By Jim & Susan Vogt
People have many reasons for being Catholic. Most are good, but some seem weak: “Sunday mornings without Mass would seem empty.” “I was raised Catholic. It’s all I know.” “I’m not sure there’s a God, but I’d rather err by believing than be surprised when I die.” These aren’t bad reasons, but they may not stand up to the challenges of modern life. They are like the house built on sand. When the storm came, it collapsed (See Matthew 7:24-27). The storms are many: anger at the clergy sex-abuse scandals; dissatisfaction with the limited role of women; judging the Church as too wishy-washy, politically involved, rich, or too concerned about the rules; and hurt from negative personal experiences.
Once a young adult leaves home, the practice of the faith may seem as only a cultural commitment with no roots. Sometimes people aren’t welcomed when they approach the Church for marriage and other sacraments. Our Church must walk a delicate balance between staking out an identity that sometimes upholds unpopular values while welcoming all people with unconditional love as Jesus did.
Lately we have been listening to folks who have left the Church and to others who have remained or returned to active Catholicism. These are some of the more significant reasons we have heard about why people stay:
— Communion of Saints: Many in the Church have been inspired by Catholics, some deceased but others still alive, who have been powerful witnesses of lives lived for others: true followers of Jesus.
— Crisis: Sometimes a life crisis drives us to ask the ultimate questions about the meaning of life. God often touches us during difficult times, and we come to understand that life is about more than collecting stuff or even surrounding ourselves with loving people.
— Sacraments: The Catholic Church has a rich tradition of combining the Word with actions and sym- bols in its seven sacraments. This reflects an understanding of how ordinary things (water, bread, oil, rings, words of forgiveness or commitment, and human touch) help us experience God’s love.
— Universality: People have told us that they were attracted to the Catholic Church because its herit- age goes back to Jesus and there is a unity of belief around the world.
— Service & Social Justice: The Catholic Church has perhaps the most extensive social service network in the world — tending to the poor, coordinating aid during crises, and challenging everyone to live simply and help their neighbors because that is what Jesus taught.
— Community: Living a Christian life is not about being a lone ranger. Being in community with other believers, we can pool our resources and support each other.
In the end, the reason that we — Jim and Susan — are Catholic is that it’s where God has called us and spoken to us. There are many routes to God, but Catholicism is where we have experienced God’s touch. There may be Church policies with which we disagree, but we could find human foibles and failings no matter what religion we followed.
Some of the best and worst things in human history were done in the name of the Church, God, and religion. We must align ourselves with the best and repudiate the worst. The challenge is to be humble enough to remember that we’re not in charge and that we’re all imperfect sinners, still loved by God. As a community inspired by the life of Jesus, faith calls us to devote ourselves to the good of others. What’s the bottom line? Love.
Art Credit: Dreamstime | Xantana
Call to Prayer
A Church That Goes Out
By Pope Francis
The specific vocation of the Church is evangelization,
which is not proselytism.
Its vocation is evangelization;
even more, the Church’s identity is evangelization.
We can only renew the Church
by discerning God’s will in our daily lives
and embarking on a transformation
guided by the Holy Spirit.
Our own reform as persons is that transformation:
Allowing the Holy Spirit,
the gift of God in our hearts,
reminds us what Jesus taught
and helps us put it into practice.
Let us begin reforming the Church
with a reform of ourselves,
without prefabricated ideas,
without ideological prejudices,
but rather moving forward
based on spiritual experience,
an experience of prayer,
an experience of charity,
an experience of service.
I dream of an even more missionary option:
one that goes out
to meet others without proselytism
and transforms all of its structures
for the evangelization of today’s world.
Let us remember that the Church
always has difficulties,
always is in crisis,
because she is alive!
Living things go through crises.
Only the dead don’t have crises.
Let us pray for the Church,
that she may receive from the Holy Spirit
the grace and strength to reform herself
in the light of the Gospel. Amen.
Call to Prayer
Respect Life Month
Prayer to Saint Joseph
Patron & Protector of Life
Dearest Saint Joseph,
at the word of an angel,
you lovingly took Mary into your home.
As God’s humble servant,
you guided the Holy Family
on the road to Bethlehem,
welcomed Jesus as your own son
in the shelter of a manger,
and fled far from your homeland
for the safety of both Mother and Child.
We praise God
that as their faithful protector,
you never hesitated to sacrifice
for those entrusted to you.
May your example inspire us
to welcome, cherish, and safeguard
God’s most precious gift of life.
Help us now
to faithfully commit ourselves
to the service and defense
of human life,
especially where it is vulnerable
Obtain for us the grace
to do the will of God in all things.
Glory to the Father,
to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Call to Worship
Solemnity of All Saints
Monday, November 1st
Since late antiquity, the People of God have honored the holy men and women who have been canonized as saints in the Roman Catholic Church. The Solemnity of All Saints honors all saints, known and unknown, who have gone before us in faith, hope, and love; and who now pray for us and for the salvation of souls. In commemoration of All Saints Day, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport will celebrate Holy Mass according to the following schedule:
All Saints Day – Monday, November 1st
Saint Joachim at 8:00am
Saint Ann at 12:00pm
Our Lady of Good Voyage at 5:30pm
An All Saints Day Prayer
Good and gracious God,
we rejoice in the holy men and women
of every time and place.
May their prayers
bring us your mercy and love.
We ask this in the holy name
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen.
For more information about the Solemnity of All Saints in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! Spread the word! All are invited! All are welcome!
The Assisi Project
Saturday Morning with Saint Francis
Saturday, November 6th
Founded in 2007 by Father Jim and Cliff Garvey after their first pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with friends and followers in North America, Europe, and Africa. Our mission is to help believers of all ages and backgrounds better live the Gospel of Christ through the inspiration and intercession of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi.
Our next Saturday Morning with Saint Francis is scheduled for Saturday, November 6th beginning with Mass at 8:00am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. With God’s help, we will gather in-person to pray together and renew the bonds of faith, friendship, and mutual support that have sustained us for more than a decade! If you haven’t joined us before, please prayerfully consider joining us now! All fellow parishioners and people of goodwill are welcome to join us!
After Mass, Father Jim and Cliff will lead a discussion about how praying with the saints can be a powerful way to deepen our spiritual lives and strengthen the bonds of community and solidarity in families, parishes, and the Church throughout the world. In this spirit, we’re asking our members, friends, and fellow parishioners to make a list of their favorite holy men and women and create their own Litany of Saints. Who is your patron saint? Who is your family’s favorite saint? Who is your go-to saint during times of trial and tribulation? Please let us know!
All parishioners and friends are invited to join us for the Assisi Project’s Saturday Morning with Saint Francis! If you plan to join us or want more information about the Assisi Project and its good work in our parishes, please contact Cliff at email@example.com; or visit our website (see link below). Please join us! All are welcome! Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us! Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us! Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us! May the Lord give you peace!
Sharing God’s Love
Saint Vincent de Paul Society
New Volunteers Always Welcome!
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 and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish to serve the poor and the needy. Help us help others! Donations can be left at our parish office, dropped in the collection basket at any Weekend Mass, or mailed to:
Saint Vincent de Paul Society
74 Pleasant Street
Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930
New members and volunteers are always welcome! For more information about the Saint Vincent de Paul Society and its good work in our parishes and hometowns, please contact Bob Weeks at firstname.lastname@example.org or Harry Miller at 978-281-8672. Thank you for your generous support for the Saint Vincent de Paul Society — especially with envelopes placed in the weekly collection! May God bless you and your family!
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
Electronic giving has become an essential component of parish support in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport; and it is available in both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. It is safe and easy to make online donations to your home parish using a credit card, debit card, or electronic check.
Donations can be made on a weekly, monthly, or one-time-only basis; and it takes just a few minutes to set up a secure personal account. In additional to the weekly offering, you can also give electronically to our church restoration funds which helps us plan for the repair and maintenance of our beloved and historic churches.
During these challenging times, Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish need your support more than ever before! Please prayerfully consider enrolling in our ‘We Share!’ electronic giving program! For more information about setting up a new account or for assistance with your existing account, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Thank you for your generous support for our parishes! May God bless you and your family, now and always!
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 Doris Lynch