For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday Dec 15, 2013

Nativity

Pastor’s Corner: During these final days of Advent, permit me to offer you some fodder for thought and mediation during these busy days: saints’ writings that explain why the Eternal, Invisible God became a man, born in Bethlehem:

“God’s Son, existing before time, invisible, bodiless, light flowing from light, fountain of immortal life, expression of the archetypal Godhead, God’s perfect image. God’s Son bestowed himself on us as His images; became flesh for the sake of mankind’s flesh; and took an intellectual soul for the sake of mankind’s soul, so that like may cleanse like; in a word, He takes to Himself all that is human except sin, in order to share what He has, His divine life, with us. He who enriches others becomes poor, for He suffers the poverty of my fleshly condition so that I may win the riches of His Godhead. He who is everything becomes nothing, for His glory [as God] is hidden a brief while so that I may become a sharer in His divine riches.

“What are these riches of God’s goodness? What is this mystery which relates to me? I had received the divine image [when I was conceived in my mother’s womb] but threw it away [by sin]. He takes my flesh in order to bring salvation to His image [us] and immortality to my flesh; He thus enters into a new fellowship with us, far more marvelous than that with the first Adam. Through the manhood He made His own, God would sanctify all men and women. He would overcome the tyrant, Satan, by force [the Cross]. He would liberate us and bring us back to Himself through His Son, the Mediator—all this to glory of the Father to whom the Son bows in all things. The Good Shepherd came to the straying sheep, found us, set us on those shoulders that bore the Cross, and bore us into eternal life. God had to become man and to die that we might live.” [St. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 45]

“Lord, You dwell in inaccessible light? Indeed, but where is it, and how shall I approach the unapproachable? Who shall guide me and lead me into hat light that I may see you in it? What signs shall help me find you? For I have never seen you, Lord God, and do not know your face. Exalted Lord, what am I, this wretched exile of yours to do, your servant tormented by love of you but banished far from you? I yearn to see you, but your face is too far off. . . For, though you are my Lord and God, I have never seen you. You made me to see you, but I have never yet done what I was made for.” [St. Anselm, Proslogion, 1].

“Something which has existed since the beginning, that we have heard, and we have seen with our own eyes; that we have watched and touched with our hands: The Word, who is life—That life was made visible; we saw it and we are giving our testimony.” [I John 1:1-3] I adore one God in Three Persons: God the Father, God the Son made flesh, and God the Holy Spirit—one God. I do not adore the creation rather than the Creator, but I adore the One who became a creature [the Second Person of the Trinity, whom we call Jesus], who was formed as I was, who clothed Himself in creation without weakening or departing from His divinity, that He might raise our mortal nature in glory and make us partakers of His divine nature. . . Therefore, I can draw an image of the invisible God, not as invisible, but as having become visible for our sakes by partaking of flesh and blood. I. . . [can] draw a picture of God who became visible in the flesh.” [St. John the Damascene, On Divine Images, 4].
—Msgr. DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Pasqualina Bruzzese, Kathy Raggio, Elaine Mellace, Elmer Lipinski, Florita Guimbal, Harrie Humphreys, William Perretti, 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, Connie Ward, Ron DeCamp, Keith Nicholson.

Please pray for those who have recently died: Nelson Mandela, William Henry, Sr., Louis Chiapetta, 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.

Monthly Collection . . . The second collection today will be the monthly collection for the parish. Your generosity is appreciated.

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 16th.

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 18th.

JANUARY 11TH: Conference on Fatherhood, to be held in the Basilica for all men: 12years and older, single and married; grand fathers and fathers bring your sons; sons, bring your dads and brothers: led by Steve Wood, internationally renowned Catholic speaker on virtue and family life. This is a conference about being a virtuous and strong Catholic man in today’s challenging culture. Stay tuned for further details: All men of the parish should join us for an inspirational day!!

DECEMBER 21st: 6:45 am 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 December 8, 2013 $ 12,436.00
Sunday December 9, 2012 $ 12,958.24
“I ask you one thing: do not tire of giving to God, but do not give your leftovers.”
—Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Dec. 22nd, Sunday Readings: Is 7:10-14; Rom 1:1-7; Mt 1:18-24.

Home Schooling Families: Meet in the Msgr. Nagle Parish hall each First Friday: 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.

Christmas Mass Schedule:
Christmas Eve: December 24th: 4 pm: Christmas Vigil with children’s choir;
Christmas Day: December 25th: 12 midnight: Midnight Solemn Mass with choir;
7:30 am, 10 am, 12Noon [Chant], 6pm [Haitian].

THERE WILL BE NO 5PM MASS ON CHRISTMAS DAY.

Christmas Confessions Schedule:
Christmas Eve: December 24th: 3-4 pm.
Christmas Day: December 25th: 7-7:25 am, 9:30-9:55 am, 11:30-11:55 am.

St John’s Flock Annual Christmas Party…..All who are in their 20s and 30s are invited to attend on Tuesday, December 17th 7:30 PM in the Church Hall (Blue doors below the church). Bring a dish or drink to share – Please RSVP to 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.

March for Life:  Wednesday, January 22, 2014. The bus will be departing 5:30 am from the Catholic Center in Bridgeport and stopping at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist at 6:00am.  The bus will be leaving Washington, D.C. at 4:00pm to return to Connecticut.  The fee for the bus is $75. Please register by Friday, January 17th. Please contact me if you have any questions,
Maureen Ciardiello, Office of Pastoral Services, 203-416-1445, mciardiello@dibpt.org.

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: Monday, January 27th.

Epiphany Sunday: January 5th: Solemn sung Vespers at 4:00 p m at The Church of Saint Gabriel: 914 Newfield Avenue, Stamford. Everyone is welcome for a beautiful afternoon of prayer, music and Eucharistic Adoration.

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, December 14, 2013
4:00 +Vito Melfi req. Joseph Melfi
Sunday, December 15, 2013
7:30 Deceased members of the Sexton and Winter Families req. Hannah Sexton Young
10:00 +May and Dave Marrucco req. Pinto Family
12:00 Special Intentions Paul and Sadie Didio and Anthony Briganti
req. Kieran and Mary Malone and Jane Pelletier
5:00 +Fr. Rufin Kuveikis, O.F.M., Cap.
6:00 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
Monday, December 16, 2013
8:00 +Rose Donahue and Mary Hynes req. Marie Carr
12:10+Julius Sebestyan Family req. Peter Sebastian
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
8:00 Special Intentions Carlos Antonio Mesa req. Raquel Mesa
12:10 Rev. Terrence Walsh req. Millie Terenzio
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
8:00 Sister Gesuina Gencarelli req. John Paul and Angela Marchetti
12:10 Deceased members of the Lops Family req. Ferry G.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
8:00 +Randolph Samedi req. Anne Marie Samedi
12:10 +Frances White req. Mary Anne and Jim Squires
Friday, December 20, 2013
8:00 +Wladek and Willemina Falek req. daughter
12:10 Sister Luigia Fusaro req. John Paul and Angela Marchetti
Saturday, December 21, 2013
8:00 +John Maloney req. Mary Maloney
12:10 For the sick and suffering req. Stephanie

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: Next meeting will be this Sunday December 15th after the 10AM Mass in the Rectory. 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: Sunday, after the 10:00 a.m. Family Mass in the Monsignor Nagle Parish Hall.

St. John’s in THE ADVOCATE:

150 years ago, or so:
December 22, 1865: Church Services. “The usual services will be held in the Roman Catholic Church on Christmas Day.”

80 years ago, or so:
December 19, 1931: EAGLE BADGES FOR THREE BOY SCOUTS. “Three Scouts of Troop 22, Boy Scouts of America, received their Eagle badges, and the troop was presented with its new charter at a parents’ night rally held in St. John’s Parochial School hall last night. The Eagle badge is the highest award any Scout may receive. The Scouts receiving this badge were Thomas Tunney, Everett Mastrich and Thomas Kerrigan.”

70 years ago, or so:
December 21, 1945: Catholic Church Plans Midnight Mass For Christmas Eve. “With the Most Rev. Henry J. O’Brien, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Hartford, granting permission for the churches of the diocese to celebrate midnight Masses on Christmas Eve, Stamford’s Catholic churches rearranged Christmas Day schedules to include the first midnight Masses since 1938. Masses will be said on Christmas Day at the following hours: St. John’s: 7,8,9,10 and 11.”

55 years ago, or so:
December 18, 1963: St. Anne’s Society During 60 Years Has Given Baskets. “Mrs. John Moore, president, presided at a meeting of the St. Anne Society of St. John’s Catholic Church, when plans were made for the Christmas charitable work of the Society. Mrs. Moore heads the committee to do this work, assisted by Mrs. Marie Henchel and Mrs. Robert Goldkopf. Since the organization’s start, more than 60 years ago, it has provided Christmas baskets for many needy and deserving families of the parish. It was reported that the fund-raising event held in November was very successful. The committee in charge of packing clothes for the Bishop’s Relief clothes drive reported more than 30 boxes shipped from the parish.”

25 years ago, or so:
December 18, 1986: Vandals batter church creche. “In the front yard of the parish house of St. John’s Roman Catholic Church in Stamford yesterday morning, a statue of the Virgin Mary lay cracked in half. The ceramic baby Jesus was missing two fingers. One of the Three Kings had lost an arm. Sometime between midnight and 6 a.m. yesterday, the crèche was vandalized. “I was upset and distraught” said Rev. William Nagle, pastor of St. John’s on Atlantic Street for almost 14 years.”

Bethlehem
-Fr. Terry Walsh

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the re-constitution of the Order of St. Bridget of Sweden, as well as the Year of Faith pronounced by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, the Bridgettine Sisters at the Convent in Darien prepared a pilgrimage to the Holy Land last November. Friends of the Sisters joined the pilgrimage our number grew to twenty. Our overnight flight to Tel Aviv landed Saturday afternoon and we went straight to Jerusalem. Upon entering the City of David, the city lights lit up the Domes and the Wall surrounding the Old City stretched around our view. Our pilgrimage began and ended with Holy Mass at the Convent in the “City of Peace.” And yet, in these tumultuous times, peace in the Holy Land seems so fragile. Barrier Walls have been constructed around the City, as well as in various other places around the country, that serve to divide territory between Israelites and Palestinians. The Israelites call it the Envelop of Jerusalem, protecting the City from harm, while the Palestinians refer to it as the Wall of Shame, dividing families. Even in the Christian Churches, there is division among the Catholic, Orthodox, and Armenian Churches, dividing up the “territory” within the Church itself. After Mass, we made our way to Bethlehem. “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern Israel”(Matthew 2:6).

We arrived at the Checkpoint guarded by soldiers wielding their machine guns. As we crossed the threshold into Palestinian territory, there was a notable decline in economic prosperity. Many have taken flight from Bethlehem in recent years. I quietly wondered what sort of “check-points” our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph might have had to endure as they made their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census decree by Caesar Augustus. Did they have enough food to sustain them throughout their long and difficult journey? Were they able to have adequate shelter? Were the people along the way as cold-hearted as those they would later encounter in Bethlehem? Indeed, after their long and difficult journey from Nazareth, Mary and Joseph were greeted with the frosty Wall of Spiritual Poverty, closely guarded by uncaring people who were suffering the effects of hard-heartedness. Although Mary was very near her time to give birth, all they heard was “No room at the Inn!” Little did the people of Bethlehem know that the One who came to conquer the hard heartedness of mankind was in their midst. Little did they realize he would be born into the world right here in Bethlehem so that cold hearts could become warm, so that love and kindness could, with the help of His grace, wash away fear and despair and thereby heal spiritual infirmity. The same seems true today. Our Lord has come, He is in our midst, yet the walls of spiritual poverty abound. Bethlehem reminds us that we need to prepare a worthy place for him in the Inn of our hearts and humbly beg Him to take up residence in our souls and so heal us.

We traveled a short distance along the hillside down into a valley of fields where we arrived at the Chapel constructed in the midst of several excavated caves, which had served as shelters for the humble shepherds and their sheep during the time of our Lord. It was here in these fields that man first heard the joyful exaltation: “Gloria in excelsis Deo!” St. Luke writes: “And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch in the night. And the angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid…for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”( 2:8-11). And there we were, standing in this Holy Place, pondering the joy of the Shepherds. Indeed, the Prince of Peace had burst into the world to give life. He teaches us that we must be “poor in spirit”- acknowledging our spiritual poverty – in order to receive the healing graces that come to us most abundantly through sacramental Confession and Eucharist. We gathered in the Chapel in the Shepherd’s Field for Mass and sang the Hymn of Praise, “Gloria in excelsis Deo!” in the very place where it was first proclaimed. We sang with the angels, as Jesus was about to become present in the Eucharist upon the Altar here in the fields of Bethlehem, “The City of Bread”!

After Mass, we made our way up to the birthplace of our Lord, just as the Shepherds had done after they were greeted by the angels on that first Christmas night. The Church of the Nativity was built over the Cave where Mary gave birth to Jesus. We entered the Church through the “Door of Humility” – a small doorway that could only be entered on foot with one’s head bowed. It was a gentle reminder to bow one’s heart in this Holy place. We joined the long line of pilgrims who patiently waited to enter the Grotto and venerate the very place where Jesus was born. There we knelt and prayed for a few moments, contemplating how the whole world changed the moment Jesus was born in this sacred place. There was a smaller niche adjacent to it where the manger was kept. Imagine the Blessed Virgin Mary kneeling there, adoring her son. “And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn”(Luke 2:7). Jesus has come to feed the world – if only man would receive Him.

As twilight approached, we visited the Bridgettine Convent in Bethlehem and from their rooftop we gazed upon the City, wondering when the walls of division would finally be conquered.