This Week’s Message
Be Watchful & Alert!
By Pope Francis
Dear Brothers and Sisters! We begin today the journey of Advent, which will culminate in Christmas. Advent is the time we are given to welcome the Lord who comes to encounter us; and to verify our longing for God, to look forward and prepare ourselves for Christ’s return. He will return to us in the celebration of Christmas, when we will remember his historic coming in the humility of the human condition; but he enters our heart each time we are willing to receive him. And he will come at the end of time to judge the living and the dead. Therefore, we must be vigilant always and await the Lord with the hope of encountering him. Today’s liturgy introduces us to this evocative theme of vigilance and waiting.
In the Gospel of Mark (13:33-37), Jesus exhorts us to take heed and watch, so that we will be ready to welcome him at the moment of his return. He says: “Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.”
The person who takes heed is the one who, amid the worldly noise, does not let himself [or herself] be overwhelmed by distraction or superficiality, but lives in a full and conscious way with concern first and foremost for others. In this way, we become aware of the tears and needs of our neighbors; and we can understand their human and spiritual strengths and qualities. The [alert or] heedful person then also turns toward the world, seeking to counter its cruelty and indifference, but also taking delight in its beautiful treasures which also exist and must be protected. It is a matter of having an understanding gaze so that we can recognize both the misery and poverty of people in our society; and also appreciate the hidden richness in little everyday things precisely where the Lord has placed us.
The watchful person is the one who accepts the invitation to keep watch; that is, not to let himself [or herself] be overpowered by the listlessness of discouragement, disappointment, or lack of hope. At the same time, this person protects himself [or herself] from the allure of the many vanities in the world for which, all too often, time and familial and personal peace are sacrificed. It is the painful experience of the people of Israel, recounted by the Prophet Isaiah: God seemed to let his people stray from his ways (Isaiah 63:17), but this was the result of the unfaithfulness of the people themselves (Isaiah 64:4b). All too often, we find ourselves in the situation of unfaithfulness to the Lord’s call. He shows us the right path, the way of faith, and the way of love; but we seek our happiness elsewhere.
Being attentive and watchful are required so that we do not stray from the Lord’s ways, lost in our sins, and in our infidelity. Being alert and watchful are the conditions that allow God to permeate our existence; and to restore meaning and value to our lives with his presence, which is full of goodness and tenderness. May Mary, Most Holy, role model for awaiting God and icon of watchfulness, lead us to her son, Jesus, and rekindle our love for him. I wish everyone a Happy Sunday and a good Advent journey! Please pray for me! (Angelus – First Sunday of Advent – 2017)
Let’s Take Care of Each Other
By Father Jim
Just three days before the coronavirus pandemic forced us to close our churches and suspend our programs and ministries, my family and a few dear friends gathered in Gloucester to commemorate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It was a bright and chilly late winter day. We celebrated Mass together, renewed their vows, enjoyed a delicious meal at a local restaurant, and reveled in the company of the people we love most.
Since that Sunday eight long months ago, our family has kept in touch, but we haven’t really seen each other except from a distance. Like so many of you, I have not embraced my parents or hoisted by nieces and nephew into the air for far too long. But unlike so many of our brothers and sisters in our own communities and all around the world, my family, friends, and colleagues have been blessed with good health — so far.
Here in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, we remain dedicated to doing whatever we can with the resources we have to ensure the health and safety of our parishioners. To the best of our ability, we are following all of the guidelines recommended by the Archdiocese of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As your pastor, I remain awed and deeply grateful for your ongoing cooperation and support during these tough and troubled times.
As a community united in prayer, fellowship, and service, our challenge now is to remain alert and vigilant; to follow all of the protocols recommended by real experts; to pray for each other; and to take care of each other. If we make just a few small sacrifices during the Advent and Christmas Seasons, then if God wills it, we will be able to gather again sometime soon without masks, sanitizer, temperature checks, and social distancing.
Until then, I beg you to support your home parish, take good care of your family, and look out for your neighbors. I also invite you to take part in the Assisi Project’s five week online retreat: The Franciscan Spirit for Advent & Christmas; and pray our Franciscan Night Prayer (see link below) for the intention of God’s mercy, healing, and protection for all who live, work, and worship in Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, and beyond. Peace and blessings to all!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Call to Prayer
Season of Advent
By Father Henri Nouwen
Master of both light and darkness,
send your Holy Spirit
upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do
seek quiet spaces
to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious
over many things
look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed
in so many ways
long for the complete joy
of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy
seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people,
walking in darkness,
yet seeking the light.
To you we say:
Come, Lord Jesus!
Glory to the Father,
to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Saint Ann, pray for us!
Saint Joachim, pray for us!
Saint Anthony, pray for us!
Saint Peter, pray for us!
Our Lady of Good Voyage, pray for us!
Online Advent Retreat
The Franciscan Spirit for Advent & Christmas
Begins This Weekend!
Week 1: Pray and Be Vigilant!
Since the start 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 provide high quality spiritual nourishment online. We are grateful for your kind words of support and encouragement for our efforts so far! Over the years, our Annual Advent Retreat has been among our most popular adult faith formation programs. Unfortunately, because of necessary restrictions on large gatherings, all of our in-person programs and ministries remain suspended. In our disappointment, we turned to Saint Francis for Assisi for advice and consolation:
when the times were growing cold,
God sent you into the world
as a witness of his burning love
for all people and all creation.
Pray for us now,
so that we may become
instruments of peace and healing
in our sick and suffering world.
We make this prayer
through the Holy Name of Christ Jesus,
the Prince of Peace,
our Merciful Savior. Amen.
This prayer inspires us to announce our first-ever Online Advent Retreat: The Franciscan Spirit for Advent & Christmas. For five consecutive weekends, from November 29th through December 27th, we will gather in a virtual but powerful spiritual communion by reflecting on the miracle of the Incarnation of the Christ Child at Christmas through some of the timeless voices of Franciscan Spirituality: Saint Francis, Saint Clare, Saint Charles Borromeo, Jacopone of Todi, and Thomas of Celano. Every Saturday, Cliff Garvey will post a new podcast (ten minute audio recording) with a prayer for the coming week.
In addition, as the days grow short and nights grow long, all are invited to join us online in praying the Assisi Project’s Franciscan Night Prayer for the intention of God’s mercy, healing, and protection from the coronavirus. All of these free podcasts will be posted at assisproject.com. Finally, on Sunday, December 27th, Father Jim will renew the Solemn Consecration of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, this placing again both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish under the Blessed Mother’s powerful protection for the coming new year. Please join us! Let’s pray together!
Saint Vincent de Paul Society
Virtual Christmas Giving Tree
Share the Gift of Christmas!
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society is an international organization that is dedicated to responding to any request from any person or family need. Here on Cape Ann, we work through Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish to serve the poor, the needy, and the newly unemployed. Even in the midst of the pandemic, our work continues! This year, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society will sponsor the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s Virtual Christmas Giving Trees! Help us share the gift of Christmas with local families in need! Between now and December 8th, all are encouraged to buy a gift card, bring it to Mass, deliver it to our parish office, or mail it to:
Saint Vincent de Paul Society
74 Pleasant Street
Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930
These gift cards will be given to families who need our help in making this Christmas a better one for their children and grandchildren. For more information about the Saint Vincent de Paul Society and its good work in our parish communities, please contact Harry Miller at 978-281-8672 or Barbara Frontiero at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you or your family needs our assistance, please contact us at 978-281-8672. Thank you for your generous support! May God bless you!
Holy Family Parish
Holy Family Parish depends solely on the donations of friends and fellow parishioners to pay its bills, make ends meet, and maintain its financial stability. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and necessary safety protocols that protect our parishioners, attendance at Mass is limited and all ministries have been suspended or modified. Among these programs is the Annual Christmas Fair, which cannot be held this year but is usually our single largest fundraising event. Instead, the Holy Family Women’s Guild is sponsoring a Christmas Raffle! Chances for each raffle are $2 per ticket or six for $10! Prizes include:
- One cash prize of $500
- Four cash prizes of $100
- iPad Basket
- Handmade Afghan
- Handmade Quilt
Special thanks to Greely Funeral Home, Campbell Funeral Home, Agnes Burnham, and an anonymous benefactor for making possible these great prizes! Raffle tickets have been mailed to every registered parish family. Please complete your tickets and return them to Father Jim or the parish office by Friday, December 4th. Winners will be drawn on Saturday, December 5th! If everyone participates in the Christmas Raffle, we will raise $23,000! Every penny goes directly to Holy Family Parish! If you have not received tickets or would like to purchase additional tickets, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Thank you for your generous support!
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
Electronic giving is available at both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. It is safe and simple to make online donations to your home parish using a credit cared or debit card. Donations can be made on an ongoing or one-time-only basis. And it takes just a few minutes to set up a secure personal account. For assistance or more information about this important fundraising resource for the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your generous support for our parishes during these difficult times! Peace, blessings, and many thanks to all!
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 Michael Porper, Jr.