By Pope Francis
Last Sunday, we began Advent with the call to be vigilant. On this Second Sunday of Advent, the sacred liturgy shows us the true meaning of this season of preparation for Christmas. It is a time to recognize the shortcomings in our lives, smooth out the roughness of pride, and make room for Jesus who will come soon. The Prophet Isaiah addresses [God’s] people by proclaiming the end of the exile in Babylon and the return to Jerusalem. He says: “A voice cries out: In the desert, prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley will be lifted up, every mountain and hill will be made low (Isaiah 40:3-4).” The valleys to be lifted up represent all of the shortcomings in our behavior before God and all of our sins of omission. One shortcoming in our lives could be the fact that we do not pray or that we do not pray enough. Therefore, Advent is a favorable time to pray with greater intensity; and to reserve for the spiritual life the important place it deserves.
Another shortcoming could be a lack of charity for our neighbor, above all toward those most in need — not only of material help, but also spiritual help. We are called to be more attentive and much closer to the needs of others. In this way, like Saint John the Baptist, we can open highways of hope in the deserts of the barren hearts of so many people. Isaiah also exhorts us: “Every mountain and hill will be made low (Isaiah 40:4).” The mountains and hills that must be made low are pride, arrogance, and insolence. Where there is pride, where there is insolence, and where there is arrogance, the Lord cannot enter because the heart is so full of pride, insolence, and arrogance. For this reason, we must temper our pride. We must take on attitudes of meekness and humility, without reproach, so that we can listen, speak with humility, and thus prepare for the coming of our Savior who is himself meek and humble of heart (Matthew 11:29).
Then we are asked to eliminate all of the obstacles that we set against our union with the Lord. Isaiah says: “The rugged land will become a plain and the rough country will be made a broad valley (Isaiah 40:4)” and “Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together (Isaiah 40:5).” Such actions, however, must be performed with joy because they are designed to prepare us for the coming of Jesus. At home, when we await the visit of a loved one, we prepare everything with care and gladness. In the same way, we should prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. We should await him each day with our full attention, so that we are filled with grace when he arrives.
The Savior whom we await can transform our live with his grace, with the power of the Holy Spirit, and with the power of love. In fact, the Holy Spirit infuses our hearts with God’s love, the inexhaustible source of purification, freedom, and new life. The Virgin Mary fully lived this miraculous reality. She allowed herself to be ‘baptized’ by the Holy Spirit who inundated her with his power. She prepared for the coming of Christ with her whole heart and soul. May she help us follow her example. May she guide our way to the coming of the Lord. I wish everyone a happy Sunday and a good Advent journey! Please do not forget to pray for me! (Angelus – Second 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
Begins This Weekend!
Week 1: Pray and Be Vigilant!
Sunday, December 6th; Week 2: Living the Gift
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 email@example.com. 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!
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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