By Cliff Garvey
In the Gospel of Luke (1:39-45), we read an account of the Virgin Mary’s visit with Elizabeth. Mary has been visited by an angel who speaks to her about a miracle. She is now unmarried and pregnant. Apparently alone and on foot, she travels a long distance to see her cousin, who is also expecting a child. Mary enters the home and calls a greeting. Elizabeth shouts back. She is amazed and joyful. She, too, speaks of miracles.
It is a story of voices. We, too, are surrounded by voices. It is difficult to escape the sounds of cell phones, commercials, commentators, and televisions. Some of the voices are soft, quiet, and humble. But all too many of the voices nowadays are loud, proud, and all knowing. If it is difficult to find a few moments of silence and stillness, it is almost impossible to make sense of the countless voices that fill our minds and capture our thoughts. How can we make sense of so many voices?
Saint Luke tells us that Mary was momentarily troubled by the angel’s message that her son would be called the Son of God (1:35). But because of her innate goodness and purity, she soon recovers, accepts the message, and embraces her vocation as the Mother of God. It is more difficult for us. We are weak, broken, and easily led astray. One voice says this. Another voice says that. Which voice speaks of God? Which voice speaks of love and life and kindness among neighbors? Which voice brings us closer to the Lord and to each other? And then, which voice or voices do not?
Pope Francis says: “Learning to distinguish these two kinds of ‘voice’ allows [us] to choose the right path forward which is not always the most obvious, and to avoid mak- ing decisions while trapped in past hurts or in fears of the future (Let Us Dream, 62).” The pope reminds us that voices speaking on behalf of the Lord never impose themselves on us. They never exploit our fears, create divisions, or stir up suspicion. They are never angry, accusatory, judgmental, or seething with contempt for others.
The Holy Father also reminds us that voices speaking for God are positive, consoling, and encouraging. These voices speak of love, mercy, unity, and common goals. He says: “The voice of God opens your horizons, whereas the enemy pins you against a wall. Where the good spirit gives you hope, the bad spirit sows suspicion, anxiety, and finger-pointing (Let Us Dream, 62).” Choosing well between these two voices (between what Pope Francis calls the good spirit and the bad spirit) is called discernment. If we discern well, we grow closer to Jesus, closer to the Church, and closer to each other.
The voices we hear in Luke’s account at both the Annunciation and the Visitation are voices inspired by the Holy Spirit. They sing of peace, hope, joy, and love. They anticipate the amazing grace that will come when God humbles himself to be born among us in a stable. And they set the stage for Mary’s great canticle in which she sings about the blessings that are showered upon hearts open wide to the Holy Spirit’s work in our world. With the Blessed Mother, then, we join in her timeless song of love: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant, and from this day all generations will call me blessed (Luke 1:46-48)!”
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Call to Worship
Christmas Mass Schedule
December 24th & 25th
The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport at Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish invites you and your family to join us for Holy Mass in celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas!
Christmas Eve – December 24th – Masks Required
- Saint Joachim Church
Mass at 2:00pm
- Saint Church
Mass at 4:00pm
- Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
Mass at 6:00pm & Midnight
Christmas Day – December 25th – Masks Required
- Saint Ann Church
Mass at 8:15am
- Saint Joachim Church
Mass at 10:00am
- Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
Mass at 11:45am
Pastor’s Note: In light of rising new cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, Cardinal Sean O’Malley has mandated all people who attend public Masses in the Archdiocese of Boston (including funerals, weddings, and Christmas Masses) must wear face masks in our churches. Children under the age of five are not required to wear masks; and children under the age of two should not wear masks.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, our twin goals in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport have been to do whatever we can to protect the health and safety of our parishioners and to offer free and high quality spiritual nourishment online. Masks and hand sanitizer are available in all of our churches. Social distancing is still available in Saint Ann Church (both side seating sections of the church). Our Christmas Mass will be also available on YouTube.
Wearing masks is a small sacrifice and a powerful symbol of our love and care for each other. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and support during these challenging times. Mask up! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! Peace and blessings to all for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! — Father Jim
The Synodal Journey
Closeness Is The Program
By Father Jim
On October 10, 2021, Pope Francis formally opened the Synod on Synodality, a two year, three stage process of “mutual listening that involves the entire People of God.” This synod may be the most ambitious effort to renew and revitalize the Roman Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council which began fifty-nine years ago last month.
Pope Francis says: “Celebrating a synod means walking on the same road, walking together.” But the word synod may be new to most of us. It comes from the Greek, synodos, which means simply: “on the road together.”
According to the International Theological Commission, a synod is “an ancient and venerable word in the tradition of the Church…It indicates the path along which the People of God walk together. Equally, it refers to the Lord Jesus, who presents himself as ‘the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6)’, and to the fact that Christians, his followers, were originally called ‘followers of the Way (cf. Acts 9:2, 19, 9.23; 22:4; 24, 14:22).”
The preparatory document of the synod also says: “In this sense, synodality enables the entire People of God to walk forward together, listening to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, to participate in the mission of the Church in the communion that Christ establishes between us. Ultimately, this path of walking together is the most effective way of manifesting and putting into practice the nature of the Church as the pilgrim and missionary People of God (PD 1).”
According to the Holy Father, the synod “is not about garnering opinions or taking a survey, but listening to the Holy Spirit.” It is not simply a series of meetings, consultations, or power point presentations. It is not simply completing a survey, meeting with a bishop, local pastor, or pastoral team. It is not simply about speaking your mind on this or that issue related to our work together as a Christian community.
A synod is instead a journey that includes every member of God’s family. It is an opportunity to meet each other and to share our experience of God’s love and mercy in our lives. And it is about building up communion, participation, and perhaps even a stronger sense of mission in our parishes. It is all about our way of being — the way of living the Gospel, sharing God’s love, and rebuilding the Church during challenging times.
In the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, the results of the synodal path may not be realized during our lifetimes. Some things may change. Some things may not change. Whatever happens, let’s make this journey together, always together, as a community united in prayer, fellowship, and spirit. Let’s open our hearts and minds to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Let’s work together to grow closer to Jesus, closer to the Church, and closer to each other. As Pope Francis likes to say: “Closeness is the program.”
More news and information related to the synodal way are coming soon! Until then, all are invited to prayerfully complete the Archdiocese of Boston’s preliminary synod survey which can be found on our website: ccgronline.com. If you have any questions about the synod and its work, please see me or contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Peace and blessings to all! Merry Christmas!
The Assisi Project
Saturday Morning with Saint Francis
New Year’s Day
Begins with Mass at 8:00am
It has been a challenging year. Crime is up. The divisions are deeper. Our streets and neighborhoods are increasingly poisoned by litter. Inflation is at the highest it has been in four decades. And despite new vaccines, more Americans have died from COVID this year than last year.
Despite these challenging times, we remain a people of hope. In this spirit, all friends and fellow parishioners of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join Father Jim and the Assisi Project for Saturday Morning with Saint Francis on New Year’s Day.
This special morning of prayer will begin with Mass at 8:00am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. After Mass, the church will remain open for silent Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. At 8:45am, we will pray the Franciscan Rosary and think on Seven Joyful events in the life of the Blessed Mother. We will conclude at 11:00am with Daytime Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
Pope Francis says: “The Rosary is a prayer that accompanies me. It is also the prayer of ordinary people and the saints…and a prayer from my heart.” In gratitude for God’s blessings and high hopes for the future, we will offer our Franciscan Rosary for Pope Francis and his intentions; and for the poor, the sick, all who suffer from addiction, and all who feel left behind by the Church.
If you would like the Assisi Project to pray for your special intention during the Christmas Season, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. For more information about the Assisi Project and its good work in our parishes, please see Cliff or visit our website at assisiproject.com. May the Lord give you peace! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!
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! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
Ever Grateful for Every Gift!
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! Merry Christmas!
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 Maria dos Anjos Medeiros