explore these themes more deeply by turning to the scriptures and the Church’s social teachings. This week’s message is the English translation of his catechesis on August 12, 2020. In this beautiful and challenging reflection, the pope calls us to a greater conversion of both mind and heart — from selfishness to communion — before it’s too late. Peace and blessings to all! — Father Jim
The Living Rosary
Our Virtual Summer Retreat
Begins Tuesday, September 8th
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s twin goals have been to do whatever we can to protect the health and safety of our parishioners and to provide free and high quality spiritual nourishment online. We are grateful for your kind words of encouragement and support for our efforts so far!
As you may know, our annual summer retreat has been the most popular adult faith formation program of the year. For six consecutive summers, under the direction of Cliff Garvey, we have gathered, prayed, and reflected together on a wide variety of topics: Benedictine Spirituality, Desert Spirituality, Eastern Monastic Spirituality, Franciscan Spirituality, Discipleship & Mission, and the Universal Call to Holiness. Unfortunately, because of necessary restrictions on large gatherings related to the pandemic, it has become necessary to cancel plans for our annual in-person summer retreat. In our disappointment, we turned to the Blessed Mother for advice and consolation:
Let us entrust to the Virgin Mary,
our trials and tribulations,
together with our joys and consolations.
Let us beg her to look upon us with love,
especially during times of trial,
and make us worthy of beholding,
today and always,
the merciful face of her son, Jesus. Amen.
This prayer by Pope Francis inspires us to announce our first-ever Virtual Summer Retreat: The Living Rosary from Tuesday, September 8th through Saturday, September 12th. From the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the Feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we will gather in a virtual but powerful spiritual communion for five consecutive days to pray a Living Rosary every half-hour from dawn until dusk; and reflect on the Blessed Mother’s powerful prayers for our suffering world.
Each day, all are invited to join us in praying a Living Rosary for the intention of God’s mercy, healing, and protection from the coronavirus; and register for half-hour blocks from 6:00am until 7:00pm, thus ensuring a constant chorus of prayer rising to heaven throughout the day for this all-important intention. Our goal is to recruit at least twenty-six people per day to create a Living Rosary that begs the Blessed Mother to pray for us! You can sign up for one or more half-hour blocks each day! If you would like to join us, please contact Cliff at email@example.com.
In addition, Cliff will offer five daily reflections via podcast. These free audio recordings (approximately 10 minutes each) about the Blessed Mother and power of the Holy Rosary will be posted online each morning of the retreat at 9:00am. And on Saturday, September 12th, Father Jim will renew the Solemn Consecration of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, thus placing again both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish under her powerful protection during these troubled times. Please join us! Let’s pray together! Ever together!
The Assisi Project
Free 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 eleven podcasts with more on the way! These podcasts are free and always available! Just click on the links below:
- New! Making the Ground Green: A Good Man’s Gospel
- Servants & Subjects
- If God Can Work Through Me…
- 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 95 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!
Sharing God’s Love
Sanctuary Candles & Gifts
At each of our churches in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, sanctuary candles and gifts (hosts and wine) can be donated for a special intention or in memory of a friend or loved one. The requested donation for both sanctuary gifts and candles is now $25 per week. Each week, donations can be offered at:
- Saint Ann Church
- Saint Joachim Church
- Saint Anthony Chapel
- Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
- New! Chapel of the Archangels
Please note that Cardinal Sean has given permission to create a Eucharistic Chapel in Our Lady of Good Voyage Rectory. The Chapel of the Archangels, dedicated to Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, and Saint Raphael, is located on the first floor of the rectory. You can see the sanctuary candle from the street. In addition to their better-known patronages, Archangel Michael is also venerated as a patron of the sick and suffering; Archangel Raphael is also a patron of medical professionals; and Archangel Gabriel is also patron of priests. We all need their prayers and protection like never before!
If you would like to donate a sanctuary candle or sanctuary gifts at Saint Ann Church, Saint Joachim Church, Our Lady of Good Voyage Church, Saint Anthony Chapel, or our new Chapel of the Archangels, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Thank you for your generous support! May God bless you!
Support Your Home Parish!
Follow the Money!
Even though most of our ministries and programs are suspended during the pandemic, your home parish still needs your support! Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish depend solely on your financial support to pay our bills and make ends meet. Let’s follow the money! Your weekly gifts pay for Father Jim’s salary, health care benefits, along food and utilities for the rectory. Your gifts also pay for the salaries and benefits of our remaining pastoral team members who are working harder than ever to clean our churches, maintain our buildings and grounds, and provide for the spiritual needs of our fellow parishioners. Finally, your gifts pay for the necessary maintenance and repairs of our historic church buildings.
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 WeShare program is a safe and easy way to make donations to your home parish using a credit card, debit card, or electronic check. Because of your generous and ongoing support during these tough times, we can pay our bills, balance our monthly budgets, and ensure the short and long-term financial stability of our beloved parishes. Every dollar counts! Every gift, large or small, makes a difference! For more information about how you can support the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
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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