Pastor’s Corner. . . In ancient Israel, it was understood that with the coming of the Messiah, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit would take place, and Israel would be purified of its sins [Num 11:29; Is 59: 21]. With the coming of John the Baptist and Our Lord, there occurred a reawakening of this hope, which had become limited to views of the Messiah as one who would free Israel from the Roman Empire. With the coming of Our Lord, and through His death, resurrection and ascension, the relationship of Israel and of all creation with God is restored, and blessings are now to be had. Of these, the two greatest spoken of are the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38-40).
The Apostles, through Saint Peter, after having received the Holy Spirit on that first Pentecost, preached to the assembled Jews and foreigners in Jerusalem. The hallmark of this earliest teaching is not condemnation of those who killed Jesus—as would have been expected under the usual “Eye for an eye” practice of legitimized vengeance. Rather, Peter tells his hearers that all may receive the benefits of the Savior if they repent of their sins—even of having killed Jesus, Himself—they can receive God’s forgiveness if they repent and be baptized into the community of the saved: the Church established by Christ, Himself, on the Apostles. The outpouring the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins are the two most potent of gifts given by Christ and the Eternal Father through the Holy Spirit to those who come to the Church, becoming members of Christ’s Body.
As we read in the Acts of the Apostles (11:26), the disciples or believers of Jesus were first called “Christians”, having received that name in the city of Antioch, in what is today’s Syria. Yet, during the subsequent years, various groups appeared, separated from the Apostles, who called themselves Christians, while teaching the wildest and strangest of beliefs that had nothing to do with Christ or His Church. The hallmark of these groups was, besides their odd teachings or demands, that each group offered salvation on to a few people: they were exclusive clubs, as it were, offering membership only to those of a specific tribe, group, city or nation. Everyone else had no chance of salvation, at least according to their founders. Gnostics, Judaizers, Novatians, Docetists and Nicolaitians, to name only a few. These were small groups who denied that God had become Incarnate, or that He actually had died on the Cross, or protested that He never had been raised from the dead, or that salvation came only to a few “enlightened”. Most of the world has forgotten these people and their beliefs (except for historians and antiquarians!). Yet, they threatened the salvation of many because they taught false doctrines that led many astray from the true Christ and His Church.
It was also in the city of Antioch, just a few decades after the Church was called “Christian” that it received another name—from its bishop. Saint Ignatius of Antioch was a disciple of Saint Peter. After Saint Peter began the Church in Antioch, he appointed Ignatius to head the Church there, and ordained him a bishop. By the end of the first century, Ignatius was a very old man, and he was arrested during one of the Roman imperial persecutions, dragged in chains across Asia Minor, thrown onto a ship and brought to Rome where, in 107 a.d., he was thrown to the lions in the Coliseum in Rome. As he was being dragged to Rome in chains, he wrote a series of letters to the Church in the various towns and cities he passed by. Famous towns such as Magnesia, Smyrna, Ephesus, Trallia and Rome—all but the last no longer exist or are ruined piles. Writing to the Church in Smyrna, Ignatius instructed them to beware of the false groups mentioned above, and told them: “You must all follow the lead of the bishop, as Jesus Christ followed that of the Father; follow the priests (presbyters) as you would the Apostles; reverence the deacons as you would God’s commandment. Let no one do anything touching the Church, apart from the bishop. Let that celebration of the Eucharist be considered valid which is held under the bishop or anyone to whom he has committed it. Where the bishop appears, there let the people be, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church” (Letter to the Smyrnians,8).
Which is the Church of Christ? Saint Ignatius was clear: it is Katholika: Catholic: a Greek word, which means Universal. It is unlike those sects or heretical religious groups claiming to be Christian, but only found in one or two cities; applied only to small, exclusive groups; or that were established by a government or king. They were local creations, offering membership only to a few people. The authentic Church founded by Christ on the Apostles, and empowered by the Pentecost outpouring of the Holy Spirit with the power to forgive sins, is the one to be found in every city in every nation, around the globe, offering salvation to everyone and anyone who will repent of sins, have faith in Our Lord, and be baptized. Even before the Emperor Constantine legalized the Catholic Church in the early 4th century, the Church of Christ could be found in every city of the Empire—despite the repeated imperial efforts to destroy the Church by legalized persecutions.
This is the One, Apostolic and Catholic Church in which we reaffirm our faith each Sunday in the Creed. It is also the same Church that our ancestors in Stamford built here on Atlantic Street, which celebrates the anniversary of its 1886 dedication on May 30th. The poor immigrants who built Saint John’s did not begin their own new religion: they planted and nourished in Stamford the ancient Catholic Faith that comes directly from the Apostles, which they had received from their mothers and fathers, taught to them by their parents and priests, going back all the way to St. Patrick, who had been ordained a bishop and sent to Ireland by Pope Saint Celestine I, Successor of Saint Peter. Through the sacraments of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church we receive the gifts of God that transform us daily to be like Him, and unite us with every Catholic whoever lived.
Our parish historian, Larry Bolanowski, has completed a detailed record of the lives of generations of Catholics in our parish in his very complete and detailed history of Saint John’s, which you can access on the parish website, free of charge. The rectory has a hard copy, as well, just in case anyone would like to page through his fascinating narrative.
On this great feast of Pentecost, let us thank Our Lord for the gift of our Catholic Faith: the faith of the Apostles, which has been handed on in an unbroken chain from Christ, to the Twelve, to their successors, the popes and bishops in communion with them. Let us live worthily of the gifts we have all received through the Sacraments, and, in particular, those seven gifts of the Holy Spirit we received at our Confirmation—the same gifts the Apostles and the Mother of God received on that first Pentecost. Through these spiritual gifts that come to us through the Sacraments instituted by Christ in His Catholic Church, and through His revelation in Scripture and the living Tradition of the Church, we should daily turn from sin, embrace and imitate Our Lord in virtue, grow in knowledge and grace of Him who loves us. For Jesus is intimately united with us through His Church—He is the Head and we the Body—and through that communion with Him and His saints, we are headed for eternal life. —Monsignor DiGiovanni
Please pray for the sick. . . David Morgan, Gene Gavin, Maureen Casner, Stephen Casner, Marcy Stano, Mary-Jane Rice, Joan Duffy, Gale Browne, Titina Tarantino, Corrie Evans, Mercedes Huertas, Peter Boltrek, Billy Therriault, Gary Everett, Erin Wiggin, Megan Bobroske, Connie Ward, Corrine Mattson, Marie Michele Louis, Herman Schneider, Eva Grace Kelly, John Murray, Mary D’Arco, Anthony Sansone, Tessie Mulhern, Margie Joyce, Tonin Gjepaj, Sandra Mayfield.
Please pray for those who have recently died. . . Ernesto F. Scafidi, Frank D’Amico, Don Curry, Raymond Eagan, Anthony Russo, Violet Roddy, David Brandel, Blanche Kulowiec, 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.
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: Monday, May 28th .
St. Monica Institute for Patristic Studies. . . Will NOT meet in May. See you in September!!
Latin Reading Group. . .Wednesdays: 6:15 pm in the Rectory (reading ability required).
Biblical Greek Grammar. . . A beginner grammar class:Thursdays: 6:30 pm in the Rectory.
Repainting the Church. . . WE MADE IT!!!! I am very grateful to all parishioners who supported this repainting project by giving a donation or making a pledge. Now, if you everyone would pay their pledges, we can pay John Canning Studios completely. Thanks!.
Parish Finance Council. . . Will meet on Wednesday May 30th at 7:30 pm in the rectory.
Votive Hearts. . .An ancient Catholic practice is to place a small heart or metal decoration at a shrine of the Blessed Mother, as a symbolic personal offering for a prayer, or as a personal sign of thanksgiving for a favor granted. You can see some in front of the Icon of Our Lady. The parish office now has votive plaques for sale, to be placed near the Icon of Our Lady. There are two sizes: small hearts: $10.00 each; larger copper flowers: $50.00 each. You may purchase them by visiting or phoning the office [Mon-Fri, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.], and they will be hung at the Icon of Our Lady soon after purchase.
Annual Bishop’s 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. We have collected to date: $54,345.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR. . . For upcoming great parish events:
Feast of Corpus Christi & Parish Block Party: Sunday June 10th: 5:30-9:00pm:
—Eucharistic Procession through the streets of Stamford beginning at 5:30pm
—Parish Block Party: food and non-alcoholic beverages, with the Catholic Band L’Angelus from 6:30-9:00pm: it will be fun and food for the family: and all without charge, as our way to thank everyone in the parish for having contributed to the repainting of our basilica. The procession begins on Atlantic Street at the Basilica front door; the Parish Block Party in the parish parking lot. Join us!
Weekly Sunday collection:
Sunday May 20, 2012 $ 10,571.39
Sunday May 22, 2011 $ 14,348.78
“I ask you one thing: do not tire of giving to God, but do not give your leftovers.”
—Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
June 3rd Sunday Readings: Dt 4:32-34, 39-40; Rom 8:14-17; Mt 28:16-20.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Janet Lancaster at 203-637-3301, email@example.com.
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: Thursday June 14th in the Rectory
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.firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
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
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).
The St. Francis Youth Group. . . is proud to sponsor “Catch the Spirit” a Christian Contemporary music concert on Friday June 8th @7:30pm. The concert will be held at Crystal Theater in Norwalk Connecticut and will feature a live band accompanying 20 talented teen singers from across Fairfield County. Tickets may be purchased through http://catchthespirit.eventbrite.com/ for $10.00. Proceeds from the concert will benefit Abolition International -a non profit organization dedicated to the eradication of human exploitation. A small portion of the proceeds will be used to purchase new song books for the St. Francis Teen Mass Singers. People who are unable to attend the concert may make a donation through the ticket website.
Theology at Night. . . At the Knights of Columbus Hall: 507 Shippan Avenue. On Thursday, May 31st, 7:30 pm: Professor John B. Roney, Chairman of the History Department at Sacred Heart University will deliver a talk, “A Light in the Dark—How Ireland brought knowledge and learning to Barbarian Europe. Admission is free: there will be a cash bar and free food. Please join us there.
Linens for the Homeless. . . A local candidate to become an Eagle Scout is leading a project to provide for the homeless. Boxes are in the vestibule for donations of new or gently used bath towels and bed Linens, and you are asked to make a donation during the next few weeks to help the homeless. Your donations will be taken to the Stamford Shelter for the Homeless. Please be generous.
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 203-866-1606. Next meeting: Monday, June 4th.
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, May 26, 2012
4:00 +John and Evelyn Sexton req. Hannah Sexton Young
Sunday, May 27, 2012
7:30 +Irene DeFelice req. DeFelice Family
8:30 Special Intentions Maria Labrosciano req. Domenico Piria
10:00 +Genoveffa Melchionno req. Giannitti Family
12:00 +Aniello Preziosi 46th Anniversary req. your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren
5:00 +Marie Wenthen
6:00 +Patrick Kane & Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane & Family
Monday, May 28, 2012
8:00 Deceased Veterans of the Parish
12:10 +Maria Ferraina req. the Calderaro Family
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
8:00 +Margaret Curtis req. Mary Maloney
12:10 +Ulysses A. Solis Jr. req. Corazon M. Angeles
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
8:00 +Teodoro and Aurelia Cornejo req. Basilia – daughter
12:10 Souls in Purgatory
Thursday, May 31, 2012
8:00 +Daneen Quirk req. Joan Fitzgerald
12:10 Thanksgiving to Blessed Virgin Mary req. Yvonne St. Preuve
Friday, June 1, 2012
8:00 Faithful Departed
12:10 Monsignor Nagle Birthday req. Lilian and Alvina Ramos
Saturday, June 2, 2012
8:00 In Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary req. Ferry G.
12:10 +Antonio D’Amico req. his son Frank
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.
St. Dominic Savio Society. . . For the spiritual formation of young men, 8th-12th grades. For more information 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, September 5th.
The Latin Reading Group. . . Meets Wednesday evenings at 6:15 pm in the rectory: basic reading ability required.
Introduction to Biblical Greek . . . Basic Grammar: Meets Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm in the rectory.
Coffee Hour. . . Starts again in September.
St. John’s in THE ADVOCATE:
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
115 years ago, or so:
May 28, 1896: THE ROLL OF HONOR. Names of the Dead Who Will Be Remembered on Memorial Day. “ROMAN CATHOLIC CEMETERY, SPRINGDALE–Thomas Buckley, Peter Conroy, Morris Carroll, James Farron, Patrick Fitzpatrick, Patrick Harrison, Martin Kane, John Kelly, Daniel Kennedy, William McDonald, Henry O’Neil, Patrick Picker, John Reardon.”
70 years ago, or so:
June 1, 1942: Catholic Heritage Of Patriotism Is Praised By Priest. “Catholic patriots “have left a glorious heritage of love, loyalty and sacrifice for the land of the Stars and Stripes,” it was said by the Rev. Francis J. Sugrue of Greenwich at Memorial Day exercises in St. John’s Cemetery, Saturday, when hundreds attended the combined religious-military services for the dead. Father Sugrue said that Catholic men and women “have no reason to be apologetic for their part in this nation’s founding. Your forbears in the faith have left you a glorious heritage of love, loyalty, and sacrifice, for the land of the Stars and Stripes. Yours is a destiny, ordained of heaven, to preserve the liberties thus won by the blood of your fathers in the faith; and yours is a constant debt of gratitude to those of your faith, and of every faith, who purpled the white snows of Valley Forge with their life blood; and yours should be a daily prayer of thanksgiving for this memory of a glorious past, this possession of a splendid present, and this well-founded hope of a magnificent future in ages yet unfolded when, with the grace of God Our Father, our nation will be so abound in universal justice and the true liberty that comes from justice that America will be, for ages to come, and for all the world, the fairest abode next to heaven itself, the hope of all the world, in a world that truly loves God.” The services, arranged by the Rev. Michael J. Sullivan, opened with invocation by the Rev. Francis Morrissey of St. John’s Catholic Church, followed by reading of General Logan’s Order No . 11 by Major John Hogan of St. John’s Boys’ Brigade.”
Come, O Most Holy Spirit, Come
-Fr. Terry Walsh
The moment has arrived….‘our Lord’s Passover is fulfilled’ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is revealed to the world on Pentecost: the Holy Spirit, promised by our Lord, ‘sanctifies the Church’ and waters the souls of all who believe in Jesus and come to follow Him. The Catechism teaches: “The gift of the Spirit ushers in a new era in the ‘dispensation of the mystery’. … during which Christ manifests, makes present, and communicates his work of salvation through the liturgy of His Church, ‘until He comes’….Christ now lives and acts in and with His Church, in a new way…He acts through the Sacraments…the communication of the fruits of Christ’s Paschal mystery”(Catechism, number1076). Through baptism, we are nourished by the fruits of Christ’s sacrifice and formed into that perfect edifice when we freely cooperate with the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who now dwells within. St. Irenaeus wrote: “Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of bread, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water that comes down from Heaven…. Through the baptism that liberates us from change and decay we have become one in body; through the Spirit we have become one in soul.”
St. Basil the Great wrote beautifully about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the work that He accomplishes in and through us. Basil had this to say:
“The Spirit is the source of holiness, a spiritual light, and he offers his own light to every mind to help it in its search for truth. By nature the Spirit is beyond the reach of our mind, but we can know him by his goodness. The power of the Spirit fills the whole universe, but he gives himself only to those who are worthy, acting in each according to the measure of his faith.” We are infused with the supernatural gift of faith at baptism and it grows according to our response to our Lord’s call. Do we live according to the Word, the Gospel? How well do we pray? There is an old saying that “To pray more is a personal decision, to pray better is a grace; ask for the grace.” In other words, we can decide to spend more time at prayer—and that is good. But to truly pray better—from the heart—we need the assistance of the Holy Spirit—the Gift of Piety. And to receive it, we simply need to ask. Our petition, “Lord, help me to pray better…” demonstrates our humility, our filial trust, our love. And, bit by bit, we bring to grow and recognize our new understanding, our increase in knowledge, our deeper wisdom—all gifts given to us because we are—in fact—cooperating with the Holy Spirit. It is our free act to ask for Divine Assistance and it is God’s love that answers that humble plea. At the same time, we will quite naturally receive the Sacraments with even more gratitude and praise for His generosity.
As we reflect upon our lives, are we able to recognize the effects of grace when we have approached God with humility and a sincere desire for holiness? “Simple in himself,” Basil writes, “the Spirit is manifold in his might works. The whole of his being is present to each individual; the whole of his being is present everywhere. Though shared in by many, he remains unchanged; his self-giving is no loss to himself. Like the sunshine, which permeates all the atmosphere, spreading over land and sea, and yet is enjoyed by each person as though it were for him alone, so the Spirit pours forth his grace in full measure, sufficient for all, and yet is present as though exclusively to everyone who can receive him….He gives a delight limited only by their own nature, not by his ability to give….The Spirit raises our hearts to heaven, guides the steps of the weak, and brings to perfection those who are making progress. He enlightens those who have been cleansed from every stain of sin and makes them spiritual by communion with himself. As clear transparent substances become very bright when sunlight falls on them and shine with a new radiance, so also souls in whom the Spirit dwells, and who are enlightened by the Spirit, become spiritual themselves and a source of grace for others….Through the Spirit we become citizens of heaven, we are admitted to the company of the angels, we enter into eternal happiness, and abide in God. Through the Spirit we acquire a likeness to God; indeed, we attain what is beyond our most sublime aspirations – we become God.”