For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday December 28, 2014

Pastor’s Corner: The three days after Christmas are days of martyrdom: December 26, the Martyrdom of Saint Stephen; December 27, the Feast of Saint John the Evangelist our parish patron; December 28, the Feast of the Holy Innocents. They are placed at the beginning of this joyous Christmas season to remind us of the importance of God becoming a man: the Creator of the universe became a creature to raise us all to eternal life. Saint John, in the prologue of his Gospel, tells us who Jesus is: “All things came to be through Him, and nothing came into being without Him.” John then tells us how the His contemporaries reacted to the entrance of our Creator into His creation: “He was in the world, and the world came to be through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” [John I: 1-3; 10-11] People are afraid of God. They are afraid they might have to respond to a God who loves them. And the response they fear is that they might love Him as He loves us, and that would mean radical change in one’s life: doing what God wants, for a change, and few want that.

So, the three feast days following Christmas are about real people, victimized because of other people’s fear that God might be real. If God is not an idea or a myth, His presence is felt to be threatening by some. And there are many who fear that He might be here not merely in the form of an idea or a myth, but here in the flesh. And, it is more difficult to ignore someone standing in front of you in the flesh than to ignore an idea or story about him.

Saint Stephen [December 26] was a young convert from Greek paganism: his name is Greek, meaning “crown”. He is one of the first seven deacons, and his responsibility was to feed the poor. He was a contemporary of Mary, Jesus’ mother, of Saint Peter and the other Apostles in Jerusalem, and they all knew each other. He is the first to be killed because he dared to speak of God as doing something unexpected, that he became a man, who was making requirements on people’s lives they did not want. He is the Church’s first martyr: a martyr in will, blood and love.

Saint John [December 27] was Jesus’ closest and best human friend, and knew him best of all the Twelve. While John did not die a bloody death, there were numerous attempts on his life. One of them is commemorated in Rome in a small church: Saint John at the Latin Gate. It stands on the place where John was put into a vat of boiling oil because he would not deny the Lord: and John walked out unharmed. He is the only Apostle who did not suffer a bloody death. Yet, he is a martyr in will and love for Our Lord: he decided to live a life pleasing to His friend, even if it might mean death.

The Holy Innocents [December 28] were infants massacred in Bethlehem by King Herod soon after Jesus’ birth. Herod was quite well known for acts of political treachery, and was not above murdering his own sons, fearing they plotted for his throne. His killing a few Jewish babies was a small crime when compared with the tens of thousands he massacred elsewhere. From the earliest centuries, the Church saw these children as “the first buds of the Church, killed by the frost of early persecution. . .who died in place of Christ.” [St. Augustine, Sermo 10, iv] They never knew Him, but are martyrs of blood. They were killed by a man fearing a God in the flesh, and no crime was too terrible for protection.

For the Church, the death of these children was a splash of cold water in the face. For Jesus came to bring “Peace to men of good will”, as the Christmas carol relates. But, as He himself told the Apostles, “I have come, not to bring peace, but the sword.”
—Msgr. DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Mary Lou Kerr, Elaine Mellace, Valerie McAleer, Victoria Campos, Barbara Wolf, 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, 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: Fernand Constant, Karin Fahey, Louise Fazio, 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.

January 1st, 2015, New Years — The Solemnity of Mary
IS A HOLY DAY OF OBLIGATION. The schedule is:

New Year’s Eve, Wednesday December 31st: 5:15 pm.

New Year’s Day, Thursday: 8:00 a.m., 12:10 pm, 5:15 pm.

NEW YEAR’S CONFESSION SCHEDULE:
January 1st: 11:30 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.

A Plenary Indulgence is offered on December 31st: for those who visit a church and recite the hymn, Te Deum, in gratitude for the blessings of 2014. One must also be in the state of grace, or go to confession, and receive Holy Communion on December 31st for the Indulgence.

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. 29th.

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

St. Joseph Altar Votive Light: Barbara Wolf req. Angela Giannitti

Banns of Marriage: III 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).

Bake Sale Success: We thank all the Bakers, Volunteers and Buyers who helped to make Our Bake Sale a success last week ! It raised $2,021 for the needs of the parish.

Weekly Sunday collection:
Sunday December 21, 2014 $ 13,527.00
Sunday December 22, 2013 $ 14,719.45

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

January 4th, Sunday Readings: Is 60:1-6; Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6; Mt 2:1-12.

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 28th: No Classes.

Coffee Hour: There will be no Coffee Hour this Sunday December 28th. It will resume next 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 27, 2014
4:00 Christina Strain req. Diane Strain
Sunday, December 28, 2014
7:30 +Randolph Samedi req. Anne Marie Samedi
10:00 +Esperance Phillips req. Abdul and Sarah Aslam
12:00 +Allan Mitchell 4th Anniversary req. Marion Morris
5:00 +George B. Cooper
6:00 People of the Parish
Monday, December 29, 2014
8:00 Souls in Purgatory
12:10 Special Intentions Irsa Garcia Abrantes
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
8:00 Barbara Schuerger req. Maria Trivino
12:10 +Carol Romanowski req. Pinto Family
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
8:00 +Anne Augustine req. Armelle
12:10 Padre Juan Pineda Anniversary in the Priesthood req. Maria Trivino
5:15 Thanksgiving to God req. Ferry G.
Thursday, January 1, 2015
8:00 +Charles Cycon req. Thomas Cycon
12:10 +James McCauley req. William and Catherine Skidd
5:15 +Dale Kasper req. Collins Family
Friday, January 2, 2015
8:00 +Frank Cavaliero req. Ken and Janet Segerdell
12:10 +Martha Scalero req. Bill Christiaanse
Saturday, January 3, 2015
8:00 +Electra Capalbo req. Joan and John Hagan
12:10 +Robert Corbo req. Alison and Kevin Tosches

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.

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, Dec. 28th. Will resume next Sunday January 4th

St. John’s in THE NEWS:

THE STAMFORD ADVOCATE:
150 years ago, or so:
Jan. 4, 1860: “New Year’s day passed off quietly, so quietly that we, who have always been accustomed to the noise and gaiety and rushing about of one half the city calling upon the other half, could hardly bring ourselves to believe that this was the veritable “Happy New Year.” It being the feast of the Circumcision, there was Mass in the Roman Catholic Church.”

THE CONNECTICUT CATHOLIC:
125 years ago, or so:
Jan. 1, 1887: STAMFORD. “Christmas day was a most delightful day in town, no one having any excuse to remain away from Mass on account of weather. On that day there were four Masses celebrated; the first at five o’clock and the others at the usual hour as on Sundays. Last Mass was a High Mass offered up by Rev. Father
Rev Lynch Lynch, who wished all the parishioners a Happy Christmas. It is with no little pride that the people of this parish are particularly pleased at this Christmas time, being the first Christmas when Mass was celebrated upstairs in our new church. Flowers of a choice selection and ivy vines encircled the snow-white marble, all arranged with artistic taste, that the whole appearance was of a most pleasing character. Our organist, Professor Smith, presided at organ and filled his position to satisfaction. The singing on this occasion was particularly well rendered.”

THE HARTFORD COURANT:
90 years ago, or so:
Dec. 29, 1926: Tower Adds Beauty to St. John’s Roman Catholic Church in Stamford. “With the completion of this new tower of the St. John’s R. C. Church, of this city, the edifice becomes one of the finest pieces of architecture and one of the handsomest church buildings in the state. The tower is the result of years of planning by Rev. James C. O’Brien, pastor of the church, and forms a splendid memorial to his work as leader of this parish. The edifice may now be seen from practically all parts of Stamford. The church building has been standing on Atlantic street, in the center of this city, for many years. Funds required for the addition of the tower to the building were contributed by members of the parish. Work on the tower was started last May and has just been completed.”

The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God
-Fr. Terry Walsh

Loving Mother of the Redeemer, gate of heaven, star of the sea, assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again. To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator, yet remained a virgin after as before. You who received Gabriel’s joyful greeting, have pity on us poor sinners.
—Hymn (Night Prayer, Liturgy of the Hours)

BEHOLD YOUR MOTHER

This beautiful hymn sung by priests and religious after the final Hour of the day, “Night Prayer” reflects on the sheer wonder of God’s plan for our salvation. After all, Jesus, who is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, actually created Mary, the Immaculate Conception, the woman who would become His Mother -in time. And so, as St. Paul writes, “in the fullness of time” when God chose to become incarnate for the benefit of all humanity, he was conceived in the Immaculate Womb of one he specially created, Mary. St. Louis De Montfort writes, “Mary is the supreme masterpiece of Almighty God and he reserved the knowledge and possession of her for himself. She is the glorious Mother of God the Son who chose to humble and conceal her during her lifetime in order to foster her humility…Mari is the sealed fountain (Song of Songs 4:12) and the faithful spouse of the Holy Spirit where only he may enter. She is the sanctuary and resting-place of the Blessed Trinity where God dwells in greater and more divine splendor than anywhere else in the universe, not excluding his dwelling above the cherubim and seraphim…I declare with the saints: Mary is the earthly paradise of Jesus Christ the new Adam, where he became man by the power of the Holy Spirit, in order to accomplish in her wonders beyond our understanding.”(True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, articles 5, 6). (Incidentally, de Montfort’s classic treatise is available in our bookstore—you might recall that we handed them out to the entire parish after the weekend Masses a few years ago, so important the need to have a clear understanding of t role of Mary in our lives and our need to be devoted to Her).

It is, after all, Mary’s consent, Her “Yes” to God, “Let it be done to me according to your word” that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity leaves His throne of Glory and humbles Himself to become man (although remaining a Divine Person of course, but now, having 2 Natures: Human and Divine). St. Paul speaks eloquently about the “Self-Emptying” of Christ in his Letter to the Philippians, “Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather, he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men. He was known to be of human estate, and it was thus that he humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross! Because of this, God highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name above every other name, So that at Jesus’ name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father: JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!”(chapter 2: 6-11). Once Mary said “yes” I will be His Mother (and later, consent to his immolation on the Cross—for us), God took upon Himself our lowly nature—and once again made it Holy. Mary is His Mother.

St. Irenaeus (3rd Century Saint) encourages us to honor God by honoring His Mother: “Those who suppose that Christ took nothing from the Virgin are badly mistaken. In order to cast away the inheritance of the flesh, they also reject the analogy between Christ and Adam. And his descent into Mary would also be superfluous in this case. Why did he come down into her if he were to take nothing of her? Still further, if he had taken nothing of Mary, he would never have made use of those kinds of food that come from the earth, by which the body that has been taken from the earth is nourished. Nor would he have hungered, fasting those 40 days, like Moses and Elijah, unless his body was craving after its own proper nourishment; nor again, would John, his disciple, have said, when writing of Him, ‘Jesus, wearied as he was with the journey, sat down beside the well’(John 4:6) nor would David have proclaimed of him beforehand, ‘They have added to the grief of my wounds’; nor would he have declared, ‘My soul is very sorrowful’(Matthew 26:38), nor, when his side was pierced, would there have come forth blood and water. All these things are tokens of the flesh that had been derived from the earth, which he had recapitulated in Himself, bringing salvation to his own handiwork”(Against Heresies, 3.22.1).

Mary is truly the Mother of God because she is the Mother of Jesus who is a Divine Person. She gives Him His humanity. And so, the graces we need to be made holy and so to be saved actually come to us through her “Yes, I will do it.” Again, De Montfort captures the essence of Her extraordinary role in our lives as our Spiritual Mother when he writes: (Mary) is (Jesus’) mystic channel, His aqueduct, through which He causes His mercies to flow gently and abundantly”(True Devotion, article 24).

New Year’s Resolutions possibilities: Pray the Rosary daily