For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday December 2, 2012

Pastor’s Corner: Saturday, December 8th, is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the patronal feast day of the United States. At the end of the Sixth Provincial Council of Baltimore in 1846, the American Bishops agreed our nation should be placed under the protection of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The American Bishops did this as their sign of support for Blessed Pope Pius IX in his efforts to define the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception. But there was more than the 19th century American bishops being “politically correct” by supporting the Pope. They earnestly desired to place the growing nation under the protection of Our Lady: since it was Mary whose obedience had united God to humankind in her womb, and under whose tutelage and protection was placed the salvation of the world, in the Person of Her Divine Son, Mary would prove the perfect spiritual mother for our nation. The Pope desired to define formally this ancient belief of the faithful: that, while Saints Joachim and Anne had normal sexual relations as husband and wife in order that Anne might conceive, it was God’s grace that preserved Mary from the effects of Adam’s Original Sin, from the moment she was conceived in Saint Anne’s womb. This Original Sin is that with which each human being is born, the effects of which are our tendency to want to sin, and our deaths.

 

Why would the Pope so desire to define this belief in the middle of the 19th century? Because Pope Pius IX understood quite clearly that society was developing in a way that would urge the world to forget God in favor of “progress”, while re-defining the human person. In 1848, Karl Marx had published his Communist Manifesto, which would blossom 50 years later in the Russian Revolution and the horrors of Communism; the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, and would soon enslave millions around the world in the grip of grinding poverty and endless work; Prussia, France and England were developing their individual exclusive and excessive nationalisms, growing massive armies and military industries that would lead to two world wars. In all these movements, early in their development by the mid-19th century, the Pope was the only European world leader who spoke out warning that men and women were being re-defined by big governments and growing industry as worthy of life only by their productivity in industry, their usefulness to a political party, loyalty to the state, their nationality or their race. This was wrong, for men and women were more than what they produce; more than their race or gene pool.

Pius saw his task as the one leader whose teachings would gain him nothing personally. He taught simply to remind humanity about who we are: our dignity and right to exist comes from our very essence: created in the Image and Likeness of God, redeemed by God’s Eternal Son-made-man in the womb of the Virgin Mary. So, in 1854, backed by the Catholic bishops and faithful from around the globe, Blessed Pope Pius IX showed the world the power of the Catholic Church by formally reminding the world that nothing is more important in the world than God; and that nothing is more important to God than us. And, by forgetting God—in our work, home or public life—we are being controlled and used for the profit of others.

Our Lady is the most perfect example of a human being co-operating with God. God prepared her from eternity to be the Mother of God: she didn’t create God, who exists from all eternity. But she gave to the Eternal and unseen God a human mind, heart, soul, will and body: the ever-existing God entered into human history and became man in the womb of Mary, in order to free us from sin and death. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux described God’s purpose beautifully:

“It befitted God to be born of none but a virgin, and it befitted the virgin that having borne God she should bear no other. The Creator of men, in becoming himself a man, had to choose, indeed even to form, the kind of mother he knew befitted him and knew would please him. Therefore, he wanted her to be a virgin so that from a spotless one he, the Spotless One, might come forth to cleans away the sins of all mankind. He wanted her to be humble from whom he, as the man meek and humble of heart, would be born; he wanted her to give a salutary example of all the virtues. Therefore he made the Virgin conceive, for she earlier offered her vow of virginity to him but had also won the merit of humility. These were the glorious jewels of mind and body that adorned the royal Virgin. Her beauty was known in heaven, whose citizens gazed on her with admiration; she attracted the eyes of the King to herself and sent down a heavenly messenger to greet her. The angel was sent to a virgin: a virgin in flesh and in spirit, a virgin by deliberate intention, a virgin such as the Apostle Saint Paul describes, holy in mind and body. The Lord did not stumble on her by accident but chose her from eternity; the Most High prepared her, the angels preserved her, the Fathers pointed her out, the prophets promised her coming” [Sermon II, In Praise of the Virgin Mary].

And why did the Pope accede to the American bishops’ desire that Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception be the patroness of America? Because the Pope had great hopes for the United States as the only nation under whose laws and freedoms the Catholic Church might prosper and grow. And he was right: in all European countries, throughout Asia, and in nearly all the countries of Central and South America, the Catholic Church was persecuted throughout the 19th and 20th centuries: Catholic schools, universities and churches closed, all church property seized, clergy and nuns imprisoned, killed and forbidden to wear clerical dress publicly. It is the same reason Blessed Pope Pius IX blessed the efforts of American bishops to build churches and schools for the millions of immigrant Catholics arriving in the United States, such as our own basilica, established as an independent parish in 1854—the same year of the definition of the Immaculate Conception; and the same reason that blessed Pope established the American seminary in Rome in 1859. Nourish America, because it understands humanity’s need for freedom to worship God.

On December 8th, let us recall Our Lady’s faith and virtues, and the fact that a Pope gave her to us Americans as our patroness and guide to remind us Americans that nothing is more important than God; and nothing is more important to God than us, through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.—Msgr. DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Patricia Moriarty, Maureen Ferguson, Margaret Pia Perry, Michael Payes, Ed Koplos, Elaine Mellace, Heidi M. Fernandez, Kenneth Bell, Dr. Ben T. Williams, Hugh Gibney, Joevil Basulgan Dela Cruz, Bill Rottman, Martha Salvatore, Richard Lauture, Raymond Jean-Rene, Marie Byrnes, Betsabe Chung, Billy Therriault, Edna Campbell, Julia Oliveira, Chuck Woodin, Gary Everett, Nancy O’Shea, Mary Jane Peterson, Rev. Patrick J. O’Connell, Valerie Romanello, Megan Bobroske, Connie Ward, Kathleen Moger, Flint and Helen Moger, Paul Cavalli, Mario Stano, Kevin O’Byrne, Clemese & Faramon Lochard, Jean Midi, David Morgan, Mary-Jane Rice, Joan Duffy, Gale Browne, Mercedes Huertas, Peter Boltrek.

Please pray for those who have recently died: Federico Garcia, Francesca Lampariello, Tatina Tarantino, Barbara Jones, Rosino Zezima, Mary Loglisci, Andrew Joseph Hoenig, Jutland R. Jean-Rene, Jennifer Gallagher, Larry P. Evaristo, Thaddeus O’Connor, Kathleen O’Connor, Grace Fusco, Marie Conetta, Frank Ardise, Stan Zebroski, Marcy Stano, Rev. J. Barry Furey, Robert Pergola, Joseph Perna, James McManus, Regina Ngodie, Corrie Evans, Ernesto F. Scafidi, Frank D’Amico, Don Curry, Anthony Russo, Violet Roddy, David Brandel, Blanche Kulowiec, Thomas Pavia, Cassandra Eloy, Anilia Firmin, Joseph Danilauskas, Bridget Sheehy, Virginia Toussaint, George Muro, Ann Rich.

Monsignor Nagle: I just visited Monsignor Nagle at Smith House. A s most know, he is the retired pastor of Saint John’s. He fell two weeks ago and fractured his right femur. He is bedridden and in some pain, but quite lucid, asking about the parish and whether there was a new bishop for the diocese. Please keep Monsignor in your prayers.

Advent Mission: Monday-Wednesday, December 3rd, 4th & 5th: 7:00-800 p.m. in the Basilica. Bring the family for evenings of prayer and inspiration to prepare for Christmas.

Holy Day of Obligation. . . Saturday, December 8th: The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception: The Vigil Mass will be offered on Friday, December 7th at 5:15 pm and Masses on Saturday, December 8th: 8 a.m., 12:10 p.m.

Sunday Sung Evening Prayer [Vespers] & Benediction: Will begin on the First Sunday of Advent: December 2nd, in the Basilica at 4 P.M.-4:45 P.M., every Sunday during the year: all are welcome, so come with the family and pray together. Evening Prayer will conclude in time for the 5 P.M. Mass.

Monday Evening Holy Hour: Monday nights 7-8:00 pm for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Rosary in the Basilica. Next Holy Hour: Monday, December 10th.

St. Monica Institute for Patristic Studies: We next meet on Wednesday January 2nd, at 7:30p m in the rectory. Our moderator will be Fr. Samuel Kachuba.

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

Biblical Greek Grammar: An intermediate grammar and reading class: Some basic grammatical knowledge of Biblical Greek is required. If interested, call: 324-1553, ext 11.

RCIA Classes: For those wanting to become Catholic, and for those Catholic adults who would like to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation: we’ll next meet, Tues., Dec. 4th at 7 pm in the Rectory.

Weekly Sunday collection:
Sunday November 25, 2012 $ 14,116.34
Sunday November 27, 2011 $ 12,036.59
“I ask you one thing: do not tire of giving to God, but do not give your leftovers.”
—Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

December 9th Sunday Readings: Bar 5:1-9; Phil 1:4-6, 8-11; Lk 3:1-6.

Home Schooling Families: A group for home schooling families meets monthly on Tuesday in the Nagle Hall. All ages are welcome. Please contact Bridget Bethray at bridget.bethray@gmail.com, or Janet Lancaster at 203-637-3301, jmlancaster@optonline.net.

Project Rachel Ministry: Offers free and confidential help to those seeking healing after abortion. Come back to God, who is love and mercy. For more information: Please call (203) 416-1619 or projectrachel@diobpt.org.

Voluntary Services for the Blind: Bring sunshine to someone’s life. Volunteers are needed to be drivers, readers, friendly visitors, shoppers and clerical assistants for legally blind persons. For information, call 203-324-6611, ext 2.

St John’s Flock (20’s and 30’s Young Adult Ministry): Come join the Flock for monthly Faith Formation meetings on the 2nd Thursday of the month and other social/service events. For more information, please go to stjohnsflock.com or email core-team@stjohnsflock.com.

Francis & Clare: Our High School Youth Group. Students interested in being part of the Teen Leadership Group. E-mail Deirdre.garrahan@gmail.com to get involved.

Trinity Catholic High School . . . Annual Ladies Night Out Christmas Boutique
Thursday, December 6, 2012, 6 pm – 10 pm, The Italian Center, 1620 Newfield Avenue,
Stamford, CT. Socialize, Shop, Snack & Support TCHS. Price: $60 per person at the door.
VIP Seating: Additional $100 for a table of 10. For ticket info go to: trinitycatholic.org or email: carol.tusch@ipaper.com.

Solemn High Mass for the Feast of St. Nicholas. . .On Thursday December 6th, 2012  Saint Gabriel Church in Stamford will celebrate a Solemn High Mass for the Feast of St. Nicholas at 7:30 PM.  Mass will be celebrated in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.  (In Latin according to the 1962 Missal) Refreshments to follow in the Parish Meeting Room.  Please mark your calendar and join us!

Job Seekers: Meets the 4th Monday monthly in the rectory at 7:30pm: There’s no charge for these services. Led by Melanie Szlucha whose company, Red Inc., a leader in helping find jobs. More info, see: www.redinc.biz or 203-866-1606: Next meeting: Monday, January 28th.

Please pray that the Cause of Canonization for Ignatius Cardinal Kung will be opened soon.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: April 6-7, 2013: The Basilica will sponsor a symposium on the work of the Catholic Church to form culture on the Gospel since Constantine’s legalization of the Church in 313 A.D. The speakers will be:
His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke, Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Signatura;
Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Ordinary of the Military Archdiocese of the United States;
Professor Elizabeth Lev, Professor at the University of St. Thomas, Rome;
Professor George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow and Chair of Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C. Lectures will be delivered in the Monsignor Nagle Hall on Saturday, April 6th; A Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form will be offered by Cardinal Burke on Sunday, April 7th. All are welcome. It should be an exciting weekend at St. John’s!

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, December 1, 2012
4:00 +Nettie Lombardi req. Sally Mobilio
Sunday, December 2, 2012
7:30 +Anna M. Trivilino req. Anthony and Carolyn Conte
8:30 +Donald Michael Curry req. Marion Morris
10:00 +Deceased members of the Samedi Family req. Anne Marie Samedi
11:30 In Honor of the Eternal Father req. Ferry G.
5:00 +Marie Wenthen
6:00 +Patrick Kane & Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane & Family
Monday, December 3, 2012
8:00 People of the Parish
12:10 +Scott Bailey req. Laura and John Pascale
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
8:00 +Margaret Timon req. Tom Timon
12:10 +John Ingallinera req. Trotta Family
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
8:00 +Aurora Villanueva req. Villanueva Family
12:10 +Edna Holt and son req. Morris Family
Thursday, December 6, 2012
8:00 +Doris McMahon req. Tom Timon
12:10 +Harold Frost req. Kim Frost, daughter
Friday, December 7, 2012
8:00 Faithful Departed
12:10 In Favor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus req. Maria
5:15 In Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary req. Montanise Paulemon
Saturday, December 8, 2012
8:00 +Virginia and Eileen Carr req. Marie Carr
12:10 +John Maloney req. Mary

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. Pizza and Pasta in the Church Hall.

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

Francis & Clare: Co-Ed High School Youth Group. Email Deirdre.garrahan@gmail.com.

St. Dominic Savio Society: For the spiritual formation of young men, 7th-8th grades (High Schoolers welcome). Call Ferry, 203-324-1553 x22.

St. Maria Goretti Society: For the spiritual formation of young ladies, 7th-8th grades (High Schoolers welcome). 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 on Wednesday Evenings, 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, January 2nd.

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

Liturgy of the Word
– Fr. Terry Walsh

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” – Jesus

What we mean by “The Word” and how well “Receptive” are we to the effect God seeks to work in us through the Word. In the rather small, picturesque Medieval town of Loreto on the Adriatic Coast of Italy rests the “Holy House” of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s said that some four million pilgrims visit the Holy House each year. In the thirteenth century the 13’ by 7’ Chamber was moved from Nazareth and finally came to rest in Loreto in order to protect it from invading Saracens. Today, it occupies the center space within a great Basilica built around it to honor the humble abode where Mary lived. St. Francis of Assisi is said to have remarked that it was “the holiest place on earth” because it was within the walls of this house that the Word became Flesh. Indeed, before he entered it, he encircled the outer walls on his knees, in prayer. It was here that the Archangel Gabriel visited Mary: “Hail, full of Grace! The Lord is with you!”(Luke 1:28).

Today, and everyday around the world, the “Word is made Flesh” upon the altar in the Eucharist: He dwells IN us! – in our very souls. We prepare for that union by first hearing the Word of God in the readings from Sacred Scripture. St. Paul cries: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God”(Colossians 3:16). Readings from Sacred Scripture nourish our souls and prepare us to receive the “Word made Flesh” in Holy Communion. God enters the world He created in order to enable us to enter into Heaven: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not made anything that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it”(John 1:1-5). Through the interior dialogue of prayer, the language of faith, we meditate upon the Light of Truth, the holy Word of God.

After the Penitential Rite at the beginning of Holy Mass and the Gloria, we’re ready to hear the Word. Just as God “speaks” creation into being through His Word on the very first page of the Scriptures, so too does He speak to our hearts in the hope of recreating us into His Likeness – to become holy. It’s up to us. Just how receptive are we? Consider the parable of the Sower and the Seed. Jesus explains that some are eager to receive the Word into their hearts and consequently produce abundant fruits; that is, the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, kindness, and so on. Our part in producing these spiritual fruits is actually one of cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we need the virtue of humility when we come to meet our Lord in the Mass. The proud heart fails to truly hear the Word of God and so fails to understand the need for grace. The proud heart fails to enter the dialogue with God and so fails to receive the love of God; he chooses to remain in the darkness. Pride utterly blinds us to the Truth. “A sacramental celebration is a meeting of God’s children with their Father, in Christ and the Holy Spirit; this meeting takes the form of a dialogue, through actions and words. Admittedly, the symbolic actions are already a language, but the Word of God and the response of faith have to accompany and give life to them, so that the seed of the Kingdom can bear fruit in good soil. The liturgical actions signify what the Word of God expresses: both his free initiative and his people’s response of faith”(CCC, 1153). When we hear the Word of God in Mass it is truly Jesus speaking to us and he is causing an effect in our souls, that is, if we are listening. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord….He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit….I the Lord search the mind and try the heart, to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings”(Jeremiah, 17: 7, 8, 10). We actively seek our Lord by pondering the Scriptures and, through our search, we naturally grow in faith and knowledge of the “Word made Flesh.” Take a peek at the beautiful stained glass window beside the altar of Mary. It is the scene of the Annunciation in the “Holy House” of Nazareth. Consider Her faith. Notice the humble pose as our Lady kneels in prayer. She’s pondering the Word of God upon the pages of the Scriptures. The Archangel Gabriel hovers near to proclaim God’s favor and the Holy Spirit conceives the Word in her. Contemplating her joy upon receiving the Word, St. Ambrose teaches us that we are all called to share in that joy – if we but receive the Word humbly and with love. He writes, “A soul that believes both conceives and brings forth the Word of God and acknowledges his works. Let Mary’s soul be in each of you to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Let her spirit be in each to rejoice in the Lord. Christ has only one Mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ in faith. Every soul receives the Word of God if only it keeps chaste, remaining pure and free from sin, its modesty undefiled. The soul that succeeds in this proclaims the greatness of the Lord, just as Mary’s soul magnified the Lord and her spirit rejoiced in God her Savior”(Liturgy of the Hours, volume I, p.353). When we enter the “Holy House” – the Mass – we, like Mary, meet God. Will we allow the Word to enter us? During this hopeful Season of Advent, may we grow in our appreciation of the Mystery of the Holy Mass and always seek to grow in our love for our Lord; may we listen attentively to the Word and allow Hi to prepare our hearts and souls and so worthily receive the fruits of His Passion – the Eucharist.