For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday December 25, 2011

Pastor’s Corner. . . God became a man, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. That’s what Christmas is all about. And, everything changed. The Eternal Son of God became man to reconcile all creation with the Eternal Father. And so, the heart of our happiness in life now stems from our relationship with God; by imitating Our Lord, the God who became man.

The saints are examples of men and women who succeeded in responding to the Incarnation in daily lives, and not merely in daily words or pretty religious sentiments. They are God bearers in their unbelieving cultures; their love for God formed their very thoughts and motivated their every deed. They lived to please God by imitating Christ. Since we are blessed in the parish with numerous relics of saints, let me point out some rather interesting saints during this Christmas season. Their relics are tangible signs that these people lived; the fact that the Church remembers them each year, show how important their lives were to God and to others.

On the high altar, on the far left and right sides, are two tower-like reliquaries: superb examples of mid-19th century English craftsmanship in chiseled brass, donated by a parishioner. Each bears relics of saints: the reliquary on the left contains a large bone of Saint Constantine: the more imaginative of his biographers said he was the nephew of King Arthur! Actually, he came from Scotland, married the daughter of the King of Brittany and, after her untimely death, renounced his crown to become a monk. He worked with Saint Columba in Ireland and St. Kentigern in South-West Scotland. He was elected abbot of his monastery and bishop on the Island of Kintyre, and while preaching God’s Incarnate mercy to local pagans, he was martyred in 576 A.D. He spent his life preaching God’s mercy, hoping that those who heard him would respond in faith and charity. Even though some did not, many more did, because Constantine imitated Christ, spending his life to bring Our Lord to others by laying the foundation for Christian culture by establishing the Church in Ireland and Scotland.

In the right-hand reliquary, are the relics of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of Our Lady, along with the relic of Saint Stephen, the first martyr. Joachim and Anne were unable to have children. Mocked by their neighbors, and their marriage on the rocks, they separated, and prayed for divine assistance. God heard their prayers and directed them back to each other. Their love and God’s grace finally accomplished the seeming impossible: Saint Anne conceived, and her daughter, Mary, became the Mother of Our Lord, whose birth as a man we celebrate on Christmas. They trusted entirely in God and His promises, and found happiness in doing God’s will, and thus helped to bring about the salvation to the world. Saint Stephen, a contemporary of Our Lady’s parents, of Our Lady, Our Lord and the Apostles, Stephen was one of the first deacons [Acts of the Apostles, 6-7]. Because of his forceful preaching and charity, he converted many. The Temple leaders were unhappy with his successes, had him dragged outside the walls of Jerusalem, and stoned to death. As he was dying, Stephen prayed for his murderers. Stephen’s prayers, his witness to Christ crucified and resurrected, and his charity towards the poor and his persecutors, even as he was dying, are said to have brought Paul to conversion. And, it was Saint Paul who worked with Saint Peter as the two Princes of the Apostles, the founders of the Church in Rome [whose relics are in the smaller reliquaries].

These saints remind us that the birth of the Savior is serious business: the world prefers to forget God, or to create one that is non-intrusive. But, there is only one God, who really entered the world as a child, and our response to Him must be equally real: we accept Him and live to please Him; or we reject Him, and ignore Him in our daily lives.

These people, not really different from ourselves, understood that because God had become a man at a certain time and in a certain place, everything had changed. These saints knew that their lives would bear immense importance by doing one thing: loving the God who took on human flesh, in their words and deeds, in order to share in the victory of the Christ born in Bethlehem, crucified and risen from the dead in Jerusalem. These saints are remembered around the world by millions of people throughout the centuries to the present today. Can you remember the names of the kings, princes or presidents who ruled when these saints lived? Can you name any public figures of their times, or politicians or any of the shakers and movers who lived in the same cities where these saints lived? No. Yet it is these saints who are remembered because they responded to the Divine Generosity manifest at Bethlehem: they lived to please the God who became man, so that one day they could share God’s very life. Let’s do the same: kneel at the altar rail after Mass today, and say a prayer to Saints Joachim and Anne the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to the martyrs Saints Constantine and Stephen: we share the same Faith with them, and are part of the same Body of Christ, the Catholic Church, in which they are still members with us. Pray to imitate them in the New Year, just as they imitated Christ in their own lives, perfectly as they could, so we may all meet one day in Heaven. Merry Christmas!
—Monsignor DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick. . . Bridget Sheehy, 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.

Christmas Day Collection . . . The second collection today will be the for the parish. Your generosity is appreciated.

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 26th at 7:30 p.m.

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

Saint Peter Votive Light Memorial. . . The left votive is in memory of the deceased members of the Lester Family and the right votive is in memory of Gregory Mazza both req. Lucille Lester.

St. Joseph Votive Light Memorial . . . Special Intentions Monsignor DiGiovanni, Father Walsh and Father Audette req. 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. . . $601,300.00 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.

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

Religious Education Classes. . . CANCELLED: December 25th and January 1st.

Coffee Hour. . . Each Sunday after the 10:00 a.m. Mass in the parish hall. All are welcome. Please note: NO coffee hour on Sunday December 25th or on Sunday, January 1st.

Sunday December 18, 2011 $ 13,847.00
Sunday December 19, 2010 $ 14,598.13

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

January 1st Sunday Readings: Nm 6:22-27; Gal 4:4-7; Lk 2:16-21.

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 27th.

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.

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.

Tutoring. . . Could your child benefit from after school or weekend tutoring? If you would be interested in beginning a free after school tutoring class in reading, writing and arithmetic, please let me know: 203-324-1553, ext 11, and we can discuss details and ideas. —Msgr. DiGiovanni

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.

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased

Saturday, December 24, 2011
4:00 +John Melfi, Mary Melfi and Vito Melfi req. Joseph Melfi
12:00 AM Midnight Mass: People of the Parish
Sunday, December 25, 2011
7:30 Forgotten Souls in Purgatory req. Ferry G.
8:30 Special Intentions Diane Strain req. Mildred and Joan Beirne
10:00 +Randolph Samedi req. Anne Marie Samedi
12:00 Our Lady of Loretto Altar Guild req. Priests of the Parish
5:00 NO MASS
6:00 +Anne Augustine Penta req. Armelle-daughter
Monday, December 26, 2011
8:00 Maria Trivino req. Lilian and Alvina Ramos
12:10 +Stephen & Nicholas Churley, Eva, Charles, Nicholas, Anne, Joseph and Charles Kronk, Jr. req. Mary Churley
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
8:00 +Nang Nguyen req. Thang Nguyen
12:10 +Mrs. Dorothy D’Alonzo req. the Haggarty family
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
8:00 Souls in Purgatory req. Maria
12:10 +Patsy A. Cappiello req. the Duffy family
Thursday, December 29, 2011
8:00 +John J. Barry, 1st Anniversary req. McAleer Family
12:10 +Ruth Jean Dillon req. Janine A. O’Connor
Friday, December 30, 2011
8:00 Special Intentions Mildred & Joan Beirne req. Diane Strain
12:10 Special Intentions Michael Tartell req. Josephine Languedoc
Saturday, December 31, 2011
8:00 +Anne Augustine Penta req. Armelle-daughter
12:10 +Deceased members of the D’Amico, Schepis and Fazio families req. Frank D’Amico

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.

St. Maria Goretti Society. . . For the spiritual formation of young ladies, 8th-12th grades. Call Beth at 203-975-0074.

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. . . NO coffee hour on Sunday December 25th or on Sunday, January 1st.

St. John’s in THE NEWS:
THE CONNECTICUT CATHOLIC:
120 years ago, or so:
December 30, 1893: Stamford. “Rev. Father McClean who was ordained to the priesthood on Friday by Archbishop Williams of Boston celebrated his first Mass at 10:30 on Christmas morning and also read vespers in the evening. His many friends in this city take pride in his being ordained to the priesthood and wish him success in his path of life.”

The HARTFORD COURANT:
85 years ago, or so:
December 29, 1926: Tower Adds Beauty to St. John’s Roman Catholic Church in Stamford. “With the completion of the new tower of the St. John’s R.C. Church, of this city, the edifice becomes one of the finest pieces of architecture and one of the handsomest church buildings in the state. The tower is the result of years of planning by Rev. James C. O’Brien, pastor of the church, and forms a splendid memorial to his work a s leader of the parish.”

The STAMFORD ADVOCATE:
50 years ago, or so:
December 26, 1962: Christmas Scene On Atlantic St. “Adding to the Christmas atmosphere in the downtown area this year is a Nativity Scene, placed for the first time on the porch of the St. John’s Rectory, 279 Atlantic St. The scene was arranged so lights from rooms behind it shine through the transparent material to bring the figures into relief. This and other Nativity scenes have combined with the glowing Christmas trees to set the City ablaze with seasonal lights.”

The STAMFORD ADVOCATE:
15 years ago, or so:
December 29, 1996: Men of a new cloth. “Last evening, the Rev. William A. Nagle led a holiday service at St. John’s Roman Catholic Church dressed in gold, the color that celebrates the importance of the Feast of the Holy Family celebrated today. But sometime soon, as one of the area’s newly appointed monsignors, Nagle will replace his normal black liturgical dress with a purple cassock, symbolic of his new title of honor. “We’re all so happy to hear it,” said Barbara Schuerger, who attended last night’s service with a friend. “We think it should have been a long time ago. He’s such an intelligent, holy person. We’re just so thrilled.” Nagle gave a sermon last night on family values. The altar was filled with white and red poinsettias and adorned with evergreen wreaths swathed in crimson bows.“

Christmas Reflections…
-Fr. Terry Walsh

O the Mystery and the Wonder of the love among the Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity – what beauty, what humility; so mysterious, so explosive, so pure and holy! We were created through that love. And, even when man, in his foolish arrogance, freely chose to separate Himself from God, taking upon His shoulders the ‘Yoke of sin through Pride’ – God responded with a perfect act of Humility. Christmas celebrates that unfathomable act of love and our hearts and minds naturally open to a deep and profound contemplation of the wonder of God. In His mercy, God descended from Heaven, exchanging His Throne of glory for a hay-filled manger in a cold cave. The Saints proclaim, ‘God became man so that man might become God’ – ‘He became poor so that we might become rich’ – rich in divine grace, rich in love and mercy. We, likewise, must become humble.

The angels cannot contain their praise and adoration – marveling at the incomprehensible love – the complete humility of the Creator of all things. Those same angels that cried out: “Glory to God in the Highest!!!” that first Christmas night – are with us at every Mass, joined by all the Saints in Heaven; they come to praise and adore God-with-us. We too hear the echo of the calm and gentle words of the angel to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid.” We who once were in Darkness have been redeemed by this Babe in the Manger. Now, we’re able to bathe in the Light, under the grace of God. Through His life, death, and Resurrection, He has opened the door to everlasting life for all who faithfully follow Him. Christ has come to offer salvation to all who are drawn to His Light – the Light of Truth and Purity; the Light of Mercy and Forgiveness; the Light of Love. He has come for all who believe in Him and live in His Light by faithfully living the Gospel.

Born in the City of David, in the little, humble town of Bethlehem, whose Name means ‘House of Bread’ – our Lord – who is the Bread of Angels – becomes for us “the Living Bread come down from Heaven!” It is precisely this act of love – made in perfect humility – that the very Son of God is born into the world – to offer Himself in sacrifice. On that night, He lay in a bed of hay; but now, He comes to us present in a tiny little host – what extraordinary humility! Think of it – He makes it easy for us. He nourishes and sustains His divine life in us through ordinary bread and wine. What had been a little piece of bread becomes his dwelling place. He is there – in the host – in “Perfect Humility!” He no longer rests in a cold manger, but rather, in every warm heart that receives Him worthily – in Faith and with love. And at that most extraordinary moment when He enters our hearts; when we receive Holy Eucharist worthily, we experience an explosion of light radiating throughout our souls – a boost of strength and life. It’s this strength which enables the humble heart to “reject godless ways and worldly desires” as St. Paul tells us, and instead “live temperately, justly, and devoutly – eager to do what is good.” Every single day Emmanuel comes to us – hidden in the tiny little host! –waiting for us to come to Him. Every single day He humbles Himself to become present and dwell forever IN us. May we reflect on his perfect humility and be truly overwhelmed with awe and wonder, echoing the song of the angels – ‘Glory to God in the Highest and peace to all on whom His favor rests!’
A Blessed Christmas Season to all…