For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday Feb 7, 2016

Pastor’s Corner: Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 10th. It is much more than a time of increased piety or resolutions designed to break bad habits or to lose weight. Lent is the Church’s annual season of struggle against Satan and the power of Evil. That struggle began at the beginning of time when we turned our backs on God in disobedience in Eden. The final struggle began over 2,000 years ago when the eternal Son of God, creator of the universe, took on human flesh of the Virgin Mary and was born in Bethlehem. The Creator became a creature to free the only creature made in His image and likeness-US-from the power of Satan and from the sway of his most potent weapon, death. As one of the prayers for Christmas Mass reads: “Hasten, Lord our God, do not delay, and free us by Your power from the devil’s fury.” What is “the devil’s fury”? Moviegoers might imagine a scene from The Exorcist, or some other cinematographic special effects. The devil’s fury is subtler and more boringly mundane than anything Hollywood might imagine. The devil’s fury is daily temptation, which Satan ratchets up as we seek to fight it off by the practice of virtue. By falling into sin, Satan wins, and his hatred of God bears fruit in the eternal damnation of God’s image and likeness—US.

Lent is the Church’s great annual spiritual exercise with its focal point on the mystery of Christ’s redemptive mercy, foretold in the Old Testament, realized in the earthly life of Jesus, especially in His Passion, death, resurrection and ascension; and which is realized in us by our worthy and frequent reception of the sacraments, especially Confession and Holy Communion, and then in prayer, fasting, acts of mercy, spiritual reading, and a more intense practice of the Christian virtues in our daily lives. In other words, we open ourselves more readily to Christ’s transforming grace by living a more intense Christian life. Lent is the time to begin anew to live that more intensely Christian life. According to Saint Peter Chrysologus, “Three things sustain faith, devotion, and virtue,”. . . “prayer, fasting, and mercy to others. Prayer knocks at God’s door, fasting wins us what we need, and mercy is the hand cupped to receive . . . Let him who prays also fast; let him who fasts have pity on others; let him who wishes to be heard hear those who ask his help, for such a person alone has God’s ear whose own ear is not closed to the needs of others.” [Sermon 43]

How to begin? Don’t make crazy resolutions you’ll never keep. Decide to set sin aside, instead, and to open your heart to doing God’s will as the most important guide for all you do in your daily life. First: go to Confession and use the first days of Lent to meditate on the Passion of Christ: look at His sufferings for what they are—Jesus suffering to save you from Satan and eternal death. Another of Christ’s saints describes it in these words: “There is no greater stimulus to love our enemies [in which fraternal charity finds its perfect form] than the contemplation of the marvelous patience of Him who . . . offered His face to be spat upon and endured the other torments of His Passion . . . Did anyone hear those sweet and loving words of Christ from the Cross: ‘Father forgive them. . ?” Blessed Abbot Aelred continues, “If you are to love yourself correctly, you must not yield to carnal pleasure, by which is meant self-centeredness. If you do not to yield to carnal pleasure, center your affections on the loving person of the Lord.” [The Mirror of Charity, 3]. Start your first week of Lent by reading and meditating on the Passion narratives in the four Gospels. Read some each day, and think about them, and pray for a few minutes daily in gratitude to God for thinking so highly of you, personally, that He sent Christ to die for you. Express that gratitude in acts of charity, fasting, prayer and penance.

Avoiding and ignoring God isolates us, making us turn inward. In the Inferno, the first section of his masterpiece the Divine Comedy, Dante proposes that the lowest circle of Hell is a frozen wasteland—perpetual February—with Satan at the very lowest point of Hell, frozen in solid ice, forever. He’s entirely paralyzed by ice; isolated from everything and everyone, his mind seethes with frustration over his defeat by God and his eternal punishment. Having refused to serve God in Heaven, Satan rules in a Hell which is its own punishment—his perpetual hatred and frustration producing only a repulsive bloody froth, seeping from his tear ducts and mouth for all eternity. Sin isolates us from God and from one another, because by using others in sin, we strike at God, isolate ourselves from others, and get angry at our unhappiness.

My suggestion to avoid this fate—turning in on yourself, seething in frustration, isolated from everyone because of the ice and frigid temperatures of your cold heart and soul during these 40 days of Lent–is to do a few things:

–Practice charity: get out of your house and help someone: a relative or neighbor who needs a little assistance. Or, you might even volunteer at the Stamford Senior Center on Summer Street: Give them a call at 324-6584. You don’t need any training or specialized skills. Please identify yourself as a parishioner of St. John’s and that I asked you to call;

–Volunteer at the New Covenant House of Hospitality, 174 Richmond Hill Avenue, behind the Yerwood Center at 964-8228. This “soup kitchen”, run by the Diocese of Bridgeport, is always looking for those who want to help.

–Read a little Scripture: try the Gospel of Luke and Saint Paul’s Letters to the Thessalonians. Both great reads that should inspire gratitude to God for His generosity.

These are a few ideas to get you out of yourself during these last bleak weeks of winter during Lent. Forget the groundhog, and concentrate on doing what you were designed to do: act more like God in charity and be grateful to Our Lord for his generosity. So, buck up your spirits: despite the weather, God has done a lot of hard work to make sure you don’t end up in that perpetual February freeze of Hell. Bring some warmth into someone else’s life by volunteering, and some warmth into your own by reading about God’s love for you in Scripture and by praying daily.
—Monsignor DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Donald Gerbasi, Lyn Geikie-Rice, Ann Cody, Bridget Ormond, Addison Byrne, Ruth Coyle, Joyce Simoneau Rybnick, Brianna Petigny, Cathy Itri, Elaine Shoztic, Louise Morello, Chris Seely, Jacqueline Domingue, Mary Churley, John 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, Paolo Cavallo, Silvana Smith, Josh Frank, Mildred Beirne, Joe Brennan, Betty Brennan, Nancy Gallagher, Billy Therriault, Loy Mulyagonja, Jay & Catherine Olnek, Marie Augustin.

Please pray for those who have recently died: Deborah Karen Fallacaro, Fr. Joseph Malloy, Alberico Faugno, Alvaro Paternina, Bonnie Keyes, Anne Duffell, Marian Bissell, 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

Banns of Marriage:
II Banns: Jennifer Anne Giannitti and Ross Perry Marlin

LENT begins on ASH WEDNESDAY: February 10th: Ash Wednesday is NOT a holy day of obligation. Ashes will be given out IN THE BASILICA during the 8 am and 12:10 pm Masses that day; AND in the basilica at 7 am, 1pm and 7:30 pm, without any ceremony.
ASHES WILL NOT BE GIVEN OUT AT THE RECTORY.

The Lenten rules of fasting and abstinence from eating meat apply on Ash Wednesday & Good Friday: The rules of fasting, meaning cutting back on the amount of food eaten on certain days, applies to those aged 14-60 years old, unless ill or suffering from a medical condition. Fasting means that only one full meal [on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday] is to be taken and NO snacking between meals. Abstinence from eating meat means that no meat is to be eaten on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, or on any Fridays of Lent. This is a simple way to begin doing penance for our 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. If one is ill, 60 years or older, or suffers from any medical condition, these rules do not apply.

Stations of the Cross: Downstairs in the Nagle Hall, Fridays during Lent at 4:00pm in English, NOT on Good Friday.

Police:As policemen and women are under attack throughout the country, we ask that you Please remember the members of our Stamford Police Department in your prayers. Likewise, remember in your prayers members of Stamford’s EMS and Fire Department, and our military women and men who protect our nation.

Daily Mass: Until the work is completed upstairs in the Basilica, daily Masses: 8 a.m. and 12:10 p.m., Monday through Saturday, will continue to be offered downstairs in the Msgr. Nagle Parish Hall. Please be patient.

Eucharistic Adoration: with Praise and Worship Music will be offered at the Basilica on the evening of Saturday February 20th, 2016 from 7-8pm. Please bring your whole family for this experience of prayer before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament! Confessions will be available.

Weekly Sunday collection:

Sunday January 31, 2016 $ 14,131.00
Sunday February 1, 2015 $ 13,024.72

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 14th, Sunday Readings: Dt 26:4-10; Rom 10:8-13; Lk 4:1-13.

Interested in Cub Scouting? 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 at the Basilica please email Father Vill at frvill@diobpt.org with the subject Cub Scouts .

Rugby Anyone? Since we have many men in the parish who were Rugby players during their youth, I thought it might be an interesting project to begin an inter-parish league. If you are interested, please contact Monsignor: 203-324-1553, ext 11.

MEN of SAINT JOHN’S: Looking for a spiritual boost? Holy Name is it! Come to the Rectory each Friday at 7 a.m. and join with 30 men of the parish for coffee, prayer, Eucharistic adoration and Benediction. Out by 8 a.m. Just walk in the front door of the Rectory. Come join us!

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 203-348-4355 or www.birthright.org.

Life Runners: Are you a runner interested in joining the fight against abortion through LIFE Runners ((http://www.liferunners.org/)? Meet ups will consist of a monthly group run starting with prayer outside a local abortion clinic. No previous running experience is required. Please contact Diane Kremheller at diane.kremheller@gmail.com for additional details.

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

WANT TO BE A CATHOLIC? OR, are you a Catholic who would like a refresher course in the Faith, OR have you never received First Communion or Confirmation? These classes are for you: Wednesdays 7:30-9:00pm in the Rectory. This is an eighteen week course of studies. Please call the rectory for information (203-324-1553, ext. 21).

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:  Tuesdays 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.

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, February 22nd 7:30PM Location: Cosi at 230 Tresser Blvd, (in front of the Stamford Mall).

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, February 6, 2016
4:00 Joan Baldwin req. Jagodzinski Family
Sunday, February 7, 2016
7:30 +Joan Mercia
10:00 +Feroze Aslam req. Abdul and Sarah Aslam
12:00 John Ignatius Kung req. parents
5:00 +Peter Pia
6:00 People of the Parish
Monday, February 8, 2016
8:00 Bruce DeCaro req. Sis
12:10 +Alberico Faugno req. Msgr. DiGiovanni and the Priests of the Parish
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
8:00 Alexandra and Gertha Laurent
12:10 +Feroze Aslam req. Abdul and Sarah Aslam
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
8:00 +Doris McMahon req. Tom Timon
12:10 +Vito Longo req. daughter Millie
Thursday, February 11, 2016
8:00 Special Intentions Bishop Francis Caggiano
12:10 +Louis Fecci – 4th Anniversary req. Munro and DeVivo Families
Friday, February 12, 2016
8:00 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
12:10 +Alexander Munro – 38th Anniversary req. Munro and DeVivo Families
Saturday, February 13, 2016
8:00 +Hope and Joseph McAleer req. McAleer Family
12:10 Special Intentions Thomas Hickman req. Mother

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 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, 35 Sixth Street.

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 until Sunday, April 3rd, when the Altar construction is finished.

St. John’s in THE NEWS:

THE STAMFORD ADVOCATE:
110 years ago, or so:
Feb. 14, 1904: “There was a very large congregation present at the Ash Wednesday services in St. John’s R. C. Church, last night. Rev. Eugene Sullivan preached. There will be service 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.”

130 years ago, or so:
THE NEW YORK TIMES:
Sept. 10, 1885: Catholic Church News. “St. John’s Church, Stamford, when finished, will be one of the grandest edifices in the state of Connecticut. There will be three magnificent marble altars in the church, which will cost $8,000. < $214 thousand in 2016 dollars > The Rector is the Rev. William H. Rogers.”

THE CONNECTICUT CATHOLIC:
Sept. 12, 1885: STAMFORD. “A large number of boxes packed with the marble to build the altar of our church have arrived, which is only a portion of what is yet to come. As a portion of the marble to be used in the construction of the altar of our church has arrived, work is being done upon the foundation. The builders of the foundation are Messrs. Theis and Trueg of 42nd street, New York City and by the plans, it has been seen that the altar, when completed, will be second to none in New England.”

Sept. 26, 1885: STAMFORD. “The brick foundation, measuring about 7 feet by 20 feet, has been completed for the beautiful marble altar of our new church.

Oct. 10, 1885: STAMFORD. “The work of building the altar of our new church is still being carried on, and from the condition of the altar at present, one would say that it promises to be a marvel of beauty in itself. The greatest care is taken in putting the many pieces of marble and onyx stone in their proper places.”

Nov. 14, 1885: STAMFORD. “On Sunday the doors of our new church upstairs will be open, giving everyone an opportunity to see the present condition of the work, which is almost near completion. The beautiful altar, made of marble and onyx stone, is finished, having been built by a firm in New York, and is pronounced by that firm to be the finest one ever erected in their experience as builders.”

What Are You Giving Up?
-Fr. Andy Vill

The tradition of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving during Lent is a rich heritage in the Church and in a particular way, I want to focus this week’s article on the topic of fasting. Lent begins this week with Ash Wednesday and every year I find myself trying to think of things to give up. “I want to do something really meaningful this year.” I always tell myself. Some years I have done away with coffee. Others I have abstained from dessert or a certain food I like. At the end of the day, does it really matter what I give up? Absolutely.

At a conference given at the North American College, the head spiritual director talked about the two things that everyone needs to give up during Lent. “Ask the Lord,” he advised, “What is it that I need to give up for a time and what do I need to give up forever?” These two questions are essential as we begin Lent. The answers will be different for each person and unique to where they are with their relationship with the Lord in that moment.

The things we give up for a time like Facebook, watching TV, alcohol, chocolate, etc. are not in themselves bad things. This practice of abstaining from good things is a mortification in which we are training our bodies and our wills to say “no” to a good thing so that we will have the strength and discipline to say “no” to a bad thing when it presents itself. If I can say “no” to a piece of chocolate now, I will be able to say “no” to a temptation to sin as well.

There are also things which God is calling us to give up forever. Whether it is an addiction or an unhealthy relationship, bad habits or anything that acts as a block to our becoming saints; it needs to go. When we think about it, we can’t get into heaven until these things are eliminated from our life. It is a simple truth, but a bit hard to accept. If it were easy to remove, it wouldn’t really be a stumbling block, right? Allow God to use this time of Lent to purify us of any obstacles to our sanctity.

Ultimately what we choose to fast from during Lent is important because it should be something that you discussed with God. Don’t let your choice be arbitrary or as a means for self-improvement. “I am going to give up dessert because I need to lose weight anyways…” If God is asking you to give up dessert; do it. If you lose weight as a result; good for you. Just be sure that your motivation is as a result of your prayer and not your own preferences. Your self might in fact be improved, but let God be the one who does the improving, not you.