For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday Feb 15, 2015

Pastor’s Corner: Lent begins this week, on Ash Wednesday, February 18th.

Since the time of Pope Saint Gregory the Great [pope 590-604], the pope begins Lent with the faithful of Rome at the oldest original basilica in the City: Santa Sabina, built between 425 and 432 AD, on the Aventine Hill, one of the original seven hills of Rome. The basilica was built near an ancient temple of Juno Regina, using many of the marble, and all its 24 marble Corinthian columns, bases and capitals. The basilica originally grew out of the home of a wealthy convert, Sabina. The early practice of the Church was to employ the homes of wealthy converts for Mass. Since the Church owned no buildings large enough to accommodate the growing number of Catholics, wealthy converts usually lent their homes as meeting places for Mass and prayers. Sabina had been converted by her Syrian servant, Saint Serapia. Both were martyred during the persecution of the Catholic Church by the Roman Emperor Hadrian [117-138 AD].

The Basilica of Santa Sabina is beautiful, airy and filled with light, which enlivens the white marble interior wall decorations and columns. There is only one of the original 5th century mosaics extant, and that is on the “back” or entrance wall. It is a massive rectangular work: deep blue ground upon which is a large gold-lettered dedicatory inscription, telling us that the priest, [Saint] Peter of Illyria built the basilica in 425 AD, under the apostolic guidance of Celestinus, the pope, “Bishop of the World”, in the hopes that a simple, virtuous life would lead others, living in this graceless world, to bear eternal fruit through virtue and prayer.

On either end of the inscription stands a woman: both stand cloaked in heavy dark purple and brown robes, and each holds a book. They are figures representing the two branches of the one Catholic Church established by Jesus. The female figure on the left represents the converts from Judaism—in the care of Saint Peter, as written about in Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians [4: 10-11], from the people of Israel, the original believing disciples of Jesus [Ephesians 1: 3-12]. The second figure, on the far right, represents those who have come to the Church by the efforts of Saint Paul, from among the Jews of the Diaspora, living among pagan civilizations [Ephesians 1: 13-14], as well as the non-Jews: the Gentiles or pagan nations [Acts of the Apostles 2: 41-47; 5: 14; 11: 24].

The presence of this mosaic in 5th century Rome is a testimony to the belief understood well that the One People of God resulted from Christ “breaking down the barrier between us”, between Jews and non-Jews, by His sacrificial death for all people, in order to bring all people closer to the Eternal Father [Ephesians 2: 11-12].

Here on Ash Wednesday, Pope Francis will gather in the afternoon to lead a penitential procession, then offer Holy Mass and preach to the people of Rome, encouraging all to leave sin behind and become more like Christ.

What will you do for Lent? Maybe read Scripture: not the whole Bible, but one or two books. Read the Gospels, or Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians, or Saint John’s 3 letters—they are very short. Choose one chapter and read it each morning, before you go off to school or work. Visit a Catholic church daily near you: make a visit to Jesus who waits for you in the tabernacle in every Catholic church. Pray daily, for your family, friends, and enemies. Forgive those who have harmed you. You don’t need to be friends with them, just don’t seek any revenge: and pray for them, that they may come close to Christ.

Lent is a time to purify ourselves of all that is less than Christ-like. It is also time to work for the salvation of others—just like the mosaic tells us: the Church includes all, sinners and saints, from all countries, tribes and groups, and all try to become like Christ here, in order to get to eternity in Heaven with the God who loves us. —Msgr. DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Sister Mary Rinaldi, FMA, Karyl Suzanne Bearden, Nellie Taylor-Boltrek, Pete Boltrek, Kevin O’Byrne, Barbara Itri, Mary Lou Kerr, Elaine Mellace, Victoria Campos, Barbara Wolf, Dominick Franco, Ro Clarke, Suzanne DePreta, Patrick and Rita Timon, Billy Therriault, Thomas Bernie, Diane Grant, Marie Augustin, Mary Churley, Mary Bauer, Mary Rose Bauer, Paul Cavalli, Maggie Ward, Sr. Anne-Marguerite, Peter Monks, Agnes Allen, Bonnie and Dorothy Keyes, Ruth Coyle, Jacqueline Domingue, John Palumbo, Silvana Smith, Lena Cocchia.

Please pray for those who have recently died: Felicitas Cody, Roledonne J. Samedi, Harrie Humphreys, Angelina Corcione, 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, Stefano Pirolozzi, Teodoro DeBlasi, Erzulia Joseph, Jenny Gallagher.

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, Monday, February 16th.

Banns of Marriage: I Banns: Walter Philip Clark III and Jesy Anne Liamzon

ASH WEDNESDAY: February 18th 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.
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: 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: Tuesdays, 7:00PM in the rectory. Open to anyone interested in becoming a Catholic, or adult Catholics wanting to receive 1st Communion or Confirmation (call 324-1553) Special Needs RCIA: Contact Michelle O’Mara at momara@stcatherineacademy.org 203 540 5381 ext 2012

Physician Assisted Suicide Information Session: Diocese of Bridgeport Respect Life Ministry, the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference and Family Institute of Connecticut are sponsoring a Physician Assisted Suicide Information Session to be held on Thursday, March 12, 2014 at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, from 7pm to 9pm.  The session will include speakers from across the diocese to discuss the Catholic understanding of physician assisted suicide, hospice care and current events at the state legislature.  Maureen Ciardiello, at 203-416-1445 or email respectlife@diobpt.org.

Weekly Sunday collection:
Sunday February 08, 2015 $ 11,307.00
Sunday February 09, 2014 $ 9,960.15

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

February 22nd, Sunday Readings: Gn 9:8-15; 1 Pt 3:18-22; Mk 1:12-15.

Over 100 Benefits of Eucharistic Adoration: #3– A Holy Hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament is so important to Jesus that a multitude of souls go to Heaven who otherwise would have gone to hell. (Jesus revelation to Blessed Dina Belanger)

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.

The Stamford St. Patrick’s Day Parade: which will take place March 7, 2015 at 12Noon, beginning at Columbus Park, and concluding at Latham Park.  I am reaching out at this time to also invite a group to participate in our 20th St. Patrick’s Day Parade. If you are interested, please contact Michael Feighan at mpfeighan1@gmail.com. We hope that you can join us for the BIG Event.

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.

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, February 23rd, 7:30PM Location: Cosi at 230 Tresser Blvd.,
Stamford (in front of the Stamford Mall).

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, February 14, 2015
4:00 +Joseph and Emily Turturino req. Linda and Mark Turturino
Sunday, February 15, 2015
7:30 +Hien Do req. Thang Nguyen
10:00 +Adelaide Donohue req. Lancaster Family
12:00 +Aniello Preziosi Birthday Remembrance req. your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren
(Morris) and John and Lindsey Ciglar
5:00 +Fr. Peter M. Rinaldi, SDB
6:00 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
Monday, February 16, 2015
8:00 Souls in Purgatory
12:10 +Alexander F. Munro – 37th Anniversary req. Munro and DeVivo Families
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
8:00 +Age Camaj req. Age
12:10 +Charles and Matthew Austin req. Parents
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
8:00 Special Intentions Matthew Hickman req. Andrea Hickman
12:10 +Victor Fazio req. Mr. and Mrs. Darrell Ingram
Thursday, February 19, 2015
8:00 +Tole Camaj req. Age
12:10 +George Terenzio Birthday Remembrance req. Family
Friday, February 20, 2015
8:00 +Mary Ann Annuzzi req. Tom and Olga Kolenberg
12:10 +Jenna Nolan req. Sherry Family
Saturday, February 21, 2015
8:00 Special Intentions Andrea Hickman
12:10 +Anne Marie Lynch req. Marie Francis and Kieran Malone

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: After the 10:00 a.m. Family Mass in the Monsignor Nagle Parish Hall.

St. John’s in THE ADVOCATE:

155 years ago, or so:
March 7, 1862: Lent. “Last Wednesday being Ash Wednesday, or the first day of Lent, there was the usual service in the Roman Catholic Church. This yearly feast, which takes its name from a word in the old Saxon, signifying Spring, is of great antiquity. It was solemnly observed by the early Christians as a season of self denial preparatory to the holy feast of Easter, and was kept during forty days in commemoration of our Savior’s fasting forty days in the wilderness.”

110 years ago, or so:
February 18, 1904: “There was a very large congregation present at the Ash Wednesday service in St. John’s R.C. Church last night. Rev. Eugene L. Sullivan preached. There will be services every evening except Thursday and Saturday during Lent, and the Masses which are held every morning will be attended by much larger congregations than is the case during the rest of the year.”

100 years ago, or so:
February 17, 1915: The Lenten Season Begins. “Special services in the Catholic churches today, marked the beginning of the season of Lent. Ashes were distributed in St. John’s this morning and this afternoon, and there will be a further distribution in the church tonight, the service to begin at 7:30. Throughout Lent there will be devotions Wednesday and Friday evenings at 7:30 and a daily devotion in the morning. The Friday evening devotion will be the ceremony of the Stations of the Cross.”

75 years ago, or so:
February 7, 1940: Ash Wednesday Services Start Season of Lent. “Ash Wednesday services with the traditional blessing and distribution of ashes in Catholic churches, marked the beginning of the period of Lent, today. It will end at noon, Easter Saturday, March 23. Lenten course on the life and teachings of Christ have been arranged by Catholic churches, some of which have scheduled weekly lectures by out-of town clergy. Services announced by St. John’s for the season of Lent are: Ashes will be distributed this afternoon, at 4, and at 7:30, tonight. During Lent, services will be held, Sunday nights, at 7:30; Tuesday nights at 7:30, and on Fridays when there will be Stations of the Cross at 1:30, 4:15 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night devotions will include sermons by priests of St. John’s staff. Mass will be said daily at 7:30 p.m.”

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.