For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Web Version December 9, 2012

Pastor’s Corner: As we draw nearer to Christmas, our minds turn to the birth of Our Lord in Bethlehem. During the first thousand years of the Church’s life, much emphasis was placed upon understanding who Jesus is: is He God OR is He a man OR is He a man who became God? None of these is correct, nor does any answer the question, Who is Jesus? Our Lord asked His Apostles that question, as seen in the Gospel of Matthew [16: 16-17]: “Who do you say that I am?” And Saint Peter, enlightened by the Eternal Father, correctly answered: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” In other words, there, standing in front of Peter and the other Apostles, was the invisible, unknowable God who existed forever, the Creator of the Universe, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, in the flesh. While the truth of the two natures—Divine and Human—of Our Lord was believed by all during the early years of the Church, the stronger emphasis upon His divinity, which made Him seem too distant a redeemer, unable to understand the weaknesses or difficulties of our daily lives. Even though the Christmas sermons by the Church Fathers such as Pope Saint Leo the Great, Saint Augustine or Saint Jerome were popular in tone, the official art and literature of the first thousand years of the Church’s life emphasized the Divinity of Christ, in answer to the various heresies of the times.

Mosaic or painted images of Jesus’ birth existed, but only in cathedrals and huge churches in big cities. Local parish churches were too poor or too small for great art. Saint Francis of Assisi began to change this by his preaching that by the Incarnation–Because God became a man in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, born in Bethlehem, He actually does understand us. Why? Because God loved us so much that He became exactly like us, except without sin, in order to make us more like God. It was Saint Francis who gave the Church the first Nativity scene or Crèche, and put it in the local parish church, designed for poor people of small villages, with simple statues of the Blessed Mother, Saint Joseph, the shepherds with their flocks and the three kings around the Infant Savior. Here is a God who understood human hardship and suffering from the moment of His birth as a human child in a cold stable. Saint Francis also introduced the Stations of the Cross, as a devotional aid for those people who could not afford a visit to the Jerusalem sites of Our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. In their own parish church, people could visualize the real human sufferings Jesus endured to give us eternal life.

At the heart of these devotions concerning both the Birth of Jesus and His Death and Resurrection, is the historical fact that at a specific time and place God—1st century Bethlehem—the Creator of the Universe, became man. No myth or pretty story! He took on our humanity with its weaknesses and strengths, free will, rationality, ability to love, and mortality, and intimately joined it to His Divine Nature, with its omnipotence, divine omniscience, and immortality, to our Human Nature in the man we call Jesus of Nazareth. Saint John, our patron, wrote that the historical fact that God became Man—the Incarnation—is so essential a reality, that anyone who denies that historic event and fact is the anti-Christ [I John 2:22-23].

In the Basilica sanctuary, the three stained glass windows above the High Altar outline exactly why God became man in Bethlehem [in the left window]: so that He could ransom humanity from sin and death by dying on the Cross [in the center window], and to give humanity eternal life in the flesh by Rising from the Dead on Easter Sunday [in the right hand window] in the human flesh he had taken in the womb of the Virgin Mother. God became man so in His human death all humanity could die to sin; and in His human Resurrection from the dead, all humanity could rise to eternal life in the flesh. And this was in fulfillment of His promise He had made to Adam and Eve immediately after their sin of disobedience. There, God the Creator promised to take on human flesh in the womb of a child of Eve, in order to destroy the power of Satan. Speaking to Satan and to Eve, God said, “I put enmity between you and the woman, and between her seed and your seed: she shall crush your head, and you shall snap at her heel” [Gen. 3:15]. While Satan would snap at our heel by temptation, it would be the daughter of Eve—Mary—who would crush Satan’s head by giving birth to God in the flesh, Jesus. As Adam’s downfall came through the fruit of the Tree of Life in Paradise, now by a new Tree of Life, the Cross, the Second Adam, Jesus, would bring eternal life for the Sons and Daughters of Adam, who would become Sons and Daughters of God through Baptism and the Sacraments of the Church—the new fruit for a new Paradise, Heaven.

Because God became one of us, we can have a statue or a picture of Him: the Invisible God became visible in Jesus, in Bethlehem in the beginning of the first century. So, in a few weeks, visit our Creche, and let your heart be moved by this invention of Saint Francis, and thank God that the Eternal Son became a man so that we could become like God, through His Incarnation. —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: Louise Sebastian, Louise LiVolsi, 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.

Retirement Fund for Religious Collection . . . Please drop your Retirement Fund for Religious envelope into the ONE basket that will be passed at the Offertory. There will only be one collection today.

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.

Sunday Sung Evening Prayer [Vespers] & Benediction: Here in the Basilica every Sunday : 4 P.M.-4:45 P.M. All are welcome, so come with the family and pray together. Evening Prayer will conclude in time for the 5 P.M. Mass.

The John Canning Studio: has been named the recipient of the prestigious Stanford White Award from New York’s Institute for Classical Architecture & Art. They received the award for their design and workmanship in their RESTORATION OF OUR BASILICA OF SAINT JOHN. The awards will be made in Manhattan on December 7th. This is quite an accomplishment, and we should be proud that our Basilica has been so acknowledged along with the Canning Studio. Congratulations all around!

PAINTING DONORS: Everyone in the parish has been extremely generous in donating for the church repainting. We are preparing a list of donors to be placed in the hallway near the church elevator with other commemorative plaques. Please take a look at the draft list and see if we have your name correctly spelled: go to the parish website www.stjohnsstamford.com and click the tab PAINTING DONORS at the top of the homepage: just scroll down the alphabetically arranged list of names. If there is a mistake, please call Cindy in the parish office [203-324-1553, ext 11] and let us know, so we can correct it. Thank you, again for your generosity to the parish, which has restored our beautiful Basilica.

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 who would like to become Catholic, and for those Catholic adults who would like to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation: we’ll next meet, Tues., Dec. 11th at 7 pm in the Rectory. Monsignor DiGiovanni will continue his lectures on the History of the Catholic Church.

Weekly Sunday collection:
Sunday December 2, 2012 $ 13,768.12
Sunday December 4, 2011 $ 13,497.96

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

December 16th Sunday Readings: Zep 3:14-18a; Phil 4:4-7; Lk 3:10-18.

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.

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!

Harvest Now is a statewide food growing project to help the poor of our neighborhood. We need volunteers who grow vegetable gardens at home. We all grow more vegetables during the summer than we can eat. So, possibly, you could donate some of your vegetables to the food pantry of your choice. Please contact Monsignor at the church office if you are interested. This year Harvest Now fed 8,200 people. 400,000 people in CT use food banks in Connecticut over the course of a year. This number increases 6% every year. If you have a vegetable garden during the summer months, perhaps you can donate a portion of your produce to your local food bank/soup kitchen.

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, December 8, 2012
4:00 +Deceased Members DeRosa, Capobianco & Kronk Families and Edwin Clark req. Joan & John Kronk
Sunday, December 9, 2012
7:30 Special Intentions Gail Piria req. Family
8:30 +Marlene Herrero req. Rosita A. Domdom
10:00 +Christine Stokes req. Pinto Family
11:30 Ziriyana Taaka Birthday req. Scholastica Nabwire
5:00 +Marie Wenthen
6:00 +Patrick Kane & Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane & Family
Monday, December 10, 2012
8:00 +Valencia Lancaster req. Sue Kremheller
12:10 +Ethel O’Shaughnessy req. Hannah Sexton Young
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
8:00 For the Deceased Members of the Galbert Family
12:10 +Louise Caputo req. Anthony and Carolyn Conte
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
8:00 Jaiden Kravar Birthday req. Fabiola C. – Grandma
12:10 +In loving memory of the unborn req. Jimmy and Michelle Sagatti and Marion Morris
Thursday, December 13, 2012
8:00 In Honor of Saint Lucy
12:10 +Robert J. Petruzzellis req. Lavonne Petruzzellis
Friday, December 14, 2012
8:00 Special Intentions Ucero Family
12:10 +Frederick P. Turzer, Jr. req. Nelly Turzer
Saturday, December 15, 2012
8:00 +Hope and Joseph McAleer req. McAleer family
12:10 In Honor of St. Michael

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: Will be meeting on December the 16th in the rectory. 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!

St. John’s in THE NEWS:
140 years ago, or so:
Dec. 16, 1870: LETTER TO THE EDITOR “Messrs. Editors: In order to quiet the public mind concerning a report which appeared in your last issue to the effect that the Roman Catholic Society had purchased the Mary Rogers place, with the intention of building their church thereon, permit me to inform you that the report, besides being entirely false, came from no reliable authority. Nearly two years have passed since the Catholics selected a site for their new church, and a lot on Atlantic street was purchased from A. J. Bell for that purpose. Since that time we have felt satisfied with our location, and at no time were we desirous of changing it, nor do we now think, with some sympathizing friends, that we can better ourselves. The passer by may notice that we are at work, and, with God’s help, we expect to erect a church edifice there which will be no discredit to the beautiful street on which it will stand. Respectfully, John Fagan, Pastor of St. John’s Catholic Church.”

100 years ago, or so:
Dec. 13, 1911: St. Patrick’s Made a Holy Day. “A decree by the Pope, today, makes St. Patrick’s Day a holy day, but not one of obligation. This decree exemplified one of last July striking off St. Patrick’s Day from the list of obligatory holy days.”

75 years ago, or so:
Dec. 15, 1937: Former Stamford Resident Celebrates Golden Jubilee as Priest of Catholic Church. “The Rev. John J. Downey, native of Stamford, was feted, today, by the parishioners of St. Peter’s Church, Hartford, on the golden jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood. The parish will hold a reception in his honor tonight. Born in Stamford, April 17, 1861, Father Downey attended the old St. John’s Parochial School when it was on the site of the former church property at what is now State and Hawthorne Streets.

70 years ago, or so:
Dec. 12, 1941: “Members of St. John’s Boys’ Brigade and the Brigade Band are to meet in St. John’s School yard on Sunday night at 7:30. They will participate in the celebration arranged for the fortieth anniversary in the priesthood of Father Nicholas P. Coleman.”

50 years ago, or so:
Dec. 12, 1964: “The Holy Name Society of St. John’s Catholic Church will have its monthly corporate communion tomorrow at the 7:30 a.m. Mass. The Society’s monthly meeting will be held Monday at 8 p.m. in St. John’s School.”

Liturgy of the Word II
– Fr. Terry Walsh

“You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord abides forever.’ That word is the good news which was preached to you.”
– (1 Peter 1:23-25).

First, it is helpful to understand that the Liturgy of the Church is comprised of five “Liturgical Seasons” woven together throughout the course of a year. In effect, these “Liturgical Seasons” teach us about the life of Jesus beginning with the hopeful expectation of His Incarnation, followed by His ministry, His suffering, death, and His Resurrection. Each Liturgical Year begins on the 1st Sunday of Advent – the season when we look to the coming Messiah who will be born into the world on Christmas day. The Readings chosen by the Church for the Masses offered during Advent quite naturally reflect upon the theme of hope and salvation. For instance, the Prophet Isaiah teaches us about the One who will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” seven hundred years before it actually takes place. He goes on to tell us how it will happen so that when it happens, all may give praise to God: “the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” In like manner, the Liturgy of the Word during the Christmas Season reveals that He will be called Jesus and that He will be “a great Light to the Nations.” Hearing these truths in the Liturgy of the Word in holy Mass are meant to awaken our desire for God while at the same time serve to nourish us with confidence and fill our hearts with consolations as we walk along the sometimes difficult path on the road to salvation. “In order to reveal himself to men, in the condescension of his goodness God speaks to them in human words: ‘Indeed the words of God, expressed in the words of men, are in every way like human language, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men’”(Catechism, 101). Ordinary Time, the 3rd Liturgical season, is comprised of 34 weeks and ends with the great Solemnity of Christ the King. The flow of ‘Ordinary Time’ is interrupted by the Liturgical Seasons of Lent and Easter. The Penitential character of the Readings chosen from Scripture during the Season of Lent summons us to a greater love by reflecting upon the suffering and death of the Innocent Victim, Jesus Christ and so invite us to consider our own willingness to “Take up our Cross” in our daily life and “Follow Him.” The Readings lead us along the path of repentance and renewal and are designed to remind us about the importance of prayer and fidelity to our Baptismal promises.

While the Scriptures span over the course of thousands of years, the Liturgy of the Word reveals their unity. Indeed, as the Church reminds us, the Old and the New Testaments are ‘one seamless garment’ whereby ‘the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament and the New is actually hidden in the Old’ – a truth demonstrated at each Mass. For example, the events surrounding the Israelites and their suffering in Egypt which lead to the great Exodus and their eventual arrival in the Promised Land actually prefigures the journey of the Church and the suffering that her members, all the baptized, endure in our ‘Land of Exile’ before we may arrive home in the true Promised Land, Heaven. The Blood taken from the sacrificial Lamb and placed over the doorposts of the Israelites so that the angel of death would “Passover” their homes actually prefigures the Blood of Christ, the true Lamb of God, who washes each one of us in His Blood and thereby saves all who faithfully follow Him. We hear both stories in the Mass and so begin to see that God’s plan for our salvation stretches all the way back to the moment of Creation. The Church has designed the Liturgy of the Word in Mass to help us draw the connections between the Old and New Testaments in order to broaden our understanding of the infinite love of God and his patient and merciful kindness and fidelity.

Did you know that every Catholic Church throughout the entire world hears exactly the same readings wherever they attend Mass each day? We are after all one Body, one Church, and so our Lord is teaching everyone throughout the entire world the very same lessons – whether they be heard in English, Spanish, Latin, Chinese, or any other approved Liturgical Language. We are One Church, we participate in “one” liturgy; that is, the Church has selected specific Readings for each day of the year that are read in every Catholic Church throughout the entire world, in the local language. There are over a billion Catholics in the world today hearing the very same Readings at Mass each and every day.

The 1st Reading at Mass is taken from the Old Testament with the exception of the Easter Season, when we fittingly hear from the New Testament Book, “Acts of the Apostles.” The 2nd Reading is selected from the New Testament. The Gospel is the pinnacle of the Liturgy of the Word as the Gospels give us the very words of Christ Himself. We stand for the Gospel out of great reverence and often Incense the Gospel before proclaiming it. Before approaching the Gospel, the priest silently prays: “Cleanse my heart and my lips, almighty God, that I may worthily proclaim your holy Gospel.” And, once the priest has uttered the words, “A Reading the Gospel of John…” he makes the sign of the Cross on the page, followed by the sign of the Cross on his forehead, lips and heart and prays, “May the Lord be in my mind, on my lips, and in my heart.” After proclaiming the Gospel, the priest utters still another silent prayer as he kisses the Gospel: “Through the words of the Gospel may our sins be wiped away.” All the Readings in the Liturgy of the Word connect to teach a particular lesson, which is given by the priest in the Homily. Homilies are required on Sundays and Solemnities and are given by the Ordained Minister. The Homily speaks about the Mystery of Salvation as revealed by the Word of God and is meant to instruct the faithful and draw the listeners into a deeper appreciation for the love of God. We conclude the Liturgy of the Word with the Prayers of the Faithful, asking God to grant our prayers through His Son, before entering into the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The “Mystical Body of Christ” is indeed unified by the Word of God. How awesome is that! The Readings are not arbitrarily chosen according to the personal preference of the Minister; rather, they are carefully selected and arranged by the Magisterium of the Church so that over the course of that time we may hear from virtually every Book of Sacred Scripture, thus broadening our understanding and knowledge of God. It is a three Year Cycle: Thus, Year A is the year when the 1st Gospel is predominant, that is, the Gospel of Matthew. Year B is the year of St. Mark the Evangelist and finally, Year C proclaims the Gospel of Luke. The Forth Gospel, that is, the Gospel of St. John, has special prominence and is proclaimed each and every year.

The Liturgy of the Word opens the heart and prepares us to receive “the Word made Flesh” – Holy Eucharist!