By Pope Francis
Today, I would like to explore the figure of Saint Joseph as a father in tenderness. Tenderness is something greater than the logic of the world. It is an unexpected way of doing justice. Let us never forget and fix this clearly in our minds: God is not frightened by our sins. He is greater than our sins — he is the father, he is love, he is tender. He is not frightened by our sins, our mistakes, or our failings, but he is frightened by the closure of our hearts. This makes God suffer. He is frightened by our lack of faith in his love. There is great tenderness in the experience of God’s love. And it is beautiful to think that the first person to transmit this reality to Jesus was Saint Joseph…
This is what God’s mercy is like. He is not deterred by our past or by the bad things we have done. He is only frightened by our closure. We all must come to terms with things, but coming to terms with God is a beautiful thing, because we begin to talk and he embraces us. Tenderness! So, we can ask ourselves if we have experienced this tenderness, and if we have become its witnesses. For tenderness is not primarily an emotional or sentimental matter. It is the experience of feeling loved and welcomed precisely in our poverty and misery, and thus transformed by God’s love.
God does not rely only on our talents, but also on our redeemed weakness…The Lord does not take away all our weaknesses, but he helps us to walk on with our weaknesses, taking us by the hand. He takes our weaknesses by the hand and he places himself by our side. This is God’s tenderness. This experience of tenderness consists in seeing God’s power pass through precisely that which makes us most fragile…Tenderness is the best way to touch the frailty within us…God always forgives. Keep this clearly in your head and heart. God always forgives. We are the ones who tire of asking for forgiveness. But God always forgives, even the worst things.
It does us good to mirror ourselves in Joseph’s fatherhood, which is a mirror of God’s fatherhood, and to ask ourselves whether we allow the Lord to love us with tenderness; transforming each one of us into men and women capable of loving in the same way. There is a great need for a revolution of tenderness! Without a revolution of tenderness, we risk remaining imprisoned in a justice that does not allow us to easily rise up again, a prison that confuses punishment with redemption…Let us conclude with this prayer:
Saint Joseph, father in tenderness, teach us to accept that we are loved precisely because of what is weakest within us. Grant that we may place no obstacle between our poverty and the greatness of God’s love. Stir in us the desire to seek reconciliation, so that we may be forgiven and made capable of loving tenderly our brothers and sisters in their own poverty. Be close to those who have done wrong and are paying the price for it. Help them to find not only justice but also tenderness so that they may begin again. And teach us that the first way to begin anew is to sincerely ask for forgiveness. Amen.
Pastor’s Note: On behalf of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, we give thanks for our dear friend, Jody Cole of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, who allows us to use her beautiful icons in our weekly newsletter and online. This week, we feature Jody’s icon of Saint Joseph and Jesus, which will be on display all this week in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. For more information about Jody and her work, visit jcoleicons.com. Peace and blessings! — Father Jim
Call to Prayer
A Prayer for Ukraine
By Bishop Mark O’Connell
We see you, Ukraine
There at the mouth of the cave of the Russian bear
Brave and proud and strong
Our hearts ache for you
We see you and we pray for you.
We see you, people of Ukraine
You survived Hitler and Stalin
Putin wishes to join this awful list
How pitiful, how sad
We see you and we pray for you.
We see you, people of Russia
Those who protest the hubris of your despot
You too place yourselves in danger
Your voice cannot be muted
We see you and we pray for you.
We see you, Europe
Flabbergasted and frightened
Yet forging new and tighter bonds
Push hard against the opening door
We see you and we pray for you.
We pray for you Ukraine
God bleeds with you on this cross
Good always triumphs over evil
Blue and yellow still waves
We see and we pray.
About the Author: His Excellency, the Most Reverend Mark William O’Connell is an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston (North Region). Educated at Boston College, Saint John Seminary, and the Pontifical Athenaeum of the Holy Cross in Rome, Bishop Mark served as Judicial Vicar of the Archdiocese of Boston from 2007 until 2016. In addition to his ministry as bishop, he also serves as pastor of Saint Theresa’s Parish in North Reading.
Season of Lent
Special Day of Prayer & Reflection
Friday, March 25th
The Holy Season of Lent is a time for prayer, penance, and almsgiving during which all Christians are called to renew their faith in preparation for the celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Easter. In this spirit, all are invited to join us for a Lent Day of Prayer & Reflection on Friday, March 25th, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. Here’s our schedule for the day:
- Mass at 8:00am
- Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 8:30am
- Litany of the Sacred Wounds (with Reflection) at 10:00am
- Franciscan Rosary at 12:00pm
- Way of the Cross at 3:00pm
- Evening Prayer (with Repeat Reflection) at 6:00pm
- Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at 6:45pm
For more information about the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s Lent Day of Prayer & Reflection, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope and pray that you and your family will be able to join us for all or at least some small part of this special day of prayer. Mark your calendars! Spread the word! Bring a friend! Let’s pray together! All are invited! All are welcome!
Season of Lent
The Light Is On For You!
Wednesdays at 5:30pm
During the Holy Season of Lent, all Catholics are invited to experience God’s love and mercy through the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession). On five consecutive Wednesdays during Lent, March 9th through April 13th, all are invited to join us for The Light Is On For You! from 5:30pm until 7:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. These special evenings of prayer will begin with the celebration of Holy Mass at 5:30pm; followed by Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at 6:00pm; and an hour of confessions for those who feel called to participate. For some, this may be a time for confession and sacramental reconciliation. For some, it may be a time for silent prayer and adoration. And for others, it may be a time to begin or renew the spiritual journey. Please note that there will be no confessions or adoration on Ash Wednesday, March 2nd. For more information, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Season of Lent
Way of the Cross
Fridays at 3:00pm
For more than five hundred years, the Stations of the Cross are one of the most enduring and moving traditional devotions of the Roman Catholic Church. By uniting our prayers with those of the suffering Christ through both word and imagery, we make a spiritual pilgrimage with our Lord as he experiences the Passion of the Cross. During Lent, all are invited to join the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport in praying the Way of the Cross on six consecutive Friday afternoons, March 4th through April 8th, at 3:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. For more information, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
The Synodal Way
How Does God Speak?
Synod Spiritual Exercise 1
When Pope Francis opened the Synod on Synodality last fall, he made clear that becoming a “Listening Church” is not about hearing each other complain about this or that challenge facing the local or universal Church. It is more about opening our hearts and minds to the faith experiences of our fellow parishioners, learning from those experiences, living out the lessons of our experiences, and sharing the wisdom of our experiences with others.
During the past nine years, the Holy Father has encouraged us over and over again to pray daily with the Holy Gospel. He says: “Try reading the Gospel for at least five minutes every day. You will see how it changes your life.” Those who attend Mass on a daily basis can attest to the power of the scriptures in their lives. Priests, deacons, and lay people who pray with the Liturgy of the Hours can also give witness to how praying with the psalms and scriptures can influence how they think, speak, and act throughout the day. Indeed, anyone who attends Sunday Mass, prays the Rosary, or participates in bible study programs has been touched by the beauty and challenge of God’s Word.
In the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, we take the Synodal Way very seriously. In order to better live the Gospel, share God’s love, and rebuild the Church, we need to listen to each other and learn from each other so that we can work together to reach out to those who do not know God or have turned away from the Church. In this spirit, we are asking our friends and fellow parishioners to engage in a series of spiritual exercises designed to give voice to how our shared faith has changed our lives.
Our first spiritual exercise is simple! How does God speak to you through the sacred scriptures? Which line, verse, or passage from scripture fills your heart and inspires your life? Pray about it. Think about it. Discern how God’s Word lives in you. Then write down your answer (including book, chapter, and verse) and drop it into the collection basket; email it to us at email@example.com; or mail to us at the following address:
74 Pleasant Street
Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930
Please share your name, contact information, and favorite scriptures with us before the Solemnity of Saint Joseph on Saturday, March 19th. If you would like your contribution to remain anonymous, please let us know. For more information about the Synodal Way, please see Father Jim before or after Mass; contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org; or click on the link below. Thank you in advance for your prayers, discernment, and faith sharing. Let’s get to know each other! Let’s learn from each other! Let’s rebuild the Church together — always together!
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
Blessed are the Givers
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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Offered for the Children of Ukraine