By Kathleen M. Basi
Waiting is a pain in the neck. Throughout history, humanity has steadily progressed toward ways to make our lives faster and easier. We now can access information instantaneously in virtual worlds of this and that and have virtually forgotten that patience is still a virtue. Also falling by the wayside are the key concepts of stillness and reflection. In short, everything that the Season of Advent invites us to explore goes against the very grain of today’s fast-paced society.
In fact, Advent epitomizes another unpleasant quality — uncertainty. The early days of Advent reflect first on the triumphant return of Jesus at some unknown point in the future. Over and over, we hear that we do not know the day or the hour. And I am sure that I am not the only one who squirms in church, wondering if I am living well enough to escape the “winnowing fans” and “unquenchable fires.”
So, let’s put this all together. Advent asks us to wait in uncertainty while sitting still so that we can reflect on the experience. It is no wonder that our culture has chosen to skip Advent altogether. Christmas sounds more certain, more immediate, and more fun. But Advent is a microcosm of our human condition.
There have been plenty of seasons in my life when I have waited in uncertainty for affirmation or resolution to a problem. All too often, I have prayed the “billboard prayer.” You know it. What you really want is a billboard on the interstate that says in huge letters: “Hey, you! Yes, you! You have made the right decision! Quit second-guessing yourself!” I know that it sounds ridiculous, but didn’t God speak from a burning bush? He parted the Red Sea, right? He threw manna down into the desert, right? When you think about it, a billboard does not seem like too much to ask for!
The reality, however, is that despite all of those larger-than-life signposts, even the Israelites did not get to leave Egypt and waltz straight into the Holy Land with the Messiah at the head of their nation. They had to wander around the desert for a generation, encountering God, rejecting him and accepting him time and again. Even after they got their Promised Land, they had to wait another few thousand years for their Messiah. And when he finally came, he looked so different from what they expected, it was impossible for many to claim him.
Then as now, God’s plan is revealed through processes. Those processes usually take a lot more time than we expect. Yet we cannot skip over them because it is in the uncertainty of the process that we encounter God. If we skip the waiting [during the Avent Season], we risking missing the whole point.
About the Author: Kathleen M. Basi is a composer, musician, essayist, and disability rights activist. She is also a wife and mother of four children, one of whom lives with Down Syndrome. Kathleen is a regular contributor to Bringing Home the Word, an e-newsletter that features suggestions for prayer and reflection at home. A new edition is posted every weekend the link below.
Call to Prayer
Prayers for Lighting the Advent Wreath
First Week of Advent
Almighty God & Father,
increase our strength of will for doing good
so that Christ Jesus may find
an eager welcome at his coming,
and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven,
where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen.
Second Week of Advent
Good and gracious God,
open our hearts in welcome.
Remove the things that hinder us
from receiving Christ Jesus with joy,
so that we may share his wisdom
and become one with him when he comes in glory,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen.
Third Week of Advent
Most High God,
may we, your people,
who look forward to the birth of Christ Jesus
experience the joy of salvation
and celebrate it with love and thanksgiving.
We make this prayer
through Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
Fourth Week of Advent
Lord God of power and might,
your eternal Word took flesh on our earth
when the Virgin Mary placed her life
at the service of your plan.
Lift our hearts in watchful hope
to hear the voice that announces his glory
and open our minds to receive the Holy Spirit,
who prepares us for his coming.
We make this prayer
through Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
The Assisi Project
Advent: Crucified & Joyful
Saturday, December 3rd
Saint Francis of Assisi teaches us that discipleship is not just about the gift of faith. It’s not just about coming to church or memorizing a catechism. It’s really all about loving God and loving neighbor. It’s about meeting Christ in prayer and in the people we meet along life’s journey. It’s about joy and suffering, communion and fraternity, prayer and action. It’s ultimately about living the Gospel, sharing God’s love, and rebuilding the Church.
About discipleship, Pope Francis says: “It is about living close to Jesus…It is about embodying the Gospel in everyday life. It is a fire that starts another fire.” It is no accident that the Holy Spirit gave us a pope who chose the name “Francis” and calls us back to the basics of prayer, good works, and a more simple way of life.
In this spirit, all are invited to join Father Jim and Cliff for My God & My All!: A Course on Discipleship. Over the course of the next few months, you and your family can join us online or in-person. First, you can attend upcoming gatherings of the Assisi Project on Saturday, December 3rd; Saturday, January 7th; and Saturday, February 4th. Each session begins with Mass at 8:00am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church, followed by a reflection, faith sharing, and the rosary. We conclude by 10:00am.
You can join us on four consecutive evenings next spring: Tuesday, April 25th through Friday, April 28th at Saint Anthony Chapel beginning with Evening Prayer at 6:30pm; followed by a reflection, faith sharing, and the rosary. Each session will conclude by 8:00pm. Podcasts of each reflection will be available soon at assisiproject.com! A donation of $25 is requested from those who can afford it. For more information, please contact Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Save the dates! Spread the word! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Youth Faith Formation
Advent Faith & Family Mass
Saturday, December 3rd
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 9:14).” In response to the Lord’s call, all children, parents, grandparents, godparents, and guardians are invited to join Father Jim for our Advent Faith & Family Mass on Saturday, December 3rd at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church. During Mass, Father Jim will offer a special homily about the Christmas Creche and a special blessing for all of God’s children and their families. In addition, every child will receive a small gift!
Please save the following dates for our upcoming Faith & Family Masses: 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 For more information, please contact Betsy Works at email@example.com. Mass is our class! Jesus is our teacher! Every child is a precious gift from God! Every family is welcome to join us! Spread the word! All are invited! All are welcome!
Advent & Christmas Concert
An Annual Holiday Tradition
Sunday, December 4th
All parishioners, friends, neighbors, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join Tom Misuraca, LuAnn Pallazola, Patricia Natti, and the Adult Music Ministry for our 16th Annual Advent & Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 4th at 2:00pm in Saint Ann Church. As always, this year’s music selections have been carefully chosen to help prepare our hearts to faithfully celebrate the Holy Season of Advent and the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas. For more information about this beloved holiday tradition, please contact Tom Misuraca at firstname.lastname@example.org. Spread the word! Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Call to Worship
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
December 7th & 8th
In commemoration of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport invites you to join us for the celebration of Mass:
Wednesday, December 7th
Vigil Mass at 5:30pm
Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
Thursday, December 8th
Mass at 8:00am in Saint Joachim Church
Mass at 12:00pm in Saint Ann Church
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, 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 countries, including the United States of America. Please join us as we honor our Blessed Mother Mary and beg her powerful intercession! All are invited! All are welcome!
Most Blessed Mother,
heart of love, heart of mercy,
ever listening, caring, and consoling, hear our prayers!
As your children, we beg for your intercession with Jesus your Son.
Receive with compassion and understanding
the petitions we place before you.
We take comfort in knowing
that your heart is always open
to those who ask for help.
We trust to your gentle care 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.
Holy Family Parish
In addition to the Christmas Fair & Marketplace, Holy Family Parish is also sponsoring a Christmas Raffle! A donation of $2 per ticket or six for $10 will buy you a chance to win these amazing prizes:
- One Cash Prize of $500
- Four Cash Prizes of $100 Blackstone
- 4 Burner Griddle ($500 Value)
Special thanks to Greely Funeral Home and the Goodhue and Sabia Families for making possible these great prizes! Raffle tickets have been mailed to every registered parish family! Please complete your tickets and return them by Friday, December 2nd. If everyone participates, we will raise $20,000 for Holy Family Parish! If you have not received your tickets or for more information about supporting Holy Family Parish, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Thank you in advance for your generous support for Holy Family Parish and our Christmas Raffles!
Saint Vincent de Paul Society
Christmas Giving Trees
Sharing God’s Love at Christmas
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society is once again sponsor- ing the Christmas Giving Trees in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport! During the weekend of November 19th and 20th, the Giving Trees will be located at the entrances of our three churches; and each tree will be decorated with stars that include a special Christmas wish for a child or family in need. If you can make this wish come true, then please take the star!
Every donated gift should be new, unused, unwrapped, and placed back under a Giving Tree no later than Sunday, December 4th. For more information, please contact Lori Thorstensen at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 978-281-4820. During the coming Season of Advent, let’s work together to share God’s love with local families who need our help! Thank you for your generous support! May God bless us, everyone!
The Assisi Project
Rebuild My Church Campaign
Goal: $15,000 – So Far: $13,445
Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with members, friends, and followers throughout the world. Our mission is to help believers of all ages more faithfully live the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the spirit of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi.
In celebration of our 15th anniversary, we are seeking to raise $15,000 for our Rebuild My Church Campaign. Your generous gift will enable us to create a guest speakers program, offer scholarships for pilgrims and students, assist local parishes with special projects, and support our podcasts and faith formation programs.
The Assisi Project is a non-profit, tax-exempt charitable organization. You can support our ministries and programs via GoFundMe or by sending a donation to the Assisi Project, Post Office Box 3158, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01931-3158. All donations are tax-deductible. For more information, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. Thank you! May the Lord give you peace!
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
Give and it will be given to you (Luke 6:38)
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 Father John Allan Loftus, SJ