By Pope Francis
Dear Brothers and Sisters! This Sunday just before Christmas, we reflect on the Gospel of the Annunciation. In this passage from the Gospel of Luke (1:26-38), we notice a contrast between the promises of the angel and Mary’s response. This contrast is manifested in the dimension and content of the expression of the two protagonists. The angel says to Mary: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end (Luke 1:30-33).”
It is a long revelation that opens unprecedented possibilities. The Child that will be born to this humble girl from Nazareth will be called the Son of the Most High. It is not possible to conceive of a higher dignity than this one. And even after Mary’s question, in which she asks for an explanation, the angel’s revelation becomes even more detailed and surprising. On the other hand, Mary’s reply is a short sentence that does not speak of glory. It does not speak of privilege, but only of a willingness to serve. She says: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word (Luke 1:38).” The content is so very different. Mary does not exalt herself before the prospect of becoming the mother of the Messiah. Instead, she remains modest; and she expresses her acceptance of the Lord’s plan for her. Mary does not boast. She is modest and humble. She always remains this way.
This contrast is meaningful. It helps us understand that Mary is truly humble and does not try to be noticed. She recognizes that she is small in God’s eyes and she is happy to be small. At the same time, she is aware that the fulfillment of God’s plan depends on her response. Therefore, she is called to accept it with her whole being. In this circumstance, Mary’s behavior corresponds perfectly with the behavior of the Son of God when he comes into the world. He wants to become the Servant of the Lord; to put himself at the service of humanity; and to fulfill the Father’s plan. Mary says: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord” and Jesus says upon entering the world: “I have come to do your will, O God (Hebrews 10:7).” Mary’s attitude fully reflects this statement by the Son of God who also becomes the son of Mary. In this way, Our Lady shows us that she in perfect accord with God’s plan. She also reveals herself to be a disciple of his son.
Finally, in the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), Mary is able to proclaim that God “has lifted up the lowly (Luke 1:52)” because with her humble and generous response, she has obtained great joy and great glory. As we admire our Blessed Mother for her response to God’s call to mission, we beg her to help us welcome God’s plan into our lives with sincere humility and brave generosity. Please remember to pray for me this week!
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 Thomas of Celano’s beautiful account of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Christmas Creche. Before joining us on this fourth 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 email@example.com. May the Lord give you peace!
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
A Call to Prayer
When Every Night Is Winter
Lord, you split no sky
when you came among us,
and you rose not from the sea.
A star was seen in the heavens,
but only by those who looked.
A choir of angels was heard,
but only for those who listened.
No thunder, no storm,
no cataclysm announced you.
Just the cry of a lowly refugee,
turning to no one,
turning to everyone,
saying, ‘Will you let me in?’
And so, when every night is winter,
and every town in Bethlehem,
and every inn seems filled,
and on every ear
those words are heard,
‘Will you let me in?’
May we have eyes to see the star.
May we have ears to hear the choir.
May we have hearts that finally speak,
‘Yes, yes, by all mean, come in!
Come in and stay with us!’ Amen.
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 Joseph Favazza