For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday February 26, 2012

Pastor’s Corner. . . What do you want from life? That is the basis of another question: What is the goal of Lent? This isn’t so arcane as you might think, because, where you fit God into your life determines not just the “what” you want from life, but the “how” by which you achieve what you want from life. Each year we go through these Lenten 40 days; but why? The goal is to turn our minds and hearts—our desires—in a direction that is profitable. By profitable, I mean, towards that which will make us happy. Usually, when one thinks of “desire” for something that will make us happy, we imagine the immediate satisfying of some urge or need. We push God out of the way, even in our thoughts, and misconstrue the immediate satisfaction of our bodily urges or ambitions for happiness. Our true happiness comes when we do that which we were designed to do: to please God by doing that which pleases the God who loves us, rather than by merely and temporarily satisfying our every desire. St. Paul reminds us of our real status as slaves to our sins [Rom 6:15 ff]. And all the time you thought you were the boss of your own life. Silly Rabbit. . . as the cereal advert once ran. Christ offers liberation from the tyranny of sin and death, and, as an extra bonus of His love, eternal life as His co-heirs in Heaven. All that, just for trying to please Him now, not merely in thought, but in deed. Continuing to sin while claiming to love God is like insisting that you love your wife, while continuing to go out with another woman; you can’t insist that you love God, while continuing to sin, acting as if He didn’t exist, or, as if He were not important enough to pay attention to. [I John 2:3-4]

One the Church’s greatest sinners, Saint Augustine, was an expert at this. He sought to “scratch every itch”, as the saying goes. For him, running after women and seeking fame and fortune were the most important things in life, because he believed he was the most important person in his life and, so, he determined that was what he’d do to become happy. He believed in God, but God was not real enough for Augustine to change the way he lived, since Augustine’s God was an idea, and not as real as Augustine’s personal urges and ambitions. That was Augustine’s primary error, and usually ours as well: if we don’t first treat God as God, then we treat ourselves as God, and so we tend to treat other people as things. So, we can use anyone, hurt anyone, cheat everyone, simply because we want whatever we want in life, and that justifies whatever we do. We are first, and everyone else is second, because God really doesn’t exist in our lives, at least not enough to affect how we live. Or, we’ve created an idea of God, and worship that idea instead of the true God. Here’s Saint Augustine:

“The whole life of a believing Christian is, after all, a holy desire. What you desire, you do not yet see, but your desire enables you to be filled with seeing when the time for seeing comes. A comparison: If you want to fill a bag with something very big, you stretch the mouth of it; the object is big and the mouth small, but by stretching the mouth you make it bigger. In like manner, God expands our desire by deferring fulfillment; through desire He stretches the soul and makes it able to hold more. . . What, then, are we to do in this life where we do not yet lay hold of what we desire? St. Paul wrote, ‘I forget what is behind and stretch out to what is ahead, intent on the goal of heavenly calling,’ This is our life’s purpose: to practice desire. But we can cultivate holy desire only to the extent that we detach our desire from the world. You are to be filled with good things from God; you must first empty yourself of evil. Suppose God wanted to fill you with honey, but you were already filled with the vinegar of sin! You must empty yourself of vinegar, be cleansed, even with laborious scrubbing, so that you may be fit to be filled with something better” [Commentary on the First Letter of John, Treatise 4].

Pope Saint Gregory the Great put it this way: “Some people are so simple that they do not know what is right. But true simplicity is marked by genuine innocence, and the non-virtuous do not have it. Simplicity is a passionate enthusiasm for what is good. . . Some people are not simple in their actions, for they seek external satisfaction rather than inner spiritual rewards. We cannot go down two roads at the same time: when we outwardly do what God commands, but harbor worldly desires. A person fully avoids evil and sin when he begins, out of love for God, to sin no more. As long as he does good only out of fear, however, he does not fully avoid evil; for we sin by the very fact that we would like to sin if we could do so without punishment” [Moralia in Job, Book 1].

Lent is the annual season during which we strive to turn our desires from satisfying ourselves in sinful pursuits, and work for true happiness that comes from loving God here and now. After we stop doing evil actions, then we can move on to stop desiring to do evil actions. For sin is not just doing evil actions; a sin is knowing the doing of something is evil, and nevertheless desiring to do it, and then actually doing it. This is a question of real life actions and the real life exercise of your free will for avoiding evil and doing good. The first thing we should all do is to go to Confession, to repent of our sins, turn our hearts from sin, and receive God’s forgiveness. This is the “scrubbing” out of ourselves of the bitter residue of sin [vinegar, as Augustine says above], so that God may fill us with honey, His very life. Try it this year: you’ll be much happier by Easter, having rid yourself of bad and sinful desires and habits, and learned to want to do good, because you love God, and you desire to please Him in everything you think and do.
—Msgr. DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick. . . Larry Schmidt, Gary Everett, Erin Wiggin, Megan Bobroske, Connie Ward, Corrine Mattson, Marie Michele Louis, Marie Boursiquot, Herman Schneider, Chris Seely, Frank Monaghan, Eva Grace Kelly, John Murray, Billy Therriault, Mary D’Arco, Anthony Sansone, Tessie Mulhern, Margie Joyce, Tonin Gjepaj, Sandra Mayfield, Lily Ann O’Connell.

Please pray for those who have recently died. . . Thomas Pavia, Cassandra Eloy, Anilia Firmin, Joseph Danilauskas, Bridget Sheehy, Norma Johnson, Viergina Toussaint, George Muro, Ann Rich, Lena Chiappetta, Rosina Raiteri, Felicia Stramandinoli, Duverney Caporal, Terrence Cooke, 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.

Monday Evening Holy Hour . . . Monday nights 7-8:00 pm for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Rosary in the Nagle Hall. Next Holy Hour: February 27th .
LENT: Each Friday during Lent: abstain from eating meat. Those aged 14-60 years old, unless ill or suffering from a medical condition: no meat is to be eaten: a simple way to do penance for our sins, making a small sacrifice, an outward sign that we are sorry to God.

Parish Lenten Mission. . . Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday-February 27, 28, 29, beginning at 7:00pm for Eucharistic Adoration, Holy Rosary, a spiritual conference, and Benediction. Please join us with your family as you begin Lent.

Stations of the Cross: Fridays during Lent at 4:00pm in English, in the Msgr. Nagle Hall.

Lenten Confessions. . . Every Tuesday during Lent: 7:30-9:00 pm. In Msgr. Nagle Hall.

St. Monica Institute for Patristic Studies. . . On the March Wednesdays: 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th, to read the works of St. Theodoret of Cyr. All the readings are in English translation.

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

Repainting the Church. . . $595,620.00 is pledged towards our goal of $629,000.00. We need everyone’s help to. Just a bit more from everyone, and we’ll complete this project. The artwork made possible by your generosity will last for decades, and inspire Catholics of Stamford well after each of us is gone. So, please lend a charitable hand today.

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

THE UPPER CHURCH WILL BE CLOSED WEEKDAYS, reopening only for Saturday 3 pm Confessions and 4 pm Mass, and the usual Sunday Masses and Confessions.
All Funerals will be in the parish hall until Easter.

Bishop’s Annual Appeal. . . Has begun. Many parishioners may have already received a letter from Bishop Lori. Saint John’s annual goal, set by the diocese, is $100,000. The funds collected for the Bishop are used for the numerous charitable and educational works of the Diocese. Please be generous to the Bishop.

February 19, 2012 $ 10,445.05
February 20, 2011 $ 10,148.81

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

March 4th Sunday Readings: Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Rom 8:31b-34; Mk 9:2-10.

Lenten Confessions. . . Each Tuesday evening during Lent, 7:00-9:00 pm in the parish hall.

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 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: March 8th in the Rectory

*NEW* Francis & Clare High School Youth Group. . . Faith. Adventure. Community. That’s what you’ll find at the new post-Confirmation co-ed High School Youth Group. Join us! Meetings on the 2nd and 4th Sunday each month. Find the group “Francis and Clare Youth Group” on Facebook or email Deirdre.garrahan@gmail.com for more info.

Lost & Found . . . Please check the Lost & Found in the Rectory for any items you may have left in the church. Feel free to call Cindy at the rectory, M-F, 9AM—1:30PM, 203-324-1553 x21.

40 Days For Life. . . Join other Christians and take part in the international 40 Days for Life effort during Lent: February 22nd through April 1st. In addition to 40 days of peaceful prayer and fasting for an end to abortion, please consider volunteering for one or more hours during the 40 days, and help to spread the word to others about this important life-saving effort. St. John’s parish day of vigil is: Friday, March 16th. For more information please contact Gene Dagostino, 203-530-1908, gdag@optonline.net.

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).

Sunday, April 29th. . . HOLY ROOTS!, a discussion about the religious foundations of Stamford: 1641-1876, at the Stamford Historical Society: 2-5 pm. Speakers: Msgr. DiGiovanni, Mr. John Allen [Congregational] and Rev. James Wheeler [Episcopal]. Cost: $15. per person; $5 students, payable to Stamford Historical Society. Please mail check to Stamford Historical Society, 1598 High Ridge Road, Stamford, CT 06903-4107.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR. . . Saturday, May 5th, 4:00-7:30 pm: Kentucky Derby: This will be our primary fundraising event of the season, and all are invited to enjoy a live television feed of the Derby, post time at 6:24 pm. Betting & prizes, live auction, live jazz band, superb food provided some of the best local restaurants, including Columbus Park Trattoria, and excellent local food shops, including mountains of fresh lobster, crab, oysters, clams and shrimp from Grade A ShopRite, wines, mint juleps and soft drinks as well. Come join us for a great evening. All proceeds remain here at the Basilica.

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, February 27th.

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, February 25, 2012
4:00 +JoAnn, Mildred and Felix Fiore req. Leon Taricani
Sunday, February 26, 2012
7:30 +Gladys Hennessy req. Dr. Joe McAleer
8:30 +Dominick Fiorenza req. Annette Fiorenza and Family
10:00 Special Intentions Georges Paulemon req. Montanise Paulemon
12:00 +Giusseppe Annatta req. Shawn McAuliffe, Gabriele & Silvia Natarelli
5:00 +Marie Wenthen
6:00 +Patrick Kane & Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane & Family
Monday, February 27, 2012
8:00 +Margaret Mary Cycon req. Mary Jean DalMolin
12:10 Souls in Purgatory req. Fabiola C.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
8:00 +Gjin Tushaj req. wife – Age Tushaj
12:10 +Agatha Sciara req. Grace and Joe Marasciullo
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
8:00 +Ambrose Delmazio req. Luciano Siciliano & Family
12:10 +Raymond Jean-Rene req. Anne Jean-Rene
Thursday, March 1, 2012
8:00 +Margaret Timon req. Tom Timon
12:10 +Michael and Diane Blow req. Tom and Olga Kolenberg
Friday, March 2, 2012
8:00 Faithful departed
12:10 In Thanksgiving for the Blessed Mother & St. Jude req. Duffy Family
Saturday, March 3, 2012
8:00 +Peter Medwed 11th Anniversary req. Munro-DeVivo Families
12:10 In Honor of The Blessed Virgin Mary req. Ferry G.

Weddings. . . Couples must contact and begin meeting with one of the parish priests for at least 6 months before a hoped for wedding date at Saint John’s. Please call the parish secretary, Cindy, or one of the priests for an initial discussion.

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.

Dominic Savio and Maria Goretti Group will be having a field trip to the Brunswick School to Ice-skate this Sunday February 26 from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm; please provide your own transportation. Permission slips are in the back of the church. For more info please contact Beth at 203-975-0074 or Ferry at 203-324-1553 ext 22

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 until the church painting is completed.

St. John’s in THE ADVOCATE:

120 years ago, or so:
March 1, 1894: “The fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Hartford diocese of the Roman Catholic Church occurs March 17 of this year. It was on that date in 1844-50 years ago-that Bishop William Tyler was consecrated. He was bishop until his death, which occurred June 18, 1849.”

60 years ago, or so:
March 2, 1950: St. John’s School Lists Honor Roll. “The mid-year honor roll at St. John’s Junior High School, announced yesterday includes the following pupils: Grade 9-Eileen Kenney, Kay Weber, Jean Lehner, Miriam Treat, Frieda Mitchell, Maureen McGowan, Peter Kerrigan, Ann Forbes, Frances Agnostino, Patricia Hanrahan, Patricia Henning, Barbara Baning. Grade 8-Lawrence Fayette, Yvonne Lauzan, Marie Lutz, Nora Schopinsky, Marilyn Norman, Joan Marengo, Patricia Quinn, Romemary Keenan, Margaret Robuski, Teresa Downs, Dolores Roche, June Munnelly, James Ryan, Constance Hansen, Thomas Murray, Maureen Connors, Sharon Daniels, Ann Drury, Ann Smeland, Patricia Mauglty, Carol Carrea. Grade 7-Jane Sweeney, Rosemary Engel, Mary Savage, Carol Wallace, Thomas Cunningham, Roberta Downey, Judith Ward, Christine Rubino, Ann Marilyn D’Andrea, Myrna Dolan, Alice Buckley, Jean Gacher, Patricia Nichols, Linda Pond, Lorraine Aunce, Nora Kennedy, Joseph Masso, Judith Thornburg, and Kieran Hickey.”

55 years ago, or so:
March 4, 1957: Bob Gross Stars As Johnnies Win CYO Championship. “The St. John’s basketball five fought steadily to overcome an early deficit and defeat the St. Mary’s team to win the 16-year –old title in the CYO playoffs to determine an entry in the Diocesan championships. Bob Gross’ basket with 30 seconds remaining in the game clinched the title for the Johnnies.”

50 years ago, or so:
March 4, 1962: Churches Plan Special Services For Girl Scouts. “To commemorate Girl Scouts’ Golden Day of Rededication this 50th birthday year of Girl Scouting, three religious services will be presented in Stamford. A Holy Hour for Catholic Scouts will be held at St. John’s Church, at 3 p.m. Sunday. The Rev. Robert G. Franklin will give the sermon. Mrs. Constantine Vermakis will lead the Brownie Promise and Mrs. Edward C. Coyne will lead the Girl Scout Promise. The music will be under the direction of Mrs. Arthur Gaudio, organist and the St. John’s Girls Choir will sing.”

The First Station
-Fr. Terry Walsh

“He did no wrong; no deceit was found in his mouth. When he was insulted, he returned no insult.” – 1 Peter 2

Did you ever wonder what might have been going through the mind of our Lord at the First Station? Or have you considered what those witnessing this horrible scene might have been thinking?

I sometimes wonder if Jesus might have been reflecting on all that he had done for the very people who stood in his midst, accusing him unjustly. Imagine it! He obeyed the will of the Father: “Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather, he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men”(Philippians 2:6-7). God became man and now, for the rest or eternity, Jesus, a Divine Person, has two natures: Divine and human – for love of us. The Incarnation! And then, he lived among us for 33 years, obedient to Mary and Joseph, humbling working and praying and doing every manner of good to those around him. Indeed, St. Louis DeMontfort contends that through this humble obedience He gave the Father more glory than all the miracles. Humble obedience. I wonder if he called his many marvelous works of kindness to mind in this moment as at the 1st Station as he stood before his accusers: healings, casting our demons, feeding the hungry, raising the dead, restoring sight to the blind, teaching the truth and calling all to a life of holiness, faithfulness, and love. Indeed, he called all to share in his holiness and he promised the necessary graces to accomplish this call—if only we would humbly obey him and follow him. Then, how could this be? How could he be standing in front of this court to be tried as a criminal?

There he was, innocent, yet scorned by his own, falsely accused, arrested in the dead of night and brought before an angry mob. I wonder if he might have been reflecting on the many words of thanks he had heard from those he had healed. I wonder if he may have thought about the cold places he had slept and the lack of food he suffered from time to time, or perhaps the toil he endured when everyone was pulling at his cloak hoping to gain a grace. What strength it must have taken to stand there before this crooked crowd. He had just endured a suffering unlike anything ever known to man during his agony in the Garden. He had felt the terror of abandonment as he watched his Apostles scatter away. What utter disappointment. What sadness. He had said to them: “Watch and Pray”. But they fell asleep. There he stood, the innocent Lamb being prepared for the Slaughter. Was he thirsty? After all, he had endured a horrible spiritual suffering in the Garden so intense that he actually sweat blood. He must have been dehydrated and wearied with grief. Were the bruises he endured as he was dragged to the court making it difficult to see – or to breath? “He did no wrong; no deceit was in his mouth. When he was insulted, he returned no insult”(1 Peter 2). He simply stood there. He opened not his moth. He had already done his talking: three years of laying down his life for everyone he met. Where were they?

Seven centuries earlier, the great prophet Isaiah spoke of this moment, the moment of the Passion of the Suffering Servant: “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame”(Isaiah 50:7). He was prepared to “make all things new” through the suffering of the Passion, knowing that through his Passion, he would feed all who come to him seeking Eternal Life, union with God, forever. He was carrying out his Mission and he knew he would be vindicated: “No weapon fashioned against you shall prevail; (even though for a short time it seemed that he was defeated) every tongue you shall prove false that launches an accusation against you. This is the lot of the servants of the Lord, their vindication from me, says the Lord”(Isaiah 54:17). All for the Salvation of souls…. “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! All you who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk”(Isaiah 55:1). He was thinking about us….

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom do I fear? The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom am I afraid? When evildoers come at me to devour my flesh, These enemies and foes themselves stumble and fall….But I believe I shall enjoy the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!” – Psalm 27