By Kathleen M. Basi
The term relativism gets a lot of attention in Catholic circles these days. The idea of not drawing a distinct line between right and wrong contradicts everything we believe as Christians. It is a dangerous threat. But equally dangerous is the opposite: fundamentalism. We are often tempted to view every issue, conflict, and situation in black and white, defining right and wrong in circumstances where there is more than one right answer.
The beauty of the Catholic faith is its depth, complexity, and nuance. These characteristics make is possible for a richly diverse collection of humanity to unite under one Creed. But unity does not necessarily require uniformity. All too often, we try to apply fundamentalist principles to things that are not critical to the faith, and in doing so, we create division instead of unity within the Body of Christ.
Perhaps the clearest examples is what is sometimes referred to as the liturgy wars. Mostly they seem to swirl around music choices. The organ and chant crowd insists that guitars and drums are unfit for Catholic worship. Meanwhile, the guitar and drums group dismisses centuries of tradition out of hand. Neither position acknowledges the fact that the diversity of the Church accepts and indeed needs both traditions and enculturation.
If you attend Mass in a place where everybody looks basically like you, it is easy to forget that we are a Church whose members span every race, language, and culture on the planet. Within that rich tapestry springs diversity even more beautiful and complex. Each of us is shaped by our nature and by life experiences too numerous to count. We all have our own job to do in God’s plan, for which we are uniquely qualified by virtue of who we are, what we’ve learned, and what we’ve experienced.
When we consider all of this, it should be obvious that it is neither necessary nor desirable to try to force the entire Body of Christ to walk in the exact same footprints. Yes, there are fundamentals that cannot be compromised. Yes, relativism is a threat we cannot afford to underestimate in our Church and especially in our hearts. But so is the opposite extreme. If we truly hope to “become one body, one spirit in Christ,” as Eucharistic Prayer III says, we must embrace not only what unites us but also what makes us unique.
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 also a regular contributor to Bringing Home the Word, an e-newsletter featuring suggestions for prayer and reflection for the Home Church. A new edition is posted every weekend on our website. See link below.
Our Pastor’s Message
Holy Family Parish
Grand Annual Collection
OUR WINTER GOAL – $32,500
As a sad year passes into history and a new year begins, we look ahead with hope and we pray for better days. This is also a good time to count our blessings and confront our challenges with courage and honesty. On the bright side, our churches are open (albeit with limited seating capacity and strict safety guidelines). Our young disciples are preparing remotely for First Holy Communion and Confirmation (see below). Babies are being baptized. Confessions are being heard. Funerals and weddings are being celebrated in small, more intimate ceremonies. Our online ministries now attract at least 2,000 visitors every week. New technologies allow us to pray with the sick and the lonely in ways that keep everyone safe. And last but not least, thanks to your ongoing generosity, our bills are paid and our budget is balanced as we end the first half of the fiscal year.
But winter is upon us. Regardless of how many parishioners can be welcomed into Saint Ann Church and Saint Joachim Church for Sunday Mass during the pandemic, our churches and parish buildings must be heated, insured, and maintained. Parking lots must be plowed. Sidewalks must be shoveled and kept clear of ice. The remaining members of our pastoral team (including me), who are working harder than ever, must be paid. And we simply must be ready to resume our ministries and programs with evangelical fervor, one day one, when this crisis finally passes.
Anyone who knows me knows that economy and thrift were taught to me at an early age. My parents worked day and night to provide for our family and make ends meet. Believe me, we are doing everything we can to control costs and reduce expenses. But the short and long-term financial stability and pastoral viability of Holy Family Parish is in our hands. We are solely responsible for our own fundraising and for paying our own bills. The future of our beloved and historic home parish depends entirely on parishioners like you and me. It’s all up to us!
Each year, the Grand Annual Collection bridges the gap between our weekly gifts and the overall costs of operating our parish. This year, we must raise $65,000 by the end of the fiscal year. Our goal right now is to raise $32,500 by Easter Sunday. If every parish family gives $46 to our Winter Grand Annual Collection, then we will reach our goal by Easter Sunday, balance our budget, and ensure the financial security of our parish. Giving and praying together, we can make this happen!
Every family that is registered in Holy Family Parish has been mailed a gift envelope that can be returned at Mass or by mail. Additional envelopes are available in the church vestibule, too. If you did not receive an envelope and would like to be added to our parish census, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance for your prayers and generous support of Holy Family Parish! Be smart! Stay safe! Peace and blessing to all!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Living the Gospel
The Assisi Project
Our Daily Prayers
Each day, members of the Assisi Project are called to pray for the Church and for the needs of others. Among our daily prayers is a beautiful prayer for the intercession of Saint Francis of Assisi by Saint John Paul II. This prayer was written by the pope during a pastoral visit to Mount La Verna in Tuscany, Italy, where Francis received the gift of stigmata, the five wounds of the Crucified Christ.
O Saint Francis,
who received the wounds of Christ
at Mount La Verna,
the world longs for you,
that icon of our crucified Lord.
It has need of your heart,
open always to God and to others;
of your bare, wounded feet,
of your pierced hands
raised in supplication.
It longs for your voice so frail,
yet forceful with the power of the Gospel.
O Saint Francis,
help the people of our age
to recognize the evil of sin
and to seek purification from it in penance.
Help us to become free
from the structures of sin
that oppress our world.
Rekindle in the consciences
of those in government
an urgent need for peace
between nations and peoples.
Instill in our young people
your freshness of life,
that is so capable of withstanding
the snares of the culture of death.
O Saint Francis,
teach those injured
by every type of evil
the joys of being able to forgive.
Teach those crucified
by suffering, hunger, and war
the joys of reopening
the doors of hope. Amen.
Founded in 2007 by Father Jim and Cliff Garvey, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with members, friends, and followers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa. We are dedicated to helping Christian believers of all ages and backgrounds to more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. Members of the Assisi Project, ranging in age from 12 to 95, pray for those who ask us to pray for them. All are invited to join in Our Daily Prayers by praying along with our podcast (or with a text) by clicking the link below. For more information about the Assisi Project and its good work in our parishes, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. May the Lord give you peace!
Sharing God’s Love
Saint Vincent de Paul Society
Help Us Help Others!
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society is an international organization that is dedicated to responding to any request from any person or family in need. Here on Cape Ann, we work through Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, and the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport to serve the poor and needy. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, our food pantry and clothes closet remain closed. However, our service to those in need and the newly unemployed continues. Now more than ever, especially during the winter season, we need your support. Help us help others! Donations can be left at the parish office, dropped in the collection baskets at Sunday Mass, or mailed to the following address:
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society
74 Pleasant Street
Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930
For more information about the Saint Vincent de Paul Society and its good work in our parishes and hometowns, please contact Harry Miller at 978-281-8672 or Bob Weeks at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you or your family needs assistance, please contact us at 978-281-8672. Thank you for your generous support for the Saint Vincent de Paul Society! May God bless you and your family during these difficult times!
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 John J. Garvey