For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday Dec 01, 2013

Immaculate Conception

Pastor’s Corner: Sunday, December 8th, is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the patronal feast day of the United States. In 1846, the American Bishops agreed our nation should be placed under the protection of Our Lady. 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 do wrong, 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 blossomed 50 years later in the Russian Revolution and the Communist states. 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, excessive nationalisms, growing armies and military industries that would lead to two world wars. In all these movements, Pope Pius IX was the only 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 and is wrong! Men and women are more than what we produce; more than our race or gene pool. Pius saw his task as the one leader whose teachings would gain him nothing personally. He task was 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, that 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 fully with God. God prepared her from eternity to be the Mother His Son: she didn’t create God, who exists from all eternity. But she gave to the Eternal and unseen Son 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 correct: 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 that nothing should be more important to us than God; and that nothing is more important to God than us, through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. —Msgr. DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: William Perretti, Juanita Evans, Rosa Vera, Tom Diffley, Bonnie Keyes, Ed Grady, Connor Walsh, Billy Therriault, Thomas Bernie, Megan Bobroske, Mary Churley, Lena Cocchia, Thomas Bernie, Nancy Gallagher, Maria Wnek, Reno Antonio Rosa, Silvana Smith, Joseph W. Evans, Connie Ward, Ron DeCamp, Keith Nicholson.

Please pray for those who have recently died: Ann R. DiGiovanni, Patricia Morris, Jean Fusaro, Frederick Intrieri, Jody Ann O’Brien, Frances Rose Fabrizio, Zelma Potter, Thomas Lupo, Robert LeBeau, Robert Jegle, Jennie Galasso, Father Richard Futie, Charles Austin, Jr. , Carol Lovello, Joseph Michael Kirkland, Harry Parson, Stephen Boccuzzi, John DeDomenici, Scott Clark, Richard Agnew, M. Esther Hart, Cliff Linquist, Kathy Robustelli, Yvette Constant, Sr. Fernanda, P.O.S.C., Anne Zerrenner, Gloria Donahue, Donald Sabia.

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, tomorrow evening, Monday, December 2nd.

Banns of Marriage:
Banns III:
Michael Joseph D’Angelis and Mary Jo Wilson
Michael Todd Strickland and Rosemarie Pasqua

Our Lady’s Altar Votive Light: John Kung req. Family

Saint John’s School Exhibit: On view in the Msgr. Nagle Hall each Sunday following the 10 a.m. Mass, or by appointment with Monsignor: 203-324-1553, ext. 11.

St. Monica Latin Reading Group: Wednesday meetings at 6:15 pm in the Rectory. We read the Latin Church Fathers. Currently, we are translating St. Augustine’s De Trinitate. A basic reading ability in Latin [high school level] is necessary. Please join us.

St. Monica Biblical Greek Grammar: An intermediate grammar/reading class: Basic grammatical knowledge of Biblical Greek is required. Currently we are also translating the Gospel of Saint John. We meet Thursdays at 6:30 pm in the Rectory. Please join us.

BIBLE STUDY: Fr. Walsh will lead our study of The Book of Isaiah, on Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8 pm in the Rectory. Bring your Bible. Next meeting: December 4th.

Holy Name Society: Friday mornings at 7:00 in the Rectory, Catholic men of all ages meet for coffee, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, prayer, a spiritual conference and Benediction, ending at 7:50, just in time to go to Mass or work—or both! All are welcome: just walk in the front or back door of the Rectory.

MARRIAGE RETREAT: Saturday, December 14th at 5pm: St. Birgitta Convent in Darien: The priests of the parish will offer an evening retreat for married couples. Reserve a spot homeplacemoms@gmail.com : Confession, Mass, supper and social time with other couples.

DECEMBER 21st: 6:45 am Special Advent Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form: A Rorate Mass by candlelight, an ancient tradition of a votive Mass of the Blessed Mother offered at sunrise to greet Christ the Light of the World. Coffee-And to follow in the parish hall. A very beautiful Advent devotion to begin the week of Christmas.

Weekly Sunday collection:
Sunday November 24, 2013 $ 9,877.50 (Parade)
Sunday November 25, 2012 $ 11,162.10 (Parade)
“I ask you one thing: do not tire of giving to God, but do not give your leftovers.”

Dec. 8th, Sunday Readings: Is 11:1-10; Rom 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12.

Annual Bishop’s Appeal: Saint John’s annual goal, set by the diocese, is $100,000. We have collected to date: $84,596.00. Please be generous; we need everyone’s help.

Home Schooling Families: Meet in the Msgr. Nagle Parish hall each First Friday: Dec 6, Jan 3, Feb 7, March 7, April 4, May 2. All ages are welcome. Please contact Bridget Bethray: bridget.bethray@gmail.com, or Janet Lancaster: 203-637-3301, jmlancaster@optonline.net.

RCIA…Interested in becoming Catholic or Catholics wanting to receive First Communion or Confirmation are invited to attend classes: Tuesdays at 7:00 pm in the Rectory.

St John’s Flock (20’s and 30’s Young Adult Ministry): Meetings on Two Tuesdays a month and other social/service events. For info: 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.

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

Birthright: of Greater Stamford is seeking volunteers: Supports women with unplanned pregnancies to bring their babies to term, providing pregnancy tests, connecting women with medical, financial, legal and other needed resources. Schedules are flexible, and training is provided. Call 348-4355 or www.birthright.org.

Calling All Bakers: We need Bakers and Helpers for Bake Sale Dec. 14th & 15th.
Saturday, Dec. 14th, drop off in the Nagle Hall from 3pm til before the 4pm mass.
Sunday, Dec. 15th., drop off from 9am til after the 12 noon Mass. Goods to bake: Cookies, Cakes, Brownies, Cup Cakes, all kinds of Bread etc . Fundraising towards our Rectory. Please, wrap and label the items with descriptions  and ingredients. Volunteers to work at the sale are greatly needed. Please Contact: Scholastica Nabwire at email nascho44@optonline.net
or call: 917-975-2896.

BAKE SALE Dec. 14/15th: The ladies of the parish will begin baking specialties that will go on sale after the Sunday Masses during the weekend of Dec 14/15th: proceeds will benefit the restoration of the Rectory. Wait till you see what they bake. YUM!

Heartfelt thanks: For your expressions of sympathy on the occasion of my mother’s death, and for your prayers and Masses for her eternal repose. My family and I are very grateful. Msgr. DiGiovanni

Job Seekers: Meets monthly in the rectory at 7:30pm: There’s no charge. 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: This Monday, December 2nd.

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, November 30, 2013
4:00 Special Intentions Rev. Paul N. Check
Sunday, December 1, 2013
7:30 +Andrew (A.J.) Hoenig req. Terenzio Family
10:00 Deceased members of the Samedi Family req. Anne Marie Samedi
12:00 Cecilia and Anthony Labrosciano Birthday
5:00 +Fr. Rufin Kuveikis, O.F.M., Cap.
6:00 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
Monday, December 2, 2013
8:00 +Hariett Kosakowski, req. Msgr. DiGiovanni
12:10 +Amy Lancaster req. Sue Kremheller
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
8:00 +Margaret Timon req. Tom Timon
12:10 +Scott Bailey req. Laura and John Pascale
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
8:00 +Mary and Patrick Kielty
12:10 +Robert Oldham req. Diane Strain
Thursday, December 5, 2013
8:00 +Doris McMahon req. Tom Timon
12:10 +Gabriel Fohngho req. Fohngho and Catney Family
Friday, December 6, 2013
8:00 Faithful Departed
12:10 In Honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus req. Maria Trivino
Saturday, December 7, 2013
8:00 +Rodolfo Sollesta req. Laurette Riccio
12:10 Forgotten Souls in Purgatory req. Ferry G.

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).

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.

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 Family 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.

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

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

St. Dominic Savio Society: For spiritual formation of men, 7th-8thgrades-HighSchoolers welcome Contact-Ferry203-324-1553 x22.

St. Maria Goretti Society: For the spiritual formation of young ladies,7th-8th grades(High Schoolers welcome).Beth 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 Msgr. Nagle Hall. All are welcome.

St. Monica Institute for Patristic Studies: Wednesdays, 7:30 pm in the rectory.

The Latin Reading Group: Meets Wednesday evenings at 6:15 pm in the rectory: basic reading ability required.

Intermediate Studies in Biblical Greek: Intermediate Grammar: Meets Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm in the rectory.

Coffee Hour: No Coffee Hour this Sunday, Dec. 1st. Will resume next Sunday Dec. 8th.

St. John’s in THE NEWS:.

THE NEW YORK TIMES:
160 years ago, or so:
August 5, 1854: MORAL AND RELIGIOUS—Church Intelligence. “The College of Cardinals, or Sacred College, are about to ratify the opinion of the Commission of Theologians appointed some two years ago to discuss the point, and presided over by his Eminence Cardinal Fornari—in favor of the dogma of the “Immaculate Conception,” in order that “the whole Catholic world may unite in one paean of glory to the Mother of God.””

THE STAMFORD ADVOCATE:
145 years ago, or so:
December 7, 1866: “The Ball of the St. John’s Benevolent Society did not come off on the Eve of Thanksgiving owing to the band that had been engaged not keeping their appointment. Several enterprising young men, determined not to be cheated out of their enjoyment, took their girls down to Port Chester, where they all danced to their heart’s content. The ball took place last night and was largely attended..”

95 years ago, or so:
December 4, 1918: Father Casey’s Injuries. “The name of Rev. Walter Casey, curate in St. John’s Catholic Church here, appeared in yesterday’s casualty list. He was gassed during the night of Aug. 8-9 while assisting physicians in a cellar where a medical post had been established. Three physicians were overcome at the same time. Father Casey was blind for a short time. He was in a hospital as late as Oct. 23, the effects of the gas on his heart and lungs not having been entirely overcome.”

60 years ago, or so:
December 6, 1954: Catholic Churches Schedule Masses For Wed. Evening. “For the first time in the history of the Catholic Church in Stamford, evening Masses will be held in most of Stamford’s Catholic Churches on Wednesday, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the end of the Marian Year. Solemn High Mass will be celebrated at St. John’s at 8 p.m.”

10 years ago, or so:
December 4, 2004: Celebrating Mary Catholics mark 150th anniversary of papal decree. “The article of faith comes from the earliest years of faith, but the church never got around to defining it until 1854”, said Monsignor Stephen DiGiovanni, a Catholic historian and pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church. DiGiovanni said the belief that Mary was born free from sin was held long before it was defined by Rome.”

Preparation of the Altar and the Offertory – Fr. Terry Walsh

What thoughts occupy your mind as the liturgy moves from hearing the Word of God to receiving the Word of God in the Eucharist? What happens in that move toward the altar as the priest prepares to receive and offer the gifts? This holy ritual is imbued with profound spiritual significance that anticipates the nourishment of our souls. It is a time of thoughtful interior preparation for both the priest and laity. This transition begins as the Roman Missal is placed upon the altar and the gifts of bread and wine that will be confected into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ are received and placed beside the Chalice. We are naturally drawn into a deep contemplation of the Mystery of the Sacrifice we are about to enter at Calvary. Our eyes are drawn to the Chalice at the center of the altar. The image of a bride meeting her bridegroom comes to mind as the priest draws back the veil which covers the Chalice. After all, the Mass is known as the “wedding feast of the Lamb”- the marriage between Christ and the Church. Jesus, the Bridegroom, has come to unite himself to his bride, each one of the faithful, by offering himself to the Father in payment for the debt of our sins. The Holy Mass is truly a nuptial mystery. Indeed, from the creation of Adam and Eve to the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ, God reveals his infinite love for us. As the saying goes, “If you knew how much you were loved, you would cry tears of joy!” Throughout the preparation of the altar, we’re afforded the opportunity for thoughtful meditation that we might consider the intimate relationship we are called to share with God. Perhaps our thoughts drift back to that joyful manifestation of Christ’s divinity at the wedding feast at Cana which began his public ministry. Just as Jesus turned water into wine at Cana, He will soon change bread and wine into the Eucharist in this Holy Mass. Are we prepared to enter Calvary and witness his passion with sheer wonder and awe? Indeed, the “New Wine” provided by Christ is the grace poured out from his open side through the sacraments. And so, as we gaze upon the veiled Chalice upon the altar, our hearts lift up to God and we offer him our thanks and praise with sheer awe and wonder.

In a few moments, we’ll be surrounded by the whole Heavenly Court and join them in praising God: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!” Indeed, these moments of preparation of the altar and the offertory are filled with great anticipation and are meant to be savored. What spiritual gift have we brought to the Mass to lay beside the Bread and Wine on the Altar? Have we prepared well? The prophet Isaiah sheds light on the gift that is most pleasing to our Lord. It is humble daily prayer, good deeds done with a generous spirit, and fruitful sacrifices made out of love for one another. These are the gifts that delight our Lord. They are precious because they imitate his generosity and love. Our Lord exhorts us: “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool”(Isaiah 1:16-18). Have we taken the time to make a sincere examination of our conscience and be cleansed of sin through the sacrament of confession? Just how pure is the offering we bring to Him each Sunday?

Practically speaking, how can we expect to enter into the great sacrifice and drink the “new wine” if we have not lived according to the demands of our faith – if we have not truly made an effort to grow in love for God and neighbor. Are we praying well each day? Are we truly seeking to grow in holiness, faithfulness, and love? Isaiah is simply reminding us that we need to clear away the debris, the obstacles that hinder our spiritual growth. “If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your desire with good things, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in”(Isaiah 58: 9b-12). Remember the difference between Cain and Abel. Abel offered to God “firstfruits”, his very best. This was pleasing to God. Cain, on the other hand, did not give to God his best. God gently explained to Cain why his gift was unacceptable and gave him the opportunity to make a better effort, encouraging him to try again, but Cain was filled with pride and jealousy. His heart grew bitter. If we, like Abel, offer our very best, that is, when we seek to grow in love for God and neighbor, our souls will overflow with the graces flowing from the Lamb. Consider the words of St. Ambrose: “Where a man’s heart is, there is his treasure also. God is not accustomed to refusing a good gift to those who ask for one. Since he is good, and especially to those who are faithful to him, let us hold fast to him with all our soul, our heart, our strength, and so enjoy his light and see his glory and possess the grace of supernatural joy”(St. Ambrose, LOH, vol. II, p.203).

As the priest raises the patent with the host, he gives thanks, asking God to bless all the bread that is upon the corporal to be distributed to the faithful. Then the priest pours wine into the Chalice and mixes water, calling to mind the blood and water that flowed out from his side as he hung upon the Cross and prays: “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” After giving thanks for the gift of wine, the priest prays in a low voice, “With humble spirit and contrite heart may we be accepted by you, O Lord, and may our sacrifice in your sight this day be pleasing to you, Lord God.” Next, the priest incenses the gifts of bread and wine, then the Cross, and finally the altar. The priest is incensed by the deacon, and then the Deacon incenses the people, who are “Living Temples” by virtue of the gift of Baptism. After the offering of the gifts, the priest washes his hands and seeks interior purity before entering into the Eucharistic Prayer. Finally, the priest offers a prayer over the gifts in preparation for the great
Eucharistic Prayer.