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Saint John Roman Catholic Church

19 St. John Sq., Middletown, Connecticut, (860) 347-5626 ........... Reverend Father Michael Phillippino

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Optional Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes


February 11


Today marks the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1858 to fourteen-year-old Marie Bernade (St. Bernadette) Soubirous. Between February 11 and July 16, 1858, the Blessed Virgin appeared eighteen times, and showed herself to St. Bernadette in the hollow of the rock at Lourdes. On March 25 she said to the little shepherdess who was only fourteen years of age: "I am the Immaculate Conception." Since then Lourdes has become a place of pilgrimage and many cures and conversions have taken place. The message of Lourdes is a call to personal conversion, prayer, and charity. 

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Angels  .....................



Very Rev. Father Michael Phillippino             


Director of Religious Education

Sr.Ann Mack

Kathryn Connolly


Parish Administrative Secretary

Ms. Megan Furtado

Parish Bookeeper
Ms. Patty Holmes

Parish Sexton
Mr. Bob Maxa

Parish Organist
Mrs. Joanne Swift




Parish Office Hours 

- Monday through Friday
    8AM to 3PM

- Closed weekends, holidays
    & holy days



Parish Council:
Meets every 2nd Thursday of the month at 7 PM in the Rectory; all parishioners are welcome to attend.



"The Mother Church of the Norwich Diocese"

Mass Schedule

Saturday Vigil Mass: 4:00 PM

Sunday Mass:            8:00 AM and 10:00 AM

Weekday Masses:      8:00 AM Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat

No 8AM Mass on Wed


Eucharistic Adoration begins in the chapel at 9AM after morning Mass on the 1st Friday of each month and ends at 6PM, in observance of the 6:30 Stations of the Cross, with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and a Benediction.


Monday Night:   Miraculous Medal Novena in the Chapel

Thursday Night: 7PM Prayer Group in the Chapel
First Fridays:     8AM Mass and Devotions to the Sacred Heart

First Saturdays: 8AM Mass and Holy Rosary

Confession:       Heard Saturdays, 3:00-3:30PM   


           ~ Air Conditioned and Handicapped Accessible~





Pastoral Sharings:  First Sunday of Lent




Homily from Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B
First Sunday of Lent
Posted for February 10, 2016

Luke 4:1-13

Gospel Summary

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Recall that this event comes immediately after Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan. After his baptism Jesus was praying when the Holy Spirit descended upon him, and a voice came from heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son.” (3: 22) The devil now says to Jesus, “If you are Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Then the devil promises all of the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would worship him. Finally the devil challenges Jesus to throw himself from the parapet of the temple to prove that since he is God’s Son, he would not be injured. Jesus triumphs over each temptation.

Life Implications

The writers of the gospels clearly affirm the humanity of Jesus. However, it is unlikely that they would have dared to say that Jesus was tempted by the devil--with the implication of the possibility of failure--unless Jesus himself had spoken of the trials he was undergoing. The Letter to the Hebrews expresses the tradition that Jesus initiated: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.” (4:15) In the dramatic confrontation between the devil and Jesus, Luke indicates that until the day Jesus died, the devil attempted to entice him from fidelity to his Father’s will and to his mission.

Luke explains the meaning of the temptations Jesus underwent by using the Book of Deuteronomy description of the temptations that Israel underwent in the desert wilderness. The key to interpretation lies in the text known in Hebrew as the Shema: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, and with all your whole being, and with your whole strength.” (Dt 6: 4-5) The Dominican bible scholar Jerome Murphy-O’Connor explains how the Shema was
 understood in Jesus’ time (Bible Review, August 1999).

“With your whole heart” means with a heart undivided by a contrary desire. In the desert wilderness the people’s craving for food divided their hearts from trust in God’s care for them. Jesus, however, would not allow his craving for food to divide his heart from complete trust in his Father’s care. “With your whole soul” means trust in God even if you should lose your life. In the wilderness the people were afraid they were going to die of thirst, and demanded evidence of God’s presence: “The Israelites quarreled there and tested the Lord, saying ‘Is the Lord in our midst or not?’”(Ex 17:7). Jesus, however, would not ask God to prove his presence by saving him if he jumped off the temple parapet. (Luke places this temptation last in his sequence because his whole gospel is a narrative of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. There he will choose fidelity to his Father’s will and mission over the desire to save his own life.) “With your whole strength” means with all your wealth. After the Israelites reached the Promised Land, they are warned that their wealth would cause them to forget the Lord, and to worship false gods and demons. The devil, understanding the allure of wealth, promises to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if he would forget God, and worship him. Jesus said to the devil in reply, “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve’” (4: 8).

The temptations of Jesus point back to the temptations of Israel in the past, and point forward to the trials that the Church in all its members will undergo in the future. It is now we who are in the wilderness, with no lasting city, on a journey to the Promised Land. Each trial that life brings even to our dying day is a crisis, but is also an opportunity to trust more completely that the Lord is with us, and that we do love God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our might. We are confident that we will triumph in our trials of faith, not because of our own strength, but because Jesus has given us his holy Spirit. Thus sharing the fidelity of his undivided heart, we can pray with confidence: Our Father, do not let us be defeated by temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B.





 St. John Paul II Regional School


Pre-K through Grade 8
860-347-2978 or 860-347-1195

Visit our website at


SCHOOL NEWS: St. John Paul II Regional School is ENROLLING NOW for the 2016-2017 school year. Admissions documents, application, and financial aid information can be found on the school website ( under the Admissions drop down tab.
Nar’s Army wristbands on sale now! St. JPII School is selling wristbands to benefit preschooler Nar Scaia as he journeys for a cure for hyper IgM. The wristbands are $2 each and 100% of the proceeds will benefit the Scaia family. They are available in the office of the school.

Ash Wednesday and Lenten Friday Schedule: Ash Wednesday is this upcoming week on February 10th. Masses will be held at 8 AM, 12:10 PM, and 7 PM, all on Wednesday, with distribution of ashes.
St. John’s will be doing Stations of the Cross every Friday with St. Mary’s Church, Portland, during this Lent. St. Mary’s will host Stations February 12, 19, and 26. Each session will be preceded by a soup supper in the St. Mary Parish Hall from 6:00 – 6:45, with Stations at 7:00 PM. St. John’s will continue the Stations March 4, 11, and 18, beginning with a soup supper in the Parish Center from 6:00 – 6:45 and Stations at 7:00 PM. Please consider non-perishable items as a free will offering for the St. John’s supper. All items will benefit Amazing Grace Food


The Chaplet of Divine Mercy In Song: During Lent, come pray the beautiful Chaplet of Divine Mercy as revealed to St. Faustina Kowalska. Each Saturday during Lent, beginning at 3:00PM in the main Church, we will pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Please join us.


Extra Confession Times: In honor of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Fr. Mike will be hearing confessions at extra times. Confessions will be heard at their usual Saturday 3:00 – 3:45 time slot, but Fr. Mike will also be available on Saturday mornings from 6:45 – 7:45 AM.


Marriage Plan Classes for Engaged Couples, “God’s Plan for Joy-Filled Marriage” – Fridays, February 5, 12, and 19 from 6:30 – 9 PM, Our Lady of Lourdes Church Hall, Gales Ferry. Cost is $60 per couple. For more information call the Office of Family Life, 860-848-2237 x. 306.


Xavier Open House: February 11: Young men grades 6-8 and high school students seeking to transfer are invited to attend the Xavier High School Open House February 11, 6-7:30 PM.


Bishop Michael Cote has designated St. John Church as a place of pilgrimage for the Diocese of Norwich during the Holy Year of Mercy.


Religious Education classes will be held for grades 1-9 on Monday, February 8th.
The Second Grade class will receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time after the 10 AM Mass on Sunday, February 21st.

“Give Me Your Hearts”: Preparing for Eternal Life
A Series of Five Free Talks with Sharing and Prayer

St. John Church will sponsor a five-week seminar on Sunday afternoons, February 7-March 6, from 2:30-4:00 PM in the Chapel. You may come to all sessions or just the ones that interest you most. Leaders are Dr. Ronda Chervin, Professor of Philosophy and Spirituality, Holy Apostles College and Seminary; Bob Olson, Lay Evangelist; Marti Armstrong, Gary McCabe, and Dr. Lorraine Harnett.

Week 1 (Feb. 7): Introduction by Dr. Ronda; perspectives on problems of aging, deciding on retirement, taking care of elderly, conflicts with adult children on finances and religion, where to reside as we age, bereavement.

Week 2 (Feb. 14): Healing and forgiveness (Bob Olson), guidelines for the Sacrament of Reconciliation including making a general confession (Fr. Michael Phillippino).

Week 3 (Feb. 21): Problems of physical sufferings and disabilities, the perils of living wills and other health care decisions (Dr. Lorraine Harnett).

Week 4 (Feb. 28): The immortality of the Soul and what the saints said about heaven (Dr. Ronda Chevrin).

Week 5 (Mar. 6): Spiritual growth in preparation for eternal life
(Gary McCabe).

Follow-Up Optional Session (Mar. 16): From 3-4 PM, choose between “The Way of Love” with Dr. Ronda or “The Ignatian Retreat” as developed by Dr. John Hardon with Gary McCabe. 



~ Middletown, Connecticut ~

Vatican Website

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St. John

Norwich Diocese

 St. John Church 'Nativity
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Ary Scheffer

The Temptation of Christ


Oil on Cavas

Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, England 

Preparing for the Mass February 14, 2016

The month of February is dedicated to the Holy Family.  The first ten days of February fall within the liturgical season of Ordinary Time which is represented by the liturgical color green. Green, the symbol of hope, is the color of the sprouting seed and arouses in the faithful the hope of reaping the eternal harvest of heaven, especially the hope of a glorious resurrection. The remaining days of February are the beginning of Lent. The liturgical color changes to purple — a symbol of penance, mortification and the sorrow of a contrite heart.


First Sunday of Lent


Sunday Bible Reflections from Scott Hahn and the liturgy can be found here and a children's liturgy can be found here.

First Sunday of Lent: Integrity

He was alone in the desert.  No one would see Him.  No one would witness His giving in to the devil.  He had plenty of excuses available.  He was hungry.  He had been fasting for forty days.  Why shouldn’t He do it?  He needed to eat.


He felt within Himself the call to lead His people from oppression.  With one meaningless action He could become powerful.  Wouldn’t it be worth it if He could establish Israel as the greatest empire in the world?   He knew that He was special, chosen.  What would be so wrong with His grasping at power when it was offered to Him? Maybe this is what He was chosen to do. 


First Sunday of Lent, Year C—February 14, 2016

On the first Sunday in Lent, we find ourselves in the desert with Jesus and the devil.  Why must our Lenten journey begin here?


Gospel (Read Lk 4:1-13)

St. Luke tells us that after His baptism in the Jordan River, Jesus “was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.”  We immediately sense that Jesus is on a mission.  The first action of His public ministry is to retreat from the public and, in a solitary place, face God’s primordial enemy.  Why?

God’s Mercy Sets Our Hearts Free

“I absolve you of your sins; go in peace!” These are among the most consoling words that the human ear can hear and that the heart can experience.  Yes, these are the words expressed by the priest, who represents Jesus the Physician and Healer at the conclusion of the Sacrament of Mercy, that we commonly title the Sacrament of Confession.


To know in the depths of your heart that you have been forgiven of all of your sins and that your guilt evaporates into thin air can be one of the most ennobling and uplifting experiences that a human person can relish!


Truth and the Eucharist

One thought belongs here: revelation and the pious recognition of divine truth. What does community with another person mean? Above all, it demands genuine mutual exchange, respect for his person, trust, loyalty, that simultaneous unity and reverence known as friendship or comradeship or love. Such an alliance surpasses the merely physical or merely spiritual. Because it rests on the will, it is capable of surviving the adversities to which all living things are exposed. But community has yet another element: the sharing of one another’s power, radiance, vital depths; the ability to experience with the immediacy of sympathy and love the life of the other.


Pope Francis: It’s God, Not Us, Who Takes the First Step

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis said in his Sunday Angelus address that it’s the weak and vulnerable who are most valuable in God’s eyes, and he stressed that God takes the initiative in meeting us where we are.


“God meets the men and women of every time and place in the concrete situation in which they find themselves. He also comes to encounter us,” the Pope said Jan. 31, adding, “It’s always he who makes the first step.”


Why Do We Put Ashes on Our Heads?

COMMENTARY: The roots and meaning of Ash Wednesday


Ash Wednesday sends us into the desert of Lent marked with the sign of humility, penitence and mortality. It’s a public sign, and its popularity in America — where Catholics historically attempted to flatten the difference between themselves and the dominant Protestant culture — is a distinct public assertion of belief, or at least identity, embraced even by those with an irregular practice of the faith.

People may not attend Mass every Sunday, but something draws them back to this curious ritual. As with all the days traditionally observed by PACE (Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, Christmas and Easter) Catholics, it remains embedded deeply in their sense of the faith, even when regular practice fades.

The Almighty Has His Own Purposes 

The problem of God allowing terrible things to happen to innocent people used to be of merely philosophical interest to me until my 21 year old son died in his sleep during the early morning hours of Pentecost in 2013. Endless words have been written on this subject, but I have always found moving the thought process of Abraham Lincoln as he addressed this complex subject.


Lincoln and the Will of God in Tragedy

The American Civil War has become such a part of American folk-lore, and so romanticized by reenactments, films, movies, etc, that we sometimes risk losing sight of just how dreadful it was. The death toll in the war would be the equivalent of us losing some six million killed in a war today and some ten million wounded, many of those maimed for life.


All People Are Walking Tabernacles Of Grace

For monk and author Thomas Merton, a famous revelation hit him at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the middle of the Louisville, Kentucky shopping district. For St. Francis, the revelation struck him while riding a horse on an Italian road leading to Assisi.


I’m not a contemplative or writer in the class of Merton and not a man of God of the caliber of St. Francis. Nonetheless, the revelation overwhelmed me one day as well, while I was driving my Toyota Highlander on Interstate 270 near St. Louis, Missouri. Not long afterward, during a presentation to my Secular Carmelites group, Father Seiler gave words to the sense that this writer hadn’t been able to find.


“People are walking tabernacles of grace.”


Crucifix or Cross? Why the Difference Matters

Among the differences between Catholics and Protestants, is the use of the crucifix or cross. This was keenly brought to my attention when a faithful Protestant friend brought her children to the Right to Life office one day. Hanging in a prominent place above the office door, was my Saint Benedict crucifix. When her son asked, “What is that on the cross?”, my stammering response confirmed his innocent question caught me off guard.


Discerning Private Revelation: Part Two

In the light of my previous article, Discerning Private Revelation: A Particular Pitfall,it seems right and just to offer another discussion on a particular area of private revelation that is also often in dispute. I am speaking of what I will here call “belief and unbelief” and it is to this theme that the present article is devoted.


In my travels and work with the Church’s theology of private revelation, I often hear the various reasons why people believe or do not believe in a claim of private revelation. From these reasons I argue that Catholics generally fall into various categories. I will, however, only refer to two: “believers” and “non-believers.” The “believers” are people who believe in a claim of private revelation. “Non-believers,” generally speaking, are people who do not believe in a particular private revelation.[1]


The Best Description of God, EVER!

At Mass today, I discovered the most thorough description of God I have ever heard.  It was contained in the second reading, verses from a chapter I’ve read or listened to many times before.  But like tumblers inside a combination lock, something clicked in my head today that never clicked before.  Here is what I’m referring to:

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


Love never fails.”  (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)


Discipleship Requires Solidarity with the Suffering

One of the great paradoxes of Christianity is how joy can be found in the midst of profound suffering. To the world this is shocking, misguided, or utter nonsense. How can suffering possibly lead to joy? For Christians the answer is quite simply the Cross. The intense suffering of Our Lord gave way to the Resurrection; suffering had to happen first. This truth also makes sense in light of Christ as the Suffering Servant and the title Son of Man. In solidarity, Jesus took on the profound suffering of mankind within Himself and redeemed the “many” through the Paschal Mystery. With this in mind, it should become clear to Christians that suffering is a part of the Christian journey. It is guaranteed in this life, but our suffering takes on new and profound meaning in light of our Christian vocation begun at Baptism.


Fighting Our Own Indifference

One only has to watch the news or follow the events of the day online to feel completely overwhelmed. Some of the challenges facing the world include ever-increasing threats to our Catholic faith. The Church is being accosted on all sides and the culture wars are raging. Christians are being persecuted and even murdered around the world, especially in the Middle East. We are locked in an ongoing series of ongoing battles over abortion, euthanasia, marriage and immigration. The Church has battled the evil of satanic “black masses” in Boston and Oklahoma City the last few years and there is a satanic monument recently erected in Detroit. There is a crisis in vocations to the priesthood and in some areas of our country, parishes are nearly empty. These are real issues which demand a response.


Suffering as a Path of Love

Lent begins early this year. We traditionally continue to celebrate Christmas by singing hymns in honor of the Nativity until the Feast of the Presentation (Purification of Mary) on February 2nd. Ash Wednesday follows a week and a day later. It makes me reflect on this short period of Ordinary Time in between our Lord’s Baptism and Lent. Is it liturgical no man’s land or is there a progression from one season to the next? Although we can look at Christmas as a tame celebration of the gentle babe lying in a manger,


Bishop Barron notes in his Catholicism series that the newborn Christ comes into his own creation as a warrior—although the great battle occurs later on the Cross. St. Robert Southwell’s poem, “The Burning Babe,” reflects on the reality of Christ’s love coming into an indifferent world, shedding tears with a heart on fire for indifferent sinners:


Adam’s Reach

The teaching of the Catholic Church, as any true and authoritative teaching, does not need a bold defense when it is not under attack. It need only be remembered and repeated.


Similarly, the rule of law can be taken for granted, sometimes for long stretches, when it is not challenged. Nor is the law itself something that needs feisty discussion, except when hard cases are systematically presented to bring into question the principles on which it rests.


Mercy itself – in both the transcendent religious sense, and in the small conventional senses – is not an issue under normal circumstances. A wrong has been done, and that wrong is confessed; some restitution is sincerely offered, and mercy is asked for what cannot be repaid.


Practical Lessons for a Deeper Faith this Lent

An Invitation to Enter the Desert with Christ


As we begin this Lenten season this Wednesday, we are called to enter the desert with Christ; to turn away from sin and towards our God. Many of us realize that we are called to face difficult questions during this penitential season.  The challenge we face is not only for us to ask those questions, but to face the challenge honestly,with humility,  and a firm resolve to prayer and action. Don’t let this Lent slip by unfulfilled.


So often, we struggle in this life and fail to understand why we are not, at this particular moment, satisfied, especially in these days of continued and persistent economic uncertainty.


Rise Up, Men of God! We Need You!

That number is on the rise as more and more couples choose the lifestyle of cohabitation and decide not to get married at all. Since the men in those relationships are not bound by any marriage vows, they feel less responsibility to stick around, especially if the marriage or childrearing starts to get tough. What are the results of fatherless homes? Let’s take a look at the statistics:


85% of criminals come from fatherless homes
90% of homeless come from fatherless homes
 73% of drug addicts come from fatherless homes
 63% of youth suicides come from fatherless homes
 80% of rapists come from fatherless homes
 72% of adolescent murderers grew up without fathers


5 Reasons to Pray the Divine Office Daily

If I were to ask someone, “what is the public prayer of the Church,” I would typically get the answer of the Rosary. While the Rosary is a great devotion, the Church names a different prayer the “public prayer of the church:” “The divine office, because it is the public prayer of the Church, is a source of piety, and nourishment for personal prayer” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 90). Yet very few lay people pray the divine office (aka the “Liturgy of the Hours;” praying the Psalms on a daily basis). It is often seen as the prayer of the priest, nun or monk.


Should I Believe in Miracles?

The eightenth-century Scottish skeptic philosopher David Hume argued the wise man should not believe in miracles. The basis for his assertion was what might be called the “repeatability principle”—evidence for what occurs over and over (the regular) always outweighs evidence for that which does not (the rare). Since miracles are rare and contradict our uniform experience, Hume argues the wise man ought never to believe in miracles.


While it’s true that a wise man should base his belief on the weight of evidence, it’s not true that evidence for uniform experience always outweighs evidence for what is singular and rare.

We know this for several reasons, but I’ll give you four.


Am I ready to die?

The diagnosis came like a bolt from the blue. I had spent my whole adult life being disgustingly healthy, so I took for granted that a routine doctor visit would be just that. Instead I found myself confronted by the imminent prospect of two potentially life-threatening surgeries. The ball began rolling in early July and has challenged me to the core of my being. Concerns were shaken to the extent that I lost all interest in the General Convention and its outcomes this past summer, I was now dealing with something far more pressing — issues of my life and death. The prospect of not surviving the surgery sharpened my perceptions and priorities.


Prayer – How to get started

Many years ago I used to run a retreat and conference centre in London. As I had to run the place on a shoe string I tried to do as many of the odd jobs myself to save money. But I always had to call in the plumber when the drains were blocked. One day when he was having his lunch I went to look inside his tool box to see if I could find the tool that he used to save me calling him again. It was then that I saw these words written in Latin inside the lid. ‘All for the greater  honour and glory of God’ (Ad maiorem Dei gloriam).This was the ‘be all and end all’ of all that  he said and did each day, as it has been for all sincerely practicing Christians from the very beginning, as it had been for Jesus himself.


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