For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday December 21, 2014

Pastor’s Corner: As we draw nearer to Christmas, our minds turn to the birth of Our Lord in Bethlehem. During the first thousand years of the Church’s life, much emphasis was placed upon understanding who Jesus is: is He God OR is He a man OR is He a man who became God? None of these is correct, nor does any answer the question, Who is Jesus? Our Lord asked His Apostles that question, as seen in the Gospel of Matthew [16: 16-17]: “Who do you say that I am?” And Saint Peter, enlightened by the Eternal Father, correctly answered: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” In other words, there, standing in front of Peter and the other Apostles, was theNativity Scene invisible, unknowable God who existed forever, the Creator of the Universe, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, in the flesh. While the truth of the two natures—Divine and Human—of Our Lord was believed by all during the early years of the Church, the stronger emphasis upon His divinity, which made Him seem too distant a redeemer, unable to understand the weaknesses or difficulties of our daily lives. Even though the Christmas sermons by the Church Fathers such as Pope Saint Leo the Great, Saint Augustine or Saint Jerome were popular in tone, the official art and literature of the first thousand years of the Church’s life emphasized the Divinity of Christ, in answer to the various heresies of the times.
Mosaic or painted images of Jesus’ birth existed, but only in cathedrals and huge churches in big cities. Local parish churches were too poor or too small for great art. Saint Francis of Assisi began to change this by his preaching that by the Incarnation–Because God became a man in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, born in Bethlehem, He actually does understand us. Why? Because God loved us so much that He became exactly like us, except without sin, in order to make us more like God. It was Saint Francis who gave the Church the first Nativity scene or Crèche, and put it in the local parish church, designed for poor people of small villages, with simple statues of the Blessed Mother, Saint Joseph, the shepherds with their flocks and the three kings around the Infant Savior. Here is a God who understood human hardship and suffering from the moment of His birth as a human child in a cold stable. Saint Francis also introduced the Stations of the Cross, as a devotional aid for those people who could not afford a visit to the Jerusalem sites of Our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. In their own parish church, people could visualize the real human sufferings Jesus endured to give us eternal life.

At the heart of these devotions concerning both the Birth of Jesus and His Death and Resurrection, is the historical fact that at a specific time and place God—1st century Bethlehem—the Creator of the Universe, became man. No myth or pretty story! He took on our humanity with its weaknesses and strengths, free will, rationality, ability to love, and mortality, and intimately joined it to His Divine Nature, with its omnipotence, divine omniscience, and immortality, to our Human Nature in the man we call Jesus of Nazareth. Saint John, our patron, wrote that the historical fact that God became Man—the Incarnation—is so essential a reality, that anyone who denies that historic event and fact is the anti-Christ [I John 2:22-23].

In the Basilica sanctuary, the three stained glass windows above the High Altar outline exactly why God became man in Bethlehem [in the left window]: so that He could ransom humanity from sin and death by dying on the Cross [in the center window], and to give humanity eternal life in the flesh by Rising from the Dead on Easter Sunday [in the right hand window] in the human flesh he had taken in the womb of the Virgin Mother.
God became man so in His human death all humanity could die to sin; and in His human Resurrection from the dead, all humanity could rise to eternal life in the flesh. And this was in fulfillment of His promise He had made to Adam and Eve immediately after their sin of disobedience. There, God the Creator promised to take on human flesh in the womb of a child of Eve, in order to destroy the power of Satan. Speaking to Satan and to Eve, God said, “I put enmity between you and the woman, and between her seed and your seed: she shall crush your head, and you shall snap at her heel” [Gen. 3:15]. While Satan would snap at our heel by temptation, it would be the daughter of Eve—Mary—who would crush Satan’s head by giving birth to God in the flesh, Jesus. As Adam’s downfall came through the fruit of the Tree of Life in Paradise, now by a new Tree of Life, the Cross, the Second Adam, Jesus, would bring eternal life for the Sons and Daughters of Adam, who would become Sons and Daughters of God through Baptism and the Sacraments of the Church—the new fruit for a new Paradise, Heaven.

Because God became one of us, we can have a statue or a picture of Him: the Invisible God became visible in Jesus, in Bethlehem in the beginning of the first century. So, in a few weeks, visit our Creche, and let your heart be moved by this invention of Saint Francis, and thank God that the Eternal Son became a man so that we could become like God, through His Incarnation. —Msgr. DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Elaine Mellace, Valerie McAleer, Victoria Campos, 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: Alice Dykes, Anthony Pellicci, 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.

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

Christmas Day Collection . . . The second collection on Christmas will be the for the parish. Your generosity is appreciated.

Christmas Mass Schedule:
Christmas Eve: December 24th: 4 pm: Christmas Vigil with Christmas Carols;
Christmas Day: December 25th: 12 midnight: Midnight Solemn Mass with choir;
(11:30PM-Midnight – Christmas Carols)
7:30 am, 10 am, 12Noon, 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.

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. 22nd.

Our Lady’s Altar Votive Light: +Edward and Bill Cody req. Cody Family.

Salus Populi Romani icon Votive Light: In Thanksgiving req. Angela Giannitti.

St. Joseph Altar Votive Light: Special Intentions req. Angela Giannitti.

Banns of Marriage: II Banns: Kelley Patrick Behm and Kelly Elizabeth Joyce.

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).

Weekly Sunday collection:
Sunday December 14, 2014 $ 12,258.00
Sunday December 15, 2013 $ 9,972.20

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 28th, Sunday Readings: Sir 3:2-6, 12-14; Col 3:12-21; Lk 2:22-40.

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. The group meets regularly each month on the first Monday for Holy Hour and fellowship from 7-9, and third Sunday from 5-7 pm for the 5pm mass and fellowship. 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.

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).

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.

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION NEWS: December  21st: Last class for 2014. December 21st:  Frances and Clare -Mandatory Class 6-8pm, December 28th: No Classes.

Coffee Hour: There will be No Coffee Hour this Sunday December 21st or Sunday December 28th. It will resume Sunday January 4th.

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: Monday, January 26th, 7:30PM Location: Cosi at 230 Tresser Blvd., Stamford (in front of the Stamford Mall).

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, December 20, 2014
4:00 +Mary A. Loglisci req. daughter
Sunday, December 21, 2014
7:30 Terenzio Family req. mother
10:00 +Francescantino Annetta req. Pugliese Family
12:00 +William M. Borkowski and Thanksgiving to Immaculate Heart of Mary req. Ann and Michael
Borkowski and Joseph Kung and Family
5:00 +George B. Cooper
6:00 Robert Bertellotti req. Hope and Jim Jagodzinski
Monday, December 22, 2014
8:00 Alvina Ramos req. Maria Trivino
12:10 +Antoinette Rubino req. Carla Coutant
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
8:00 +Chrissy Driscoll
12:10 +Ann DiGiovanni req. Terenzio Family
Wednesday, CHRISTMAS EVE, December 24, 2014
8:00 Dana Chamale
12:10 +Anne Augustine req. Armelle
4:00 +Vito Melfi, John Melfi, Sr., Mary Melfi, John Melfi, Jr. req. Joseph Melfi
MIDNIGHT MASS: People of the Parish
Thursday, CHRISTMAS, December 25, 2013
7:30 +Brian Mulhern req. daughter and sons
10:00 +Feroze Aslam req. Abdul and Sarah Aslam
12:00 +Mary Ida Audette req. son
5:00 NO MASS
6:00 People of the Parish
Friday, December 26, 2014
8:00 +Nang Nguyen req. Thang Nguyen
12:10 +Jayson Jarrett req. Norma Jarrett
Saturday, December 27, 2014
8:00 +Wladek and Willemina Falek req. daughter
12:10 Maria Trivino req. Lilian and Alvina Ramos

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.

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. John’s in THE NEWS:

THE STAMFORD ADVOCATE:
150 years ago, or so:
Dec. 15, 1865: “The Second Annual Ball of the St. John’s Roman Catholic Benevolent Association takes place at Hoyt’s Hall, on Friday evening, Dec. 23. This is an excellent association and our Irish fellow-citizens will no doubt give liberally, and enjoy a happy social evening. President-Patrick McKeon; Vice President, Wm. Brennan; Treasurer, Michael Coughlin; Secretary, Nicholas Donohue. Floor Managers-Patrick Maron, Wm. Hickey, Eugene Drew.”

THE CONNECTICUT CATHOLIC:
130 years ago, or so:
Dec. 20, 1884: STAMFORD. “On Christmas day there will be four Masses celebrated in the church; one at five o’clock and the others at the same time as on Sundays.”

THE STAMFORD ADVOCATE:
75 years ago, or so:
Dec. 18, 1937: St. Anne’s Society To Aid Needy as It Has for 44 Years. “St. Anne’s Ladies’ Aid Society, 44-year old charitable organization of the St. John’s R.C. Church, is preparing for its annual distribution of Christmas baskets to the homes of needy families. The group expects to provide foodstuffs for about 200 families. A small organization in comparison with other religious lay groups, St. Anne’s Ladies’ Aid Society since its inception has spread holiday cheer at Christmas time to the young and old of poor families, and has carried on with other charitable projects during other seasons of the year.”

THE HARTFORD COURANT:
20 years ago, or so:
Dec. 16, 1995: “Sister Joseph Miriam O’Connell, 89, of the Sisters of Mercy, West Hartford, died Friday (Dec. 15, 1995) at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center. She was born in Tipperary, Ireland, daughter of the late Thomas and Bridget (Galvin) O’Connell. She entered the Sisters of Mercy June 1930 and professed her final vows January 1938. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education from St. Joseph College, West Hartford. She taught in several parochial schools in the Diocese of Hartford.” (EDITOR’S NOTE: Sister Joseph Miriam was a first and second grade teacher at St. John’s School from 1940 to 1959. Her tenure at St. John’s School was the longest of any teaching Sister at the school.)

O Radiant Light
– Fr. Terry Walsh

On a cold night, in a dark and abandoned cave not fit for the dwelling of man – the whole Universe Shook! It had been 9 months since the Archangel Gabriel announced to the humble Virgin the magnificent news of our Salvation; 40 weeks since Mary so perfectly gave her consent, her Yes! – uniting her will to the will of our Heavenly Father. Now, the hour was fast approaching – the fullness of time had come. The Virgin Mary was about to give birth to Her Son: True God and True Man. He was about to pierce the veil, uniting Heaven and Earth – the Son of God – and the Son of Mary. The world would never be the same. On that Holy night, the Radiant Light of God would forever sanctify all Who humbly receive Him into their hearts and souls through the Sacrament of Baptism. That night, in that dark cave, His brilliant Light issued forth the pure warmth of Divine Love, filling that humble abode with His Peace. Imagine the prayerful ecstasy of Mary, Her joyful soul overflowing in a grace and peace that is simply beyond human understanding. Yes, the Universe Shook that night! In the humblest circumstances and amid hard hearted people, the mighty Prince of Peace burst into the world in a holy and miraculous way: Picture the Virgin Mary, kneeling in prayer as she prepared to give birth. The Mystic, Venerable Mary Agedra, described her vision this way: “God did not divide, but penetrated the virginal chamber as the rays of the Sun penetrate the crystal shrine, lighting it up in prismatic beauty…(as Jesus) came forth from the virginal chamber…glorious and transfigured.” What a beautiful image of His Radiant Divine Light, keeping forever inviolate the perpetual virginity of His Holy Mother – before, during, and after His Holy and miraculous birth.

Myriads upon myriads of angels surrounded the Holy Virgin as she welcomed the Only Begotten Son of the Most High into the very world He created. Those pure and holy spirits witnessed the Son of Justice come to offer Mercy to a fallen and unworthy people – to us. Another Mystic, St. Emmerich, offered another stunning image. She wrote, “As Mary knew Her time was near, Joseph went to a little recess area to pray. He looked back for a moment and saw Mary kneeling in prayer, Her back to him, Her face toward the east. He saw the cave filled with the Light that streamed from Mary – for she was entirely enveloped as if by flames. It was as if he were – like Moses – looking into the burning bush. He sank prostrate to the ground in prayer – and did not look back again.” As the angels surround the glorious Babe in the manger, they offered Him the most exquisite melody of praise, perfectly chanting the Gloria with the sweetest residue of joy and peace and love. What a beautiful vision of His resplendent majesty and light!

John tells us in the Gospel, “Jesus came to give life and give it abundantly” – to all those who seek Him – to those who follow Him – to those who imitate His love and obedience and offer their “will” to the will of the Father (just as He had done). He came to heal the broken spirit of man. He came to rescue us from eternal death by drawing us into His eternal light. May we faithfully respond to His invitation, just as the poor and humble shepherds did, and run to him, eager to follow Him and do His will so that we, too, might receive the Gift of everlasting life, happiness, and peace! May we approach Him in Awe and Wonder and so be transformed by his marvelous light – the light of grace – the light of divine love – and allow his mercy to pierce our stony hearts and cloudy minds, thus enabling us to peer into the Mystery of his Incarnation – Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary. While the Christmas Season will end after the Epiphany, the Light of Christ remains in our hearts and minds to grow ever more brightly through our faithful devotion, thus transforming our souls into more perfect likenesses of our Savior. May we continue to humbly seek Him in the Sacraments, in our faithful life of prayer, and in “living the truth in love”(Eph 4:15).
MERRY CHRISTMAS