For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday November 30, 2014

Pastor’s Corner:

Christmas lights are all up in Rome, just like home! There are other signs that Christmas is around the corner: the Roman Station churches for Advent.

Early in the 3rd century, the pope began visiting parish churches on each day of Lent, joined by vast crowds of the faithful, as a sign of penance. At the beginning of the 7th century Pope Gregory I begin a similar practice for Advent, in preparation for the celebrations commemorating the birth of the Savior.

The first station church on the first Sunday of Advent will be the Basilica of Saint Mary Major [Google it!]. It is the largest and oldest church in Rome dedicated to the Mother of God. Originally built in the 4th century, it honors the woman who cooperated with God so that the Eternal Son might take on human flesh to save humankind from eternal death. It houses one of the greatest relics of the Incarnation—God become a man: pieces of wood from the original manger. A manger is a feeding trough for farm-yard animals. God humbled Himself, not simply by becoming a creature, a man so that we might become God-like and live forever, but He further humbled Himself to be born of social nobodies—Mary and Jesus’ foster-father, Saint Joseph—who were poor, and could find no place for his birth but a stable in a cave. Humility is a Christmas virtue.

So, to begin Advent, the Church gathers at Saint Mary Major’s to offer Mass at the altar housing the manger in which God took on human flesh and was born a man. Yet, as you’ll see, the readings from the Mass on Sunday make no mention of Jesus’ birth. They are about the end of the world: “Be watchful, for you know not when the hour will come.” [Mark 13:33]. Our Lord says these words speaking about His Second Coming at the end of the world as judge. On Christmas Day, the Church in Rome returns to this same Basilica to hear the Gospel telling us that He became a man in Bethlehem, “In the fullness of time”. Jesus’ birth in that feeding trough for farm-animals was in “the fullness of time”, the beginning of the end of the world. Not a time of fear—unless we live without God—but a time of His mercy and His generosity in the flesh, for He has come, not to condemn, but to forgive—if we turn from our sins to Him, and lead a life of virtue and holiness, imitating Him who came to rescue us from eternal death.

Google “Saint Mary Major’s”, and check out the church: look at the beautiful 6th century mosaics of salvation history, and those in the apse, above the pope’s altar. And look at the relics of the manger: it is all real, this love that God has for you. So real, He became a man, so you could become like God: Really! Happy First Sunday of Advent. —Msgr. DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Victoria Campos, Nicholas DiMatteo, Barbara Wolf, Fernand Constant, Dominick Franco, Ro Clarke, Suzanne DePreta, Patrick and Rita Timon, Billy Therriault, Thomas Bernie, Harrie Humphreys, Diane Grant, Marie Augustin, Mary Churley, Lee Kaplan, Mary Bauer, Mary Rose Bauer, Paul Cavalli, Maggie Ward, Yvonne Saint Preuve, Sr. Anne-Marguerite, Peter Monks, Agnes Allen, Laureen Keenan, Bonnie and Dorothy Keyes, Ruth Coyle, Jacqueline Domingue, John Palumbo, Kristine Barron, Silvana Smith, Lena Cocchia, Christina Samon Ta-Chu.

Please pray for those who have recently died: Mark Cagle, Nicholas J. DiMatteo, Onide Jean-Guillaume, Canio V. Lorusso, John DePoli, Lilji Vasilji, Scott Therriault, Bill Detrick, Malcolm Pounds, Carol Sorbo, Bill Detrick, Stefano Pirolozzi, Teodoro DeBlasi, Erzulia Joseph, Dorothy Clements, Tommaso Marena, Martine Kelly, Arthur Sherry, Shirley Polcer, Joyce Considine, Mary Zimmerly, Pasqualina Bruzzese, Lucy Zabatta Carrigan, Jenny Gallagher, Ellen Green Tully, Thomas Hogan.

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, Dec. 1st.

St. Monica Latin Reading Group: Thursdays at 12:45 in the Rectory. We are beginning this Fall’s meetings with a review of Ecclesiastical Latin using Latin Grammar by Cora and Charles Scanlon. A basic reading ability in Latin is necessary. Please call the Rectory for information.

St. Monica Biblical Greek Grammar: Thursdays at 6:30pm. An intermediate grammar/reading class. We are translating the Gospel of John. Basic grammatical knowledge of Biblical Greek is required. Call the rectory for information.

RCIA: Classes meet Tuesdays at 7:00PM in the rectory. Anyone interested in becoming a Catholic, or adult Catholics wanting to receive 1st Communion or Confirmation, call the parish secretary (324-1553, ext. 21).

BAKE SALE – Our Christmas Bake Sale will be held the weekend of Dec. 13/14th. We need lots of you marvelous bakers & helpers as well, to volunteer that weekend. All your delicious goodies needed: Cookies, Cakes, Brownies, Cup Cakes, breads, & candies! Festively wrap your items, label, and include recipes if you wish! Proceeds will benefit the restoration of the Rectory. Please Contact: Scholastica Nabwire at nascho44@optonline.net or call her at 917-975-2896 (c) or 203-975-7311 (h), with information about your baked goods, if you have any questions or especially if you are able to volunteer to help for an hour or two at the Sale on either day. It’s good fun for a good cause!

Coffee Hour: No Coffee Hour this Sunday, Nov. 30th. Coffee Hour will resume Sunday Dec. 7th.

STAMFORD SYMPHONY: Will perform Handel’s Messiah in our Basilica next
Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 8pm. One Night Only! Limited number of tickets available. Call today 203-325-4466, or go to www.stamfordsymphony.org.

Bishop Caggiano will be Celebrating a Mass…….in Honor of Our Lady under the title of Guadalupe on Friday, December 12, 2014 at 7:00PM at Saint Augustine Cathedral. An invitation has been extended to all our Parish Community to attend the Mass in Bridgeport to Honor our Lady of Guadalupe!

Weekly Sunday collection:
Sunday November 23 2014 $ 9,314.00 (Parade)
Sunday November 24, 2013 $ 9,609.35 (Parade)

Please increase your Sunday offering by $5.00 each weekend.
“I ask you one thing: do not tire of giving to God, but do not give your leftovers.”
—Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

December 7th, Sunday Readings: Is 40:1-5, 9-11; 2 Pt 3:8-14; Mk 1:1-8.

Home Schooling Families: All ages are welcome. For information, please contact Bridget Bethray: bridget.bethray@gmail.com, or Janet Lancaster: jmlancaster@optonline.net,
or at 203-637-3301.

St John’s Flock (20’s and 30’s Young Adult Ministry): The Flock is a group of Catholic young adults in their 20s and 30s committed to strengthening community ties through regular meetings to growth in our faith, social events, and community service projects. The group meets regularly each month on the first Monday for Holy Hour and fellowship from 7c9, and third Sunday from 5-7 pm for the 5pm mass and fellowship. We also organize and participate in various service, social, and faith events. For more details or to sign up, please email Mary at saintjohnsflock@gmail.com.

Francis & Clare: Our High School Youth Group. Students interested in being part of the Teen Leadership Group contact Sue Kremheller, D.R.E. at: religioused@stjohnsstamford.com. Service Hours are available for those who have already been Confirmed.

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: seeks volunteers: Support women to bring their babies to term, providing pregnancy tests, connecting women with medical, financial, legal and other resources. Flexible schedules; training provided. Call 348-4355 or www.birthright.org.

Prayers in Rome: If you have any prayer intentions, or people you’d like me to pray for at the Tombs of the Apostles, Saints and Martyrs while I’m in Rome for the upcoming year, please drop a note to Cindy in the parish office; just one or two intentions at a time, please. God bless you, Msgr. DiGiovanni.

The Christmas Giving Tree: This year is to benefit pregnant women and their families served by the Sisters of Life. At Christmas we celebrate the gift of the Christ child and every birth of a child is a renewal of this greatest gift. Thank you for helping us to celebrate! The name of an item is written on each tag in the Christmas basket that would benefit the woman in need.  Please take a tag or tags as you are able purchase the item on the tag and take the gift to the rectory.  All items are due back to the parish by Tuesday December 16th.  Thank you so much for your generosity!

Job Seekers: 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 1st, 7:30PM Location: Cosi at 230 Tresser Blvd., Stamford (in front of the Stamford Mall).

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, November 29, 2014
4:00 +Elizabeth and John Coughlin req. Eileen Carpanzano and Family
Sunday, November 30, 2014
7:30 Father Audette req. Millie
10:00 Rev. Father Paul Check req. Scholastica and Andrew
12:00 +Dennis Oliveira req. Lilian and Alvina Ramos
5:00 +George B. Cooper
6:00 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
Monday, December 1, 2014
8:00 A. Sawyer and Family
12:10 +Nelson and Monica Filipi req. daughter Anna
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
8:00 +Laura Pascale req. Anna and Gerry Gerhard
12:10 +Frank Donatucci req. Pinto Family
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
8:00 +Margaret M. Timon req. Tom Timon
12:10 +Scott Bailey req. Laura and John Pascale
Thursday, December 4, 2014
8:00 Souls in Purgatory req. Maria Trivino
12:10 Diane Strain req. Josephine Languedoc
Friday, December 5, 2014
8:00 +Julius Sebestyan Family req. Peter Sebastian
12:10 +Lady Madeline Shapland req. Charles and Ana Paternina
Saturday, December 6, 2014
8:00 In Honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus req. Maria Trivino
12:10 NO 12:10PM MASS (Stamford Symphony setup)

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 meet 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. Meetings are held twice a month in the Church Hall.

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 young men, 6th-8thgrades. Anne Marie 203-324-1553, x21.

St. Maria Goretti Society: For the spiritual formation of , young ladies,6th-8thgrades:Anne Marie 203-324-1553 x21.

Holy Hour: on Monday Nights, 7pm—8 pm. Adoration, Holy Rosary, and Benediction. All are welcome!

The Legion of Mary: Wednesday Evenings: 7:30 pm ’till 9:00 pm in the Msgr. Nagle Hall. All are welcome.

St. Monica Institute for Patristic Studies: —Latin Patristic Reading Group: Thursday afternoons in the rectory: basic reading ability required. Please call the rectory for information.

Intermediate Studies in Biblical Greek: Intermediate Grammar: Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm in a private home. Please call the office for more information.

Coffee Hour: No Coffee Hour this Sunday, Nov. 30th. Will resume Sunday Dec. 7th.

St. John’s in THE ADVOCATE:

135 years ago, or so:
Dec. 2, 1880: “The exhibition by the pupils of St. John’s R. C. School, given in the Town Hall, Thanksgiving night, was a very satisfactory performance. There was a very large attendance, and the audience appeared greatly to appreciate the programme of good things which had been prepared for their amusement and gratification. The management of so many children on the stage and the excellent manner in which the various musical and dramatic pieces were rendered, reflected credit alike upon pupils and preceptors.”

100 years ago, or so:
Dec. 2,1907: To Be Ordained to Priesthood. “Patrick Connors, a well-known Stamford young man, who was once a member of the Advocate mechanical force, will be ordained to the Catholic priesthood in Montreal at the ordinations which will take place at Christmastime. He will celebrate his first Mass in Stamford on Christmas morning.”

75 years ago, or so:
Dec. 4, 1937: Frances Anderson Louis Clapes Wed. “Miss Frances M. Anderson, daughter of Mrs. Anna Anderson of 70 Stone St., was married to Louis Clapes, son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Clapes of 70 Virgil St. The ceremony took place in St. John’s Catholic Church, Thanksgiving day. Since their return from a short wedding trip, the couple have made their home at 70 Stone Street.” (EDITOR’S NOTE: Louis Clapes was Mayor of Stamford from 1975 to 1983.)

60 years ago, or so:
Dec. 2, 1953: Midnight Masses Allowed At Start, End of Marian Year. “Pope Pius XII has authorized celebration of midnight Masses on the opening and closing days of the Marian Year, which begins on Dec. 8. In a decree issued by the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments, the Pope authorized bishops to permit celebration of such Masses in Cathedrals, parish churches, chapels and Marian shrines, beginning half an hour after midnight on the night between Dec. 7 and 8. The bishops are given the same right for the same day in 1954, closing date of the worldwide Catholic observance in honor of the Virgin Mary. The decree also specified that Catholics may receive communion at the midnight Mass if they fast from midnight-only about half an hour-upon condition that they recite prayers to both God and the Virgin for return of souls to the church; end of persecution of the church; and return of peace to the world.”

What gift can I give Jesus?
– Fr. Terry Walsh
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:12

What gift will you offer to our Lord this Christmas? What do you think He might like the most? Of course, we all know the answer to that one! He wants our love. At first glance, it might seem like we’re already covered. Whew! But then, upon closer inspection, we might find ourselves scratching our heads wondering, “Did I prepare my gift according to my idea of love, or His”? Is it sufficient to be generally thankful for all the blessings He bestows, to avoid grumbling too much, and in general, to have a good feeling about him? Or, could Jesus be hoping for a bit more from us? What’s the appropriate gift for the one who loves us so perfectly that he actually gave himself up to death as a sacrificial offering in order to open the gates of heaven so that we might enter? Well, actually, He tells us: “If you love me, you will keep my Commandments.” When we scratch beneath the surface, we soon discover that choosing to keep the Commandments necessarily involves the Cross. An old Dominican professor in seminary challenged our class one day: “Christian spirituality,” he said matter-of-factly, “is impossible.” I remember him gazing around the room, letting the weight of his statement sink in a bit. Essentially, Christian Spirituality means forgiving enemies, doing good to those who persecute you, and in general, be willing to put the welfare of others ahead of ourselves. Of course, the simple truth is that quite often we find it difficult to forgive even the people we love. And yet, our Lord requires us to forgive even those who cause us harm. Impossible! In a way, the professor was right. Left to our own strength, Christian Spirituality is impossible.

Yet, Jesus invites us to do the impossible. After all, with God, all things are possible. In other words, if we truly love Him, we will humbly seek to do His Will rather than our own. He will provide all the graces necessary to accomplish what would otherwise be impossible on a purely natural level. Then Christian Spirituality becomes a pathway to Heaven. Jesus said: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing”(John 15:5). It all begins with a decision to follow Him – to say with humble conviction: “Thy Will be done.” And what is His Will? It is to love. In His deepest anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed that the Chalice of Suffering might be taken away. He prayed: “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done”(Luke 22:42). Jesus perfectly fulfilled the Will of the Father because of His perfect love. Indeed, the Prophet Isaiah spoke of our Lord, the “Suffering Servant” saying, “Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him…when he makes himself an offering for sin…he shall see the fruit of his travail of his soul and be satisfied…”(Isaiah 53:10).

In the heart of Rome stands a Church called The Holy Name of Jesus. It was built in the 16th century shortly after the death of the Founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius of Loyola, who is buried there. Above the high Altar is a Mosaic depicting the Circumcision of Jesus. The Mosaic seems to open the “supernatural veil,” revealing a glimpse of the “first shedding” of Christ’s Blood soon after His birth. In the scene, Mary and Joseph stand beside Jesus at His Circumcision. Surrounding the Holy Family are angels hovering above, each holding an instrument of the Passion that Jesus would willing suffer 33 years later. As we gaze upon the scene, we see the outstretched arms of the baby Jesus eagerly reaching up to Heaven. Our eye naturally follows the path to the object of His grasp. Suddenly, our hearts are torn open, overwhelmed with the realization of His love: He is reaching for the Chalice, the “Cup of Suffering” held by the angel, the Cup that ultimately would open the gates of Heaven for all who follow Him. He was born into the world in order to save us – though the Cross. He has come to do the Father’s Will. He would obediently lay down His life so that we might drink the fruits of His sacrifice, the Eucharist, and so gain eternal life. What greater gift could we possibly offer Him than to imitate His words to the Father: “Thy Will be done”? Ah, that kind of love glorifies the Father. Jesus said, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8). Consider the witness of the greatest disciple of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary. At the moment of the Annunciation she likewise freely gave her Will over to the Father. With deep humility, our Lady responded to the Angel Gabriel’s greeting with all her love: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Mary consented and gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem; she likewise consented at the foot of the Cross and gave birth to all of us.