This Week’s Message
Our Advent Journey
By Cliff Garvey
Think back to the greatest journey of your life. Perhaps it was leaving home and living on your own for the first time. Perhaps it was a honeymoon. Perhaps it was a vacation with family or friends to some tropical paradise. Perhaps it was a pilgrimage to some holy place. Think about the new sites and new sounds of that journey. Think about the new challenges, new experiences, and new joys of that journey. Think about how the greatest journey of your life changed your life forever. Now think about that same journey with a heart closed to new experiences and a mind closed to new cultures and ideas. Now think about that journey with eyes closed to new landscapes or arms closed to the embrace of new friends or new love. Imagine the greatest journey of your life without its life-changing effects.
Now imagine a whole life lived with a closed heart and a closed mind. Imagine a whole life lived with eyes closed to the joy right in front of us. Imagine a whole life lived closed to love and friendship. Imagine a whole life that is unchanged by new experiences and new ideas. Imagine a whole life that is not renewed or transformed each year by the miracle of Christmas. Imagine a world where Mary says: “No, I am too young for this responsibility!” Imagine a world where Joseph says: “No, I am not taking care of someone else’s child!” Imagine a world where John the Baptist says: “No, I am not paving the way for anyone else!” Imagine a world where the shepherds say: “No, we are too busy to follow a star!” Imagine a world where the Magi say: “No, we are too important to share our riches with that poor child!” Imagine a world where the apostles say: “No, we have nets to set and fish to catch!” Imagine a world where everyone’s mind is closed; where everyone’s heart is closed; where everyone says: “No!”
Now think about our shared journey during this blessed season of Advent. The world offers the holiday shopping season. It begins the day after Halloween and races and roars until the last sale table has been picked clean on Christmas Eve. The world offers Black Friday, big box stores, crowded malls, cyber sales, too much noise, and way too much traffic. Meanwhile, the Church offers a stark contrast: no blinking lights, no bling, no glitz, no sparkle. During Advent, God’s Church offers only a simple wreath, four candles, the warmth of each other’s kindness, and ultimately the greatest gift of all. During Advent, the Church offers us an opportunity to rediscover the life-changing experience of Christ’s birth at Christmas. During Advent, the Church challenges us to rediscover how God intervenes into the darkness of human history; how God, the creator of all things, intervenes into our world and into our lives; how God, the master of the universe, humbles himself and is born among us a mere child, a poor child, a child born under unusual circumstances, a child who comes to save the world.
Note the present tense! God intervenes! God humbles himself! God comes! God saves! It is real. It happens. And it is offered to us, here and now. We need not go on pilgrimage. We need not go on vacation. We need not leave Gloucester and Rockport. God comes to us! God comes to us as a child! God comes to us as a child who is all love and all mercy; all friendship and all goodness; all kindness and all patience. God comes to us just as he came to Mary, Joseph, and John the Baptist. God comes to us just as he came to the shepherds, the Magi, and all people of goodwill. God comes to each and every one of us, no mat- ter where we live, no matter who we are, no matter what we’ve done in our lives. God asks us only to welcome him with open hearts, open minds, and a spirit of discovery. May our Advent journey lead us closer to the Christ Child, to God’s Holy Church, and to each other in a true spirit of prayer, fellowship, and service. May our Advent journey transform our lives and the lives of those we are called to love.
The Light Is On For You!
Confession & Eucharistic Adoration
Thursdays, December 14th & 21st
The Holy Season of Advent is a time for prayer, penance, and preparation; a time to make ourselves ready for the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas. This Advent, all are invited to experience Christ’s boundless love and mercy through the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession) and through prayerful adoration of the Lord’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. On two Thursday evenings during Advent, December 14th and December 21st, from 6:00pm until 8:00pm, please join us for ‘The Light Is On For You!’ in Saint Ann Church.
These special evenings of prayer and devotion will in- clude Evening Prayer and Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharistic Adoration, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and an opportunity for all who feel called to participate in the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession). For some, this may be a time for sacramental confession. For some, it may be a time for silent prayer and reflection. And for some, it may be a time to begin or renew the journey of faith. Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! For more information, please see Father Jim before or after Mass; or contact him at email@example.com.
Youth Faith Formation
First Penance & Reconciliation
Saturday, December 16th
As imperfect humans, we acknowledge our faults and failures. We also believe deeply in God’s boundless mercy and limitless love for us. The Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession) offers each of us an opportunity to reconcile ourselves with both God and the Church. The sacrament is comprised of four basic elements: sorrow for one’s sins and shortcomings, confession of those sins to a priest, a prayer of personal contrition, absolution by a priest, and an act of penance.
This year, sixty-one of our youngest fellow parishioners from both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish are preparing for the Sacrament of First Holy Communion. Next Saturday, December 16th at 11:00am in Saint Ann Church, these young disciples will participate for the first time in the Sacrament in Penance & Reconciliation (Confession). As our sacramental preparations continue, please pray for our students, their families, and all catechists and volunteers! For more information, please contact Betsy Works at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Youth Faith Formation
Youth Christmas Pageant
Saturday, January 6th
Each year, the Catholic Church celebrates the Season of Christmas from December 25th through the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord on January 6th. 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 part of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s celebration of the Christmas Season, we invite children from our parish communities to participate in our Youth Christmas Pageant on Saturday, January 6th at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church. This dramatization of the Nativity of the Lord depends on the participation of young angels and shepherds, along with those interested in playing the roles of the Magi and the Holy Family. If your child would like to participate in this wonderful holiday tradition, please contact Betsy Works at email@example.com. Please join us! All are welcome!
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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