By Pope Francis
The women thought they would find a body to anoint. Instead, they found an empty tomb. They went to mourn the dead. Instead, the heard a proclamation of life. For this reason, the Gospel tells us that the women “were seized with trembling and amazement (Mark 16:8).” There were filled with fear, trembling, and amazement. Amazement is a fear mingled with joy that took their hearts by surprise when they saw the great stone before the tomb rolled away and inside was a young man in a white robe. Wonder at hearing the words: “Do not be afraid! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen (Mark 16:6).” And then, a message: “He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him (Mark 16:7).” May we also accept this message; the message of Easter. Let us go to Galilee, where the Risen Lord has gone before us.
The First Message of Easter
But what does it mean to go to Galilee? To go there means, first, to begin anew. For the disciples, it meant going back to the place where the Lord first sought them out and called them to follow him; the place of their first encounter and the place of their first love. From that moment on, leaving their nets behind, they followed Jesus, listening to his preaching and witnessing the miracles he performed. Yet, though they were always with him, they did not fully understand him. They frequently misunderstood his words; and in the face of the cross, they abandoned him. Even so, the Risen Lord once more appears to them and constantly calls them to follow him. He says: “Let us start over. Let us begin anew. Be with me again despite everything.” In this Galilee, we learn to be amazed by the Lord’s infinite love which opens new trails along the pathways of our defeats. This is how the Lord works. He creates new paths. He invites us to join him in Galilee.
This is the first message of Easter: It is always possible to begin anew. There is always a new life that God can awaken in us despite our mistakes. From the rubble of our hearts, God can create a work of art. From the ruined remnants of our humanity, God can prepare a new history. He never ceases to go ahead of us — in the cross of suffering, desolation, and death; and in the glory of a life that rises again, a history that changes, and a hope that is reborn. In these dark months of the pandemic, let us listen to the Risen Lord who invites us to begin again and never lose hope.
The Second Message of Easter
Going to Galilee also means setting out on new paths. It means walking away from the tomb. The women were looking for Jesus in the tomb. They went to remember what they experienced with him, which was now gone forever. They went to experience their grief. There is a kind of faith that can become the memory of something once beautiful, but is now simply something to be remembered. Many people, perhaps ourselves included, can experience this kind of faith — a faith of memories, whereby Jesus is someone from the past, an old friend from our youth who is now gone, an event remembered from long ago when we attended catechism as a child. This is a faith made of habits and lovely childhood memories, but it is no longer a faith that moves us or challenges us.
Going to Galilee, however, means realizing that a living faith must get back on the road. Each day, we must renew the first steps of the journey and the amazement of our first encounter. And we must continue to trust, not thinking we already know everything, but embracing the humility of those who let themselves be surprised by God’s ways. We are usually afraid of God’s surprises. We are always worried that God will surprise us. But today, the Lord invites us to let ourselves be surprised. Let us go to Galilee, then, to discover that God cannot be filed away among our childhood memories, but that he is alive and filled with surprises. Risen from the dead, Jesus never ceases to amaze us!
This, then, is the second message of Easter: Faith is not an album of past memories. Jesus is not outdated. He is alive here and now. He walks beside you each day, in every situation, in every trial you endure, and in your deepest hopes and dreams. He opens new doors when you least expect it. He urges you not to indulge in nostalgia for the past or cynicism about the present. Even if you feel that all is lost, let yourself be open to amazement at the newness Jesus brings. He will surely surprise you!
The Third Message of Easter
Going to Galilee also means going to the peripheries. Galilee was an outpost. The people living in that diverse and disparate region were those farthest from the ritual purity of Jerusalem. But that is where Jesus began his mission. He brought his message to those struggling to live from day to day: the excluded, vulnerable, and poor. He brought the face and presence of God, who tirelessly seeks those who are discouraged and lost; who goes to the peripheries of existence, because in his eyes, no one is least and no one is excluded.
The Risen Lord is asking his disciples to go there even now. He asks us to go to Galilee, to the real Galilee of daily life — the streets we travel every day, the corners of our cities. The Lord goes there ahead of us and makes himself present in the lives of those around us — those who share in our day, our home, our work, our difficulties, and our hopes. In Galilee, we learn that we can find the Risen One in the faces of our brothers and sisters — in the enthusiasm of those who dream, the resignation of those who are discouraged, the smiles of those who rejoice, the tears of those who suffer, and above all in the poor and those on the fringes of life. We must be amazed how the greatness of God is revealed in littleness! This beauty shines forth in the poor and the simple!
This is the third message of Easter: Jesus, the Risen Lord, loves us without limits; and he is there at ever moment of our lives. Having made himself present in the heart of the world, he invites us to overcome barriers, banish prejudices, and draw near to those around us in order to discover the grace of everyday life. Let us recognize him here in our Galilee, in our everyday lives. With him, life will change. Beyond all defeats, evil, and violence, beyond all suffering and death, the Risen One lives and guides our history.
Dear Sister! Dear Brother! If on this day you experience an hour of darkness, a day that has not yet dawned, a light dimmed, or a dream shattered, go! Open your heart with amazement to the message of Easter! “Do not be afraid, he has risen! He awaits you in Galilee.” Your expectations will not remain unfulfilled, your tears will be dried. Your fear will be replaced by hope. For the Lord always goes ahead of you. He always walks beside you. With him, life always begins anew!
Call to Prayer
Divine Mercy Sunday
A Prayer for Mercy
By Pope Francis
Lord Jesus Christ,
you taught us to be merciful
like our heavenly Father,
and you told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved.
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew
from being enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Mary Magdalene
from seeking happiness only in created things;
made Peter weep after his betrayal,
and assured paradise to the repentant thief.
Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us,
the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
‘If you knew the gift of God!”
You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power
above all by forgiveness and mercy.
Let the Church be your visible face in the world,
its Lord risen and glorified.
You willed that your ministers
would also be clothed in weakness
so that they may feel compassion
for those in ignorance and error:
let everyone who approaches them
feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.
Send your Holy Spirit
and consecrate every one of us with his anointing
so that…your Church, with renewed enthusiasm,
may bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.
We ask this of you, Lord Jesus Christ,
through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy;
you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit
for ever and ever. Amen! Alleluia!
This prayer was adapted from the Holy Father’s Prayer
for the Jubilee Year of Mercy (2016).
The Assisi Project
A Franciscan Night Prayer
Let’s Pray Together!
Saint Paul writes: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of the God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16).” For centuries, Christians have puzzled over what it means to pray without ceasing. But one ancient practice provides an answer: the Liturgy of the Hours. Since the Middle Ages, the Church has used a daily practice of prayer called the Divine Office or the Liturgy of the Hours to mark and sanctify the various hours of the day: morning, afternoon, evening, and night. It is based on a four week cycle of psalms, canticles, and scripture readings that calls us into a deeper relationship with Christ and the Church bringing us together through prayers of praise, petition, intercession, and thanksgiving.
At ordination, deacons and priests make a solemn promise to pray the Liturgy of the Hours every day, using a book called the Breviary. But the Divine Office is not just for the clergy and those consecrated to religious life. Countless lay people around the world make the Liturgy of the Hours part of their daily prayer and worship. Indeed, when we pray these prayers, whether alone or in community, we are united in a powerful spiritual communion that helps to heal, redeem, and consecrate our sick and suffering world.
Unlike the other hours of the Divine Office, Compline (or Night Prayer) works on a seven day cycle. Every Sunday, the prayers are the same. Every Monday, the prayers are the same. And so on. According to the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours: “Night Prayer is the last prayer of the day, said before retiring, even if that is after midnight.” And about this form of prayer, Pope Francis says: “I am very attached to the Breviary…It is the first thing I open in the morning and the last thing I close before going to sleep.”
In this spirit, in solidarity with Pope Francis, and in communion with Christian disciples around the world, the Assisi Project invites you to join us in offering A Franciscan Night Prayer. This newly created version of Night Prayer includes the traditional psalms, readings, and canticle of the day. It also includes antiphons, readings, and a Marian devotion from the spiritual tradition founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. A Franciscan Night Prayer can be prayed by listening to one of our free podcasts or by praying with the printable version. See links below! Let’s pray together! It’s a great way to end the day! Each podcast is less than ten minutes!
- A Franciscan Night Prayer for Sunday
- A Franciscan Night Prayer for Monday
- A Franciscan Night Prayer for Tuesday
- A Franciscan Night Prayer for Wednesday
- A Franciscan Night Prayer for Thursday
- A Franciscan Night Prayer for Friday
- A Franciscan Night Prayer for Saturday
For more information about the Assisi Project and its good work in our parishes, please see Father Jim or contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us! Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us! Our Lady of Angels, pray for us! May the Lord give you peace!
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 Blanche Alves