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Students represent the Archdiocese of Hartford at the March for Life today on the National Mall.

8202773256 5d16c585fa mA statue of Blessed Junipero Serra at the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala in San Diego, Calif. (Photo by Bob Mullen/The Catholic Photographer)

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM MANILA, Philippines (CNS) – Pope Francis said his September trip to the U.S. will take him to Philadelphia, New York and Washington – where he intends to canonize Blessed Junipero Serra – but probably no other stops.

20150127cnsbr8170 webDan Nelson shows how Shockbox helmet sensors are attached to the inside of the crown of a football helmet with a piece of Velcro Dec. 8. (CNS photo/Joanne Fox, Catholic Globe)

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) – Micah Herbst of Sioux City does not have a son on the football team at Bishop Heelan Catholic High School.

sledesky 053 webA man photographs Father Stephen Sledesky, pastor of St. Bridget Parish in Manchester, and friends during reception in priest's honor Jan. 11.

MANCHESTER – Hundreds gathered at St. Bridget Parish on Jan. 11 to honor Father Stephen Sledesky, who was recognized as this year’s Archdiocesan Distinguished Elementary School Pastor. The award is presented annually to a pastor who exemplifies leadership, dedication and commitment to Catholic school education.

20150118cnsbr7984 webAn aerial view shows pilgrims gathering to hear a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at Rizal Park in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 18. The view shows only a portion of the Mass site. (CNS photo/Philippine Air Force/Handout via Reuters)

MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- Pope Francis told a crowd of an estimated 6 million gathered in a Manila park to protect the family "against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture."

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FARMINGTON – The campaign for the 2015 Archbishop’s Annual Appeal got off to a rousing start with a reception and dinner for past donors at Farmington Gardens Jan. 9. Archbishop Leonard P. Blair spoke on the theme of this year’s appeal, “Living the Joy of the Gospel.”

st fran spirit award winners 2015 webFrom left, Mark and Barbara Lentini, Daniel O'Connell and Christopher M. Dadlez

HARTFORD – Archbishop Emeritus Henry J. Mansell and the late David A. Lentini were recipients of the St. Francis Spirit Award during the annual luncheon meeting of St. Francis Care, parent company of St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, at the Connecticut Convention Center Jan. 7.

soccer web(Photo provided by Knights of Columbus/l'Osservatore Romano)

Wilfrid Macena and other members of a Haitian amputee soccer team present Pope Francis with a soccer jersey on Jan. 12, commemorating the fifth anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson stands to Mr. Macena’s left.

20150112cnsbr7611 webA Swiss Guard keeps watch as Pope Francis speaks during an audience with the Vatican diplomatic corps Jan. 12. (CNS photo/Claudio Peri pool via Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Highlighting some of the most urgent conflicts facing the world, Pope Francis said such strife and injustices were rooted in a culture of rejection that refuses to recognize God, to protect nature and to respect other human beings.

In a wide-ranging speech Jan. 12 to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, the pope urged the world's governments and individuals to work "to end every form of fighting, hatred and violence, and to pursue reconciliation, peace and the defense of the transcendent dignity of the human person."

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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.

Events Calendar

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06:30 PM
My Father's House, Moodus, East Haddam, United States
MOODUS – Healing and a spaghetti supper will be combined at 6:30 p.m. Jan 30 at My Father’s House at [...]
Date :  January 30, 2015
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01:30 PM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, United States
Caritas Christi Center's ongoing centering prayer program will continue from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at the [...]
09:00 AM
My Father's House, Moodus, East Haddam, United States
MOODUS – Matthew Arnold, speaker, author, producer and host of the radio program “Shield of Faith” on Radio Maria, will present a program titled [...]
Date :  January 31, 2015

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