For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday December 27, 2015

Pastor’s Corner: Once God became a man, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, everything changed: the Cross with wreath relationship between creation and the now Incarnate-Creator became the heart of existence, and the way we live should become different than if He had never become a man. Since the first Christmas, the personal happiness and fate of each of us would now be determined by our daily response to this God become man.

God would touch the hearts of each human person born, and their response to that Divine intervention would be seen, not merely in words theological, but in lives spiritual, virtuous, clear and distinct in their bearing witness either that God became a man to change us into sharers of His eternal life, or witness that we really don’t care about God or eternity, but only about our personal here-and-now.

The saints give us such examples of men and women who succeeded in responding to the Incarnation actually in daily lives and not merely in daily words or pretty religious sentiments. They are God-bearers in their unbelieving cultures; their love for God formed their very thoughts and motivated their every deed. Since we are blessed in the parish with numerous relics of saints—real proofs that real people lived to please God was possible in years past and is possible in the present, I would like to point out some rather interesting saints during this Christmas season.

On the high altar are two tower-like reliquaries: 19th century English works of superb craftsmanship of carved brass, donated by a parishioner. Each bears relics of saints: that on the left contains a large bone of Saint Constantine: the more imaginative of his biographers said he was the nephew of King Arthur! Actually, he came from Scotland, married the daughter of the King of Brittany and, after her untimely death, renounced his crown to become a monk, worked with Saint Columba in Ireland and St. Kentigern in South-West Scotland. He was elected abbot of his monastery and bishop on the Island of Kintyre, and while preaching God’s Incarnate mercy to local pagans, he was martyred in 576 A.D. He spent his life preaching God’s mercy as revealed in the God who became man in Bethlehem, hoping that those who heard him would respond in faith and charity.

In the right-hand reliquary, are the relics of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Mother, along with the relic of Saint Stephen, the first martyr. The legend of Joachim and Anne is that they were an elderly couple, unable to have children. Mocked by their neighbors, they separated, and prayed for divine guidance. Their prayers heard, they were sent back to each other by God. Their love and God’s grace finally accomplished the seeming impossible: Saint Anne conceived, and her daughter, Mary, would become the Mother of Our Lord, whose birth as a man we celebrate on December 25th. They trusted entirely in God and His promises, and found happiness by being able to participate in bringing salvation to the world. Saint Stephen was a contemporary of Saints Joachim, Anne and Mary, Our Lord and the Apostles. Stephen was one of the first deacons, as mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, 6-7. Because of his forceful preaching and charity, he converted many. The Temple leaders were unhappy with his successes, had him dragged outside the walls of Jerusalem, and stoned him to death. As he was dying, he prayed for the one who led his murderers: Saul, who later changed his name to Paul. Stephen’s prayers, witness of God’s mercy in the flesh and charity towards his persecutors, even as he was dying, are said to have brought Paul to conversion. Saint Paul would work with Saint Peter as the two Princes of the Apostles, the founders of the Church in Rome. Stephen’s feast is December 26th, to remind us the day after Christmas that the birth of the Savior is serious business: neither Satan nor many people like the reality of God coming into the world, because it makes God too real, and too close for comfort for many people, because He demands an equally real personal response by us to God: we accept Him and live to please Him; or reject Him, and ignore Him in our daily lives.

These saints were not really different than ourselves. But, they understood that because God had become a man in Bethlehem, everything is changed: the Creator had become a man to reconcile all creation with the Father. These saints knew that their lives would bear immense importance by doing one thing: loving the God who took on human flesh by imitating him, in order to share in the victory of the Christ born in Bethlehem, crucified and risen from the dead in Jerusalem. These saints are remembered around the world by millions of people throughout the centuries to the present today. Can you remember the names of the emperors, kings, princes, or aristocrats who lived when these saints lived? Can you name any public figures of their times, or politicians or any of the shakers and movers who lived in the same cities where these saints lived? No. Yet it is these saints who are remembered because they responded to the Divine Generosity manifest at Bethlehem: they lived to please the God who became man, so that one day they could share God’s very life. Let’s do the same: kneel at the altar rail after Mass today, and say a prayer to Saints Joachim and Anne the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to the martyrs Saints Constantine and Stephen: we share the same Faith with them, and are part of the same Body of Christ, the Catholic Church, in which they are still members with us. Pray to imitate them in the New Year, since they imitated Christ perfectly, so we may all meet one day in Heaven.  —Monsignor DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Louise Morello, Chris Seely, Jacqueline Domingue, Mary Churley, John & Joan Kronk, Mary Lena Cocchia, Alexandre Laurent, John MacLean, John Murray, Karyl Suzanne Bearden, Kevin O’Byrne, Barbara Itri, Victoria Campos, Rita Timon, Diane Grant, Mary Bauer, Mary Rose Bauer, Catherine Longo, Paolo Cavallo, Silvana Smith, Josh Frank, Mildred Beirne, Joe Brennan, Betty Brennan, Nancy Gallagher, Billy Therriault, Loy Mulyagonja, Ben Castle, Jay & Catherine Olnek, Marie Augustin.

Please pray for those who have recently died: Domenic Civitillo, Suzanne DePreta, John Marena, Mary Fahey, Audrey Thorpe, Marie Martin, Doris Byrd, Santiago Collazo, Klebert Lorent, Susanne DePreta, Margaret Lupo, Stanton Parrish, Pauline Whitehead, Suor Ada Marchetti, Ilse Pollard, Marge (Longo) DiDonato, Richard Hughes, Michel Lops, Louise Munro, Rene Lafleur, Victor Lafleur, John Gannon, Richard Saunders.

January 1st, 2016, New Years — The Solemnity of Mary
IS A HOLY DAY OF OBLIGATION. The schedule is:

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

New Year’s Day, Friday, January 1st: 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 Catholic church and recite the hymn, Te Deum, in gratitude for the blessings of 2015. One must also be in the state of grace, go to confession, and receive Holy Communion on December 31st for the Indulgence.

Police: Please remember the members of our Stamford Police Department in your prayers.

Let us also pray for the safety and safe return of our men and women serving in the USA military services.

Our Lady’s Altar Votive Light: Special Intentions Giannitti Family

St. Joseph Votive Light Memorial: +Stephen Churley Birthday Remembrance req.  Joan and John Kronk

The opening event for the 375 Anniversary of the Founding of Stamford at the Old Town Hall has been rescheduled for April. Details to follow.

A Day of Discernment with Bishop Caggiano: Saturday, January 9, 2016 9AM to 8PM – For men between the ages of 18 and 35 to consider the priesthood, at St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford; a day of prayer, Mass, talks, and individual meetings with priests. Come and see what God might have in store for you! Registration required. Please email the Office of Vocations: vocations@diobpt.org OR speak with Monsignor, Father Al or Father Vill.

Wine into Water: One of our parishioners and his family own a superb wine shop. During the past years they have dedicated a percentage of their profits to Catholic Relief Services to dig wells in Ethiopia. A lack of adequate drinking water is a severe problem in parts of Africa. Last September, Bishop Nicholas Djomo, President of the Congo Catholic Bishops’ Conference, visited the Rectory and spoke of the wonderful work done by our parishioner and his family. I think our parish should support these efforts to help Catholics in Ethiopia. Anyone who might be interested in joining in this good work would be welcome as part of a Saint John’s initiative to help the needy around the world. Please give a call to Monsignor [203-324-1553, ext 11] for more details.

Weekly Sunday collection:

Sunday December 20, 2015 $ 13,279.00
Sunday December 21, 2014 $ 12,102.08

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

Interested in Cub Scouting? We are considering establishing a Cub Scout Pack here at the Basilica. If you are an adult who would like to be involved as a scout leader, or you have a brother, son, nephew, cousin or grandson of elementary school age who is interested in becoming a Cub Scout, please email Father Vill at frvill@diobpt.org with the subject Cub Scouts to express your interest.

MEN of SAINT JOHN’S: Looking for a spiritual boost? Come to the Rectory each Friday at 7 a.m. and join with 30 other men of the parish for coffee, prayer, Eucharistic adoration and Benediction. Out by 8 a.m.

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.

Project Rachel – Entering Canaan Day of Prayer and Healing Saturday – January 16, 2016 – For women suffering from a past abortion. Come begin your healing journey and experience God’s hope and mercy. For more information and confidential registration contact Maureen at Project Rachel at 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 203-348-4355 or www.birthright.org.

St. Monica Biblical Greek Grammar: Thursdays at 6:30 pm, in the Rectory. 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 or Monsignor at spqrnac@gmail.com.

St. Monica Latin Reading Group:  Thursdays at 12:45 in the Rectory.  We are continuing our review of ecclesiastical Latin using Second Latin by Cora and Charles Scanlon.  Currently, we are reading excerpts from the Summa Theologica  of St Thomas Aquinas.  An intermediate reading ability in Latin is necessary.  Please call the Rectory for information.

Volunteers: FUTURE 5 is a non-profit organization to help motivated low income high school students in Stamford to improve themselves and their future. We need volunteers to do one-on-one student work, such as college coaches, job prep coaches, and teachers. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Fanny Moran: fmoran@futurefive.org

Job Seekers: Led by Melanie Szlucha whose company, Red Inc., a leader in helping find jobs. More info, see: www.redinc.biz or 203-866-1606: There’s no charge. Next meeting: Monday, January 25th 7:30PM Location: Cosi at 230 Tresser Blvd, (in front of the Stamford Mall).

March For Life January 22nd, 2016: We want to gage if there is enough interest to get a bus to go down to the March for Life in Washington DC this year. Interested? Please email Father Vill at frvill@diobpt.org.

Catholic Pilgrimage to Spain with Father Andrew Vill: April 11 – 21, 2016: Madrid, Toledo, Salamanca, Seville, Cordoba and Avila (St. Theresa). Cost: $3,299 per person (double occupancy) from JFK. Includes roundtrip airfare, all airline fees and taxes, hotel with daily buffet breakfast, taxes and surcharges, 1 lunch, 5 dinners, English speaking professional tour guide and sightseeing.  Information? call Frank Carpanzano at 203-975-8833 ext.3004.

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, December 26, 2015
4:00 +John Melfi Sr., Mary Melfi, John Melfi, Jr. req. Joseph Melfi
Sunday, December 27, 2015
7:30 +Nang Nguyen req. Thang Nguyen
10:00 +William Borkowski req. Michael and Ann Borkowski
12:00 +Allan Mitchell 5th Anniversary req. Marion Morris
5:00 +Fr. Peter M. Rinaldi, SDB
6:00 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
Monday, December 28, 2015
8:00 +Randolph Samedi req. Anne Marie Samedi
12:10 Father Terrence Walsh req. Hope and Jim Jagodzinski
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
8:00 Bishop Frank Caggiano req. Hope and Jim Jagodzinski
12:10 Alvina Ramos req. Maria Trivino
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
8:00 Barbara Schuerger req. Maria Trivino
12:10 +Anne Augustine Penta req. Armelle Penta
Thursday, December 31, 2015
8:00 +Arturo Galan req. Lucy Espinoza
12:10 Padre Juan Pineda Anniversary in the Priesthood req. Maria Trivino
5:15 +George Kohutka req. Nicholas and Therese Troilo
Friday, January 1, 2016
8:00 +Charles G. Cycon req. Thomas Cycon
12:10 All Souls in Purgatory req. Ferry G.
5:15 Special Intentions Monsignor Stephen M. DiGiovanni
Saturday, January 2, 2016
8:00 +Aileen McGiff req. Dacres children
12:10 Special Intentions Thomas Cycon

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. For more information, 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 are welcome. We finish in time for the 8a.m. Mass.

Pray: end Legalized Abortion: Fridays, 7:45a.m.-10a.m: Stamford’s Planned Parenthood, 1039 East Main St.

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

St. Monica Institute for Patristic Studies:— Biblical Greek: Intermediate Grammar: Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm in the rectory. Call Monsignor DiGiovanni for more information (203-324-1553, ext 11).

St. Monica Latin Reading Group: Thursdays at 12:45 in the Rectory.

Coffee Hour: There is no Coffee Hour this Sunday, December 27th, because of New Years. Coffee Hour will resume next Sunday January 3rd, after the 10a.m. Family Mass in the Monsignor Nagle Parish Hall.

St. John’s in THE ADVOCATE:

155 years ago, or so:
Dec. 27, 1861: CHRISTMAS IN THE CHURCHES. “Roman Catholic—Early Mass was celebrated, and at 10 o’clock there were the usual Christmas services, and an appropriate sermon by the Rev. Father O’Neil. The church is handsomely decorated.”

110 years ago, or so:
Jan. 2, 1907: New Parochial School Opens. “St. John’s parochial school took up its quarters in its new building this morning. There were about 500 children present. They attended Mass in the church at 9 a.m. and then went over to their new school. There was some inconvenience in getting the session under way, because all the work on the interior was not entirely completed. By Monday, everything will be done, it is expected, and from that time on things will move along smoothly. There were a number of visitors in the school yesterday, and all were well impressed with it.”

90 years ago, or so:
Dec. 29, 1926: ST. JOHN’S CHURCH SHOWING NEW TOWER. “St. John’s R. C. Church, at Bell and Atlantic Streets, looks new now with the completion of the new tower. The completion of the tower comes as the result of years of planning by the Rev. James C. O’Brien, pastor of the church, and forms a splendid memorial to his work as leader of the parish. The tower may be seen from practically all parts of Stamford. The church is now one of the finest pieces of architecture in the city, and in fact, is one of the finest church buildings in the state.”

75 years ago, or so:
Dec. 29, 1941: Father Hagearty Urges Return to Christ’s Precepts. “An appeal for a return to religious principles and the acceptance of divine precepts to love God and neighbor, without which, he said, the world can never live in peace and harmony, was made yesterday by the Rev. Charles E. Hagearty of St. John’s Catholic Church, speaker for the initial radio broadcast of the Stamford Angelus Hour. Father Hagearty urged all to draw closer to the Great, unseen God, and stay the wrath of His arm from our beloved land. In this present time God forbid that we reenact a spectacle similar to that of Versailles where God Almighty was refused admittance, and where nations tried to grope their way to peace. For there can be no peace and no order in this world unless Christ and His principles are adopted and energized into the life of every nation. We Americans may have to fight a long, hard battle to accomplish that fact. If there is a reason for fighting, then there is good reason for fighting in pursuit of such principles.”

“Church again?”
-Fr. Andy Vill

“Father, does Christmas Mass fulfill my weekly obligation to go to church?” You might be asking why we need to be at church on Sunday since we just had Mass on Friday. This is a similar question I am asked by people who attend a Saturday afternoon wedding Mass. Sometimes we can fall into the minimalistic attitude of trying to find the base level of our obligations and satisfy these requirements. What does that say about what we think Mass is? Do I see it as a burden that needs to be checked off of a list, or do I see it as an opportunity to spend time with the one with whom I hope to spend all eternity in heaven. Mass is all about getting to know the One who loves us and to prepare ourselves to be with him forever. We encounter to God who IS love itself. When it comes anything in life the Church teaches moderation in all things; except love. There is no excess in true love. It is impossible to love too much.

To quote our bishop, “The evangelization of the people and the spreading of the Gospel is not so much about learning facts about a historical man as much as it is about falling love with a Savior.” When a relationship between a man and a woman first begins, they want to spend all of their time together. If we were to pose the same question to a new couple, how would they react? “Do you really have to see your girlfriend on Sunday? After all, didn’t you just see her two days ago?” Sometimes though, it can seem as if love has grown cold. “Sure he loves me, but what has he done for me lately?” If we find Mass boring, chances are that we are in the same boat; there is an experience of a love grown cold.

I will be the first to admit that every Mass I have attended has not been filled with ecstatic experiences of mysticism or angelic locutions, but, for the most part, the “boring Masses” are ones which I am not prepared for or don’t put my whole self into. Do I prepare myself at home before I show up for Mass? When I am there, do I pay attention to what is going on? Do I realize that what we celebrated two days ago at Christmas, the coming of Christ into the world, happens every day at Mass? The God of the whole universe has humbled Himself and become man to lead us to heaven and has left us the Sacrament of His very Self in the Eucharist! This God who loves us has come to spend time with us. Are we excited about that opportunity to spend time with him?