Newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Hark the herald angels: How sacred music evangelizes, lifts up hearts
Msgr. Vincenzo De Gregorio, director of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, is pictured at an organ at the institute in Rome Dec. 6. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)   VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- 'Tis t...

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Witnesses recall New Year’s Eve cathedral blaze of 60 years ago
Written by Jack Sheedy
Left, people gather to watch firefighters attack the blaze as it rages near the towers of the cathedral. The roof eventually collapsed after being completely involved in flames. At right, firefighters...

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Museum featuring crèches of Germany
Written by Mary Chalupsky
German Nativity scene by Egon Wolfsgruber is placed inside a barrel with polychrome wood figurines. (Photo courtesy of the Knights of Columbus Museum)  NEW HAVEN – With its ancestral heritage, c...

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Pope Francis meets Martin Scorsese, director of 'Silence,' at Vatican
VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) – On Wednesday, Pope Francis added world famous director Martin Scorsese to the list of Hollywood stars he has welcomed for a private meeting in the Vatican, following a...

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Theater review: ‘The Front Page’
John Slattery and Nathan Lane in “The Front Page” (Photo by Julieta Cervantes)NEW YORK – Because of Nathan Lane’s presence in the cast,  the revival of “The Front Page” has attracted attention an...

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Sacred music: a St. Mary tradition
Written by Mary Chalupsky
Nicholas Renouf, director of music at St. Mary Church in New Haven or four decades, accompanies the Schola Cantorum during a noon Sunday Mass at St. Mary recently. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky) NEW HAVEN...

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Retirement Fund for Religious helps when communities can’t
Written by Administrator
Campaign photo for the 2016 Retirement Fund for Religious collection, which will take place Dec. 10-11 in most parishes. (Photo by Jim Judkis) WASHINGTON – The annual Retirement Fund for Religious ...

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Hark the herald angels: How sacred music evangelizes, lifts up hearts
Hark the herald angels: How sacred music evangelizes, lifts up hearts
Witnesses recall New Year’s Eve cathedral blaze of 60 years ago
Witnesses recall New Year’s Eve cathedral blaze of 60 years ago
Museum featuring crèches of Germany
Museum featuring crèches of Germany
Pope Francis meets Martin Scorsese, director of 'Silence,' at Vatican
Pope Francis meets Martin Scorsese, director of 'Silence,' at Vatican
Theater review: ‘The Front Page’
Theater review: ‘The Front Page’
Sacred music: a St. Mary tradition
Sacred music: a St. Mary tradition
Retirement Fund for Religious helps when communities can’t
Retirement Fund for Religious helps when communities can’t

Latest Commentary

ARCHBISHOP

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, I wish all of you a holy Advent and a Christmas...

LOCAL

HARTFORD – Reverend Ivan Dario Ramirez and Reverend Israel Rivera have been incardinated in the Archdiocese of Hartford by Archbishop...

WORLD

Women religious gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 23, the day the high court heard oral arguments...

ARTS

Gabrielle Union and Colman Domingo star in a scene from the movie "The Birth of a Nation." (CNS photo/Fox) NEW...

FROM OUR READERS

ENFIELD – John Berube, president of the parish council of St. Bernard Parish, thanks Father John P. Melnick, pastor, for...

YOUTH

BRANFORD – More than 300 people attended the 10th annual Archbishop’s Columbus Day Breakfast, held at the WoodWinds this year...

The fellow on the train was talking on his cell phone so loudly that the rest of us could hear, and it was a pretty unsettling conversation at 6:50 in the morning – a conversation we’ve all had at one time or another about our children or family members or close friends. It was a story about alienation and substance abuse and the inability to forgive, and it had all the elements of a first-rate tragedy.

His son was addicted to prescription drugs, and there was nothing he could do. He had tried intervention, appeals, fatherly advice, bailing him out of jail and sending him to rehab; and, for this aging father, the price had been a high one, financially and emotionally. And yet, all his efforts produced no results.

"There’s nothing else I can do," he concluded. "All I can do is pray."

It sounded like the course of action of last resort. Nothing else worked, so the only thing he could do was let go and let God and turn his son over to the care of his Higher Power.

How many times have we uttered those words, "All you can do is pray." We say them fatalistically when we reach the point where our efforts have been fruitless and we realize no human efforts will be able to solve the problem, whether it’s a troubled marriage, a tormented alcoholic, a financial crisis or a terminal diagnosis from the doctor.

"All you can do is pray," and we understand that we have to turn the situation over to God and accept his will for us, whatever it may be.

Of course, long before we reach the stage of last resort, we should be relying on prayer, and it shouldn’t have the connotation of a death sentence, but rather of hope and faith that God can work out the thorniest problems in ways that our puny human minds can’t even begin to conceive.

All of us generally underestimate the power of prayer and fail to realize that God is doing his thing to help us long before we finally conclude it’s time to fall on our knees and ask for help. Prayer, to many of us, is the last resort when it should be the first resort.

As Jesus said, our heavenly Father knows our needs before we do, and he’s always there to assist us and guide us.

I thought of the power of prayer and exactly how much society underestimates it – and misinterprets it – after reading a story recently about a respected British doctor who risked losing his job because he told a 24-year-old patient that praying to Jesus would get him out of his "rut."

In our distorted and misguided secular society, the act of praying is always viewed as somehow subversive. And the severity of the crime gets worse for those who suggest that Christ might be the answer. It can cost you your job and get you a lot of negative press coverage because people tend to view you as a crackpot.

So when the patient told his mother about the doctor’s advice, she flipped out and complained to the General Medical Council, which oversees British physicians. (Of course, it raises the question of why the mother of a 24-year-old was calling the shots for her adult son.)

The doctor, who is a former missionary, defended himself by pointing out it was done with the patient’s consent – and that the young man was a regular patient. The next thing you know, the British press was all over the story, but fortunately, the doctor’s colleagues rallied to his defense.

One said, "All good doctors try to treat their patients as whole persons, not just biochemical machines. That does sometimes include spiritual matters, dealing with questions of meaning and purpose."

Let’s hope – and certainly pray – that the young man listened to what the doctor had to say.

Prayer works, and if more of us turned to prayer early on, there would be less anxiety and fewer emotional difficulties, and probably a lot less mental illness and addiction.

J.F. Pisani is a writer who lives with his family in the New Haven area.