By Father Jim
Do you believe in dragons? If you don’t, please don’t worry! Believing in dragons is not a central component of our shared faith. You will not find anything about dragons in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. But for one thousand years, tradition has taught that Saint George, whose feast is celebrated this coming week (April 23rd), brought about the conversion of an entire city by killing a dragon that was terrorizing its people.
George of Lydda lived during the fourth century after the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Little is known for sure about his life, except that he was a Roman soldier and a Christian. He was, in fact, part of the Praetorian Guard, an elite unit dedicated to ensuring the health and safety of the emperor. But in 303 AD, George was martyred by the Emperor Diocletian for refusing to deny his faith in the Risen Christ.
In the eleventh century, a new legend about Saint George began to spread throughout Europe. Tradition holds that the City of Silene (part of modern day Libya) was threatened by a dragon who first demanded to be fed two sheep per day, but soon demanded two human beings. When the king’s daughter was chosen as part of this horrific daily sacrifice, George volunteered to take her place. When the dragon opened its jaws to devour the young soldier, George drew his sword and killed it.
In gratitude, the king offered George a vast treasure, but he refused it. George convinced the king to share his riches with the poor and then preached the Good News of Christ. The king and the people were so amazed that they became Christians and were baptized. The iconic image of Saint George on horseback, slaying the dragon with a lance topped by a cross, became commonplace throughout the world. Indeed, Saint George is venerated as the patron of soldiers, shepherds, and equestrians. He is also venerated as patron and protector of England, Ethiopia, Portugal, Spain, and Georgia.
It is worth noting that Saint George is believed to have been born and raised in Lydda (modern day Lod in Israel). In the Old Testament, it is one of the cities whose people returned home after the Babylonian exile. In the New Testament, Lydda is the site of Saint Peter’s miraculous healing of a paralytic man (See Acts 9:32-38). And in the Muslim tradition, it is the site of the final battle between good and evil. Indeed, our Muslim brothers and sisters have a special reverence for George, whom they believe was befriended by a fledgling community of Christians believers — some of whom may have been the last living apostles of Jesus himself.
Did Saint George truly walk with the apostles? Did he truly kill a dragon, save a city, and bring its entire population into the church? Do his prayers truly protect us now from the powers of darkness? So many centuries later, it seems impossible to prove one way or another. Faith is required. The legends and traditions may or may not be literally true. But they contain one central truth: George of Lydda lived a consequential life. He died a person of deepest faith. And his witness to the gospel has been remembered and revered for more than a millennium by God’s faithful people. This week, during these troubled times, let us call out to him in hope and prayer: Saint George, pray for us! Saint George, protect us!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Pastor’s Note: On behalf of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, I wish to thank our dear friend, Jody Cole, for allowing us to use her icon of Saint George and the Dragon on the cover of this week’s newsletter. A detail for this beautiful and deeply prayerful icon serves as the banner art here on our website (see above). For more information about Jody and her iconography, please visit jcoleicons.com. Peace and blessings! — Father Jim
Call to Prayer
Saint George, Protect Us!
PRAYER FOR THE FEAST OF SAINT GEORGE
you gave to Saint George
the strength to suffer for our holy faith.
We beg you now to keep our faith from wavering,
so that we may also serve you faithfully
with sincere hearts
for all the days of our life.
We make this prayer through Christ Jesus,
our Risen Lord and Savior.
PRAYER FOR THE INTERCESSION OF SAINT GEORGE
faithful servant of God
and courageous martyr,
you were blessed by God
with the gift of faith
and a passionate love for Christ.
You fought bravely
against pride, deceit, and falsehood.
Neither pain nor torture,
neither sword nor death
could separate you from the love of Christ.
We implore you to help us
by your prayers and intercession
to bravely cope
with the trials and temptations of this world,
so that we courageously carry the crosses
which we have been asked to carry.
Let neither distress nor difficulty
come between us and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Valiant champion of faith,
pray for us and protect us
in the fight against evil and darkness.
Call to Share
Our Lady’s Needs You!
GRAND ANNUAL COLLECTION GOAL: $45,000
RAISED SO FAR: $13,320 (30%)
As we begin to enjoy the beauty of the spring season, we look ahead with hope for better and brighter days. We also count our blessings and confront our challenges. On the bright side, for thirty-eight consecutive weekends, our church has been open (albeit with limited seating capacity and strict safety guidelines). Our young disciples and their parents are preparing for First Holy Communion. Babies are being baptized. Confessions are being heard. Funerals and weddings are being celebrated in small, intimate ceremonies. Our online ministry attracts almost 2,000 visitors every week. And amazing technologies allow us to pray with the sick and the lonely in ways that keep everyone safe.
But financially, times are tough. Regardless of how many parishioners can be welcomed into Our Lady of Good Voyage Church for Sunday Mass, our church and parish buildings must be insured and maintained. Lawns must be mowed. Repairs must be made. Utility bills need to be paid. The remaining members of our pastoral team, myself included, must be paid, too. And we should be ready to resume our ministries and programs with evangelical fervor when the pandemic passes.
In addition, we must be better prepared for unexpected expenses. Last month, for example, a wind storm inflicted extensive damage to the tower that houses our historical carillon bells. Although our insurance will help cover some of the costs, it already has been made clear to me by experts that the roofing on both towers will need to be replaced — sooner rather than later.
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 continue to do whatever we can to control costs. But the short and long-term financial stability and pastoral viability of Our Lady of Good Voyage is in our hands alone. We are solely responsible for paying our own bills. The future of our beloved home parish depends entirely on parishioners like us. It’s all up to us!
Each year, the Grand Annual Collection bridges the gap between our weekly gifts and the overall costs of parish operations. This year, we must raise $45,000 before the end of the fiscal year. Our goal right now is to raise $31,680 by the end of our fiscal year. So far, we have raised almost half of this goal: $13,320. Thank you! If every parish family can share $50 (in addition to your weekly support) between now and June 30th, we will reach our goal, balance our budget, ensure the financial security of our parish, and empower us to begin raising funds to repair and restore our bell towers.
Donations can be placed in the collection basked, dropped off at the rectory or parish office, made via our electronic giving program at ccgronline.com, or mailed to Our Lady of Good Voyage, 74 Pleasant Street, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930. If you have questions or would like more information about how you and your family can support our parish, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. My daily prayer is that all of us, according to our means, will contribute something to this all-important fundraising campaign. Thank you for your prayers and generous support for Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish! Peace and blessings to all! — Father Jim
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!
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 email@example.com. 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!
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 Juliette Mullen