crs lauralton webAntoinette (Toni) Iadarola, president of Lauralton Hall in Milford, holds an award presented to the school by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) on Feb. 26. From left are Soha Menassa, who spoke to students about the work of CRS in Lebanon; Peggy Jean Craig from CRS; Dr. Iadarola; and Maria Isabel Barboza, CRS relationship manager in the northeast and mid-Atlantic region. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)

MILFORD – Calling the refugee crisis in Syria the worst humanitarian disaster since World War II, Soha Menassa, project manager for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Lebanon, explained how CRS is responding to the mounting needs of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

20150305cnsbr8397 pope webPope Francis greets elderly woman as he arrives for weekly audience in 2014 in St. Peter's Square at Vatican. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The most serious ailment the aged face and the greatest injustice they suffer is abandonment, Pope Francis said.

facs stpats webCindi Bigelow, president and CEO of Fairfield-based Bigelow Tea, speaks at the annual Archbishop’s St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast in Hartford March 17. (Photo by Jack Sheedy)

HARTFORD – More than 900 people attended the annual Archbishop’s St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast at the Connecticut Convention Center March 17, making Catholic education possible for many students who otherwise could not afford it, according to organizers of the event.

Hospice MP web

NEW HAVEN – Legislative proposals to allow doctors to prescribe fatal prescriptions to people diagnosed with a terminal illness are not seen as a good option by Connecticut adults, according to a new Knights of Columbus-Marist poll.

20150218cm01806 webPope Francis gives ashes during Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome Feb. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

ROME (CNS) -- Lent is a journey of purification and penance, a movement that should bring one tearfully back to the loving arms of the merciful Father, Pope Francis said at an Ash Wednesday Mass that began with a procession on Rome's Aventine Hill.

stpats mass 4317 web

Archbishop Leonard P. Blair poses with key figures from the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday at St. Mary Church in New Haven, where the archbishop celebrated Mass before marching in the parade.

20150217cm01766 webCoptic Christian women attend a Feb. 17 service in Cairo for the Egyptians said to have been beheaded in Libya. (CNS photo/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis called for prayers for the Egyptian Christians beheaded by Islamic State militants in Libya and asked that God recognize these men killed for their faith.

Robert.Curis.New.Headshot2Robert F. Curis

WEST HAVEN – Notre Dame High School in West Haven has named Mr. Robert F. Curis its next president. He will assume his responsibilities on July 1.

20150213cnsto0043 web This architectural rendering shows how the Museum of the Bible planned for Washington will look. (CNS photo/courtesy Smith Group JJR)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- On a gray and overcast morning in Washington, just a short walk from Capitol Hill, construction work began on a museum intended to promote engagement, education and discussion of the Bible.

Archbishop's Desk

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  • Blessings and challenges

    A letter from Archbishop Leonard P. Blair was inserted into church bulletins available at Masses...

    Read More...

Milestones

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  • Infusion center for women opens in Hartford

    A new, women-only infusion center has been  officially opened at the Comprehensive Women’s Health...

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Youth

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  • St. Mary boys basketball team wins tourney

    The victorious boys varsity basketball team of St. Mary School in Milford poses after beating...

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I went to a long and painful dinner party recently. The hostess either had a sense of irony or thought I deserved some temporal punishment for the misdeeds I’ve committed in life, so she sat me beside a strident anti-Catholic fallen Catholic. And then the fun began.

All night long, from the arugula salad with gorgonzola cheese through the roasted salmon and then the mixed berry tart with decaffeinated coffee, she went from one complaint about the Catholic Church to another, as if she were obsessed.

I would have preferred an evening of small talk about the weather, the presidential campaign or the Kardashians, but with this woman, it was nothing but business, and her business was trashing the Church.

The topics were all familiar ones – the nuns hit her with 16-inch rulers when she went to Catholic grammar school, the nuns in high school gave her a distorted view of God, the sex-abuse scandal, disagreement with the teaching on birth control and various other complaints.

She went to Catholic school for 16 years, so this gave her ample opportunities to grumble about the religious orders that taught at each institution.

"I go to the First Congregational Church now," she said proudly, "and I enjoy every moment of it."

She looked at me with intense questioning in her eyes as if to ask, "Aren’t you going to argue with me?"

Clearly, that was one of her goals – to provoke me into defending the Church. However, it was obvious there was no arguing with her because it meant confronting a lifetime of accumulated acrimony, and I knew that only grace and prayer could change her now. The Holy Spirit had to do some heavy lifting, and it was heavy lifting that only the Holy Spirit could do.

Over the years, I’ve met other people like her; and their bitter memories, which are usually exaggerated and sometimes justified, become almost obsessive.

During her relentless outpouring of venom, I felt as if I was being pelted with rocks. I was getting tired listening to her and wanted to leave dinner early or else turn to the woman on the other side of me to discuss something lighter, perhaps the national debt, but she was talking to the head of the local hospital about health care. I have to say the health care debate never seemed so inviting before.

"We’ve exhausted religion," I said, "so why don’t we talk about politics or sex?"

She ignored my joke and asked, "Why do you still go to that Church?" All night long I knew this was where she was headed. I was a practicing Catholic, ergo I was guilty.

"The novelist Walker Percy converted to Catholicism," I told her, "and when reporters asked him why he did it, he would always respond, ‘What else is there?’"

I saw anger flash across her eyes.

"What else is there?" I repeated.

She was about to go around the block again and repeat her many complaints about the Church, but before she could, I said, "I believe in the True Presence, I believe that the Eucharist is the Body of Christ and I don’t want to live without it."

She certainly understood the dogma of the True Presence after all that Catholic upbringing. The nuns had taught her well.

"I have my doubts about that," she sniffed. "I always had."

"I don’t."

"But I can’t believe that teaching after everything I’ve –"

I interrupted her and said, "Let me just talk for a moment," and she graciously shut up.

"Pray to be shown the truth," I said, "because if Christ is truly present in the Eucharist – and I believe he is – receiving him is about the most important thing you can do in life. Anything I say won’t convince you, but if you pray with an open heart, you’ll get the answer you need."

There was silence. She didn’t want to hear what I had to say. But Walker Percy was right – what else is there?

There are a lot of fallen anti-Catholics in the world, a lot of very angry fallen Catholics, people who are so spiritually debilitated by their frustrations that they don’t see the miracle occurring every day in the sacrifice of the Mass, a miracle that’s available to everyone regardless of their position in life or their financial assets or their academic degrees.

The problem with this woman and the rest of them is that they are so obsessed with the crack in the sidewalk that they don’t lift up their eyes to see the splendor and infinite beauty of the sky.

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

Events Calendar

March 2015
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05:30 PM
Grand Oak Villa, Oakville, CT, Watertown, United States
The St. Vincent DePaul Mission of Waterbury will commemorate its 37-year record of continual service to the poor of Greater Waterbury with a banquet beginning at 5:30 p.m. March 26 at the Grand Oak [...]
05:30 PM
St. Peter/St. Francis School, Torrington, Torrington, United States
St. Peter/St. Francis School will have open houses in March, April and May. The times and dates are 5:30-7 p.m. March 26, 9-11 a.m. April 22 and 5:30-7 p.m. May 12. Parents may visit [...]
07:00 PM
St. Rita School, Hamden CT, Hamden, United States
St. Rita School in Hamden will present the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” at 7 p.m. March 26, 7 p.m. March 27; and at 1 and 7 p.m. March 28.. Tickets cost [...]
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, the Knights of Columbus Museum is sponsoring an historical exhibition and lecture series. The exhibit, [...]
Date :  March 26, 2015
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07:00 PM
St. Rita School, Hamden CT, Hamden, United States
St. Rita School in Hamden will present the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” at 7 p.m. March 26, 7 p.m. March 27; and at 1 and 7 p.m. March 28.. Tickets cost [...]
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, the Knights of Columbus Museum is sponsoring an historical exhibition and lecture series. The exhibit, [...]
Date :  March 27, 2015
28
01:00 PM
St. Rita School, Hamden CT, Hamden, United States
St. Rita School in Hamden will present the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” at 7 p.m. March 26, 7 p.m. March 27; and at 1 and 7 p.m. March 28.. Tickets cost [...]
05:00 PM
Sacred Heart Academy, Hamden, CT, Hamden, United States
Sacred Heart Academy is sponsoring a $10,000 cash raffle as part of its annual signature fund-raising event, a live and silent auction, taking place at 5 p.m. March 28. Tickets for the cash [...]
07:00 PM
St. Rita School, Hamden CT, Hamden, United States
St. Rita School in Hamden will present the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” at 7 p.m. March 26, 7 p.m. March 27; and at 1 and 7 p.m. March 28.. Tickets cost [...]
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, the Knights of Columbus Museum is sponsoring an historical exhibition and lecture series. The exhibit, [...]
Date :  March 28, 2015
29
07:00 PM
St. Ann Church, Bristol CT, Bristol, United States
A tenebrae service, or service of lights, will take place at 7 p.m. on Palm Sunday, March 29, at St. Ann Church, 215 West St., Bristol. This service will include hymns, music by a contemporary [...]
12:00 AM
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, the Knights of Columbus Museum is sponsoring an historical exhibition and lecture series. The exhibit, [...]
Date :  March 29, 2015
30
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, the Knights of Columbus Museum is sponsoring an historical exhibition and lecture series. The exhibit, [...]
Date :  March 30, 2015
31
09:00 AM
St. Mary School, Milford, Milford, United States
St. Mary School in Milford will have an open house from 9-11 a.m. March 31. Teachers, staff and parents of current and former students will be on hand and students will provide tours. [...]
11:00 AM
Cathedral of St. Joseph, Hartford , Hartford, United States
During the Chrism Mass on March 31 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, Archbishop Leonard P. Blair will bless the oils to be used in the upcoming year during the sacraments of [...]
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War’s end, the Knights of Columbus Museum is sponsoring an historical exhibition and lecture series. The exhibit, [...]
Date :  March 31, 2015

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