For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday March 2, 2014

Pastor’s Corner: Lent is much more than a time of increased piety or resolutions designed to break bad habits or to lose weight. Lent is the Church’s annual season of struggle against Satan. That struggle began at the beginning of time when we turned our backs on God in disobedience in Eden. The final struggle began over 2,000 years ago when the eternal Son of God, creator of the universe, took on human flesh of the Virgin Mary and was born in Bethlehem. The Creator became a creature to free the only creature made in His image and likeness-US-from the power of Satan and from the sway of his most potent weapon, death. As one of the prayers for Christmas Mass reads: “Hasten, Lord our God, do not delay, and free us by Your power from the devil’s fury.” What is “the devil’s fury”? Moviegoers might imagine a scene from The Exorcist, or some other cinematographic special effects. The devil’s fury is subtler and more boringly mundane than anything Hollywood might imagine. The devil’s fury is daily temptation, which Satan ratchets up as we seek to fight it off by the practice of virtue. By falling into sin, Satan wins, and his hatred of God bears fruit in the eternal damnation of God’s image and likeness—US.

Lent is the Church’s great annual spiritual exercise with its focal point on the mystery of Christ’s redemptive mercy, foretold in the Old Testament, realized in the earthly life of Jesus, especially in His Passion, death, resurrection and ascension; and which is realized in us by our worthy and frequent reception of the sacraments, especially Confession and Holy Communion, and then in prayer, fasting, acts of mercy, spiritual reading, and a more intense practice of the Christian virtues in our daily lives. In other words, we open ourselves more readily to Christ’s transforming grace by living a more intense Christian life. Lent is the time to begin anew to live that more intensely Christian life. According to Saint Peter Chrysologus, “Three things sustain faith, devotion, and virtue,”. . . “prayer, fasting, and mercy to others. Prayer knocks at God’s door, fasting wins us what we need, and mercy is the hand cupped to receive . . . Let him who prays also fast; let him who fasts have pity on others; let him who wishes to be heard hear those who ask his help, for such a person alone has God’s ear whose own ear is not closed to the needs of others.” [Sermon 43]

How to begin? Don’t make crazy resolutions that you’ll never keep. Decide to set sin aside, instead, and to open your heart to doing God’s will as the most important guide for all you do in your daily life. First: go to Confession and use this first week of Lent to meditate on the Passion of Christ: look at His sufferings for what they are—Jesus suffering to save you from Satan and eternal death. Another of Christ’s saints describes it in these words: “There is no greater stimulus to love our enemies [in which fraternal charity finds its perfect form] than the contemplation of the marvelous patience of Him who . . . offered His face to be spat upon and endured the other torments of His Passion . . . Did anyone hear those sweet and loving words of Christ from the Cross: ‘Father forgive them. . ?” Blessed Abbot Aelred continues, “If you are to love yourself correctly, you must not yield to carnal pleasure, by which is meant self-centeredness. If you do not to yield to carnal pleasure, center your affections on the loving person of the Lord.” [The Mirror of Charity, 3]. Start your first week of Lent by reading and meditating on the Passion narratives in the four Gospels. Read some each day, and think about them, and pray for a few minutes daily in gratitude to God for thinking so highly of you, personally, that He sent Christ to die for you. Express that gratitude in acts of charity, fasting, prayer and penance.

Avoiding and ignoring God isolates us, making us turn inward. In the Inferno, the first section of his masterpiece the Divine Comedy, Dante proposes that the lowest circle of Hell is a frozen wasteland—perpetual February—with Satan at the very lowest point of Hell, frozen in solid ice, forever. He’s entirely paralyzed by ice; isolated from everything and everyone, his mind seethes with frustration over his defeat by God and his eternal punishment. Having refused to serve God in Heaven, Satan rules in a Hell which is its own punishment—his perpetual hatred and frustration producing only a repulsive bloody froth, seeping from his tear ducts and mouth for all eternity. Sin isolates us from God and from one another, because by using others in sin, we strike at God.

My suggestion to avoid this fate—turning in on yourself, seething in frustration, isolated from everyone because of the ice and frigid temperatures of your heart and soul, during these 40 days of Lent–is to do a few things:

–Practice charity: get out of your house and help someone: a relative or neighbor who needs a little assistance. Or, you might even volunteer at the Stamford Senior Center on Summer Street: Give them a call at 324-6584. You don’t need any training or specialized skills. Please identify yourself as a parishioner of St. John’s and that I asked you to call;

–Volunteer at the New Covenant House of Hospitality, 90 Fairfield Avenue, behind the Yerwood Center at 964-8228. This “soup kitchen”, run by the Diocese of Bridgeport, is always looking for those who want to help.

–Read a little Scripture: try the Gospel of Luke and Saint Paul’s Letters to the Thessalonians. Both great reads that should inspire gratitude to God for His generosity.

These are a few ideas to get you out of yourself during these last bleak weeks of winter during Lent. Forget the groundhog, and concentrate on doing what you were designed to do: act more like God in charity and be grateful to Our Lord for his generosity. So, buck up your spirits: despite the weather, God has done a lot of hard work to make sure you don’t end up in that perpetual February freeze of Hell. Bring some warmth into someone else’s life by volunteering, and some warmth into your own by reading about God’s love for you in Scripture and praying daily.
—Msgr. DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: James Meadows II, Karin Fahey, Margaret Potolicchio, Ruth Coyle, James Tymon, 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.

Please pray for those who have recently died: Virginia Donaghue, Marcel Gedeon, Antoinette Rubino, James Hale, Edna Campbell, Joseph Pavia, Elmer Lipinski, William Henry, Sr., Louis Chiapetta, Ann R. DiGiovanni, Patricia Morris, Jean Fusaro, Frederick Intrieri, Jody Ann O’Brien.

Special Energy Collection . . . The second collection today will be the Special Energy Collection to help pay the Higher Energy and Fuel Costs for the parish. Your generosity is appreciated.

Our Lady’s Altar Votive Light: +Salvatore DeRosa req. Joan and John Kronk

Monday Evening Holy Hour: Monday nights 7-8:00 pm for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Rosary in the Basilica. Next Holy Hour, Monday, March 3rd.

ASH WEDNESDAY: March 5th is the beginning of Lent. The usual Mass schedule will be followed: 8 am Mass and 12:10 pm Mass, and ashes imposed. Also, for those who cannot make Mass, Ashes will be offered beginning at 7 a.m. , 1:00 pm, and 7:30 pm in the Basilica. Ash Wednesday is NOT a holy day of obligation. HOWEVER,  ASHES WILL NOT BE GIVEN OUT AT THE RECTORY. The rules of fasting and abstinence apply on Ash Wednesday: those aged 14-60 years old, unless ill or suffering from a medical condition. No meat is to be eaten, and only one full meal, and NO snacking between meals. This is a simple way to begin actually doing penance for our past sins. All Fridays during Lent are days of abstinence from eating meat for those 14 years and older, unless sickness or medical conditions prevent this.

Confessions During Lent: Besides the usual daily schedule, Confessions will also be heard each Tuesday during Lent: 7pm– 9pm in the Basilica.

Stations of the Cross: Fridays during Lent at 4:00pm in English, in the Basilica.

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: March 12th.

KENTUCKY DERBY: Save the Date!! May 3rd: our annual parish fundraising event: the simulcast of the Derby in the Monsignor Nagle Hall, 4-7pm: outstanding food and drink, raffles, a live auction, and great fun. Come join us for the Kentucky Derby at St. John’s. All proceeds for the repainting and repair of the Rectory.

Weekly Sunday collection:
Sunday February 23, 2014 $ 14,294.98
Sunday February 24, 2013 $ 11,631.97
“I ask you one thing: do not tire of giving to God, but do not give your leftovers.”
—Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Mar. 9th, Sunday Readings: Gn 2:7-9; 3:1-7; Rom 5:12-19 or 5:12, 17-19; Mt 4:1-11.

Annual Bishop’s Appeal: Has begun. Many parishioners have already received a letter from Bishop Lori. Saint John’s annual goal, set by the diocese, is $87,000. The funds collected for the Bishop are used for the numerous charitable and educational works of the Diocese. Please be generous.

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

STAMFORD SYMPHONY: Will perform Handel’s Messiah in our Basilica on
Saturday, December 6, 2014: Tickets go on sale in March ONLY THROUGH THE STAMFORD SYMPHONY PATRON SERVICE: 203-325-1407, ext. 10.

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 seeks volunteers: Support women with unplanned pregnancies to bring their babies to term, providing pregnancy tests, connecting women with medical, financial, legal and other resources. Flexibe schedules; training 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).

SAINT GABRIEL PARISH LECTURE SERIES FOR LENT: CATHOLIC IDENTITY:RENEWING OUR APPRECIATION – On four Monday evenings (March 10th,17th, 24th, and 31st) from 7:30 -8:30 p.m. in the Saint Gabriel parish hall, Dr. Joan Kelly will lead us on a tour of our Catholic Faith Tradition.  Together we will explore the wealth of our glorious Catholic Heritage.

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, March 24th.

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, March 1, 2014
4:00 +Lucia and Antonio Tana req. Leon Taricani
Sunday, March 2, 2014
7:30 Deceased members of the Terenzio Family
10:00 +Dorothy Wargo Birthday Remembrance req. Arthur J. Wargo
12:00 +Anna Young req. Family
5:00 +Frank Alagia
6:00 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
Monday, March 3, 2014
8:00 +Joseph Peter Young and Anna Young req. Joseph and Agnes Kung
12:10 +Yriel Charles and Amelize Merisier Charles req. Marie Florestal
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
8:00 Sister Ellen Mary CSJ Birthday req. Marie Carr
12:10 Special Intentions Douglas C. Lovell req. Jagodzinski Family
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
8:00 +Margaret M. Timon req. Tom Timon
12:10 +Mr. Philocres Pericles and Mrs. Venicia Chere Enfant req. Marie Florestal
Thursday, March 6, 2014
8:00 +Philip Murphy req. Monsignor Stephen M. DiGiovanni
12:10 +Jean Galasso req. Jagodzinski Family
Friday, March 7, 2014
8:00 +Eduardo Nino req. Steve Terenzio
12:10 Forgotten Souls in Purgatory req. Fabiola C.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
8:00 +Monsignor William Nagle req. Steve Terenzio
12:10 +Mr. and Mrs. Naissance Jean-Guillaume req. Grandchildren

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:

130 years ago, or so:
March 5, 1886: “An interesting description of St. John’s R.C. church, written by Mr. John Ennis of Stamford, appeared in the Port Chester Journal last week.”

FROM THE PORT CHESTER JOURNAL:
February 25, 1886: STAMFORD’S NEW CATHOLIC CHURCH: “For the past 15 years the passers-by on Atlantic Street in Stamford have noticed a massive pile of granite, slowly taking shape until the outlines of a beautiful Gothic structure, named St. John’s Catholic Church of Stamford, took form. The Church is now nearly finished. The visitor on entering is most favorably impressed with the pure and chaste style of architecture displayed throughout. Commencing with the finely proportioned pillars surmounted with beautifully carved capitals, the eye follow the graceful lines of the Arcade arches and clerestory. Still above these spring from corbals the vault ribbing of the grained ceiling of transept and nave intersecting with richly carved bosses. The sanctuary is encased by a magnificent Chancel-Arch and the Altar is a marvel of the artisan’s skill, in marble and Mexican onyx. The transept gallery fronts it, finished in oak after the style of the fourteenth century. For Church building, red and white oak have no equal. The choir gallery front is a grand specimen of the sculptor’s art. In bas relief are cherubs from Raphael’s Madonna and, with quatre foil panels for a background, are grouped ancient musical instruments. “What beautiful windows!” is the general expression. They must be seen to be appreciated as must all works of art. What strikes beholders of the interior most favorably, especially if they are of a refined nature, or lovers of beautiful architecture, is its purity of design and freedom from cheap and too often vulgar ornamentation, better suited for the play house than to a Temple for the worship of God. It is safe to say that even in the Eastern States, which are noted for the beautiful Churches, that St. John’s Catholic Church of Stamford, is the fairest gem of all, and the only one copied on a modified scale from the world-famous Milan Cathedral.”

90 years ago, or so:
March 4, 1924: ASH WEDNESDAY SERVICES IN STAMFORD CHURCHES. “Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and it marks in the Catholic Church a season or penitence. In St. John’s Catholic Church, there will be a blessing and distribution of ashes at 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. and in the afternoon, after instructions for the children.”

The Stations of the Cross
– Fr. Terry Walsh

We begin the season of Lent on Wednesday. We begin a journey with our Lord. It is the Way of the Cross. It is a season of reflection, meditation, and action. We reflect on our lives and consider how we are doing in light of the Gospel and the call to holiness. We meditate on the Paschal Mystery of our Lord to assist us in this reflection. Jesus said, ‘Pick up your Cross and follow Me.” The way of the Cross is ultimately the way of love, sacrificial love. And so, through our prayer life we uncover the areas of our heart that need healing and nourishment; those areas that thirst for a replenishment of grace to build us up so that we may more generously bear the burden of the Cross. And at the same time we recall our Lord’s consoling words of encouragement…”Let not your hearts be troubled’ and ‘Be not afraid’ and ‘My yoke is easy and my burden light.’ Upon thoughtful meditation of the suffering of the Innocent Victim, the Pure Victim, the Holy Victim, our Lord Jesus Christ, we are able to unite our sufferings to His and draw graces from His pierced side. Indeed, He nourishes us more perfectly when we receive Him in the Eucharist, the fruit of His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. And, the “measure” of the grace depends so much on our desire. If we seek a little we will receive a little. If we seek oceans, we will receive oceans. A person who prays is obviously exhibiting a greater desire for God—a more personal relationship. One who prays is clearly exhibiting faith, hope, trust, ultimately love. The mere effort to pray opens the gates of the heart and the waters of grace pour in.

Prayer is the key. Our prayer life will naturally grow and change as we mature in the spiritual life. We start with small steps (at whatever age we begin a prayer life). The Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be. The next step may be to have a “conversation” with God or with the Blessed Mother. It is as simple as letting God or our Lady know what is on our mind and in our heart—our various cares and concerns, our needs. It is also a time for us to praise and thank God—for a million graces we receive each day. Perhaps the next step would be to begin reading the Scriptures and pondering God’s love for us, written on each page. We might ask ourselves ‘How does this Gospel Passage relate to me? What is God teaching me about my relationship with Him as I read the Psalms? What is He revealing to me about the journey of my life as I read the story of the Exodus’ and so on. Our prayer life might then enter into a deeper meditation on the mysteries of our Lord’s Life, Death, and Resurrection as we walk with Mary and ask Her to lead us with Her Motherly Hands of love in the Heart of Her Son through our daily Rosary. How wonderful to be led by the Hands of Mary—She who loves us so tenderly and so perfectly that She consented to the death of Her only Son for the sake of all of us. After all, we are Her “Spiritual Children” by virtue of the fact that we are Baptized into the Body of Her Son, that is, the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church. Mary is the “Mother of the Church.” Our prayer life will grow by leaps and bounds when we ask our Blessed Mother to assist us.

Remember, Mary experienced the sorrow of the Passion of Her Son spiritually. Her pain and suffering was beyond measure. As we approach Lent, a time when we draw closer to our Lord through a more thoughtful reflection on His Passion, allow our Blessed Mother to assist you in your reflection. Allow Mary to lead you to a greater understanding of sacrificial love. Allow Her to lead you along the path of a more faithful willingness to embrace your Cross. Consider joining us on the Fridays throughout Lent and way the Way of the Cross (4:00 pm). Take the time to visit the Basilica on Tuesdays during Lent for the evening Confessions (or any day before the Mass). Perhaps consider reflecting on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary each day during Lent. Reading the Passion Narratives from the 4 Gospels is a particularly good way to meditate on the depth of love our Lord has for us—each and every one of us.

Whatever you decide to do this Lent, ask for the Grace to do it well. Ask, our Lord tells us, and you will receive. Whatever you ask for in your effort to become more like Him, He will grant. Do not be afraid of the Cross. Embrace it, for love of the One who loves you without measure. He will help you—and so will our Blessed Mother. Indeed, all of Heaven surrounds us and is interceding for us. We simply need to humbly ask for the graces we need.