By Cliff Garvey
As God’s children, we are called to cultivate the virtue of hope — to believe, desire, and expect good things to happen in our lives. Because we have faith, we are confident that through the Lord’s grace and mercy, we will eventually be blessed with eternal happiness in heaven. We are the People of God. We are a people filled with hope.
Last year at this time, Pope Francis said: “Advent is a continuous call to hope (11-29-20).” But just four days after the pope said these words, Linus, my beloved little dog died in my arms. Four months later, my dad was diagnosed with leukemia. Four months after that, an infection (unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic) could have killed me if not for the compassionate care of overworked doctors and nurses. And now it seems like my slow and tedious recovery will stretch well into the new year.
My problems are absolutely nothing compared to what we see in the news. Despite the miracle of safe and effective vaccines that minimize infections, symptoms, and mortality rates, more Americans have already died of COVID-19 this year than last year. Millions of people around the world are being displaced by drought, poverty, and political upheaval. And although the climate crisis is undeniable, it remains unsolved by world leaders.
Acts of violence against the poor and marginalized are rising. Disagreements are often rooted in propaganda, rather than facts or eternal truths. Public debates over important issues have given way to mean-spirited divisions at every level of government. The sick ideologies of racism, authoritarianism, and extremism in all of its ugly forms are going unchecked and unchallenged. And whether it’s criminal mobs ransacking retail stores in California or domestic terrorists rioting at the Capitol, the forces of darkness are on the march.
And yet, we hope. In the face of life’s tragedy and uncertainty, we believe in the ultimate victory of goodness, beauty, and truth. Week after week, wearing masks as a sign of our solidarity and love for each other, we gather around God’s table to celebrate the coming of Christ into our world and the ultimate triumph of his life, death, and resurrection.
Pope Francis says: “God is present in the history of our humanity. He is the ‘God with us.’ God is not distant. He is always with us…God walks beside us to support us. He does not abandon us. He accompanies us through the events of our lives to help us discover the meaning of the journey of everyday life; and to give us courage when we are stressed or suffering (11-29-20).”
God sees our grief and our worry. He hears our cries and answers our prayers. He sees our struggle to cope, make ends meet, and keep our loved ones close and safe. God offers us new horizons of hope and unexpected avenues of grace. He asks us to open our hearts and minds. He beckons us to listen through the noise.
Through it all, we hear a voice cry out in the wilderness of a troubled world: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley will be filled and every mountain will be made low. The winding roads will be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh will see the salvation of God (Luke 3:4-6).” Come, Lord Jesus! We hope in you!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
A Call to Prayer
Our Lady, Undoer of Knots
Praying with Pope Francis
In 1986, Father Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) began a period of doctoral studies in Germany. While there, he made a pilgrimage to the Church of Saint Peter in Augsburg. In that church, he discovered a centuries old painting of the Blessed Mother who unties the knots of sin, despair, and disagreement that trouble our lives.
For Father Bergoglio, it was a conversion moment that helped him better appreciate his vows as a Jesuit priest and the importance of keeping our hearts and minds open to the will of God. By the time he was consecrated as Archbishop of Buenos Ares in 1992, the future pope was giving prayer cards of the famous image to anyone who came to him with a difficult problem.
Each of us has knots of uncertainty in our lives. Everyone knows and loves someone whose life is tied up in knots. So, let’s pray for each other, for the people we love, and for God’s mercy, healing, and protection. This weekend’s newsletter features a version of the same prayer card used by Pope Francis that includes a prayer that he wrote and shared with the world. Pray it for yourself. Share it with someone who needs it. Now more than ever, let’s pray together!
Mother of God and our Mother,
to you who untie
with a motherly heart
the knots of our life,
we pray to you
to receive into your hands
(our problems and intentions)
and to free us of the knots and confusion
with which our enemy attacks. Amen.
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.
Our Lady, Undoer of Knots,
pray for us and for our suffering world!
Learn More: Our Lady, Undoer of Knots
Advent Special Event
A Festival of Lessons & Carols
Sunday, December 5th
All friends and fellow parishioners of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join Tom Misuraca and LuAnn Pallazola for a Festival of Lessons & Carols on Sunday, December 5th at 2:00pm in Saint Ann Church. All of this year’s music and scripture selections have been chosen to prepare our hearts to truly celebrate the Holy Season of Advent and the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas. This special afternoon of music, prayer, and fellowship is free, but donations will be gratefully accepted to support our parish music ministries! For more information, please contact Tom at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Call to Worship
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Wednesday, December 8th
In commemoration of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Wednesday, December 8th, a Holy Day of Obligation, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport invites you to join us for the celebration of Mass:
- Saint Joachim Church at 8:00am
- Saint Ann Church at 12:00pm
- Our Lady of Good Voyage Church at 5:30pm
Since late antiquity, the People of God have believed that the Blessed Virgin Mary was sinless and conceived immaculately in the womb of her mother and our patron, Saint Ann. This ancient devotion was defined as doctrine in 1854. Since then, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception has been patroness of many causes and nations, including the United States of America. Please join us as we honor our Blessed Mother Mary and beg her powerful intercession for our families, our hometowns and parishes, and our country. All are invited! All are welcome!
A Prayer for the Intercession of the Blessed Mother
Most Blessed Mother,
heart of love, heart of mercy,
ever listening, caring, and consoling,
hear our prayers!
As your children,
we beg your intercession with Jesus your Son.
Receive with compassion and understanding
the petitions we place before you.
We are comforted in knowing
that your heart is always open
to those who ask for your help.
We trust to your gentle care and intercession,
those whom we love
and those who are sick, lonely, or hurting.
Holy Mother, help us
to bear the burdens of this life
until we may share eternal life and peace
with God forever and ever. Amen.
Father Jim’s Advent Scripture Study
Christmas in the Four Gospel Homes
Thursday, December 9th
During the Season of Advent, all friends and fellow parishioners of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join Father Jim for a four week scripture study based on Cynthia Campbell’s book: Christmas in the Four Gospel Homes. On four consecutive Thursday mornings immediately after our 8:00am Mass in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church, Father Jim will lead a one hour discussion on how each book of the Holy Gospels offers a unique perspective on the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas.
During each weekly session, Father Jim and the group will reflect together on the Good News and Campbell’s short book, which includes beautiful illustrations of how a home might look during the Christmas Season if it were decorated according to one of the Gospels. Copies of the book will be provided. A donation of $20.00 is requested from those who can afford it. All donations will support our adult faith formation ministry. For more information, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Spread the word! Please join us! Bring a friend! All are invited! All are welcome!
Living the Gospel
Sacrament of Baptism
Welcome Young Disciples!
The Sacrament of Baptism is the first of three Sacraments of Initiation in the Roman Catholic Church. The two other Sacraments of Initiation are Eucharist and Confirmation. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism, we are freed from sin and reborn as children of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church, and made sharers in her mission (CCC 1213).” During the month of November, Father Jim baptized and blessed the following children with holy water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
Jason Daniel Clarke
Addison Colleen Donovan
Joao Christopher de Freitas
Rio Grace Frontiero
Paytin Elizabeth Margiotta
Callum Matthew Nwackuku
In the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, the Sacrament of Baptism is currently celebrated during Sunday Mass at 10:00am in Saint Joachim Church; on the second Saturday of the month at 11:30am in Saint Ann Church; and on the third Saturday of the month at 11:30am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church.
If you would like to schedule your child’s baptism in either Holy Family Parish or Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, please contact Sheila McCarthy-Durkin at email@example.com. May God bless our newly baptized young disciples, along with their parents, godparents, & family members! Congratulations to all!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Phyllis Moore