By Kathleen M. Basi
Faith and politics. Are there any two words in the English language that are more fraught with potential to divide? In the United States in 2016 and even in 2020, we went through a heartbreakingly ugly presidential primary and convention season, only to be thrust into an equally disgusting general election fight; entire seasons in which the modus operandi seemed to be: ‘Say whatever you want, whether it is true or not, because all things are justifiable in the pursuit of winning.’ When faith intersects with politics, we are faced with very hard choices. No party, no candidate, represents the totality of the Catholic faith. No party holds a moral high ground; the bending of truths and the oversimplification of issues is a near-universal characteristic of political rhetoric, and all party platforms contain positions that are inconsistent with the teachings of Christ.
Candidates often tell us that we stand at a point of no return; that if we do not get the ‘right’ result, our country is lost. And for this reason, we tolerate the behaviors, the shredding of an opponent’s human dignity, the dishonesty, and the trash talking that stand diametrically opposed to the Ten Commandments. Even worse, we participate in them.
Most of us do not want to own our guilt. We would rather blame the system. If we take an honest look in the mirror, though, almost all of us are part of the problem. Too often, the tone of our comments on social media and in our safe zones, among those who think like we do, mirrors the un-Christlike ugliness exhibited in direct mail, television ads, and speeches. We fail to hold our candidates, even the ones we know personally, accountable for the tenor of the discussion. Then, too, there are the articles and editorials we choose to share. It is easy to hide behind them, to let an author take the blame, and refuse the responsibility that we incur by spreading his or her influence.
The truth is, there is no one ‘point of no return.’ We face crossroads every day, every election season, and in every conversation about social, economic, and governmental affairs. At each one, we make a choice to put our faith in the driver’s seat; or to make a particular party, candidate, or issue our god. In the next few [days], as individual followers of Christ, we must decide whether to condone the false absolutes, the polarization, and the dehumanization that have come to characterize our political process, or to hold ourselves and all of our leaders accountable to the standard set by Jesus. We all have a choice to make. What will you choose?
About the Author: Kathleen M. Basi is a composer, musician, essayist, and disability rights activist. She is also a wife and mother of four children, one of whom lives with Down Syndrome. Kathleen is a contributor to Bringing Home the Word, an e-newsletter for the ‘home church’ which is updated each weekend (see link below).
The Call to Faithful Citizenship
By Father Jim
In last week’s message, Cliff Garvey wrote: “Each of us can act in ways that affect the lives of others. We can wear masks, practice safe social distancing, or perhaps even avoid social gatherings altogether. Or not. We can call a lonely neighbor, write to an old friend, or share a kind word with a fellow parishioner along the Boulevard. Or not. We are all in this together. But too many people think their freedom is more important than your grandmother’s health and safety. Too many people think their individual comfort trumps the common good. In recent days, we have all seen the consequences of this brazen selfishness.”
Cliff’s compelling message reminds us that everything we do and say can affect the life of another person. This includes how we vote. During the coming week, we will be bombarded with messages that will try to influence how we vote. For Catholics, it is important to remember that no bishop, pastor, lay minister, or television personality should tell us how to vote. Our vote should be the voice of our own conscience: formed and strengthened by prayer, reason, reflection, and serious study of the issues of the day.
At the same time, the Catholic Church is called to give prophetic witness to the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus. We are called to ‘faithful citizenship.’ In this spirit, we offer the resources below to guide your prayer and discernment as election day approaches. These resources include the only voter’s guide approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB): Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.
My hope is that you and your family will make use of these valuable resources; and share them with friends, neighbors, and family members. Now more than ever, let us pray and reflect on our role as citizens and as a community of disciples…then VOTE! Peace and blessings to all!
Watch: Catholics Participate in Public Life
Watch: Catholics Protect Human Life & Dignity
Watch: Catholics Promote the Common Good
Watch: Catholics Love Their Neighbors
Watch: Faithful Citizens Work with Christ
Read: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship
The Call to Faithful Citizenship
By Bishop Edward W. Clark
In just a few weeks, the nation will complete the voting process. I am taking this opportunity to respond to some inquiries I have received from church members in recent weeks. First, the Church does not support or oppose any candidates running for office. Second, where the Church takes a position on particular legislation, that position is based on issues of morality and not of politics. In casting your vote, consider the moral implications of the proposition.
Third, there is no ‘Catholic party.’ No political party fully agrees with all of the moral positions of the Catholic Church. If anyone, even a bishop or a priest, should tell you that as a Catholic you cannot vote for a particular party or that you must vote for one party rather than the other, know that the Church does not endorse such a position. Vote the party of your choice.
Fourth, the Catholic Church is not a one issue church. There are a great many moral and ethical concerns the Church is called to address. It is a danger to consider only one issue to the detriment of all others. Fifth, as Catholics, we are called to vote for the common good (in other words, to vote for what is the greatest good for the greatest number of people) and to vote from our conscience (not from political, social, or financial convenience). Finally, the Church encourages each one of us to register and vote. It is the responsible and Catholic thing to do. We are all called to be faithful citizens!
About the Author: Since 2001, the Most Reverend Edward William Clark has served as Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles for the Our Lady of Angels Pastoral Region. His episcopal motto is: The Gift Received Give as a Gift.
The Cost of Basic Necessities
Support Your Home Parish!
Because of the ongoing pandemic, we might think that the costs associated with operating our parishes have declined dramatically. This would be a big mistake! Our churches are open (despite limitations on seating capacity). Sunday Masses are being celebrated. Baptisms, funerals, and weddings have resumed. Confessions are being heard again (by appointment).
Although our office remains closed, messages are received and returned on a daily basis. Our churches and parish buildings are being cleaned. Insurance premiums and utility bills need to be paid. The remaining members of our pastoral team, including me, continue the good and hard work of parish ministry. Salaries, benefits, and even food for the rectory need to be purchased. Here’s just a small sampling of October’s monthly expenses:
- Holy Family Parish
Fire Insurance: $4,644
Liability Insurance: $903
Misc. Insurance: $105
- Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish
Fire Insurance: $1,612
Liability Insurance: $1,294
Misc. Insurance: $154
Anyone who knows me knows that economy and thrift were taught to me at an early age. My parents worked day and night to provide for our family and to make ends meet. And believe me, we are doing everything we can to control and reduce our expenses. But both the short and long-term financial stability of Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish is in our hands. We are solely responsible for our own fundraising and for paying our own bills. It’s all up to us!
How can you help? Give what you can. Encourage your fellow parishioners to give what they can. Use our safe and easy electronic giving program. Pledge to pay one of our monthly expenses. Or gather a group of friends, family members, or fellow parishioners to make a pledge. For more information, please contact me at email@example.com. Peace, blessings, and thanks for your generous support! — Father Jim
Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish
Annual Financial Report
During the past year, Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish has been blessed and challenged in many ways. Until the pandemic struck, attendance at our weekend Masses was good and growing — especially at our late Mass on Sunday mornings. Parishioners offered positive feedback about our faith formation programs, music ministries, website, and weekly newsletter. Both year-round residents and summer visitors shared favorable comments about the dedication of our pastoral team and the untold good works of our volunteers. We are very blessed, indeed!
Since the pandemic however, we remain confronted with a broad array of serious challenges. Although we are again celebrating public Masses every Sunday, our schedule is limited and seating capacity is approximately one-tenth of what it was last year at this time. Because of necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of our parishioners, fundraising efforts and weekly offertory brought in around $21,000 less last fiscal year than the year before. And the prospects for this year look grim.
Despite the pandemic and thanks to your generous support, our parish budget was balanced (with a small surplus) for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2020. Our annual financial report is posted below. This news, however, is not cause for celebration. Our buildings are old and need almost constant repair and maintenance. Despite drastic reductions in payroll, we must offer a just wage to our remaining pastoral team members. We must also pay our utility bills and insurance premiums. And we must be ready for the costs of a long winter.
Let’s be honest. We are solely responsible for the short-term stability and long-term viability of Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Without your generous and ongoing financial support, we will be unable to sustain the programs and ministries that our community depends on in the church buildings that we all cherish. Generations of good people have worshipped here. It is now up to us, you and me, to step up, help out, give what we can, and pay tribute to the men and women who built this parish and entrusted it to us. Now more than ever, we need your help to live the Gospel, share God’s love, and rebuild the Church! Peace, blessings, and thanks to all!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
The Assisi Project
Founded in 2007 by Father Jim and Cliff Garvey during their first pilgrimage to Italy, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit. Our mission is to help believers of all ages and backgrounds grow closer to Christ, the Catholic Church, and each other through the intercession, inspiration, and life of example of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. 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, and all around the world. We pray each day for all who ask for our prayers. If you would like us to pray for you or your special intention, please contact Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us! Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us! Our Lady of Angels, pray for us! May the Lord give you peace!
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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In Memory of Bishop Richard G. Lennon