By Pope Francis
Dear Brothers and Sisters! In recent weeks, the liturgy has emphasized what it means to assume an attitude of vigilance and what preparing the way of the Lord really means in concrete terms. On this Third Sunday of Advent, sometimes called the Sunday of Joy, the liturgy invites us to welcome the spirit by which all of this happens — the spirit of joy. Saint Paul invites us to prepare for the coming of the Lord by assuming three attitudes: constant joy, steadfast prayer, and continuous thanksgiving.
Saint Paul says: “Rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16).” This means always being joyful even when things do not go according to our wishes. This profound joy is peace, which is the joy that is within each of us. Peace is a joy at the ground level, but it is still joy. Distress, difficulties, and suffering pass through every person’s life. We are all familiar with these things; and so often the reality that surrounds us seems so barren and inhospitable. It is similar to the desert in which the voice of John the Baptist resonates in Sunday’s Gospel (John 1:23). But the words of the Baptist reveal that our joy rests on a certainty. He says that our desert is inhabited: “There is one among you whom you do not recognize (John 1:26).”
John refers to Jesus, the Father’s envoy, who comes, as Isaiah stresses: “to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God (Isaiah 61:1-2a).” These words, which Jesus himself will speak in his discourse at the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-19), clarify that his mission in the world consists in our liberation from sin and from the personal and social slaveries that it produces. Jesus has come to earth in order to restore the dignity and freedom of the Children of God. Only he can communicate this; only he can give us joy.
The joy that characterizes our waiting for the Messiah is based on steadfast prayer. This is the second attitude. Saint Paul says: “Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).” By praying, we can enter into a stable relationship with God, who is the source of true joy. A Christian’s joy is not bought. It cannot be bought. It comes from faith and from our encounter with Jesus Christ, who is the reason for our happiness. When we are rooted in Christ, the closer we come to Jesus, the more we find inner peace, even among everyday contradictions. For this reason, a Christian, having encountered Jesus, cannot be a prophet of misfortune, but a witness and herald of joy. This joy is to be shared with others. It is an infectious joy that renders the journey of life less toilsome.
The third attitude that Saint Paul emphasizes is continuous thanksgiving, which is our grateful love for God. Indeed, God is very generous to us. We are invited to always recognize his benevolence, merciful love, patience, and goodness — thereby living in unceasing thanksgiving. Joy, prayer, and gratitude are three attitudes that prepare us to experience Christmas in an authentic way. Joy, prayer, and gratitude! Everyone together, let us say: joy, prayer, and gratitude! One again! Joy! Prayer! Gratitude! During these last days of Advent, let us entrust ourselves to the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the cause of our joy, not only because she gave birth to Jesus, but because she always leads us to him (Angelus – Third Sunday of Advent -2017).
Online Advent Retreat
The Franciscan Spirit for Advent
Continues This Week!
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s twin goals have been and will remain to do whatever we can to protect the health and safety of our parishioners and to provide free, high quality, and mainstream spiritual nourishment online. This week, our Online Advent Retreat: The Franciscan Spirit for Advent continues with a prayerful reflection on the Blessed Mother by Jacopone of Todi (1230-1306). Jacopone was a Franciscan Friar, poet, and pioneer in bringing the Gospel to life on stage. Before joining us on this third week of retreat, all are encourage to join us in praying for comfort, guidance, and inspiration through the intercession of Saint Francis of Assisi:
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,
and our Merciful Savior. Amen.
Every weekend through December 27th, Cliff Garvey will post a new podcast (audio reflection; approximately 10 minutes each) with prayers 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. All are encouraged to offer Night Prayer for God’s mercy, healing, and protection from the coronavirus. For more information about this online retreat or lifelong faith formation in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org. May the Lord give you peace!
Pastor’s Note #1
By Father Jim
My heart breaks to share the sad news that Cliff Garvey’s dachshund, Linus, passed away on Friday, December 4th. Just two days earlier, Linus was suddenly showing signs of lameness. Even now, we cannot conceive of how he may have been injured. But he was treated by a local veterinarian who prescribed rest and medication for pain and inflammation. Throughout that first day, Linus showed some signs of improvement.
By Thursday evening, however, he was suffering from severe pain and paralysis of his hind legs. Cliff and I rushed him to the Emergency Room at the Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital in Woburn. After a thorough examination by a neurologist, it became clear that Linus had no chance of any meaningful recovery either through surgery or some combination of medicines. Regardless of the course of treatment, Linus would never again be able to play with Boo (his best dog friend), walk along the Boulevard, or explore his favorite dirt road on Haystack Mountain in Maine.
Linus spent his final night in the hospital. Needless to say, he was very excited to see Cliff on the following morning, but he could only move his head and front legs. Even his little tail had stopped working. Linus became calm and peaceful when Cliff held him in his favorite position — as many parishioners will remember seeing them together before or after a Sunday Mass or around town. These two best buddies leaned into each other. Linus pressed his face against Cliff’s face. Finally, Cliff thanked his brave and sweet little boy for bringing so much joy into so many lives — mine included. Linus died in Cliff’s arms. He was just four years old. He was a truly beautiful and precious creature. He will be very missed by many people in our parishes.
Especially during these sad times, when so many are suffering all around us, the loss of a little dog may seem like a small thing. But Linus’ short life and sudden passing remind us to appreciate what we have, to cling to those we love, and pray for better and brighter days. In your kindness, please pray for Cliff, for me, for Boo (who is very sad), and for all who suffer and grieve during this blessed season of the year. Thank you for your prayers! Peace and blessings to all!
Pastor’s Note #2
Our Christmas Mass Schedule
By Father Jim
As Christmas approaches and the coronavirus pandemic worsens, Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, and the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are forced to make hard decisions about how to celebrate the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ and meet our obligation to do whatever we can to protect the health and safety of our friends, neighbors, and fellow parishioners. Ultimately, we have decided to make some sacrifices this year, so that hopefully we can all be together next year in our home parishes, in our beloved churches, in our favorite pew, at our favorite Mass. In this spirit, we will celebrate a limited schedule of Masses with limited attendance that is consistent with how we have come together for worship since our churches re-opened five months ago:
Thursday, December 24th
Online Vigil Mass at 4:00pm
Watch on CCGR’s YouTube Channel
No In-Person Masses
Friday, December 25th
7:00am at Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
8:15am at Saint Ann Church
10:00am at Saint Joachim Church
11:45am at Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
Online Registration Required
No Walk-In Attendance
To the best of our abilities, we will continue to follow all of the guidelines recommended by the Archdiocese of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In order to attend one of our Christmas Masses, all are required to register by clicking the link at ccgronline.com/mass beginning on Sunday, December 20th at Noon. This reservation period will end on Wednesday, December 23rd at 6:00pm. Reservations for Christmas Masses by phone or email will not be accepted (no exceptions).
Please note that only those who have registered can be welcomed into our churches (no exceptions). Those who have registered are required to wear face masks, use hand sanitizer, undergo a temperature check, receive Holy Communion in their hands, and maintain a safe social distance of six feet at all times. In addition, those in attendance will be escorted by an usher to their assigned seat (no exceptions).
These are extraordinary measures for extraordinary times. But again, my fervent prayer is that if we offer some small sacrifice this Christmas, then by God’s grace, we will be together again sometime next year as a happy and healthy community united as always in prayer, fellowship, and service. Until then, I beg you to support your home parish, take good care of your family, and look out for your neighbors. Thank you in advance for your ongoing prayers, support, and cooperation! Be kind, be smart, and be safe during this holiday season! Merry Christmas! Peace, blessings, and much love 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!
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 email@example.com. 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 William Rubino