For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday Feb 28, 2016

Pastor’s Corner: Happy Leap Year! As you know, February 28th should be the last day of February. However, being Leap Year, we are blessed with an additional day in this most tiresome of months.

I’m aware of only one literary or musical work whose primary focus, and the turning point in the lives of the protagonists, is Leap Day—February 29th, and that is the Gilbert and Sullivan masterpiece entitled, The Pirates of Penzance, with its secondary title, A Slave to Duty. Its London opening night was April 3, 1880, and here is a brief synopsis of that part of the operetta that concerns us:

Twenty-one years earlier, at the birth of our hero, Frederick on February 29th, his parents assigned his nurse, Ruth, to apprentice the boy to a shipping PILOT: being hard of hearing, she understood PIRATE, and arranged a contract whereby young Frederick would serve the local Pirate King until his 21st birthday: Since he was born on February 29th, that meant that Frederick would actually celebrate a birthday only once every four years! Unaware, Frederick reveals his intentions to leave the pirates on his 21st birthday—or, at least, what he considers his 21st birthday. The Pirate King is not happy about losing his best apprentice, and searches for a way to postpone Frederick’s departure. He finds his answer when Frederick’s aged nurse, Ruth, reveals the ironic reality concerning the contract that bound the boy until his twenty-first birthday, and the Pirate King slowly explains the reality and its implications to Frederick:

Pirate King: “For some ridiculous reason, to which, however, I’ve no desire to be
disloyal, Some person in authority, I don’t know who, very likely the Astronomer Royal,
Has decided that, although for such a beastly month as February, twenty-eight days as a
rule are plenty.
One year in every four, his days shall be reckoned as nine-and-twenty.
Through some singular coincidence—I shouldn’t be surprised if it were owing to the
agency of an ill-natured fairy—
You are the victim of this clumsy arrangement, having been born in leap-year, on the
twenty-ninth of February,
And so, by a simple arithmetical process, you’ll easily discover,
That though you’ve lived twenty-one years, yet, if we go by birthdays,
you’re only five and a little bit over!”

The operetta continues as young Frederick searches his soul, and determines that he actually is bound by this contract, and, as a slave to duty, he must honor his commitment. He becomes the victim to the Pirate King’s self-interest by allowing himself to compromise his future. There is more, but all that interests us is February 29th: usually an unimportant just-another-day until we invest it with more importance than usual. The days of February and March are usually filled with such 24 hour periods we see as a series of just-another-days during which we plod through our daily regimen of activities. Our culture regularly invites us to compromise in our relationships, careers, and dreams for some greater good. When we compromise truth and virtue for self-interest, business, or personal gain, there is no good served. We let God down and cooperate with Evil, by acquiescing to compromise, and we all lose. Lent calls us to change that: these usual dreary winter days are transformed to become days of opportunity for grace, and February 29th is a special gift, if you will—even if in February—for additional graces.

These days of Lent offer us time to halt the usual compromises by our personal renewed conversion to Christ, so that these become grace-filled days of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. We become closer to Christ by being more Christ-like, no matter what our society, culture or friends reckon as the price, cost or loss. Let us put God’s interests first, not our own or those of our work or others, and use these days wisely for they lead to eternity. As Saint Paul terms it, we who were once slaves to sin and self-interest should now become slaves to righteousness and to Christ. [Romans 6:20] Happy Leap Year! —Monsignor DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Sophia Petrafesa, Donald Gerbasi, Lyn Geikie-Rice, Ann Cody, Addison Byrne, Ruth Coyle, Joyce Simoneau Rybnick, Brianna Petigny, Cathy Itri, Elaine Shoztic, Louise Morello, Chris Seely, Jacqueline Domingue, 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.

Please pray for those who have recently died: Angeline Kom Simo, Ken Hopson, Mary & Stephen Churley, 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.

Stations of the Cross: Fridays during Lent at 4 p.m. in the Basilica.

The Lenten rules of fasting and abstinence from eating meat: Fasting and abstinence from food are two ancient forms of penance, practiced by Our Lord, the Apostles, and the Blessed Mother. Fasting is the cutting back on the amount of food eaten on certain days. The practice applies to those aged 14-60 years old, unless ill or suffering from a serious 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.

CHOIR: Anyone having vocal musical talent who would like to offer your talents to God, please consider joining our parish choir. The choir rehearses each Friday evening, and sings at the 12 noon High Mass each Sunday. If you are interested, please contact our organist, David Indyk: idorganist@gmail.com

Faith on Tap: For young Catholics 21-39 years of age, will be on Tuesday, March 15th beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Murphy’s Townhouse Café on 97 Franklin Street. Father John Connaughton will speak on “Rethinking the Ten Commandments.” Join us for a beer and a stimulating discussion of our Faith.

The Upper Room: For Catholics 39 and up in age, will be on Tuesday, March 29th beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Columbus Park Trattoria’s Upper Room on Columbus Park in downtown Stamford. Join us for a glass of wine and a stimulating discussion of our Faith.

SAVE THE DATE: 2016 KENTUCKY DERBY: Save the date and join us! Saturday, May 7th, 4-7 p.m., in the Rectory. Our annual fundraiser features a simulcast of the “Run for the Roses,” fabulous food and drink, and the chance to win some spectacular prizes, like a 65” Samsung curved smart TV. Space limited to 100 guests only; tickets: $125. All proceeds this year will fund the painting/restoration of the wooden frames of the clerestory stained-glass windows in the Basilica. Details to follow.

Weekly Sunday collection:

Sunday February 21, 2016 $ 13,638.00
Sunday February 22, 2015 $ 11,160.88
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

March 6th, Sunday Readings: Jos 5:9a, 10-12; 2 Cor 5:17-21; Lk 15:1-3, 11-32

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.

MEN of SAINT JOHN’S: Looking for a spiritual boost? Try something new during Lent: Our Holy Name Society 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. in time for daily Mass. Just walk in the front door of the Rectory. Come join us!

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). The next series begins on Wednesday, March 2nd at 7:30 p.m.

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.

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

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, April 25th 7:30PM Location: Cosi at 230 Tresser Blvd, (in front of the Stamford Mall).

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased
Saturday, February 27, 2016
4:00 Special Intentions
Sunday, February 28, 2016
7:30 +Jeanne Loughlin req. Eleanore Smith
10:00 +Esperance Phillips req. Abdul and Sarah Aslam
12:00 +Marcial T. Gloria req. Angeles Family
5:00 +Peter Pia
6:00 +Patrick Kane and Family req. Estate of Catherine Kane and Family
Monday, February 29, 2016
8:00 Special Intentions
12:10 +Catherine Pascale req. John Pascale
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
8:00 +Susan Tolliver req. Maryann Rockwood
12:10 +Lorraine Nisonoff req. Bill Christiaanse
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
8:00 +Margaret M. Timon req. Tom Timon
12:10 +James and Adele Henson req. John Pascale
Thursday, March 3, 2016
8:00 Sister Ellen Mary CSJ Birthday req. Marie Carr
12:10 +Michael and Rose Rubino req. James and Lori Rubino
Friday, March 4, 2016
8:00 +Patrick Timon req. Tom Timon
12:10 Forgotten Souls in Purgatory
Saturday, March 5, 2016
8:00 In Honor of Infant Jesus req. Gina Uva
12:10 +Katherine Kenefic req. Marion Morris and Michelle (Morris) Sagdati

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: Tuesdays at 12:45 in the Rectory.

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

THE STAMFORD ADVOCATE:
125 years ago, or so:
March 6, 1891: “The Stations of the Cross and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament were given in St. John’s R. C. church on Wednesday evening. The regular Wednesday evening Lenten sermon was postponed until this Friday evening, at which time a discourse will be preached by the Rev. John Corcoran of New Haven, on the subject, “The Sacred Heart.”

80 years ago, or so:
March 4, 1936: 4 Scouts Qualify for Star Rank At Meeting Here. “Scout John Campo of Troop 22, sponsored by St. John’s R. C. Church, was promoted to Star Scout rank.”

75 years ago, or so:
March 5, 1941: HIBERNIANS TO MARK ST. PATRICK’S DAY WITH MARCH 17 ENTERTAINMENT. “St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 will be observed by the Gen. Philip Sheridan Branch, A. O. H., with its annual entertainment and dance in Hibernian Hall, Main St. The program will start at 8 p.m. and will include singing and dancing with Irish and American music, and other features. Thomas F. Harding is general chairman of the committees on arrangements, which includes John J. Fahey, treasurer; Malachy F. Lyman, president and master of ceremonies.”

60 years ago, or so:
March 4, 1957: Bob Gross Stars As Johnnies Win CYO Championship. “The St. John’s basketball five fought steadily to overcome an early deficit and defeat the St. Mary’s team to win the 16 year old title in the CYO playoffs to determine an entry in the Diocesan championships. Bob Gross’ basket with 30 seconds remaining in the game clinched the title for the Johnnies.”

FAIRFIELD COUNTY CATHOLIC:
15 years ago, or so:
March /April, 2001: Cause for Cardinal Kung’s canonization begins. “Official permission to begin the cause and process for the canonization of Ignatius Cardinal Kung Pin-Mei, the Vatican-approved Bishop of Shanghai, China, who resided in Stamford for 12 years until his death at the age of 99, has been received from Paul Cardinal Shan, S.J. Bishop of Kaohsiung in Taiwan. The surprise announcement was made by his nephew, Joseph Kung, president of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, at a Latin Mass on March 11 at Saint John the Evangelist Parish in Stamford, to celebrate the first anniversary of the cardinal’s death. Although permission has NOT yet been received from the Holy See, Joseph Kung expressed his hope that it will not be long in coming.” [Editor’s note: In 2004, Msgr. DiGiovanni was named by the Vatican to oversee the collection of documents and testimonies about the Cardinal’s life in preparation for the opening of a Cause of Canonization.]

“Who am I to Judge?”
-Fr. Andy Vill

As we have all come to discover during the pontificate of Pope Francis, the comments he makes during interviews are not always the easiest to understand, are not always clarified, and the lay faithful (and even not-so-faithful) are left to interpret his comments on their own. One particular comment that people are still seeking clarification on comes from an interview the pope gave on his return trip to the Vatican from Rio de Janeiro in the summer of 2013. The often quoted line “Who am I to judge?” has been interpreted by many as the pope’s implicit approval of homosexuality and homosexual acts. I would like to clarify the context of his comments and try to explain what he said and what he meant.

I will begin with the original Italian text and then give you my translation of it.

Ma si deve distinguere il fatto che una persona è gay dal fatto di fare una lobby. Se è lobby, non tutte sono buone. Se una persona è gay e cerca il Signore e ha buona volontà, chi sono io per giudicarla? Il catechismo della Chiesa cattolica dice che queste persone non devono essere discriminate ma accolte. Il problema non è avere queste tendenze, sono fratelli, il problema è fare lobby: di questa tendenza o d’affari, lobby dei politici, lobby dei massoni, tante lobby…questo è il problema più grave.

But one must distinguish between the reality that a person is gay and that of forming a special interest group (lobby). If it’s a special interest group; not all of them are good. If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge him [or her]? The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that these persons must not be discriminated against but welcomed. Having these tendencies is not the difficulty; they are brothers [and sisters], the difficulty is in forming special interest groups: of this type [gay], of politicians, of Masons, so many interest groups…this is the more serious problem.

[NB: It is my opinion that translating the English word used by the Italian interviewer “lobby” as “special interest group” better communicates the sense of what he was asking about.]

The particular question he was addressing was about whether or not there exists a “gay lobby” in the Vatican. Earlier in his response to the question he joked that he has still never encountered anyone with a Vatican ID card that had “gay” listed on it. In his comments, the pope was specifically addressing the existence of special interest groups which are pushing forward an agenda. He sagely distinguished between an individual struggling with sinful tendencies and people trying to promote those tendencies as good in themselves.

Jesus tells us not to judge lest we be judged (Cfr. Matthew 7:1-3). In this Scripture passage He instructs us not to judge people. That is what the pope reaffirmed with his words, “Who am I to judge?” In this he is saying, “Who am I to judge that man or that woman?” He is not saying that he never makes any judgements in his life. In our everyday experience we constantly make good judgements. We use our reason and intellect to tell us things which sometimes is considered common sense. When milk smells sour and it pours with lumps in it, we make the judgement that the milk has spoiled. We don’t throw up our hands and say, “Well, Jesus told me not to judge so I can’t really judge this to be bad milk…” The same goes for our sins. At the end of our day, when we examine our conscience, we judge our actions and failure to act as good or bad, as holy or sinful.

When the pope says “Who am I to judge?” neither is it an unqualified statement. He supposes that a person is seeking the Lord and is of goodwill. Would that this could be said of everyone; whether they struggle with same sex attraction or not! While the pope’s words should not be taken as a broad acceptance of homosexual activity, it should not be lost on us the good gesture these words have made towards people who struggle with homosexual tendencies.

It can be easy for us to judge people even though Jesus tells us not to. Due to our fallen nature we do fail at loving our brothers and sisters. It can be easy especially to judge others because they struggle with sins that do not tempt us in our own life. Let us remember to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Let us look too Him to teach us how to love. Let us strive to be people who seek Jesus and are of goodwill so that if anyone looks at us wrought with our own weaknesses they too might say, “Who am I to judge?”