For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday December 18, 2011

Pastor’s Corner. . . One of the most beautiful of all meditations about God becoming Man [the mystery we celebrate at Christmas] is that written by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux [1090-1153]. The “mystery” is why God would come to rescue us from sin and death, at all!? The answer to that is God’s love for us; and His hope that we will learn to love Him in return. That’s what salvation is: understanding that God loves you, and deciding that you will love God in the way you live your life, thereby opening yourself to God’s grace, so you might live with Him forever. Saint Bernard’s meditation is about the response Our Lady made to the Archangel Gabriel, who was sent by God to ask Mary to co-operate with His plan to save humankind from sin and death. As we read Bernard’s meditation, think of yourself as being in Our Lady’s room when the Archangel Gabriel appears: you’re eavesdropping, hiding behind the curtains. But, even while you’re doing something not so very nice, you become caught up in the scene of the angel before Mary: and, as you begin to understand the importance that Mary’s response to God is to YOU and to YOUR future, you begin to hope that Mary will say “yes” , and co-operate with God’s invitation to be the Mother of God, so that you and all humankind might benefit in eternal life—for the first time, you understand the depth of God’s love for you, and, possibly for the first time, you desire to love God in return.

Saint Bernard’s meditation is based on this Sunday’s Gospel: the Annunciation, which is also one of the most beautiful of the stained glass windows here at the Basilica: it is the on the side wall of Our Lady’s Chapel—to the left of the high altar: Mary kneels in prayer, and the Archangel Gabriel appears before her: and a small white dove can be seen descending upon Mary: the power of the Holy Spirit, by Whom Mary will conceive the savior in her womb.

Here’s Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, and he begins his narrative the moment after the Archangel invites Mary to be the Mother of God. The narrator is YOUR heart, beating more excitedly, hoping Mary will say “yes”:

“You have heard, Virgin Mary, that you are to conceive and bear a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits your answer, for he must now return to God who sent him. We too await your merciful word, Lady, for we are the wretches whom condemnation threatens. The price of our salvation is offered to you, and if you consent then we shall at once be freed. We were all created in God’s Eternal Word, yet now we are doomed to death because of Adam’s sin; in your short answer we shall be remade and summoned back to life.

“Adam and Eve stand here weeping with their poor exiled children and await your answer; Abraham is here and David and all the holy patriarchs who are your fathers but dwell now in the valley of death’s shadow. The whole world is prostrate at your feet and waiting. What else can they do, since on your words depend the consolation of the wretched, the liberation of prisoners, the rescue of the condemned, and, in a word, the salvation of all Adam’s children of your whole race?

“Answer quickly, then, Virgin. Answer the angel and the Lord he represents. Give your word and receive the Eternal Word [The Eternal Son of God]; speak the word that passes and embrace the Word who abides forever!

“Why the delay and the trembling? Believe, confess, receive. Virginal simplicity must not forget wisdom. Fear not to be presumptuous, for though silent modesty is pleasing, your words of dedication are more needed now.

“Blessed Virgin, open your heart to faith, your lips to the praise of the Lord, your body to your Creator. The One for whom the nations yearn is knocking at the door. Delay, and he will pass by, and you shall begin again in sorrow to seek Him whom your heart loves. Rise up, run, open!

“She answers: ‘Behold the Lord’s servant. Do with me as you say.’” [In Praise of the Virgin Mary, Sermon 4, 8-9]

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Pope Saint Leo the Great [pope 440-461] also wrote clarifying the great mystery of God’s love seen in the Christmas mystery of God becoming a man:

“It is not enough to say that Our Lord, Son of the Virgin Mary, is true and perfect man; we must also believe that He is, as the Gospels tell us, a man of very specific human lineage. . . To accomplish the mystery of our reconciliation with God, the Holy Spirit had to come upon the Virgin and the power of the Most High had to overshadow her so that Wisdom [The Eternal Son of God] might become flesh. The estate of God and the estate of a servant had to be united in one person, and the Creator of time had to be born within time; He through whom all things have their being had to be begotten as a man amid all these things.

“Unless a new man, formed ‘in the likeness of sinful flesh,’ took our broken nature upon Himself and condescended, while consubstantial with the Father, to be consubstantial with us as well, and, as the only sinless man, to make our human nature His own, mankind would have remained enslaved to Satan. Nor would His triumphal victory profit us if He did not share our human condition. “Through this wonderful sharing, the mystery of regeneration has been accomplished, for the Spirit whose power gave Christ a human conception and birth has given spiritual rebirth to us.” [Letter 31, 2-3]

Let’s use this last week before Christmas to prepare ourselves to celebrate worthily this great mystery of God’s love for us. Go to Confession! Let’s remove all those bad choices and actions we have performed that block God’s love for us by receiving the one sacrament Jesus created for us that is the normative means of receiving God’s forgiveness of sins. This is the reason why God became Man in the womb of the Virgin Mary: to forgive our sins, that we might turn from evil and love God truly in our daily lives. We hear Confessions every day of the week before all Masses, so prepare well.
—Msgr. DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick. . . Herman Schneider, Chris Seely, Frank Monaghan, Eva Grace Kelly, John Murray, Billy Therriault, Megan Bobroske, Connie Ward, Corrine Mattson, Mary D’Arco, Anthony Sansone, Tessie Mulhern, Gary Everett, Margie Joyce, Tonin Gjepaj, Sandra Mayfield, Lily Ann O’Connell, Titina Tarantino, Richard Ridge, Mario Stano, Mark Ferris, Marie Maddox, Terry Cooke, Stacey, Kathleen Nichols, Rev. Carlos Antonio Mesa, Corrie Evans, Shirly Mailhot, Roledonne Samedi.

Please pray for those who have recently died. . . Charles Harman, Bill Wiles, Carmen Candelaria, Gregory E. Mazza, Vincent Sharkey, Sr., Madre Perpetua, Madeleine Charlotin, Louis Servideo, Gladys Brzoska, David Squires, Tom Potts, William Shanley, Jimmy O’Connor, Andrea Pavia, Rocco Buzzio, Vera Benna, Brian Bill, Olga Rich, Morris Smith, Sr. Elizabeth Hart, R.S.M., Margaret Mary Cycon, Mildred J. Fiore, Tana Sibilio, Dr. Bela Szele, Audrey Reda, Helen Pataky, William Kilcoyne, Jr., Giuseppina Docimo, Adelaide Velanzano, Aura Piedra, Jeanne & Andy Robustelli, Mary Ferrara, Genoveffa Melchionno, Cynthia Callahan, Teresa Angelini, Natale Sposato, Joseph George Terenzio.

Monthly Collection . . . The second collection today will be the monthly collection for the parish. Your generosity is appreciated.

Christmas Schedule:
MASSES:
Sat: Dec 24: 4 pm Christmas Vigil Mass;
Sun.Dec 25: MIDNIGHT MASS [at midnight!];
7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m. [Latin Mass];
10:00; 12 noon [Choral Mass]; NO 5 pm Mass;
6 pm [Creole]
CONFESSIONS:
Sat, Dec 24: 3-4 pm;
Sun, Dec 25: 7-7:30 am; 9:30-10am; 11:30-12 noon.

Monday Evening Holy Hour . . . Monday nights 7-8:00 pm for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Rosary in the church. Next Holy Hour: December 19th at 7:30 p.m.

Salus Populi Romani Icon Votive Memorial. . . In memory of Virginia Gutierrez req. R. Mastracchio.

Saint Peter Votive Light Memorial. . . The left votive is for Special Intentions Ann and Jo and the right votive is in memory of the deceased members of the DeRosa, Capobianco Families and Edwin Clark req. Joan and John Kronk.

Our Lady’s Altar Votive Light Memorial. . . In memory of the deceased members of the Giannitti Family.

St. Joseph Votive Light Memorial . . . Special Intentions Giannitti Family.

Memorial Votive Lights . . . The votive lights at the shrine of Saint Peter, Our Lady, St. Joseph, or at the icon of Mary Protectress of the Roman People, may be memorialized each week for the intention or in memory of a loved one, for a donation of $20.00 per candle, per week. Please call Cindy at 203-324-1553, ext. 21.

Latin Reading Group. . .Wednesdays: 6:15 pm in the Rectory (reading ability required).

New Study Group. . . Some people have asked that we again offer basic courses in Church Latin Grammar and Biblical Greek Grammar. So, let’s try it again!! Anyone interested, please call Cindy in the parish office [203-324-1553, ext 21] and leave your name, phone, email. As always, there is no charge for these courses.

Biblical Greek Study Group. . .Thursdays: 6:30 pm in the Rectory (reading ability required).

Repainting the Church. . . $600,600.00 is pledged towards our goal of $629,000.00. I ask everyone’s help. Each parish priest is donating $1,000.00. If each individual or household contributes $1,000, payable over 10 months, we’ll have it: that’s $100. per month, or $25. per week, or $3.57 per day for 10 months. Please, help.

Painting. . . While the basilica is being painted, all weekday Masses INCLUDING FUNERALS will be in the hall.

Sunday December 11, 2011 $ 13,003.41
Sunday December 12, 2010 $ 12,418.89

“I ask you one thing: do not tire of giving to God, but do not give your leftover
—Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

December 25th Sunday Readings: Is 62:1-5; Acts 13:16-17, 22-25; Mt 1:1-25 or Mt 1:18-25.

Latin Mass. . . Fr. Cyprian LaPastina offers the Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form each Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. here at Saint John’s. The next Latin Mass is Tuesday, December 20th.

Children’s Choir. . . Anmarie and Tom Galgano are our music directors for the 10 a.m. Mass and Children’s Choir this year. Any parent whose child or children might be interested in joining the Children’s Choir to sing during each Sunday 10 a.m. Mass, please call the rectory, and leave your name, your child’s name, age and your phone number with Cindy: 203-324-1553, ext. 21.

Home Schooling Families. . . A group for home schooling families meets monthly on Tuesday in the rectory. All ages are welcome. Please contact Julianne DeMarco at 203-966-3641, juliannedemarco@yahoo.com, or Janet Lancaster at 203-637-3301, jmlancaster@optonline.net.

St. John’s 20’s and 30’s: The Flock….our new young adult group, offers social and community service activities. Meetings on the 2nd Thursday of each month in the rectory. Doors open at 7:00 PM. (More info: Deirdre.Garrahan@gmail.com ). Next meeting: January 12th in the Rectory

Project Rachel Ministry. . . offers free and confidential help to those seeking healing after abortion. We invite you to come back to God who is love and mercy. Info. (203) 416-1619 or projectrachel@diobpt.org.

Electronic Giving – Offertory Donations Made Easy…Consider using your credit card to make your weekly or monthly donation to St. John’s. Easier for you, and less costly for the parish than the printing and mailing of weekly envelopes, credit card giving automatically sends your weekly offering to the Basilica of St. John’s. Call the parish secretary (324-1553, ext. 21).

St. Gabriel Church—First Saturday Devotions. . . Saint Gabriel Parish will celebrate the First Saturday Devotions in Honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  On the First Saturday of each month Confessions will be heard from 9:30 to 10 AM, followed by Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, followed by exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, silent prayer, Rosary and Benediction.  All are welcome.

Job Seekers . . . Meets the 4th Monday monthly in the rectory at 7:30pm: all are welcome. There’s no charge for these services. The group is led by Melanie Szlucha whose company, Red Inc., is a leader in helping find jobs. More info, see: www.redinc.biz or call her at 203-866-1606. Next meeting: Monday, January 23rd.

Saint Monica Patristic Institute. . . Will next meet on the Wednesdays of January: 4th, 11th, 18th, 25, starting at 7:30 pm in the rectory. Our topic in January will be the theology of Origen, led by Father Michael Novajoski, parochial vicar of St. Jude Parish, Monroe. There is no charge; classes are 1 hour, and all the texts are in English translations. You’ll love this stuff! Everyone is welcome.

St. Maria Goretti Society. . .The St. Maria Goretti Society will meet this Sunday, December 18th after the 10am Mass in the Rectory.

St. Dominic Savio Society. . . The St. Dominic Savio Society will meet this Sunday, December 18th after the 12pm Mass in the Rectory.

Tutoring. . . Could your child benefit from after school or weekend tutoring? Fathers Audette, Walsh and I were speaking about this the other day, and wondered if the parish should begin a free tutorial program for school children of the parish, to lend them a hand in reading, writing and arithmetic. My question is: are there parishioners who would like an after-school tutorial program for your child here at St. John’s? If there is any interest, please let me know: 203-324-1553, ext 11, and we can discuss details and ideas. —Msgr. DiGiovanni

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, December 17, 2011
4:00 +John Maloney req. wife Mary
Sunday, December 18, 2011
7:30 Special Intentions Terenzio and Longo family
8:30 Special Intentions Marion Morris req. Mildred and Joan Beirne
10:00 +Randolph Samedi req. Anne Marie Samedi
12:00 +Katherine Dziezyc req. Marion Morris and Family
5:00 +Louise and Arthur Thiel
6:00 +Patrick Kane & Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane & Family
Monday, December 19, 2011
8:00 +Fausta Fernandez req. the Borromeo Family
12:10 St. John’s Priests req. St. John’s Home School Group
Tuesday, December20, 2011
8:00 +Frank Guida req. Sandra and Roy Klemm
12:10 Special Intentions Pedario Lauture req. Ferry G.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
8:00 +Archille & Micilia Paulemon req. Montanise Paulemon
12:10 +Paul Livornese req. Sandra and Roy Klemm
Thursday, December 22, 2011
8:00 In Honor of the Archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael req. Josephine Languedoc
12:10 +John T. Hoops req. the Banahans
Friday, December 23, 2011
8:00 +Arthur Thiel req. the McAleer family
12:10 +Helen T. Duffy req. the Duffy family
Saturday, December 24, 2011
8:00 +Brian Mulhern req. Margie, Brian, Ernie and Mark Mulhern
12:10 +Jayson Jarrett req. Norma Jarrett

Baptisms. . . Are celebrated every day of the week, according to the schedule of the parish priests and the families. Baptisms at St. John’s are one-family only ceremonies: never groups. Please call Cindy (203-324-1553, ext 21).

Holy Name Society. . . For the men of the parish, meets Fridays in the Rectory, 7-7:50 a.m. for coffee, Eucharistic Adoration & Benediction. All men of the parish are welcome. We finish in time for the 8am Mass.

Moms & Tots . . . Moms and their kids meets in the Church each first Tuesday of every month at 10:30a.m.

St. Anne’s Society . . .A family society meeting four times a year on Sundays after the 5pm mass, with Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament and prayer, supper, and a lecture in the church hall.

Pray to end Legalized Abortion . . . Wednesdays, 7-10:30a.m., Stamford’s Planned Parenthood, 1039 East Main St.

St. Dominic Savio Society. . . For the spiritual formation of young men, 8th-12th grades. Call Ferry at 203-324-1553 ext. 22. The next meeting will be held this Sunday, December 18th after the 12pm Mass in the Rectory.

St. Maria Goretti Society. . . For the spiritual formation of young ladies, 8th-12th grades. Call Beth at 203-975-0074. The next meeting will be held this Sunday, December 18th after the 10am Mass in the Rectory.

Holy Hour. . . on Monday Nights, 7pm—8 pm. Adoration, Holy Rosary, and Benediction. All are welcome!

The Legion of Mary. . . . Meets Wednesday Evenings at 7:30 pm ’till 9:00 pm in the rectory. All are welcome.

St. Monica Institute for Patristic Studies. . .Wednesdays, 7:30 pm in the rectory: Next meeting, November 2nd.

The Latin Reading Group. . . Meets Wednesday evenings at 6:15 pm in the rectory: basic reading ability required.

Introduction to Biblical Greek . . . Meets Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm in the rectory: basic reading ability required.

Coffee Hour. . . After the 10:00 a.m. Family Mass in the Monsignor Nagle Parish Hall. All are welcome.

St. John’s in THE NEWS:

The STAMFORD ADVOCATE:
150 years ago, or so:
December 25, 1863: Church Services. “In the Roman Catholic Church there will be Mass at quarter to six A.M., and the usual Christmas services at 11.”

The CONNECTICUT CATHOLIC:
135 years ago, or so:
December 23, 1876: CATHEDRAL BUILDING FUND. “The following are the names of persons contributing to the building fund of St. Joseph’s Cathedral, as far as received from the various parishes by the Bishop’s Secretary. The publication of the list will be continued from week to week as the returns are received: St. John’s, Stamford..$382.47.”

The STAMFORD ADVOCATE:
70 years ago, or so:
December 20, 1941: Local Churches Help to Spread Christmas Cheer. “Despite many demands on every one’s time and energy and generosity through the pressing needs at home and abroad, Christmas is being made more cheery in this community by the quiet and extensive contributions of the churches to their parish members and others. In many instances the family receives a Christmas dinner, complete with a turkey and all the trimmings and groceries enough to last much beyond the one day. Sometimes a gift of money is made, for the family to choose its own dinner. In addition, clothing is frequently added. The Community chest or the Family and Children’s Welfare is notified of these donations so that duplication will not occur. Christmas dinners and clothing are distributed at St. John’s Catholic Church through St. Anne’s Ladies Aid Society, which has been carrying on the work ever since it was organized more than 45 years ago during the pastorate of Rev. William H. Rogers.”

The STAMFORD ADVOCATE:
50 years ago, or so:
December 22, 1962: Christmas Services. In response to its notices, the Advocate has received the following listings of services in time for publication: St. John’s-A Solemn High Mass will be celebrated at midnight in the upper church only. The senior choir under the direction of Choir-master James Duffy will sing “The Mass of the Shepherds” by Pietro Yon in four parts. The organist of St. John’s Church is Mrs. Mary Gaudio. Corral singing and Christmas music will begin at 11:30 p.m. preceding the Midnight Mass.”

Christmas Reflections…
Fr. Terry Walsh

Like the sun in the morning sky, the Savior of the world will dawn; like the rain on the meadows he will descend to rest in the womb of the Virgin, alleluia. (A Morning Antiphon)

Each day the “Prayer of the Church,” also known as The Liturgy of the Hours or The Divine Office, is prayed by Priests, Deacons, Religious, and many lay people around the world. Among the 7 times “the Office” is prayed throughout the various ‘hours’ of the day, Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer each include particular “Canticles” that are taken from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1. Night Prayer, the last of the 7 ‘prayers’ for the day, also includes a Gospel Canticle from St. Luke. These three canticles (poetic songs) each celebrate with great joy the love and mercy of God. They each sing of the wonder of God coming to our rescue through the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His Birth, and finally, the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple to God the Father for the Salvation of all who hear His voice and follow Him.

After the three Psalms in Morning Prayer have been prayed and a brief Reading and Responsory have been offered, we sing an Antiphon that offers us a meditative point to bear in mind both before and after we pray the “Canticle of Zechariah” (Luke 1: 68-79). We sing the “Canticle of Zechariah” every day of the year. Perhaps you might like to reflect on these verses of Scripture as a source of meditation throughout this Christmas Season (which, incidentally, lasts until the Baptism of our Lord. These three Canticles are indeed beautiful Hymns of mercy, love, and remembrance. The Canticle of Zechariah begins: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a might Savior, born of the house of his servant David….”

Likewise, at Evening Prayer, we begin and end “The Canticle of Mary” each day with an antiphon that celebrates some particular aspect of our Faith that offers us a different point of wonder and awe to reflect upon. “The Canticle of Mary,” perhaps better known as “The Magnificat,” is found in Luke 1: 46-55. It begins: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” and it concludes, “…He has come to the help of His servant Israel for He has remembered His promise of mercy….”

Finally, Night Prayer includes the Gospel Canticle of the prophet Simeon found in Luke 2: 29-32. Simeon says: “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.”
These three Canticles are prayed every single day of the year – every morning, evening, and night! We are offering thanks and praise to God every day for the miracle of Christmas – the miracle of God taking upon Himself our lowly and wounded human nature in order to heal and restore us to the dignity He created us to have. As we reflect upon the wonder of His love each day, may we offer Him fitting thanks and praise.