For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday December 23, 2012

Pastor’s Corner: One of the most beautiful of all meditations about God becoming Man [the mystery we celebrate at Christmas] is that written by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux [1090-1153]. The “mystery” is why God would come to rescue us from sin and death, at all!? The answer to that is God’s love for us; and His hope that we will learn to love Him in return. That’s what salvation is: understanding that God loves you, and deciding to love God in the way you live your life, thereby opening yourself to God’s grace, so you might live with Him forever. Saint Bernard’s meditation is about the response Our Lady made to the Archangel Gabriel, who was sent by God to ask Mary to co-operate with His plan to save humankind from sin and death. As we read Bernard’s meditation, think of yourself as being in Our Lady’s room when the Archangel Gabriel appears: you’re eavesdropping, hiding behind the curtains. But, even while you’re eavesdropping, you become caught up in the scene of the angel and Mary. As you listen to their conversation, you begin to understand the importance that Mary’s response to God has for YOU and for YOUR future. And, you begin to hope that Mary will say “yes” , and co-operate with God’s invitation to be the Mother of God, so that you and all humankind might benefit in eternal life. This might be the first time, you understand the depth of God’s love for you, and, possibly for the first time, you desire to love God in return.

You can see a picture of the Annunciation, Gabriel announcing God’s plan to Mary, in the stained glass window next to the side altar of the Blessed Mother: the one on the left, as you face the high altar. Here’s Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, and he begins his narrative the moment after the Archangel invites Mary to be the Mother of God. The narrator is YOUR heart, beating more excitedly, hoping Mary will agree:

“You have heard, Virgin Mary, that you are to conceive and bear a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits your answer, for he must now return to God who sent him. We too await your merciful word, Lady, for we are the wretches whom condemnation threatens. The price of our salvation is offered to you, and if you consent then we shall at once be freed. We were all created in God’s Eternal Word, yet now we are doomed to death because of Adam’s sin; in your short answer we shall be remade and summoned back to life.

“Adam and Eve stand here weeping with their poor exiled children and await your answer; Abraham is here and David and all the holy patriarchs who are your fathers but dwell now in the valley of death’s shadow. The whole world is prostrate at your feet and waiting. What else can they do, since on your words depend the consolation of the wretched, the liberation of prisoners, the rescue of the condemned, and, in a word, the salvation of all Adam’s children of your whole race?

“Answer quickly, then, Virgin. Answer the angel and the Lord he represents. Give your word and receive the Eternal Word [The Eternal Son of God]; speak the word that passes and embrace the Word who abides forever!

“Why the delay and the trembling? Believe, confess, receive. Virginal simplicity must not forget wisdom. Fear not to be presumptuous, for though silent modesty is pleasing, your words of dedication are more needed now.

“Blessed Virgin, open your heart to faith, your lips to the praise of the Lord, your body to your Creator. The One for whom the nations yearn is knocking at the door. Delay, and he will pass by, and you shall begin again in sorrow to seek Him whom your heart loves. Rise up, run, open!

“She answers: ‘Behold the Lord’s servant. Do with me as you say.’” [In Praise of the Virgin Mary, Sermon 4, 8-9]

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Pope Saint Leo the Great [pope 440-461] also wrote clarifying the great mystery of God’s love seen in the Christmas mystery of God becoming a man:

“It is not enough to say that Our Lord, Son of the Virgin Mary, is true and perfect man; we must also believe that He is, as the Gospels tell us, a man of very specific human lineage. . . To accomplish the mystery of our reconciliation with God, the Holy Spirit had to come upon the Virgin and the power of the Most High had to overshadow her so that Wisdom [The Eternal Son of God] might become flesh. The estate of God and the estate of a servant had to be united in one person, and the Creator of time had to be born within time; He through whom all things have their being had to be begotten as a man amid all these things.

“Unless a new man, formed ‘in the likeness of sinful flesh,’ took our broken nature upon Himself and condescended, while consubstantial with the Father, to be consubstantial with us as well, and, as the only sinless man, to make our human nature His own, mankind would have remained enslaved to Satan. Nor would His triumphal victory profit us if He did not share our human condition.” [Letter 31, 2-3]

Let’s use these last few days before Christmas to prepare ourselves to celebrate this great mystery of God’s love for us. Go to Confession! Let’s remove all those bad choices and actions we have performed that block God’s love for us by receiving the one sacrament Jesus created for us that is the normative means of receiving God’s forgiveness of sins. This is the reason why God became Man in the womb of the Virgin Mary: to forgive our sins, that we might turn from evil and love God truly in our daily lives. We hear Confessions every day of the week before all Masses, so prepare well.

Merry Christmas—-Msgr. DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Barbara Castle, Monsignor William Nagle, Pat Orzo, Vincenza Rosa Parisi, 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, 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: Carlos Magan, John Lyons, Louise Sebastian, Louise LiVolsi, Federico Garcia, Francesca Lampariello, Titina 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.

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

Our Lady’s Altar Votive Light Memorial. . . + Bill and Ed Cody req. Cody Family

Monday Evening Holy Hour: Monday nights 7-8:00 pm for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Rosary in the Basilica. No Holy Hour Christmas Eve, Monday December 24th.

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.

Votive Hearts: The parish office has votive offerings for sale: small copper 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, remaining as a constant sign of your prayer: like a candle, but lasting longer. Please take a look at the beautiful Votive Hearts now hanging under the Icon of Our Lady Salvation of the People of Rome, in the back of the side aisle.

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: (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) Session 2 begins on TUESDAY JANUARY 8 2013 in the Rectory at 7:00 pm. Anyone interested in becoming Catholic is welcome to attend. Anyone who has not yet received the Sacrament of CONFIRMATION is encouraged to attend. Any questions, please feel free to call the Office at 203 324 1553 and ask for Fr Walsh.

Weekly Sunday collection:
Sunday December 16, 2012 $ 12,768.59
Sunday December 18, 2011 $ 13,066.22
“I ask you one thing: do not tire of giving to God, but do not give your leftovers.”
—Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

December 30th Sunday Readings: Sir 3:2-6, 12-14; Col 3:12-21; Lk 2:41-52.

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 22, 2012
4:00 Special Intentions Terenzio Family
Sunday, December 23, 2012
7:30 +Jayson Jarrett req. Norma Jarrett
8:30 Andrew Mbabaali req. Ferry G.
10:00 +Helen T. Duffy req. Duffy Family
11:30 +William Borkowski req. Michael and Ann Borkowski
5:00 +Marie Wenthen
6:00 +Patrick Kane & Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane & Family
Monday, December 24, 2012
8:00 +James Corbett req. Kazazes Family
12:10 +Anne Augustine Penta req. daughter Armelle
4:00 +Vito Melfi, John Melfi Sr., Mary Melfi, John Melfi, Jr. req. Joseph Melfi
12:00AM Midnight Mass: People of the Parish
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
7:30 +Irene Byrne req. Ed Nemchek Sr.
8:30 Souls in Purgatory req. Maria
10:00 +Mary Audette
11:30 Forgotten Souls in Purgatory req. Yvonne
5:00 NO MASS
6:00 People of the Parish
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
8:00 +Randolph Samedi req. Anne Marie Samedi
12:10 Special Intentions Terenzio Family
Thursday, December 27, 2012
8:00 Special Intentions Maria Trivino req. Lilian and Alvina Ramos
12:10 +Nang Nguyen req. Thang Nguyen
Friday, December 28, 2012
8:00 +Patsy Cappiello req. Duffy Family
12:10 +Allan Mitchell 2nd Anniversary req. Marion Morris
Saturday, December 29, 2012
8:00 +Wladek and Willemina Falek req. daughter
12:10 Van Dereedt Family req. daughter

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.

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

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

St. Maria Goretti Society: For the spiritual formation of young ladies,7th-8th grades(High Schoolers welcome).Beth 203-975-0074.

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: No Coffee Hour Sunday December 23rd and Sunday December 30th. It will resume Sunday Jan. 6th.

St. John’s in THE ADVOCATE:

150 years ago, or so:
Dec. 16, 1870: Christmas. “A heavy rain on Sunday night washed away all the snow that had fallen, and Christmas morning broke in sunshine as lovely as a day in Spring. In the Roman Catholic Church, High Mass was celebrated at 5 A.M., low Mass at 6 and 8 and High Mass at 10:30 A.M. Father O’Neil officiated at the 10:30 and delivered a short address to his people. In the afternoon, there was Vespers and an eloquent sermon on the birth of our Savior.”

100 years ago, or so:
Dec. 24, 1913: St. Anne’s Christmas Baskets. “St. Anne’s Society of St. John’s Catholic Church was busy, yesterday afternoon, preparing baskets of good things-Christmas dinners-for the poor. Thirty-five baskets were packed and prepared for distribution today. The work was in charge of Mrs. J.F. Fitzmorris, and was done in the school hall.”

75 years ago, or so:
Dec. 15, 1937: Christmas Music Is Arranged by Local Churches. “Appropriate music for the Yule season, with choir selections and special solo numbers, will feature observance of Christmas in several Stamford churches, tomorrow. At St. John’s Catholic Church, music at the Masses will be presented under the direction of Rev. Charles E. Hagearty, assisted by Howard Fagan, organist. At the 5:30 Solemn High Mass will be the organ prelude; Kyrie, Missa, “Dona Nobis Pacen,” Zamels; Gloria, Sixteenth Century, De Angelis, Gregorian; Offertory, Adeste Fidelis, Gravier Munzetti; Credo III, Sixteenth Century, Gregorian; Sanctus and Benedictus, (Dona Nobis Pacen), Zameis; Agnus Dei, (Missa Brevis), Montani; organ recessional. Miss Irene Kearney will assist in directing the music program .”

15 years ago, or so:
Dec. 24, 1999: “During midnight Mass celebrations throughout the world tonight, the doors of certain Catholic churches will be opened ceremoniously to welcome pilgrims who may visit in the new millennium. At. St. John the Evangelist Church in downtown Stamford, Monsignor Stephen DiGiovanni will unlock the brown doors of the baptistery, which have not been opened in about two decades. Following a similar ceremony to be performed by Pope John Paul II at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City tonight, DiGiovanni will open St. John’s doors as part of the Roman Catholic Church’s Jubilee 2000 celebrations. I was very pleased, very happy,” said Monsignor DiGiovanni of the special designation.”

The House of Bread
– Fr Terry Walsh

O the Mystery and the Wonder of the love among the Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity – what beauty, what humility; so mysterious, so explosive, so pure and holy! We were created through that love. And, even when man, in his foolish arrogance, freely chose to separate Himself from God, taking upon His shoulders the ‘Yoke of sin through Pride’ – God responded with a perfect act of Humility. Christmas celebrates that unfathomable act of love and our hearts and minds naturally open to a deep and profound contemplation of the wonder of God. In His mercy, God descended from Heaven, exchanging His Throne of glory for a hay-filled manger in a cold cave because there was no room for Him in the Inn. If they only knew….If they only knew Who was in their midst. If they only knew the Gift He came to give them. The Saints proclaim, ‘God became man so that man might become God’ – ‘He became poor so that we might become rich’ – rich in divine grace, rich in love and mercy. We, likewise, must become humble and seek the Gift—Eternal Beatitude—Union with God in Light, Happiness, and Peace! Through prayer, faithful reception of the Sacraments, love of God and of neighbor, we are welcoming Him into the Inn of our Heart. It joyfully comes to heal and nourish us and fill us with His love. We owe Him everything!

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

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