Pastor’s Corner . . . Lent is much more than a time of increased piety or resolutions designed to break bad habits: Lent is the Church’s annual season of struggle against Satan. That struggle began over 2,000 years ago when the eternal Son of God, creator of the universe, took on human flesh of the Virgin Mary and was born in Bethlehem. The Creator became a creature to free the only creature made in His image and likeness-US-from the power of Satan and from the sway of his most potent weapon, death. As one of the prayers for Christmas Mass reads: “Hasten, Lord our God, do not delay, and free us by Your power from the devil’s fury.” What is “the devil’s fury”? Moviegoers might imagine a scene from The Exorcist, or some other cinematographic nonsense. The devil’s fury is subtler and more boringly mundane than anything Hollywood might imagine: the devil’s fury is daily temptation, which Satan ratchets up as we seek to fight it off by the practice of virtue. By falling into sin, Satan wins, and his hatred of God bears fruit in our eternal damnation.
Lent is the Church’s great annual spiritual exercise with its focal point on the mystery of Christ’s redemptive mercy, foretold in the Old Testament, realized in the earthly life of Jesus, especially in His Passion, death, resurrection and ascension; and which is realized in us by our worthy and frequent reception of the sacraments, especially Confession and Holy Communion, and then in prayer, fasting, acts of mercy, spiritual reading, and a more intense practice of the Christian virtues in our daily lives. In other words, we open ourselves more readily to Christ’s transforming grace by living a more intense Christian life. According to Saint Peter Chrysologus, “Three things sustain faith, devotion, and virtue,”. . . “prayer, fasting, and mercy to others. Prayer knocks at God’s door, fasting wins us what we need, and mercy is the hand cupped to receive . . . Let him who prays also fast; let him who fasts have pity on others; let him who wishes to be heard hear those who ask his help, for such a person alone has God’s ear whose own ear is not closed to the needs of others.” [Sermon 43]
How to begin? Don’t make crazy resolutions that you’ll never keep. Decide to set sin aside, instead, and to open your heart to doing God’s will as the most important guide for all you do in your daily life. First: go to Confession and use this first week of Lent to meditate on the Passion of Christ: look at His sufferings for what they are—Jesus suffering to save you from Satan and eternal death. “There is no greater stimulus to love our enemies [in which fraternal charity finds its perfect form] than the contemplation of the marvelous patience of Him who . . . offered His face to be spat upon and endured the other torments of His Passion . . . Did anyone hear those sweet and loving words of Christ from the Cross: ‘Father forgive them. . ?” Blessed Abbot Aelred continues, “If you are to love yourself correctly, you must not yield to carnal pleasure, by which is meant self-centered ness. If you do not to yield to carnal pleasure, center your affections on the loving person of the Lord.” [Blessed Abbot Aelred, The Mirror of Charity, 3]. Start your first week of Lent by reading and meditating on the Passion narratives in the four Gospels. Read some each day, and think about them, and pray for a few minutes daily in gratitude to God for thinking so highly of you, personally, that He sent Christ to die for you. Express that gratitude in acts of charity, fasting, prayer and penance. —Msgr. DiGiovanni
Parish Women’s Society … Will meet every Saturday, beginning on Saturday, February 28th at 9:30 a.m. in the Rectory for prayer, refreshments and conversation. Join us.
Knights of Columbus Mass … At Saint John’s with Bishop Lori on March 1st at 8:45 a.m. Please join us. For information about the K of C communion breakfast, 203-249-5842 or email@example.com
Please pray for the sick… Ray Flaharty, Philip Renard, John Mellace, Christine Exantus, Suzanne DePreta, Evelyn Flaharty, Diane Ojohanna, Phil De Felice, Sr., Janet Rodgers, Aidan Moon, Mary Daniele, Lena Cocchia,
Please pray for those who have recently died. . . Denis O’Neil, Cecila Tucker, Edith O’Hara, Vincenzo Giannitti Alverta Sahd, Frances Lorusso, Thomas Carucci, Sr. Julia McCarthy, Ella Palumba, Vito Melfi, Arthur Capalbo, Avery Cardinal Dulles
Energy Collection . . . The second collection today will be to help pay the parish’s high energy costs. I know that everyone’s heating costs are high, the parish’s is exceptionally high for two reasons: the church and rectory are enormous old buildings, with no insulation and single-pane glass throughout. Here are the Yankee Gas bills for January 2008: Rectory was $2,363.34;
Church: $6,484.51; January’s total heating bill was $8,847.85. Please help!! Your generosity is appreciated.
ASH WEDNESDAY . . . is February 25th: It is NOT a holy day of obligation. Ashes will be distributed during the 8:00 a.m. and 12:10 p.m. Masses, as well as during the day at the rectory office until 7:30 p.m.
LENTEN FAST AND ABSTINENCE . . .On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and all Fridays during Lent, all Catholics age 14 and older are obliged to abstain from eating meat, and all Catholics in good health between the ages of 18 and 60 are also obliged to fast. Abstinence is not eating meat or meat products; fasting is having one full meal and two light meals during the day, with no snacks between meals. Drinking water or taking medicine or vitamins does not break a fast. All Fridays during Lent are days of abstinence from eating meat.
CONFESSION. . . During Lent, every Catholic Church throughout Fairfield County will remain open each Tuesday evening, from 7:30 -9:00 P.M. for confessions, including. St. John’s.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS . . . each Friday during Lent:
4:00 p.m. English Stations;
6:00 p.m. Creole Stations
The 20’s and 30’s … The next meeting will be on Monday March 9th at the “Upper Room at Columbus Park” at 6:30 p.m. located at 205 Main Street here in Stamford. We will also discuss upcoming Service Opportunities such as “Christmas in April” and Ministry to the Homeless.
Moms & Tots … A group of moms and children meet with Fr. Walsh each first Tuesday of every month at 10:30 a.m. in church for Eucharistic adoration, followed by snacks in the parish hall. Please join us. Our next meeting will be on March 3rd.
St. Anne Society Schedule update: We will meet in March and May. The February and April dates have been cancelled.
St. John’s Bible Study … We are using The Bible Timeline Series every Thursday in the rectory at 7:30 p.m. Join us!
St. Monica Institute for Patristic Studies … We are studying Pope Saint Gregory the Great’s Four Books of Dialogues, Wednesday evenings in the rectory at 7:30 p.m.
Coffee and refreshments… Following the 10:00 a.m. Mass, in the Monsignor Nagle Hall.
Sunday Readings for March 1st: Gn. 9: 8-15; 1 Pt. 3: 18-22; Mk. 1: 12-15
Hymns for this weekend . . . (1) 198 (2) 216. The Creed for the Noon Mass may be found in the hymnal at No. 289.
Choral Music for the 12:00 Noon Mass . . . Mass Ordinary: Missa brevis – Peter Mathews (born 1944). Offertory motet: O How Amiable – Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1872-1958 (O how amiable are thy dwellings, thou Lord of Hosts! My soul hath a desire and longing to enter into the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found her an house, and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young, even thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be alway praising thee. The glorious majesty of the Lord our God be upon us; prosper thou the work of our hands upon us. O prosper thou our handywork. O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and out eternal home. (From Psalms 84 & 90 and Isaac Watts). Communion motet: Lead, Kindly Light – Sir William Harris, 1883-1973 (The text may be found in the hymnal at No. 234). The Gregorian chants proper to this Sunday are: Alleluia Verba mea (Lend ear to my words, O Lord; consider my cry. [Psalm 5:2]); Offertory Intende de voci (Hearken to the voice of my prayer, O my King and my God, for it is you, O Lord, whom I implore. [Psalm 5:3,4]); Communion Narrabo (I will relate all your wondrous deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing to the honour of your name, O Most High. [Psalm 9:2,3]).
Calling all 10:00 a.m. Singers for the Adult Choir . . . Do you usually attend the 10:00 a.m. Mass? Come join us in the choir loft – we really need you! Rehearsals are Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m. in the music room in the basement of the church. For those who want to learn or refresh their knowledge of the basics of music, there is a short optional Music Theory Class at 7:15 p.m. For more information, call Scott Turkington 324-1553, ext. 18.
Confirmation Candidates in the Religious Education Program: Note DATE CORRECTION for the Retreat at the Villa Maria Convent: MARCH 29th (not the 26th).
Religion Classes for Adults … Catholics who have not yet received Holy Communion or Confirmation, and for non-Catholics who wish to join the Church, every Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m. in the rectory. The class is on a 7 week cycle: If you miss one, we repeat it. Interested? Next cycle begins March 10th. Please contact Providencia at (203) 324 -1553 ext. 21.
Saint Patrick’s Parade. . . Needs your help! If you would like to make a small donation to help fund this wonderful annual Stamford event, please call Mons. DiGiovanni: 324-1553, ext 11.
The Latin Reading Group… Is translating St. Augustine’s Confessions…And meets every Wednesday in the rectory at 6:15 p.m. High school Latin is all that’s needed. Just walk in.
Introduction to New Testament Greek Class … Meets every Thursday evening in the rectory at 7:30 p.m. The class is closed to new members.
St. John’s in The NEWS . . .
. . . 100 years ago, or so:
The Connecticut Catholic.
March 2,1895 Stamford. “On the evening of Washington’s birthday the town hall was crowded to its utmost capacity, the occasion of the entertainment given under the auspices of St. Ann’s Ladies Aid society of St. John’s R. C. church for the benefit of the poor and orphans. The affair was a most flattering success in every particular and was conceded by all to be the most distinguished affair given in Stamford this season. The hall was most artistically decorated and the refreshment tables laden with eatables, presented by the members of the society, was a sight which was a joy and a delight to the inward man. The affair reflects great credit on the entire society but especially upon Father Keena who had full management of the entire entertainment. Each number on the programme was greatly appreciated and elicited much applause, encore numbers being demanded in every instance. Dancing followed, St. John’s orchestra furnishing music and was continued until a late hour.”
The Stamford Advocate.
February 26, 1927: CATHOLIC CHURCH TROOP OF SCOUTS GETS ITS CHARTER. “Stamford Troop 22 Boy Scouts of America sponsored by St. John’s Catholic Church was formally presented with their troop charter at the installation ceremonies at the indoor track meet at the armory last night. The public ceremony was a feature of the athletic meet conducted by the St. John’s Recreation club. The ceremony included acceptance of office by the troop committee composed of Herman C. Rheaume, the Rev. Henry Callahan, and William J. O’Connell. William Foley, the scoutmaster of the troop, asked for loyal co-operation from his troop as follows: “Scouts of Troop 22, I bid you to give to your scoutmaster loyal co-operation, so that Troop 22 will ever be a credit to our church, our city and our country. As your scoutmaster leads you in the Scout Oath and Scout Law on this occasion, may it ever serve as a reminded of your obligation as a Scout.” As president of the Stamford Council, Alfred W. Dater presented the troop charter. The ceremony concluded with the pledge and salute to the flag in which the entire audience took part.”
The Stamford Advocate.
March 2, 1928: OPEN NIGHT AT ST. JOHN’S HALL FOR 40 YD. DASH. “About 60 boys and girls took part in the 40-yard dash which was the feature event of the St. John’s Rec. Club open night performance held at the club hall last night. The boys and girls were divided into four divisions, girls over 100 lbs. and under 100 lbs.; boys over 100 lbs. and under 100 lbs. The summary of the winners follows: Boys under 100 lbs. First, W. Kiley, second; J. Hennessey; third, D. Moore. Boys over 100 lbs. First, J. Carr; second, O. Deenihan; third, J. Lemon. Girls under 100 lbs. First, A. Kiley; second, M. Gillespie; third, Mary Bohannon. Girls over 100 lbs. First, F. DeMille; second, Elizabeth DeMille, third, E. DeMille..”
Year of Saint Paul… A Plenary Indulgence is offered the faithful through June 29th: by visiting the adoration chapel at Saint John Fisher Seminary Residence on Newfield Avenue: the chapel is open Monday through Thursday, 6:00 a.m.—11:00 p.m., and from Friday at 6:00 a.m. until Sunday 11:00 p.m. The usual conditions apply: sacramental confession and communion, praying one Our Father and Hail Mary for the intentions of Pope Benedict XVI apply.
Sign of Peace . . . will NOT be given during Masses for the next few months because of the high risk of contracting the flu.
Saturday, February 21
4:00 +Gussie Cotroneo req. Bill & Patty Arnone
Sunday, February 22
7:30 George Terenzio Birthday req. Family
10:00 The Marchetti Family req. Edelson Family
12:00 +Jean Evans Kirkland req. Juanita Evans
6:00 +Patrick Kane & Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane & Family
Monday, February 23
8:00 +Alice Mulligan req. Elizabeth & Frank Clarke
12:10 Thanksgiving to God req. Marie Frasier
Tuesday, February 24
8:00 +Amy Reed req. Luz Contreras
12:10 +Rosario D’Amico req. his brother Frank
Wednesday, February 25
8:00 +Joan Bankowski req. Mary Ann Blake
12:10 +Zenon J. Cybyk req. Mr. & Mrs. Lawrence Bolanowski
Thursday, February 26
8:00 +Jean Solon req. Helen Swaling
12:10 +Bishop Michael J. Dudick req. Mary Churley
Friday, February 27
8:00 Souls in Purgatory req. Nelly Contreras
12:10 +Michael Davies & Paul Fisher req. James Bosilevas
Saturday, February 28
8:00 +Madeline Sell req. Citibank
12:10 +Patrick Feerick req. Bryan McKeon
Pray for an end to abortion every Wednesday, 7:00 – 10:30 a.m., at Planned Parenthood, 1039 East Main St, Stamford.
Eucharistic Adoration: Fridays, 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon.
Holy Name Society … For all men of the parish: The rectory every Friday morning for coffee, Eucharistic adoration benediction & prayer, from 7:00 – 8:00 a.m.
Are you a registered parishioner? …If not, please visit the parish office Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. or call the office for more information [ext 21 or 17] or Register On-Line at our Website: stjohnsstamford.com.
Credit Card Offertory…Make weekly or monthly donations by credit card. You can set up recurring credit card donations with the church secretary. She can take your information over the telephone. Call (203) 324-1553 x21.
St. Maria Goretti Society…For the spiritual formation of young ladies from 8th – 12th grades. Questions, please contact Rosa Marchetti at 348-0232.
Sponsor Certificates for Baptism or Confirmation…Are happily given to parishioners of St. John’s, i.e. Those who are registered members; those whose regular Mass attendance is known to the priests, or whose parish membership can be verified by the records of the weekly offertory (envelopes).
Why must I confess my sins to a Priest?
– Fr. Terry Walsh
Well, the short answer of course is that our Lord requires it. After all, Jesus Himself instituted each of the 7 Sacraments – those supernatural realities where we encounter our Lord in a mysterious and efficacious way. Sacramental Confession takes place through the Priest who says: “I absolve you” – yet it is Christ working and speaking through His priest. Spiritual grace flows from God through the priest – even when the priest himself is not in the state of grace because the grace comes from God who is always Holy. St. Augustine once said: “As for the proud minister, he is to be ranked with the devil. Christ’s gift is not thereby profaned: what flows through him keeps its purity, and what passes through him remains clear and reaches fertile earth…The spiritual power of the sacrament is indeed comparable to light: those to be enlightened receive it in its purity, and if it should pass through defiled beings, it is not itself defiled.”
We truly meet Christ when we enter into the Sacrament of Confession. After the Resurrection, Jesus went to the Apostles – who were His Priests – and said to them: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive men’s sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound” (Gospel of John 20:22-23). “Jesus entrusted the exercise of the power of absolution to the apostolic ministry which he charged with the ‘ministry of Reconciliation’(2Cor 5:18)”(ccc1442). Jesus pours new and plentiful graces into our souls that we might cooperate with Him in overcoming the temptations that confront us each day – and He accomplishes this through His priests. Speaking to Peter, Jesus says: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”(Mt 16:19). The Catechism reminds us: “The Lord Jesus Christ, physician of our souls and bodies, who forgave the sins of the paralytic and restored him to bodily health, has willed that his Church continue, in the power of the Holy Spirit, his work of healing and salvation, even among her own members”(ccc 1421). Citing the Scripture passages Psalm 51:17; John 6:44 and 12:32; as well as 1 John 4:10, the Catechism goes on to say: “This endeavor of conversion is not just a human work. It is the movement of a ‘contrite heart,’ drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first”(ccc1428). The penitent therefore must have true sorrow for sins committed, confess them to the priest, receive absolution and be willing to do penance in order for sins to be forgiven and to be reconciled with the Church.
There are many resources that will help clarify understanding of this Sacrament beginning with the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Article numbers 1420-1498), along with many other Church documents such as Pope John Paul’s “Reconciliation and Penance”. John Paul wrote that it would be “foolish…to disregard the means of grace and salvation which the Lord has provided and…to claim to receive forgiveness while doing without the sacrament which was instituted by Christ precisely for forgiveness.”
“The confessor (priest) is not the master of God’s forgiveness, but its servant”(CCC1466)