By Emily Blasik
Americans have had a few tough years. With mass shootings, violence, deep political divisions, and more, our country seemed to be falling apart piece by piece. On many mornings, I couldn’t bear to turn on the news. Everywhere you looked, tragedy was at the forefront. As a result, we saw a deep-seated fear envelop the hearts of many in an un-united United States: fear of the future, fear of the unknown, and even fear of our neighbors, all made evident by the sheer amount of hate and malice running rampant in our streets as well as our social media spheres.
As we know, words can be weapons, too. It’s difficult to know what to do in these situations or how to react. Even harder still is discerning how to help. When tragedies strike — whether a natural disaster, mass shooting, or terrorist attack — we feel a certain amount of helplessness, like spectators watching from the stands. This is how I felt after white nationalist protests made the headlines. I was confused and hurt by the state of our country, but I didn’t know how to mend it.
At Mass on Sunday, God’s message rang clear. The homily spoke to my heart: “Do not despair during these times, and most importantly, do not lose your faith in God,” said our pastor, Father Mike. “We might not be able to change the world overnight, but we can make a difference where it counts: in our homes and in our communities.”
As his words started to sink in, a feeling of peace settled over me. When the ways of the world get us down, we have a choice. We can either spend all of our energy panicking and perhaps inspiring panic in others, or we can focus on causing change in our own circle of influence. Small as it may feel, volunteering in your community or simply loving your neighbors in a new way can make a difference. If you can donate money to those in need, do so. Lead with love, and the rest will follow.
While the holidays probably helped provide distractions from the year’s drama, January brings us back to a sobering reality. What’s next for our country? No one can be sure. Clearly, the problems remain unsolved, but whatever does happen, it’s crucial to remember that God is with us. And we are his foot soldiers, showing the way for a better tomorrow.
About the Author: Emily Blasik is a blogger, freelance writer, and nutri- tional therapist. Emily is also a wife and mother of two young children. Over the years, she has written for various Catholic publications, includ- ing Liguorian Magazine, Ember Journal, and Bringing Home the Word. Each week, a new edition of Bringing Home the Word (an e-newsletter with suggestions for prayer and reflection for families) is posted on our website. See link below.
Call to Prayer
A Prayer to the Blessed Mother
By Pope Francis
Our Lady of Seven Sorrows,
we are gathered in your presence
as brothers and sisters,
grateful to the Lord for his merciful love.
And you are here with us,
as you were with the Apostles
in the Upper Room.
Mother of the Church,
Comforter of the Afflicted,
with confidence we turn to you,
in the joys and struggles of our ministry.
Look upon us with tenderness
and open your arms to embrace us.
Queen of the Apostles,
Refuge of Sinners,
you know our human limitations,
our spiritual failings and our sorrows
in the face of loneliness and abandonment:
with your gentle touch,
heal our wounds.
Mother of God and our Mother,
to you we entrust our lives and our nation.
To you we entrust our episcopal communion.
Obtain for us the grace
to faithfully put into practice each day
the words your Son has taught us,
the words that, in him and with him,
we now lift up to God our Father.
Glory to the Father,
to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now and will be forever. Amen.
The Assisi Project
Prayers for Pope Benedict XVI
Saturday, January 7th
Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is an international fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with friends and followers throughout the world. We are dedicated to helping adults of all ages to more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. On the First Saturday of each month, we gather for Mass, faith formation, and a period of shared prayer and discussion.
On Saturday, January 7th beginning at 8:00am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church, we invite all friends, neighbors, and fellow parishioners of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport to join Father Jim in celebrating a Memorial Mass for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who passed from this life on December 31st at the age of 95. After Mass, we will offer a Holy Hour and a Franciscan Rosary for the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict and for the continued ministry of our Holy Father Pope Francis. Until then, we pray together:
A Prayer for the Soul of Pope Benedict XVI
Eternal Shepherd of Souls,
hear the prayers of your people
for your servant Pope Benedict XVI,
who governed your church with love.
In your mercy, bring him
with the flock entrusted to his care
to the reward you have promised
your faithful servants.
May he who faithfully administered
the mysteries of your love and mercy on earth
rejoice with you forever in heaven.
In your wise and loving care,
you made your servant, Pope Benedict XVI,
teacher for the Universal Church.
He did the work of Christ on earth.
May your Son welcome him to eternal glory.
May your servant whom you appointed
high priest of your flock
be counted now among the priests
in the life of your heavenly kingdom.
Give him the reward of eternal life,
and let your mercy win for us
the gift of your life and your love.
We entrust your servant into your care
with faithful and confident hearts.
In the human family, he was truly
an instrument of your peace and love.
May he rejoice forever with your saints.
Glory to the Father,
to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Please note that the third session of My God & My All: A Course on Discipleship is now postponed until Saturday, February 4th (weather permitting). For more information about the Assisi Project and its good work in our parishes, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. May God bless Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI! May God bless Pope Francis! May the Lord give you peace throughout the coming new year!
Calling Young Disciples
Youth Christmas Pageant
Saturday, January 7th
Each year, the Catholic Church celebrates the Season of Christmas from December 25th through the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on January 9th. During Christmastime, we commemorate the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Choir of Angels praising God in heaven, the Call of the Shepherds, and the Adoration of the Magi with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
As a special part of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s celebration of the Christmas Season, we invite children from both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish to participate in our Youth Christmas Pageant on Saturday, January 7th at the 4:00pm Vigil Mass in Saint Ann Church.
This dramatization of the Nativity of the Lord depends on the participation of young angels and shepherds, along with those children interested in portraying the Magi and the Holy Family. Being a part of this favorite holiday tradition is an excellent way for our children and grandchildren to be a part of the life of their home parish and learn about the teachings and traditions of the Roman Catholic Church.
If your child, grandchild, or godchild would like to participate in this year’s Youth Christmas Pageant, please con- tact Betsy Works at email@example.com. Spread the word! Bring your family! Bring your friends! All are invited! All are welcome! Blessings to all for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Our Pastor’s Message
Special Message of Thanks
By Father Jim
As the Christmas Season continues, we join together in a prayer of thanksgiving for the parishioners and pastoral team members who dedicated their time, talent, and treasure to help us celebrate these holy days in a joyful spirit of faith, hope, and love for the Lord.
On behalf of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, we sincerely thank Caroline Bachman, Steve Barusso, Nina Groppo, Bob & Teri Krause, Kim LoGrasso, Suzanne McLaughlin, Mark Natti, Brian Rano, Jane Russo, Neil Scanell, Lucy Sheehan, an anonymous elf, and three rambunctious dachshunds for their good work in decorating our churches so beautifully.
We also offer our heartfelt thanks to Lori Thorstensen, Cathy Kyrouz, Jeanne Smith, and all members of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society for their hard work with this year’s Christmas Giving Trees. In addition, we thank all adult and young disciples who served as acolytes, greeters, lectors, ushers, and Eucharistic Ministers (especially on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day).
In a special way, we thank Tom Misuraca, LuAnn Pallazola, Patty Natti, Kathleen Adams, and all of our adult and youth music ministers for giving us the gift of beautiful music and song throughout the Advent and Christmas Seasons. Thank you! Peace and blessing to all for a Happy New Year!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Winter Weather Advisory
For the latest information about weather related cancelations during the winter months, please visit our website: ccgronline.com. Announcements will also be made via wcvb.com, cbsboston.com, and WBZ1030-AM. All fellow parishioners are reminded that if public schools are closed due to inclement weather on a particular day, then our Weekday Mass and all parish programs (including adult and youth faith formation programs) are canceled, too. Peace and blessings for a Happy New Year! Keep warm! Stay safe!
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
Love God, serve God, everything is in that.
Saint Clare of Assisi
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 Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI