For the entire bulletin with pictures, please click the following link: Bulletin for Sunday December 25, 2016nativity-scenePastor’s Corner: The most recognizable symbol of Christmas is the Nativity scene. Ours is displayed on the Saint Joseph side altar. Saint Francis of Assisi created the first Nativity scene in 1223 to accompany Christmas Midnight Mass in the tiny Italian town of Grecio. Saint Bonaventure, Francis’ biographer, described the scene: “… in order to excite the inhabitants of Grecio to commemorate the nativity of the Infant Jesus with great devotion, Francis determined to keep it with all possible solemnity. He prepared a manger, and brought hay, and an ox and an ass to the place appointed. Francis stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy; the holy Gospel was chanted by Francis. . . and then he preached about the nativity of Jesus, the poor King; being unable to utter His name for tenderness of His love, He called Him the Babe of Bethlehem.” Francis wanted to underscore the reality that God had become a man on the first Christmas night. The best way to instruct illiterate villagers was to let them see first hand what Christ’s Nativity was like. They could identify with something they could see.

The same was true elsewhere in Europe in a new form of instructional entertainment designed by the Church that came to be known as “Passion Plays.” These formed a series of plays outlining salvation history, from Genesis until the end of the world. The most famous of these was annually performed in the English village of Wakefield. Shakespeare would have seen these as a youth, and it is believed they inspired and influenced his writing. In one of the Christmas pageants called “The Second Shepherds’ Play”, local humor and customs are included to bring home the central message of the force of God’s love for us. Three poor shepherds, huddling against the cold in the field, admit a stranger to their ranks to keep warm with them. The stranger casts a sleeping spell over them, steals a young lamb without blemish, and runs home to his hungry, drunken wife. Knowing the shepherds will search for the lost sheep, the wife decides to dress the sheep as a baby. She and her “newborn” hop into bed, just as the angry shepherds arrive, ready to kill the thieving shepherd. But seeing the baby asleep with its mother, even after noticing his rather large nose, they relent and leave. Outside, they reproach themselves for not having brought the newborn baby any gifts. Here is the symbolic beginning of Christianity—remorse for sin, and a desire to be charitable. The shepherds return with simple gifts, but this time uncover the ruse and recover their lost sheep. Angrily departing from the home, they are met by angels singing: “Glory to God in the highest” for God has come among men—and the shepherds are led to a cave where a child is born—the True Lamb of God, with His poor parents. They offer the Child the gifts they’d brought to the lamb dressed as a baby: a few cherries, fresh in the middle of winter [!], suggestive of Jesus’ miraculous resurrection from the dead; a little bird, suggestive of the Holy Spirit and of Christ’s divinity; and a tennis ball—from the then newly popular royal sport, suggestive of an orb, the sign of Christ’s universal kingship as God.

St. Francis’ simple Nativity scene and the Wakefield plays were both created by the Church to instruct the poor about the real generosity of God. Today there is a whole generation of people who are truly poor—not just financially, but because they disbelieve in the reality of God’s riches. Believe, for the unseen God truly became a man so that mankind could become like God. By believing, you permit God to share His eternal riches with you. Merry Christmas!

During Christmas season through February 2nd, the parish Religious Education students of will be able to “preach” to the Baby Jesus each Sunday during class time. This hallowed tradition was also instituted by St. Francis as a means to move children to speak to Our Lord who became a baby that they might share God’s life now and forever. —Monsignor DiGiovanni

Please pray for the sick: Paula Bennett, Mildred Beirne, Karen Hsu, Silvana Smith, Harriet Lockhart, Joseph Kung, Jacqueline Domingue, Eilish Collins Main, Thomas McGuire, Antonietta Cerone, Sylvia Ardise, Sylvia Iannazzi, A.J. Barr, William Byrnes, Jonathan Victor, Sophia Petrafesa, Donald Gerbasi, Lyn Geikie-Rice, Addison Byrne, Ruth Coyle, Brianna Petigny, Elaine Shoztic, Joan Kronk, John Kronk, Mary Lena Cocchia, Alexandre Laurent, John Murray.

Please pray for those who have recently died: Paul Hughes, Paul Polotaye, Joyce Simoneau Rybnick, Cathy Itri, Oswaldo Diaz, Maria Imbrogno, James Saunders, Margaret Potolicchio, Richard Hughes, Israel Noriega, Dennis Winski, Msgr. Robert McCormick, Camille Lindstrom, Catherine Olnek, Dominick J. Marciano, John D’Agostino, Carol J. Toppin, John MacLean, Muriel Rysinski, Joan Terpack, Nancy Ligouri, Jean Corcoran, Ralph Bocuzzi.

Christmas Day Collection . . . The second collection on Christmas will be the for the parish. Your generosity is appreciated.

LATIN LOW MASS: In the Extraordinary Form each Friday at 2pm. Everyone is welcome.

Are you a student at UCONN Stamford? Please contact Fr. Andy Vill (frvill@diobpt.org). We are looking for some help/interest in some on campus activities.

R.C.I.A.: There will be no class on December 26th or January 2nd. Our next class will be Monday, January 9th at 7pm-8:30pm in the Rectory. Topic: The Essence of Catholic Morality/Human Nature as the Basis for Catholic Morality —Part II: Chapters 1-2.

Faith on Tap: January 24th: Young adults age 21-39 are invited to join us at Murphy’s Townhouse Cafe , 97 Franklin St., Stamford’s downtown: 7pm-9pm. Patrick Donovan of the Diocesan Leadership Institute will be talking about “Ten Ways To Evangelize Every Single Day”. Bring a friend or two!

Preaching to Baby Jesus: On Sundays January 8, 22 & 29, the parish religious education students will be invited to preach to the Baby Jesus, represented in the parish Nativity scene on the St. Joseph Side Altar. These little 1 minute student sermons will take place during the regular religious education classes on Sundays. Parents and families are invited to attend. This pious practice began in the 13th century by Saint Francis of Assisi, and continues to be practiced in the Roman parish church of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli, near the Roman Forum. School aged children are invited to mount a small pulpit and say a few words thanking the Son of God for becoming a baby in Bethlehem so we could have eternal life.

Weekly Sunday collection:
Sunday December 18, 2016 $ 13,162.71
Sunday December 20, 2015 $ 14,017.48

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 1st, Sunday Readings: Nm 6:22-27; Gal 4:4-7; Lk 2:16-21.

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.

St. Monica Biblical Greek Grammar: Anyone interested in beginning to learn the basics of Biblical Greek, OR Biblical Hebrew, please phone the Rectory [203-324-1553, ext. 11]

St. Monica Latin Reading Group: Tuesdays at 12:45 in the Rectory.  We are reading two works of St Ambrose:  De Mysteriis, a treatise on the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist cir a.d. 387;   Epistula ad Sororem Marcellinam, an account of the frustrated attempts of the Arian and of the Imperial Party to gain possession of a basilica at Milan, a.d. 385. An intermediate reading ability in Latin is necessary.  Call the rectory for further 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, January 23rd at 7:30PM – Stamford Corners, 1455 Washington Blvd, Stamford. Walk up the stairs and past the concierge to the club room. Follow it around to the left to the conference room on your right.

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

Help End Legalized Abortion: Abortions take place daily at Stamford’s Planned Parenthood, 35 Sixth Street. To join or for training as a Sidewalk Counselor, call Noelle at (857) 345-0808.

Young Adult Mass and Holy Hour: Calling all young adults! Join us for our next monthly Young Adult Mass and Holy Hour, Thursday, January 5th! Holy Hour begins at 6:30pm and Mass begins at 7:30pm. We’ll see you there!

Trinity Catholic High School: Grades 8 thru 12 – First Friday Fest – Every First Friday of the Month -Games, Adoration, Friends, Food – 7PM – 9PM.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Tuesday, December 27th
Solemn Choral Sung Vespers,
procession and Veneration
of the first class Relics of Saint John the Evangelist at 7:30pm-8:30pm on our parish patronal feast day. A light reception to follow. Everyone is welcome.
++++++++++

“Walking with Purpose”: A program of prayer and Bible Study for Catholic women, Tuesday mornings beginning at 9:30 am in the parish hall. For more information, contact: Rosa Federici at wwptbsj@gmail.com or 203-536-5480.

Natural Family Planning & Fertility Care: Are you looking for information to help you understand and appreciate your fertility? The Creighton Model System is based on a couple’s knowledge and understanding of their naturally occurring phases of fertility and infertility. This system deals with the complete dimension of procreative ability. It can be used in conjunction with NaProTechnology to assist with infertility and sub-fertility issues in a natural way. Teachers of the Creighton Model System are trained allied health professionals and specifically trained physicians. To schedule a free introductory session: Angela Marchetti: angelamarachettifcp@gmail.com

Catholic Young Adults of Stamford: We are Catholic young adults in our 20s and 30s, committed to strengthening community ties through regular meetings to growth in our faith, social events, and community service projects. Join us for our monthly Sunday dinner following 5pm Mass. Connect with us by joining our group on Facebook or Meetup. For more information, please email catholicyastamford@gmail.com.

Mass of Remembrance: A Mass of Remembrance for the loss of a child will be held on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Wednesday, December 28, 2016 at 7 p.m. at St. Ann Parish in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport. Father Perter Lynch, pastor, will celebrate the Mass. For more information, email OfficeofFaithFormation@diobpt.org.

Our Lady Star of the Sea School: Will be having Open Houses on Sunday, January 29, 2017 10:00a.m.-12noon and Wednesday, February 01, 2017 from 9:00a.m.-11:00a.m. For more information, please contact Mary Margarone, Director of Admissions, admissions.olss@gmail.com.

Villa Maria School: located in Stamford, CT and proud to have over 40 years of success in inspiring students with learning disabilities, will host a series of Open Houses in January. Dates and times are Sunday, January 22 from 2-4 PM, Monday, January 23 from 9:30-11:00 AM, and Monday, January 23 from 6:30-8:00 PM. To RSVP for Open House, contact Stephen Bennhoff, Assistant Head of School at Villa Maria School, at 203-322-5886 ext 104. Or email him at sbennhoff@villamariaedu.org.

Mass Intentions
+ Denotes Deceased

Saturday, CHRISTMAS EVE., December 24, 2016
4:00 +Vito and Josephine Melfi req. Joe Melfi
MIDNIGHT: People of the Parish
Sunday, CHRISTMAS, December 25, 2016
7:30 People of the Parish
10:00 +Mary Audette req. her son
12:00 People of the Parish
5:00 NO MASS
Monday, December 26, 2016
8:00 Special Intentions Thomas Cycon req. Mary and Jef Spetland
12:10 +John Melfi, Sr., Mary Melfi, John Melfi, Jr. req. Joe Melfi
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
8:00 +Nang Nguyen req. Thang Nguyen
12:10 +William Borkowski req. Michael and Ann Borkowski
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
8:00 +Randolph Samedi req. Anne Marie Samedi
12:10 +Theresa Pereira req. Abdul and Sarah Aslam
Thursday, December 29, 2016
8:00 +Ana Sollesta req. Lilian and Alvina Ramos
12:10 Alvina Ramos req. Maria Trivino
Friday, December 30, 2016
8:00 Barbara Schueger req. Maria Trivino
12:10 +Bryan Washington req. Dr. Joe McAleer
Saturday, December 31, 2016
8:00 +Wladek and Willemina Falek req. daughter
12:10 Padre Juan Pineda Anniversary in the Priesthood req. Maria Trivino

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). Baptisms are offered for parishioners only.

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. Weddings are offered for parishioners only.

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.

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

St. Monica Institute for Patristic Studies:— Introduction to Biblical Greek or Biblical Hebrew: 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: There is no Coffee Hour this Sunday, December 25th, because of Christmas and there will be no Coffee Hour January 1st, because of New Year’s Day. Coffee Hour will resume Sunday January 8th, after the 10a.m. Family Mass in the Monsignor Nagle Parish Hall.

St. John’s in the ADVOCATE:

125 years ago, or so:
December 25, 1891: St. John’s R. C. Church. “The feature of the Christmas decoration at this church is at the left of the Sanctuary, representing in evergreens and straw the manger at Bethlehem. The central figure is the child Jesus on the left and right of whom, kneeling, are St. Mary and St. Joseph, with the figures of two adoring angels. The idea is a happy one and happily carried out. On Christmas morning there will be High Mass at 5:30, Mass at 7:30 and 9:00 and High Mass at 10:30. At the latter, Sterns Mass in D complete, with twenty voices accompanied by organ, violin and cornet, will be rendered. In the offertory “Adeste Fideles” will be sung. At 7:30 p.m. Fiske’s grand musical Vespers will be rendered. This program will be repeated on Sunday, the 27th.”

100 years ago, or so:
December 26, 1914: CHURCHES CELEBRATE FEAST OF NATIVITY. “In the Catholic and other churches, Christmas was celebrated with the customary joy and the services were well attended. St. John’s Catholic Church was trimmed with holly and evergreens, and the “Manger Scene” also was depicted here. Mass was held at 5 a.m.; Solemn High Mass at 7:30; Masses at 9 and 9:30 and Solemn High Mass again at 10:30.”

75 years ago, or so:
December 31, 1938: Children of Mary Groups to Receive Holy Communion. “The Senior and Junior divisions of the Children of Mary Sodality of St. John’s Catholic Church will receive communion in a body at the 8 o’clock Mass, tomorrow. They will occupy seats in the center aisle on the left and right sides, respectively. The Senior division will hold the monthly meeting on Friday, Jan. 6, at 8:30, after evening devotions, in the lower chapel of the church. All members are expected to be present. Election of officers for the ensuing year will take place and plans for coming activities will be made. The sodality will give a skating party on January 17 in the skating rink on Gay Street.“

50 Years ago, or so:
December 29, 1966: Scout Troop 22. “Scout Troop 22,. Sponsored by St. John’s R. C. Church, had its annual winter camping trip to Camp Toquam at Goshen, Conn. during the weekend of Dec. 16. The troop stayed in Leland Lodge. Taking advantage of the newly fallen snow, several scouts were able to pass the stalking and trailing requirements for first and second class. Most of the cooking was done on a coal stove by the adult leaders. The scouts cooked their own Shish Kebab over the fireplace on Saturday night.”