For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Jan 19, 2014

Pastor’s Corner: Sex and Money! They sell! And anyone with access to the media knows that sex is savvy marketing and that it is publicly touted as essential to human daily living: that everyone must have sexual relations with some one or something on a regular basis—just like regularly brushing one’s teeth. In our world, sex has been degraded; people have been debased, and, both people and sex are now simply tools to be used, to get what we want; to sell what we have. Anyone can be used for anything you want; we are mere commodities, at least in the common wisdom of the marketplace. People exist to be used as things, especially if money is involved. Coldly put, but true in today’s reality.

All the more reason to highlight an upcoming Feast day. On January 21st the Church commemorates the martyrdom of a young girl, Saint Agnes, who died during the last persecution of the Church by the Roman Empire, under the Emperor Diocletian, in 303 A.D.

Agnes was 12 years old [marrying age in 4th century Rome], the beautiful daughter of wealthy noble parents. While “her beauty and riches excited the young noblemen of the first families in Rome”, as Dom Alban Butler put it, Agnes responded repeatedly that she had one spouse already: Christ, to whom she had vowed her virginity and life. Frustrated in their pursuit of the girl’s wealth and beauty, these young, wealthy, socially advanced and adept young men, angered that Agnes was unwilling to satisfy their lusts for power, money or sex, reported to the governor that she was a Christian, an enemy of Rome. Her suitors and the governor, knowing the family and the girl, thought that the mere suggestion of a trial and torture would be sufficient to wear Agnes down, so she would relent and marry herself and her fortune to one of them. Yet, to the consternation of all, neither pleasant words, nor threats nor even the sight of instruments of torture could weaken her resolve to be faithful to her Heavenly spouse: “you may”, she said, “stain your sword with my blood, but will never be able to profane my body consecrated to Christ.”

There was more going on here than simply a young girl protecting her virtue for Christ. Like today, sex and money are all too often closely linked. The Emperor Diocletian put a new spin on his persecution of Catholics: if a noble or official of the Imperial Court was found practicing Christianity, his fortune, lands and all possessions could be confiscated by the state, unless he publicly disavowed Christ. In Agnes’ case, that meant that her personal fortune could be confiscated by—the local Imperial officials, unless she broke her vow of virginity to Christ and denied her faith in public. If her suitors could not succeed in depriving her of virtue or fortune, the state officials could. It was now financially worthwhile to kill Christians.

Saint Ambrose continues the story,

“Was her little body really large enough to receive the sword’s thrust? She was hardly big enough to be struck, yet was great enough to overcome—and then at an age when little girls cannot bear a mother’s stern look and think a needle’s jab a mortal wound. Agnes did not tremble when in the executioner’s bloody hand nor cringe at the harsh sound of chains. She did not know yet how to die, but was ready. Dragged to the pagan altar, she extended her hands to Christ in the flames of the pagan sacrifice, and turned the sacrilegious fire into a victor’s banner. She offered her neck and hands to the fetters, but they were too big for her tiny limbs.” [On Virgins, Book 1]

Finally, Agnes was led outside the City and beheaded: she courageously bent her head, praying for her persecutors, while the executioner, terrified and trembling, dispatched her with one stroke. From the moment of her burial, her tomb became a site of pilgrimage, embellished after the Peace of the Church in 313 by the Emperor Constantine, who built a small basilica over her tomb on the Via Nomentana.

For centuries since, each January 21st the pope or his representative would bless two white lambs: each crowned with red and white roses, after which the lambs were taken away to the convent of Saint Cecilia, another virgin martyr. Once grown, their fleece is shorn, and is woven into a number of pallia: liturgical stoles of white wool with black crosses, which are placed within the Tomb of Saint Peter in the Vatican. The Holy Father gives these to newly named metropolitan archbishops on June 29th, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, as a sign that their authority comes from Peter through his successor the Pope, and that apostolic authority to preach and teach is linked with the virtue of purity of personal life, both symbolized by the wool of the lambs blessed at the tomb of Saint Agnes. Virtue and Faith: essentially linked. Saint John, our parish patron, relates how highly virginity for Christ was held in the early Church: in the Book of Revelation, virgins are the companions of the Lamb of God, following Him wherever He goes [Rev xiv, 1-5].

Sex and money sell! But sexual relations outside a marriage of a man and a woman lead to disastrous unhappiness: because, we use one another for personal pleasure, and thus debase one another. All we become are things to be used, commodities to be traded, and then tossed away. By doing this, we cheapen ourselves and we cheapen sexual love. For, we are not things to be used: we are the Image of God. It was true then, in the days of St. Agnes, and today. Let us teach our children to value purity and to practice it in daily life: preferring, as did Saint Agnes, to please Christ by loving virtue, and find true happiness, rather than using sexuality for personal gain or pleasure. If we try actively to please God, we will never harm anyone, because we will not use anyone as a thing or object, for all are the Image of God.
—Msgr. DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Terence Dervishi, Antoinette Rubino, Andres Ferrer Sr., Val McIntosh, Pasqualina Bruzzese, Kathy Raggio, Elaine Mellace, 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: Edna Campbell, Joseph Pavia, Elmer Lipinski, 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, January 20th.

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 leads our study of The Book of Isaiah, on Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8 pm in the Rectory. Bring your Bible. Next meeting: January 29th.

Saint Gabriel Church: on Tuesday January 21st, at 7:30 PM, will celebrate a Sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, (Latin Mass according to the 1962 Missal), for the Feast of Saint Agnes. Followed by refreshments in the Parish Meeting Room. Please  join us!

March for Life:  This Wednesday, January 22, 2014. A bus from the Diocese will be stopping at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist at 6:00am.  The bus will leave Washington, D.C. at 4:00pm to return to Connecticut.  The fee for the bus is $75. Checks can be made payable to: Office for Pastoral Services and mailed to: Diocese of Bridgeport, Respect Life Ministry Office, 238 Jewett Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06606. Please contact me if you have any questions, Maureen Ciardiello, Office of Pastoral Services, 203-416-1445, mciardiello@dibpt.org.

Weekly Sunday collection:
Sunday January 12, 2014 $ 10,551.00
Sunday January 13, 2013 $ 10,263.74
“I ask you one thing: do not tire of giving to God, but do not give your leftovers.”
—Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Jan. 26th, Sunday Readings: Is 8:23-9:3; 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17 Mt 4:12-23 or 4:12-17

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

Electronic Giving – Offertory Donations Made Easy…Consider using your credit card to make your weekly or monthly donation to St. John’s. Easier for you, and less costly for the parish than the printing and mailing of weekly envelopes, credit card giving automatically sends your weekly offering to the Basilica of St. John’s. Call the parish secretary (324-1553, ext. 21).

Trinity Catholic Middle School: Open House on Saturday, February 1, 2014 from 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. in our building at 948 Newfield Avenue, Stamford. The school is located on the same campus as Trinity Catholic High School. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet the Administration and Teachers, tour the facility, learn about the curriculum and have all of your questions answered.

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.

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, January 18, 2014
4:00 +Rev. Frank Sanfelippo – 1st Anniversary req. Louise Munro
Sunday, January 19, 2014
7:30 +Iris Alneida req. Glenda Treadway
10:00 +Katherine Weiss req. Amy and Michael Ciffone
12:00 +Maria Preziosi 21st Anniversary and +Catherine Morris 30th Anniversary req. your children,
grandchildren and great grandchildren
5:00 +Frank Alagia
6:00 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
Monday, January 20, 2014
8:00 Souls in Purgatory
12:10 +Martin Begadon req. Ann Lepore
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
8:00 +Kathy Robustelli req. Steve Terenzio
12:10 +Mary Rinaldi req. Tim and Denise Grier
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
8:00 In Honor of the Sacred Heart
12:10 +Jarlaith Murphy req. Ann Lepore
Thursday, January 23, 2014
8:00 +Eileen Carr req. Marie Carr
12:10 +Karen Eatmon Harrigan req. Janice Pasqua
Friday, January 24, 2014
8:00 +Kathy Robustelli req. Frank Marchetti and Family
12:10 Forgotten Souls in Purgatory req. Fabiola C.
Saturday, January 25, 2014
8:00 +Mrs. Germaine Merisier and Jean Philippe Pericles req. Marie F. Florestal
12:10 +Bryan Nash Gill req. Frank Marchetti and Family

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: Sunday, after the 10:00 a.m. Family Mass in the Monsignor Nagle Parish Hall.

St. John’s in THE ADVOCATE:

145 years ago, or so:
January 22, 1869: “The Catholic Fair, which commenced in Seely’s Hall on Tuesday evening is, we learn, a decided success so far. The Hall is tastefully decorated with flags, etc. and the various tables are arranged with much neatness. An unusually large number of valuable articles are to be disposed of by lottery, the drawing to take place Saturday evening. Among these are a magnificent clock, gold watches, oil paintings-one worth two hundred dollars– a gold mounted revolver and other articles too numerous to mention. The temperance society visited the Fair in a body on Wednesday afternoon and the school children yesterday. Last evening the Stamford Serenaders contributed to the amusement of those present at the Fair, and this performance is to be repeated Saturday night. From present appearances we have no doubt the Fair will be a success financially and otherwise.”

100 years ago, or so:
January 25, 1911: Priests’ Salaries Increased. “It is noticed in the annual reports of the Roman Catholic churches which are read with widespread interest throughout the State, that salaries of the priests appear at $1,000 instead of $800 as formerly. In response to an inquiry it was learned that Bishop Nilan has raised the salaries of the pastors throughout the diocese to $1,000. The salaries of the curates remain the same as heretofore at $500.”

75 years ago, or so:
January 21, 1936: NOVENA STARTS AT ST. JOHN’S CHURCH. “A large attendance of parishioners of St. John’s R.C. Church marked both the afternoon and evening exercises of the Novena to honor and imitate St. Anthony, begun, yesterday, under the direction of the Rev. Francis X. Downey, S. J., of the Stamford Catholic Library. Father Downey asked parishioners to apply the works and life of St. Anthony of 700 years ago to everyday lives; to make of their daily labors and prayers, that others may benefit, a sacrifice offered to God. Special prayers for the intercession of the patron saint are said at the Novena exercises.”

50 years ago, or so:
January 21, 1963: St. John’s Church Societies Prepare Fund Raising Event. “The St. Ann Society and the Holy Name Society of St. John’s Church are making plans for a fund raising event at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 384 North State St. At a recent meeting, the Rt. Rev. Msgr. N. P. Coleman, P.A, V.F., pastor, was named honorary chairman.”

Pilgrimage to “The Eldest Daughter of the Church”
St. Francis de Sales –Feast Day January 24th

– Fr Terry Walsh

I recently visited a few of these wonderful Saints who have had a great impact on my life and in particular, upon my priesthood. Our pilgrimage to France, the “Eldest Daughter of the Church”, gave me the opportunity to say thanks and to ask for their continued intercession. We would begin our journey in Geneva and make our way to Paris, driving from one Holy Shrine to another along the way. The first streaks of dawn seemed to cast a beautiful glow upon the canopy of fog trapped between the various mountains beneath our wings as our flight began its slow descent into Switzerland. Green fields emerged from the blanket of fog in the lower regions of the French Alps, home to small country hamlets scattered here and there. It all seemed so peaceful. My thoughts drifted to the days when Saint Francis de Sales (1567 – 1622) had ministered to a deeply fragmented population in the turbulent time of the Protestant Reformation. As Bishop of Geneva, he courageously engaged in the difficult spiritual and political waters of his time and was enormously successful in defending the truth of the faith. Indeed, his spiritual classics continue to benefit the faithful today, especially Introduction to the Devout Life and Treatise on the Love of God (available in our parish bookstore), along with a host of other great works. His pastoral zeal for souls was clearly evident through his tireless work. Indeed, he visited the 600 parishes of his diocese – on a mule. Moreover, he co-founded the Religious Community of the Sisters of the Visitation, along with the mystic, St. Jane Frances de Chantel. A widow and mother of six children, St. Jane was drawn to the contemplative life after she had provided for all her children. After Co-Founding the Sisters of the Visitation, St. Jane would establish an additional 87 new Monastic Communities of the Sisters of the Visitation over the course of 26 years. Four Hundred years later, the Sisters of the Visitation are thriving in Monasteries throughout the world. After landing in Geneva, we drove across the border to Annecy, France, to visit St. Francis and St. Jane. As I strolled through the medieval city along the narrow streets, I took the short 20 minute walk up to the Basilica of the Visitations which stands out like a beacon of light, nestled in the hills that overlook the beautiful old city beside the fifth largest lake in France. There in the sanctuary lie the mortal remains of St. Francis and St. Jane in glass coffins on display for public veneration very near the Altar Rail. One could easily touch a Rosary or Holy Card to them. They seemed just as approachable in death as they were in life, eager to help those seeking instruction in the ways of faith. The next day, we braved the winery conditions and drove to the little village known as Ars, home to the Patron Saint of Priests, St. John Vianney (1786 – 1859). As we made our way, I wondered how people managed to find the hidden hamlet in the 1800’s in their horse drawn carriages. We had difficulty with a map and a GPS that had us driving in circles. And yet, thousands upon thousands flocked to meet the Cure for spiritual direction. He would spend 16 to 18 hours a day hearing Confessions. Abbe Francis Trochu wrote a wonderful biography of his life: The Cure D’Ars. While it remains a very small village, there now stands a grand Basilica attached to the old Church. Many beautiful side altars line the interior and above one rests the remains of the Saint. The sacristan opened the Crypt for a glimpse of the Wooden altar upon which the Saint offered daily Mass and I was given the grace of examining his Chalice, marked with the scene of the Agony in the Garden. Later that afternoon, we continued our pilgrimage to Cluny for a brief stop at the ruins of the great Monastery established there that endured for nearly 1000 years and pondered the widespread influence this flourishing community had in spreading Catholicism throughout Europe, especially in the Middle Ages. We pushed onward to Paray-le-Monial in anticipation of our visit to one of the earliest Convents of the Sisters of the Visitation and home to the mystic, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647 – 1690), called “The Beloved Disciple of the Sacred Heart.” Through her mystical conversations with our Lord Jesus Christ, a renewed devotion to the Sacred Heart flourished, which would include the First Friday Devotion. I had visited this Holy Shrine as a seminarian a decade earlier and returned to say thank you for her life and inspiration and to ask for her continued intercession. It was here that Jesus revealed His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary. Before leaving Paray, we made a visit to her Spiritual Director, Saint Claude de la Colombière, at a Chapel a short walk from the Convent.

We spent our first day in Paris at Rue de Bac, the famous Shrine of the Miraculous Medal, where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Catherine Laboure in 1830 in the Chapel of the Convent of the Daughters of Charity Convent. Interestingly, fine shops now line the long city street and in the midst of the sea of consumerism, the narrow gate of the Convent blends into the buildings surrounding it; indeed, one could easily walk right by it without noticing the humble entrance. Yet, when the Gates open for visitors at the appropriate hours throughout the day, thousands flock to this place of prayer where numerous miracles have been attributed to the medal struck from the apparition: The Blessed Virgin Mary with graces flowing from her extended hands is surrounded by the words, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” And on the back of the medal, the Cross interwoven with the M, indicating the union of our Lady’s suffering with her Son. On the Hour, various groups would offer Mass, filling the Church with different languages throughout the day – another beautiful reminder of the universality of the Church and – the Communion of Saints. In the Sanctuary are entombed on either side the remains of Saint Catherine Laboure and Saint Louise de Marillac, Co-Founder of this Religious Order, The Daughters of Charity, along with St. Vincent De Paul. Sunday morning we began with a visit to Notre Dame as soon as the doors opened. The Cathedral is the very heart of Paris. After a rather brief stay, we boarded a train to the Normandy region to a town called Lisieux, home to the Little Flower, the great Doctor of the Church, St. Therese(1873-1897). She was only 24 when she died, having lived the cloistered life of a Carmelite from the tender age of 15. Before she died, she remarked, “I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth.” No doubt, she has been fulfilling that desire to the joy of many grateful hearts here on earth. She is a special Saint in the heart of priests. Of the many books written about her, I would recommend at least these two: Maurice and Therese by Bishop Patrick Ahern and of course the spiritual classic, The Story of a Soul, the spiritual reflections written by Therese. You don’t have to fly across the ocean to get to know the Saints. They are already in your heart – for they are with God. Why not get to know them? Read about them. Read what they have written. And without hesitation, ask for their intercession – especially at Mass – where they surround us and join us in our adoration and praise of Almighty God. You will come to truly know them and – love them.