By Kathleen M. Basi
Occasions like New Year’s Day, Ash Wednesday, and even birthdays seem custom-made for adopting new life goals. It is neat and tidy to say: “As of January 1st, I will no longer lose my temper with my children” or “Beginning on Ash Wednesday, I will stop using food to ward of boredom or anesthetize my pain.” But how often have we promised to change, only to find that within a few days or weeks, we have reverted to our old ways?
Conversion does not happen according to a schedule. God does not call us based on the calendar. God calls us when he has work for us; or when we are tripping on our own weaknesses. In other words, God calls every moment of every day. The questions are obvious. Do we listen? Do we respond? When I find myself re-resolving the same things, I get frustrated. If my commitment is sincere, then why doesn’t it work the first time? Why do I have to keep starting over?
I once heard a homily that addressed this frustration. The priest urged us not to beat ourselves up when our attention wanders during Mass. We all come to the table filled with our own worries and concerns. It is human nature to be distracted. The important thing is to keep turning back. This, he emphasized, is the true meaning of repentance. Every time we consciously shift our focus from our own anxieties back to God, it is a recommitment. It is a moment of renewal.
This is an encouraging thought. Bad habits are easier to come by than good habits; and replacing the former with the latter requires constant vigilance. The practice of turning and returning to God defines the Christian journey; separating the true disciple from the seed that is sown in shallow soil and withers in the sun (See Matthew 13:1-9). We all need daily reminders about how much we depend on God’s saving grace. We all need to be smacked upside the head with awareness of how little we can accomplish on our own.
God calls us when our lives are in need of refocus, when our hearts are in need of repentance. That call does not wait for some artificially imposed milestone on a calendar. It comes every day, as reliable as the sun rising in the east, as certain as the failure of our own resolve and our own strength. Can you hear the quiet voice within your own heart speaking; the voice that is asking you to make a change? Do not wait for some date on a calendar to tell you that it is time to start anew. As Saint Paul says: “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).”
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 regular contributor to Bringing Home the Word, an e-newsletter that features suggestions for prayer and reflection for the home church. A new edition is posted here every weekend (see link below).
Special Message of Thanks
By Father Jim
As this unusual Christmas Season continues, we join together in a prayer of sincere thanks for parishioners and pastoral team members who dedicated their time, talent, and treasure to help us celebrate these holy days in a true spirit of faith, hope, and love for the Lord. On behalf of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, we thank Suzanne McGlauflin, Jane Russo, and Lucy Sheehan for decorating our churches so simply and beautifully for the holidays.
We thank all of the ushers who have faithfully served our parishes since our churches re-opened last summer: Steve Barusso, Lydia Bertolino, Andrea Bouchie, Mark Brennan, Fernanda Brown, Carol Cafasso, Becky Carrancho, Dan & Jenn Dort, Linda Galvin, Bob & Terri Krause, Mark & Patty Natti, Joan Sanfilippo, and Jane & Vince Pallazola. We also thank all of the lectors, especially Betsy Works and Patti Wellbank, who join us week after week to proclaim the Word of God under difficult circumstances.
In addition, we thank Tom Misuraca, Lucy Pallazola, Patty Natti, Kathleen Adams, Alexandra Kirby, and Clara Mazo for sharing the special gift of music during this difficult holiday season. We owe sincere thanks to Tom, Lucy, and Clara for producing our first-ever Online Festival of Lessons & Carols. As we pray for an end to the pandemic, we look forward to seeing and singing with our dear friends in our adult and youth choirs.
I am also grateful to Sheila Durkin, Wally Durkin, and Cliff Garvey for their hard work during the past year. In particular, Cliff deserves my special thanks for helping us to pray together even when we cannot gather together in the usual ways. I am especially grateful for his good work in editing our newsletter, maintaining our websites, and creating a series of free podcasts and online retreats that have been enjoyed by literally thousands of people in our parishes and throughout the world.
Finally, my deepest thanks to all of our faithful parishioners for your cooperation, generous support, and words of encouragement. Thanks to you and to the courage and dedication of our pastoral team and volunteers, our parishes continue to be both safe and joyful places to worship during these troubled times. Peace, blessings, and much love to all! Happy New Year!
The Epiphany Proclamation
While Christmas Day is fixed in our minds and on our calendars as December 25th, many of the important feast days of the Church Year move based on the date of Easter Sunday. Each year, Easter is schedule for the First Sunday following the so-called Paschal Full Moon and can occur between March 22nd and April 25th. In ancient times, before calendars were commonplace, most people did not know the dates for the feasts of the new liturgical year. On Epiphany Sunday, the dates were proclaimed during the celebration of Holy Mass. After the proclamation of the Gospel, a cantor, deacon, or lector, in keeping with the ancient practices of the Church, may announce from the ambo the moveable feasts of the new year.
The Epiphany Proclamation 2021
Dear brothers and sisters,
now that we have rejoiced
at the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
so by leave of God’s mercy,
we announce to you also the joy
of his Resurrection, who is our Savior.
On the Seventeenth Day of February
will fall Ash Wednesday,
and the beginning
of the most sacred Lenten Season.
On the Fourth Day of April,
you will celebrate with joy Easter Sunday,
the Paschal Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
On the Thirteenth Day of May
will be the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
On the Twenty-Third Day of May,
the Feast of Pentecost.
On the Sixth Day of June,
the Feast of the Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ.
On the Twenty-Eighth Day of November,
the First Sunday of the Advent
of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
to whom is honor and glory
for ever and ever. Amen.
A Call to Prayer
Prayers for the New Year
O God, thank you for a new year.
May everyone in our family
be willing to begin anew
with a clean slate.
We know in our hearts
that you are always ready
to forgive us.
Help us to forgive ourselves
and forgive each other.
As we begin a new year,
remind us of our truest values
and our deepest desires.
Help us to live in the goodness
that comes from doing
what you want us to do.
Help us to put aside our anxiety
about the future and the past,
so that we can live in peace
with you and with each other,
one day at a time. Amen.
A Prayer for the New Year
By Brother Enoch
In the shadows
of suffering and uncertainty;
at a time assailed
by darkness and division,
a new year dawns behind a mask.
May we find hope and peace
beyond our fear,
beyond our pain.
May we work together
for healing and reconciliation.
And may God bless us,
one and all, now and always. 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 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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