By Cliff Garvey
According to Catholic teaching and tradition, a first class relic is the body or a part of the body of a saint. A second class relic is a piece of clothing or any article that was once used by the saint during his or her life. And a third class relic is any object that has been touched to a first class relic. The earliest recorded references to relics date back to the second century; and they are mentioned in the writings of the Church Fathers in the fourth and fifth centuries. By the tenth century, relics had become objects of devotion among the faithful and remain so even now. Most churches contain an altar stone that contains a relic of the parish’s patron saint.
On February 15th, Franciscan communities and many Catholic parishes will commemorate the Feast of the Translation of the Relics of Saint Anthony of Padua. When Saint Anthony died in 1231, his earthly remains were buried in the Church of Saint Mary in Padua, Italy. In 1263, a new basilica built in his memory was ready for his tomb to be transferred. When the coffin was opened, the saint’s body was reduced to dust but his tongue was incorrupt. This means that it still looked life- like and was not decomposed in any observable way.
Saint Bonaventure, who was present as Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, removed the tongue from the tomb and reverently raised it for all to see. Bonaventure then cried out: “O blessed tongue, which always blessed the Lord and called others to bless Him! It is now clear just how great were your merits before Almighty God!” At the time, many could remember that Saint Anthony was a gifted preacher, brilliant theologian, and miracle maker. For this reason, the centuries-old celebration is sometimes called the Feast of Saint Anthony’s Tongue.
The tongue relic was placed in a special container called a reliquary. In 1981, Pope John Paul II gave permission for Saint Anthony’s tomb to be opened for the first time in five hundred years. Inside the casket, a team of doctors and scholars found the saint’s habit and his vocal cords which were also incorrupt.
Nearly eight centuries after Saint Anthony’s death, his tongue, habit, jaw bone, and vocal cords remain incorrupt and on display in his basilica for pilgrims to venerate. The rest of his remains are buried in the same church. On feast days, as many as two thousand pilgrims per hour venerate Saint Anthony’s relics; and he still receives hundreds of letters every day from people who ask for his intercession. He remains one of the most popular saints of all time; and he is still venerated as the patron of the poor, the sick, and the elderly; and of lost souls and lost things.
Although it may seem ghoulish to modern skeptics, the relics of saints remind us of the power of prayer and devotion. They are instruments through which the intercessions of the saints work miracles for us. They are effective tools of God’s abiding love for his children. And they are the visible evidence of holy lives dedicated to God, sacrificed for God, and offered as witness to the glory of God both on earth and in heaven. Saint Anthony of Padua, pray for us!
Cliff Garvey, Associate Minister
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Call to Prayer
The Miracle Prayer
Saint Anthony of Padua, pray for us!
O Holy Saint Anthony,
gentlest and kindest of saints,
your burning love for God,
your exalted virtue, and your great charity
for all creatures made you worthy,
when on earth,
to possess miraculous powers
that were given to no other saint.
Miracles waited on your word,
and that word you were ever ready
to speak at the request of those in need.
An anxious prayer of bitter trial
was never addressed to you in vain.
To the sick, you gave back health.
You find all that is lost.
The sorrowful are objects of your tender compassion.
And even the dead you raise to life
when the wounded heart cries out in anguish.
Nothing is impossible for you,
except to lack compassion
for those in distress or sorrow.
Encouraged by these thoughts,
and convinced by the power of your prayers,
we kneel before your holy image,
and with full confidence,
we implore you to obtain for us
what we need and what we have lost.
The answer to our prayers may require a miracle.
But you are the saint of miracles,
who can simply speak
and the mightiest wonders happen.
Gentle and loving Saint Anthony,
your heart is always full of sympathy.
Whisper our poor prayers into the ear of the Infant Jesus,
who loves to linger in your arms.
One word from you
and our prayers will be answered.
Speak that word and the gratitude of our hearts
will be yours for ever and ever. Amen.
Our Father – Hail Mary – Glory Be
Season of Lent
Wednesday, February 22nd
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. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 22nd, which is a Holy Day of Prayer & Abstinence for all Roman Catholics. Here in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, we will celebrate Mass and distribute ashes according to the following schedule:
- Mass at 8:00am in Saint Joachim Church
- Mass at 12:00pm in Saint Ann Church
- Mass at 5:30pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church
Following our 5:30pm Mass, all are invited to join us for the Way of the Cross! Please note that there will be no Confessions or Eucharistic Adoration on Ash Wednesday. For more information about the Holy Season of Lent in Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Season of Lent
Way of the Cross
Begins Friday, February 24th
For more than five hundred years, the Way of the Cross has been one of the most moving devotions of the Roman Catholic Church. By uniting our humble prayers with the suffering Christ by both word and imagery, we make a spiritual pilgrimage with our Lord as he experiences the Passion of the Holy 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 from February 24th through March 31st 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!
Season of Lent
The Light Is On For You!
Begins Wednesday, March 1st
On five consecutive Wednesday evenings, from March 1st through March 29th, 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 evenings of prayer begin at 5:30pm with Holy Mass; followed by Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; and finally the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession) is offered for those who feel called to participate. For some, this may be a time for sacramental confession and reconciliation. For some, it may be a period of silent prayer and adoration. And for others, it may be an opportunity to begin or renew the spiritual journey. All are reminded that confessions are also available by appointment. For more information, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Holy Family Women’s Guild
Bakeless Bake Sale
The Holy Family Women’s Guild is sponsoring a Bakeless Bake Sale during the Month of February! Why? Because now more than ever, our beloved home parish needs your support — especially because of rising gas and electricity bills! Every small donation makes a big difference! All donations can be mailed to:
Holy Family Women’s Guild
10 Orchard Street
Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930
Established in 2005, the Holy Family Women’s Guild brings together women of all ages in prayer, fellowship, and service to our parish and wider community. New members are always welcome! For more information about the Holy Family Women’s Guild and its good work in our parish, please contact Arlene Lesch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for supporting Holy Family Parish! May God bless you and your family!
Cost of Basic Necessities
The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is alive and well! Babies are being baptized. Confessions are being heard. Funerals and weddings are being celebrated. Our online ministries attract more than 2,000 visitors every week. Our young disciples are preparing in-person for Confirmation and First Holy Communion. Our service organizations and adult faith formation programs are brining people of all ages together in prayer, fellowship, and service. And more and more fellow parishion- ers are coming home to church after a long absence.
Nevertheless, winter is here! Our churches and parish buildings must be cleaned, heated, insured, and maintained. Parking lots must be plowed. Steps and sidewalks must be shoveled and kept clear of ice. Our pastoral team (which includes me) is working harder than ever and must be paid a fair wage. Here’s just a small sampling of some recent monthly expenses:
Holy Family Parish
- Saint Joachim Church Heating Oil: $1,436
- Saint Joachim Church Heating Repairs: $7,219
- Holy Family Parish Electricity: $2,227
Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish
- Our Lady’s Church Heating Oil: $1,659
- Our Lady’s Campus Gas: $1,689
- Our Lady’s Campus Electricity: $456
Anyone who knows me knows that economy and thrift were taught to me at a young age. Believe me, we are doing everything we can to control costs and reduce expenses. But the financial stability and pastoral viability of both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish depends entirely on us. We are solely responsible for paying our own bills! We’re in this together!
How can you help? Give what you can. Encourage fellow parishioners to chip in, too. Use our electronic giving program. Gather together a group of friends, family members, and fellow parishioners to pay one of these expenses. Every dollar makes a difference! Peace, blessings, and many thanks to all! — Father Jim
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
It is not how much we give, but how much love we put into the giving.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta
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 Clifford P. Garvey