By Pope Francis
A perfect religious exterior can serve to hide the mere satisfaction of one’s own needs, a quest for personal prestige, a desire for a certain kind of social status, a wish to keep things under control, a thirst for power and privilege, and a hope for recognition, and so on. This happens nowadays among Christians. But this is not the way of Jesus. This cannot be the way of his disciples and his Church. If anyone follows Jesus out of self-interest, then he or she has taken the wrong path.
The Lord demands a different attitude. To follow him does not mean to become part of a medieval court or triumphal procession. And it does not mean receiving a lifetime insurance policy. On the contrary, it means carrying one’s cross (See Luke 14:27). It means shouldering one’s burdens and those of others; making one’s life a gift, not a possession; spending it in imitation of the Lord’s generous and merciful love for us. These are decisions that engage the totality of our lives. For this reason, Jesus wants his disciples to prefer nothing to this kind of love, not even their deepest affections and greatest treasures.
To do this, we must look to him more than to ourselves. We must learn how to live from the Crucified One. In him, we see the love that gives itself to the very end without measure and without limits. The measure of love is to love without measure. In the words of Pope John Paul I: “We are the objects of undying love on the part of God (9-10-78).” An undying love. It never sinks beneath the horizon of our lives. It shines upon us and illumines even our darkest nights. When we gaze upon the Crucified Christ, we are called to the heights of that love; called to be purified of our distorted ideas of God and our self-absorption; and called to love God and others, in Church and in society, including those who do not see things as we do. We are called to even love our enemies.
To love even at the cost of sacrifice, silence, solitude, resistance, persecution, and misunderstanding. To love in this way comes with a price. As Blessed John Paul I said: If you want to kiss the Crucified Jesus, “you cannot help bending over the cross and letting yourself be pricked by a few thorns from the crown on the Lord’s head (9-27-78).” This is a love that perseveres to the end, thorns and all. It leaves nothing half-done. It does not cut corners or flee from difficulties. If we fail to aim high, if we refuse to take risks, if we content ourselves with a watered down faith, then as Jesus says, we are like those who want to build a tower but do not consider the cost. They lay the foundations, but then are not able to finish the work.
If the fear of losing ourselves makes us stop giving of ourselves, then we leave things undone: our relationships and our work, our responsibilities and our commitments, our dreams and even our faith. And then we end living life halfway. And how many people live life halfway?! How often are we tempted to live halfway — without ever taking flight, without ever taking risks for the good, and without ever truly committing ourselves to helping others?! Jesus asks us to do precisely this: Live the Gospel and you will live your life, not halfway but to the fullest! Live the Gospel, live life, with no compromises!
Note: This week’s message is an excerpt from the Holy Father’s homily during the Beatification of Mass of Pope John Paul I. For more about Blessed John Paul I, please visit our resources page: ccgronline.com/resources.
Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish
Our Lady’s Guild
Monday, September 12th
Since 1944, Our Lady’s Guild has worked to build com- munity among women of all ages in Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish through prayer, good works, fundraising, and social events. The Guild’s first meeting of the fall season is scheduled for Monday, September 12th at 6:30pm in Our Lady’s Hall. For more information about Our Lady’s Guild and its good work in our parish, please contact Beth Fosberry at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 978-281-4820. Please join us! Spread the word! New members and volunteers are always welcome!
Saints of Summer
Wednesday, September 14th
Our Lady of Sorrows
Summer is a good time of year to step back from the business and busyness of daily life and focus on our relationships with Jesus, our church, and those we are called to love. Unfortunately, few among us are able to leave behind home, work, and family for a real retreat from the responsibilities of the world. For this reason, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, in collaboration with the Assisi Project, is pleased to announce a special series of mini-retreats called The Saints of Summer.
Throughout his priestly ministry, Pope Francis has called people of all ages and backgrounds to learn about and pray with the saints. The Holy Father believes in his heart that the saints bring us closer to Christ and to each other. He says: “The saints are still here, not far from us; and their images in our churches evoke the ‘cloud of witnesses’ that always surrounds us (cf. Hebrews 12:1)…The saints remind us that even in our lives, however weak and marked by sin, holiness can unfold (4-7-21).”
In this spirit of unfolding holiness, all are invited to join us twice each month in July, August, and September for a series of two-hour mini-retreats. These moments of prayer, reflection, and adoration will focus on the lives of six amazing saints: Saint Ann, Saint Mary Magdalen, Saint Clare of Assisi, Saint Rose of Viterbo, Our Lady of the Angels, and Our Lady of Sorrows.
Our final mini-retreat for this summer will begin with the celebration of Holy Mass and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 5:30pm. After our shared prayer, Father Jim and-or Cliff Garvey will offer a reflection on the life, inspiration, and veneration of a saint whose life of holiness has inspired men and women all around the world. There will be time for questions and faith sharing, too. After our reflection and discussion, all are invited to pray in silent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and in veneration of holy relics of each saint of the day. We will conclude this moment of prayer and reflection beginning at 6:30pm with the Holy Rosary followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
Saints of Summer 1
Saint Ann – Grandmother to the World
Assisi Project Podcast
Saints of Summer 2
Saint Mary Magdalen – Apostle for the Rest of Us
Assisi Project Podcast
Saints of Summer 3
Saint Clare of Assisi – Consumed by Love
Assisi Project Podcast
Saints of Summer 4
Saint Rose of Viterbo – Living Witness
Assisi Project Podcast
Saints of Summer 5
Our Lady of the Angels — Leaning In
Assisi Project Podcast
Saints of Summer 6 – Our Lady of Sorrows
Wednesday, September 14th
Begins with Mass at 5:30pm
Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
If you and your family have missed this unique series of mini-retreats in celebration of The Saints of Summer, check out our podcasts by clicking the “Listen Now” links above. For more information about this series or about the good work of the Assisi Project in our home parishes, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. Spread the word! Bring a friend! Let’s pray together! All are invited! All are welcome!
Calling Young Disciples!
Fall Faith & Family Mass
Saturday, September 18th
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says: “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs (Matthew 19:14).” In response to the Lord’s call, all parents, grandparents, godparents, and children of all ages are invited to join Father Jim for our annual Fall Faith & Family Mass on Sunday, September 18th at 11:45am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church.
During Mass, Father Jim will offer a special blessing and homily for all families and their children that will focus on this theme: Remember the Promise: Jesus Is Always With Us! Every child who joins us for the Faith & Family Mass will receive a small but special gift from our parish!
During this school year, we will celebrate four more Faith & Family Masses on the following days and times: Saturday, December 3rd at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church; Saturday, January 7th at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church; Sunday, February 26th at 11:45am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church; and Saturday, May 13th at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church. So, mark your calendars! Save the dates! Bring your families and friends!
Now more than ever, let us join together and reaffirm in heart and voice that Mass is our class! Jesus is our teacher! Let us remember that every child in our pews is a precious blessing from God! Every family that joins us for worship is a special gift from the Lord! For more information about youth faith formation in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Betsy Works at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Calling Adult Disciples!
Begins Saturday, October 15th
I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
The Way was the among the earliest names for followers of the Risen Christ. The Way also appears as a biblical reference for the earliest Christian communities in the Acts of the Apostles. In addition, tradition teaches that both before and after his conversion, Saint Paul referred to the disciples of Christ as part of the Way. More than two thousand years later, Catholic Christians are still part of the Way of Jesus Christ. But as we all know, a life of discipleship is not a hobby or pastime. It is a vocation, a way of life that lays claim to our whole heart, mind, and strength. As disciples, our lives should be focused on and inspired by our faith in Christ, who is our merciful redeemer, friend, and brother. And as his disciples, we are called to reach out to those who need our help in growing closer to Christ and the Church.
If you are an adult (age 18 and over) and have not received all of the Sacraments of Initiation in the Roman Catholic Church (Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation), then please consider joining The Way, a new adult faith formation program that will begin this fall. The Way (typically called the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) is a seven month program that prepares adults to be received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. As part of this same program, we will prepare adults for the Sacrament of Confirmation (to be received at either the Easter Vigil or at a regional archdiocesan celebration). Other parishioners who have received the Sacraments and are interested in renewing their spiritual lives are also very welcome to join us!
Our group will gather for fellowship, formation, and faith sharing. As a community of disciples, we will learn together about the basic beliefs, teachings, and traditions of the Church; and we will explore the methods of prayer and spirituality that have brought centuries of believers closer to Christ Jesus and to the Church. In addition, we will talk openly and honestly about the challenges of living an authentic life of faith, hope, and love in the modern world. Our first gathering will be Saturday, October 15th at 8:00am. If you would like to learn more about this journey of faith and become part of a unique fellowship in preparation for the sacraments of God’s Church, then please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. Please join us! Spread the word! All are invited! All are welcome!
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
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 All Souls Lost on September 11, 2001