By Pope Francis
The Church needs to renew her amazement at being the dwelling place of the Living God, the Bride of the Lord, and a Mother who gives birth to her children. If not, the Church risks turning into a beautiful museum of the past — a Church museum. Our Lady instead gives the Church the feeling of home, a place where the God of new life dwells. Let us receive with amazement the mystery of the Mother of God…Let us acclaim her as the Holy Mother of God…And let us allow ourselves to be gazed upon, to be embraced, and to be taken by the hand.
Especially in times of need, when we are tangled in life’s knots, we rightly lift our eyes to Our Lady who is Our Mother. But first, we should let ourselves be gazed upon by Our Lady. When she looks at us, she does not see sinners but children. It is said that the eyes are the mirror of the soul. The eyes of Mary — full of grace — reflect the beauty of God. They show us a reflection of heaven. Jesus says that the eye is the lamp of the body (Matthew 6:22). The eyes of Our Lady can bring light to every dark corner. Everywhere she rekindles hope. When Mary gazes upon us, she says: “Take heart, dear children, I am here, your Mother!”
This maternal gaze instills confidence and trust. It helps us grow in faith. And faith is the bond with God that engages the whole person. In order to be preserved, it needs the Mother of God. Her maternal gaze helps us to see ourselves as beloved children; and to love one another regard- less of our individual limitations and approaches to life. Our Lady keeps us rooted in the Church, where unity counts more than diversity. She encourages us to care for each other. She reminds us that faith demands a tenderness that can save us from becoming lukewarm in faith. And tenderness is a word that today many wish to remove from the dictionary. But when faith makes a place for the Mother of God, we never lose sight of the true center who is the Lord. Mary never points to herself. She always points to Jesus. Mary is mother!
The gaze of the Mother is the gaze of every mother. A world that looks to the future without a mother’s gaze is shortsighted. It may increase profits, but it will not see each other as children of God. It may make money, but not for everyone. We may all dwell in the same house, but we will not live as brothers and sisters. The human family is built upon mothers. A world in which a mother’s tenderness is dismissed as sentimentality may be rich in material goods, but poor in every other way, poor where the future is concerned.
Mother of God, teach us to see life as you do. Turn your gaze upon us, upon our misery, upon our poverty. Turn upon us your eyes of mercy. Let us allow ourselves to be embraced by you. From Mary’s gaze, we may turn to her heart, in which the Gospel teaches us that she “treasured these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19).” In other words, Our Lady takes everything into her heart. She embraces everyone and everything, both good and bad. She ponders all things. She brings everything to God…In this same way, she now takes into her heart the life of each one us. She wishes to embrace our every challenge and present it to the Lord.
Mary, take us by the hand. Clinging to you, we will pass safely through the straits of history. Lead us to rediscover the bonds that unite us. Gather us beneath your mantle, in the tenderness of true love, where the human family is reborn. We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God! Let us pray these words together: We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God (1-1-19).”
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 a detail from Jody’s icon of the Theotokos Kardiotissa (Mother of God of the Tender Heart. For more information about Jody and her work, visit jcoleicons.com. Happy Easter! Peace and blessings! — Father Jim
Sharing God’s Love
Happy Mother’s Day!
A MOTHER’S LOVE
There are times
when only a mother’s love
can understand our tears,
soothe our disappointments, and calm our fears.
There are times
when only a mother’s love
can share the joy we feel
when something we have dreamed about
quite suddenly is real.
There are times
when only a mother’s faith
can help us on life’s way
and inspire in us
the confidence we need from day to day.
For a mother’s heart
and a mother’s faith
and a mother’s steadfast love
were fashioned by angels
and sent from God above.
MARY, MOTHER OF THE TENDER HEART
Rejoice Mary, Mother of God, Virgin,
full of grace, the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb
for you have borne the Savior of souls.
Fitting it is to glorify you,
O Birth-giver of God,
ever blessed and most pure,
O Holy Mother of God.
More honorable than the cherubim,
more glorious than the seraphim,
you are without blemish
and you bore the Word of God.
True Birth-giver of God, we praise you.
Living the Gospel
Sacrament of Baptism
The Sacrament of Baptism is the first of the three Sacraments of Initiation in the Roman Catholic Church. The two others 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).” Since Easter Sunday, Father Jim has baptized and blessed the following children with holy water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
In the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, the Sacrament of Baptism is celebrated during any 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, and extended families!
Making Young Disciples
First Holy Communion
Begins Sunday, May 1st
The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith community’s joy and the center of our life of prayer, fellowship, and service. This Easter Season, after a year of prayer, preparation, and study, fifty-six children in our youth faith formation program will receive the Body and Blood of the Risen Jesus for the first time. As our annual celebrations of First Holy Communion approach, all are encouraged to be mindful of our upcoming schedule:
- Saint Joachim Church
Sunday, May 8th at 10:00am Mass
- Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
Sunday, May 8th at 11:45am Mass
- Saint Ann Church
Saturday, May 7th at 4:00pm Mass
- Saint Ann Church
Saturday, May 14th at 4:00pm Mass
If your child, grandchild, or godchild has completed the second grade but has not received the Sacraments of Baptism and-or First Holy Communion, we have a special program just for them! It’s called The Way for Kids! Beginning on Saturday, May 21st from 4:00pm until 5:45pm in Our Lady’s School, Betsy Works and a team of volunteers will lead a four-week series of workshops for young disciples who have not received the first two Sacraments of Initiation. After each workshop, the children and their families are invited to attend our 6:00pm Mass.
For more information about The Way for Kids and our other youth faith formation programs, please contact Betsy Works at firstname.lastname@example.org. As we make our final preparations for First Holy Communion, please pray for all of our young disciples, their parents, families, and catechists. Thank you for your ongoing prayers and support! Peace, blessings, and congratulations to all!
Holy Family Women’s Guild
Spring Garage Sale
Saturday, May 14th
The Holy Family Women’s Guild is back in action! On Saturday, May 14th, the Guild is hosting a Spring Garage Sale from 9:00am until 1:00pm in the courtyard behind Saint Ann Church. Come, browse, and buy our selection of home décor, household items, small furniture, and cool vintage stuff! If necessary, the rain date will be Sunday, May 15th from 10:00am until 1:00pm! Established in 2005, the Holy Family Women’s Guild brings together women of all ages and backgrounds in prayer, fellowship, and service to our parish and the wider community. New members and volunteers are always welcome! For more information, please contact Arlene Lesch at email@example.com. Please join us! All are welcome!
The Assisi Project
We’re Praying for You!
Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with members, friends, and followers in the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, and Asia. We are dedicated to helping believers of all ages more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ through the intercession of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. Members of the Assisi Project, ranging in age from 13 to 97, pray every day for those who ask for our prayers. If you would like our fellowship to pray for your or your special intention, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!
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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In Memory of Carl Malone