• Diocese of Bridgeport Catholic Schools
    http://www.dioceseofbridgeportcatholicschools.com/

    Our 35 Catholic Schools educate 9,000 children from birth and pre-K through grade 12. 99% of our graduates pursue higher education. 50% of our schools have received the National Blue Ribbon of Excellence. Standardized test results show our elementary students consistently exceeding national reading averages in math and reading. Our Catholic schools offer parents the greatest return on their investment in education – exceptional academics and a solid moral foundation in values and respect. Come see us for yourself!

  • Catholic Academies of Bridgeport
    http://www.catholicacademiesbridgeport.org

    There are 4 Catholic elementary schools in Bridgeport, open to all faiths. These schools are committed to educational excellence, offering: Safe learning environments that emphasize respect and caring for others, small teacher-student ratios that provide more personal attention to each student, state-of-the-art technology, financial assistance and scholarships, exposure to religious values and development of each child's faith life, clubs, activities and after-school programs. If you are concerned about your child's school and want the best education for your children, consider a Catholic school in Bridgeport. All are welcome!

  • Catholic High Schools

     

     

    Our schools are welcoming and prayerful learning communities in which we share God's life and love with each other and the world.” - Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport

    The spiritual development of our students in the Catholic tradition, and the reinforcement of family values A college prep academic program that prepares our students for college and for the world beyond high school; An exceptional athletic program and programs of extracurricular activities; A community of students, faculty and parents built on the core values of respect, responsibility and reverence.”

    Please visit our High Schools online:

    “The Diocese of Bridgeport - Catholic High Schools”

    Immaculate High School - Danbury
    Kolbe Cathedral High School - Bridgeport
    Notre Dame High School - Fairfield
    St. Joseph High School – Trumbull
    Trinity Catholic High School - Stamford
     
    "Independent Area High Schools”

    Convent of the Sacred Heart - Greenwich
    Fairfield Prep - Fairfield
    Lauralton Hall - Milford
    Notre Dame High School – West Haven
    Sacred Heart Academy - Hamden

     




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FCC Featured Author




By Dr. Frank DeStefano

Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Reading 1. Genesis 14: 18-20
Reading II. 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26
Gospel. Luke 9: 11b-17 (Loaves and Fishes).

The feast of the Body and Blood of Christ used to be called the feast of Corpus Christi, from the Latin words which literally mean the Body of Christ. The feast commemorates not just the Body of Christ but also the fact that it was given up or sacrificed for us. That's probably why each of the Mass readings features a priest who makes an offering to God.

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FCC Featured Author




By Becky Garrison

Crossing the Jordan River

“This is it?”

I’m in Israel touring Qasr el Yahud, a baptism site for Christian pilgrims situated near Jericho and the Dead Sea on the Israeli side of the Jordan River. Christian-themed tour buses in the parking lot signify the importance of Qasr el Yahud as a must-see spot for pilgrims seeking to retrace Jesus' footsteps.

But where’s this majestic Jordan River I’ve heard proclaimed with gusto by countless Gospel singers? Nothing mighty could flow through this stagnant, fly-infested water. It looks more like a fishing hole than the spot where, according to scripture and tradition, John anointed Jesus as the ultimate fisher of men.

“Excuse me.”

As I walk down the marble steps toward the river, pilgrims toting water bottles and clutching Rosaries scurry by me to the river’s edge, each one seemingly searching for their own salvation. Some adopt the somber visage of an ascetic monk. Others smile with the unbridled joy commonly found in children on Christmas Day. A few look dazed and from either jet lag or too much touristy travel.

A plethora of languages intermingle Babel-like. While I can’t decipher most conversations, their actions depict rituals that can be understood by all Christians. Almost everyone possesses a camera or a Smartphone so they can post ontological proof of their presence.

They touch the water. Capture a few drops for future spiritual prosperity. A few lost souls take the plunge into the river—though the water only comes up to their calves. With a priest’s blessing, they emerge with a cleansed soul reborn as a new member of the Christian family.

The ruins of ancient Byzantine and Crusader churches coupled with the development of new churches tell me I must be on holy ground. People have been coming here for centuries to connect in a very personal and visceral way with their Lord and Savior.

During my visits to Jordan, I paid homage to Bethany Beyond the Jordan, the name given to the seemingly identical site situated on the Jordanian side of the river. The rituals performed there parallel the actions performed on the Israeli side. Walk to the river’s edge passing by another set of ancient church ruins and newly designed models. Touch the water. Capture a few drops. The baptisms seemed to be transpiring only on the Israeli side. Otherwise the journey remained the same.

Yet, when I bend down to collect a few samples of water for some spiritual friends, I feel nothing. Nada.  

My eyes move from the pilgrims performing their rituals at both sides of the river to a soldier on the Jordanian side toting an automatic machine gun. I can feel the presence of Israeli soldiers though they remain hidden from my view. Like the others who journey to the Jordan, I want to experience this peace that passes all understanding. These soldiers remind me how elusive this vision remains.

The song “Jordan River” may tell me “Jesus will be waiting, He’s gonna help me to cross.”

However, no one can actually venture across the river at this juncture.

So I sit at the bank of the Jordan, wondering if the day will ever come when we can truly cross this earthly divide that prevents us from becoming one in our shared humanity.

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FCC Featured Author




By Thomas H. Hicks

The Law of Life

Potpourri
By Thomas H. Hicks

Life as we know it is inextricable from change. Nothing stays still. Everything that has its beginning on earth must someday come to an end; all flesh is grass. As we all come to know, no happiness lasts. There is the problem of “beauty that must die” (G.M. Hopkins, “The Leaden Echo”).There is no uninterrupted joy. Life goes on, closing over happiness as readily as it moves to ease sorrow. As Robert Frost said, “I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.” To accept life is to accept change and loss.

Change comes in many ways, some of them small or slight—a mere feather-touch, a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn—yet it can change one’s whole being. Other times the switch has noticeably been tripped, and we know that our arrangement with life has been changed. The world changes complexion. There’s a resetting of the compass, the birth of a new era.

Underlying all change there are things that do not change. Some things seem essential, everlastingly fixed and unchanging. It’s true what the old song says: “The fundamental things apply, as time goes by.” The story begins all over again, the beat of the rhythm of life renews itself.

There will always be what Dickens called “the world’s rain of tears” (Great Expectations).

There will always be the dark sea we all have to cross. The Imitation of Christ asserts that “You will never be free from solicitude; for in everything there will be found some defect, and in very place there will be someone who will cross you” (Bk.III, ch.27).

No one escapes some wounding early.

It’s mistaken to fasten solely upon the negative realities. Beauty, goodness, and truth belong to our experience of life. To be human is also to rejoice and live in wonder.

Things usually balance out, if you give them enough time. “Man was made for joy and woe. Joy and woe are woven fine... as through the world we go.” (William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence”). The world is full of beauty, majesty, and terror.

My long, practical struggle with life has taught me that among the changeless things is the “law of the echo,” which holds that the world is arranged so that whatever you send out, e.g., honesty or dishonesty, kindness or cruelty, ultimately comes back to you. In the long run a person does indeed reap what he sows. It’s a way of saying we make our own punishments in life, which I honestly believe is true. And life has phases. There is a season for everything.

The greatest change that comes in life is, of course, the one that comes at the end of life. I’ve come to the conclusion that mortality is not simply an evil; perhaps it is even a blessing. In so many situations, death is a release. Sometimes, it’s time; time to be shaken from the tree. Enough already. Our play should have an end, and up come the lights.

I think a lot about the human life span. An interesting question is: Assuming that it were up to you to set the human life span, where would you set the limit and why? Who would not want to avoid senility, crippling arthritis, the need for hearing aids and dentures, the humiliating dependence of old age? How much length of life is a blessing?

An unlimited amount of more of the same will not satisfy our deepest aspirations. Mere continuation will probably not bring fulfillment or more personal happiness.

I’ve heard many people state that they thought the human span was too long. One lady said to me: “Really, I’ve finished my life. I finished it when the girls got grown and my husband passed away. But here I am, just hanging around, marking time, waiting for things to wind down. I’ve outlived myself.”

Anna Quindlen stated: “If the human body had a warranty, mine would have run out ages ago” (Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, p.92).

I think the rate of the aging process and the human life span has been well chosen by God.

Does one want to indefinitely take part in activities on this plane?

There’s a Jewish Midrash statement concerning the death of old men. The owner of the fig tree knows when the fruit is ripe for plucking, and he plucks it. When the fig is gathered at the proper time, it is good—good for the fig and good for the tree.

Old people who have lived a long and full life rarely put up much of a fuss. They begin to let go long before dying. So many things do not seem as important as they once did. There is a sense that we are not rooted, fixed in this world, this is not our home, and death gently ushers them out the door.

Virtue it is that puts a house at rest.
How well repaid that tenant is, how blest
who, when the call is heard,
is free to take his kindled heart and go.
(Jessica Powers) 

 

Thomas Hicks is a member of St. Theresa Parish in Trumbull.

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FCC Featured Author




By Joe Pisani

The splinter in your brother’s eye

Swimming Upstream
By Joe Pisani

Without intending to, Pope Francis dashed my hopes of becoming the next Mother Teresa when he said a real sign that you’re headed for sainthood is you never speak ill of anyone.

In modern America, is there anyone who has never criticized someone, who doesn’t backbite or gossip? I’m not that person, and none of the people I hang out with can claim that distinction, which means to say, I foresee a long time of purification in purgatory before I make it to the Big Time.

We’re addicted to the water cooler culture, where criticism is a way of life.  And what about Donald Trump and the rest of the presidential contenders? The Donald is always casting aspersions, along with every talk radio host and newspaper columnist. Bad-mouthing is an American tradition, and one of our most popular pastimes is grumbling about the splinter in your brother’s eye without noticing the log in your own.

During his homily at a recent Mass, Pope Francis started talking about the sinful practice of maligning other people and said that despite the long and complicated process for determining if someone is a saint, “If you find a person who never, never, never spoke ill of another, you could canonize him or her immediately.”

I confess that it’s one of my worst character defects, and I’m having a hard time controlling it. I’ve probably been like this all my life but never really thought it was serious because it’s so socially acceptable.

My mother must have known I was headed down this path because she used to admonish me with those time-honored words, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, then don’t say anything at all.” And my father, who was in Alcoholics Anonymous for the last 25 years of his life and had an abundance of spiritual advice, would regularly tell me to “Take your own inventory.”

Jesus certainly had a lot to say about the topic, and he told his disciples in no uncertain terms, “Judge not and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned.”

Pope Francis also said: “The first step is to accuse yourself,” which means give yourself an honest self-assessment and then ask Christ’s forgiveness and praise his mercy. “The man and woman who don’t learn to acknowledge their own failings become hypocrites. Everyone, eh? Everyone starting from the pope on down,” he said.

The ability to recognize your own faults, which is actually a gift from the Holy Spirit, is the beginning of “this beautiful work of reconciliation, peace, tenderness, goodness, forgiveness, magnanimity and mercy that Jesus Christ brought.”

It’s so easy to criticize other people for what they do or don’t do, especially when we’re blind to our own faults. So much of what we think is acceptable behavior, because everyone else is doing it, is actually sinful behavior.

About a month ago, I began to pray to the Holy Spirit to show me my hidden faults, and he didn’t waste any time. Almost immediately, I had illuminating insights into my behavior and became aware of flaws and shortcomings I never knew existed. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, but I figure it was better to learn about them now than at my personal judgment before Christ.

Since then, I’ve started to do an end-of-the-day examination of conscience as a part of my spiritual self-improvement program, and I try to remember my day moment-by-moment and ask the Holy Spirit to show everything to me in all its disturbing detail.

Inevitably, I recall occasions when I criticized coworkers or gossiped or took someone else’s inventory: Who wasn’t doing his work, who was a blow-hard and who was a self-promoter. The crazy thing is that I share most of the traits that upset me in others.

As my father, ever the folk philosopher, often told me: “Live and let live.” Or more appropriately, “You can’t see the picture if you’re in the frame.”

Joe Pisani has been a writer and editor for 30 years.

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FCC Featured Author




By Matthew Hennessey

The Hennesseys make Confession

A Dad’s View
By Matthew Hennessey

We made a family confession. I know that sounds like we subjected ourselves to some bizarre public humiliation ritual. We didn’t.

The director of religious education at our parish graciously arranged for interested families to come for the sacrament together on a Saturday morning. Our priests graciously gave their time. The Hennesseys graciously dragged their carcasses out of bed.

For Patrick and Magdalena it was their first time. Both did great, sitting face-to-face with the priest, though I can’t imagine what they might have had to confess to. I’m not saying that they’re innocent of all wrongdoing. I have a file on both of them. But they are well below the age of culpability.

I always prep my kids by saying, “You’re too young to have done anything too terrible, but this is a good habit to get into. When you’re my age you’ll have plenty to confess.” In other words, tell God what you did, but don’t sweat it too much. It’s a fine line with kids.  

My wife worked with Magdalena for months—learning the act of contrition, rehearsing what would happen when she entered the confessional, coming up with a few minor misdemeanors she might want to cop to.

I wish I could say I helped out. My sole contribution was
my usual contribution: blind
optimism.

“Everything will be all right in the end.” That’s my mantra. Luckily I married a woman who has the good sense to know when things might go horribly wrong. She was right about 9/11 (it was as bad as it seemed); I was right about Superstorm Sandy (that tree by the driveway did not fall on the house). We make a good team.

Magdalena has Down syndrome. I don’t know about everyone with Down syndrome, but Magdalena doesn’t appreciate “surprises.” She’s best when she can learn a script and deliver her lines.

If that seems contrary to the spirit of the sacrament of reconciliation, believe me when I say that the alternative is worse. We’ve bailed on more than our share of birthday parties and doctor’s visits when some slight change in the atmosphere threatened to derail our plans.

In short—Magdalena likes to know what’s coming. Who can blame her? The world can be an unreliable place. We did our best to make sure that things went according to the script she had learned. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall.

In the end, the coaching paid off. Magdalena emerged from the confessional with a smile as big as any I’ve seen in all her nine years. “I did it!” she announced to a chapel full of penitent fellow Catholics. Punch has never been so pleased. Hallelujah, amen, and thanks be to God.

Paddy went next—a home run. Our Clara, an old pro, went next. Then me. Then it was my wife’s turn.

Ursula has some old-school habits that she finds hard to break. The face-to-face booth isn’t for her. She says she can’t concentrate on contrition unless she’s in the kneeling position.

Holing up in the “anonymous booth” also allows her to sneak peeks at the notes she’s written on her hands. I like the metaphor—write the sins on your hands, go to Confession, wash your hands, watch your sins slide down the drain.

Boom! You are forgiven.

We all left the chapel with the peace and refreshment that comes from knowing in your heart that you are a little bit closer to God than you were five minutes ago. It’s tonic for the soul and it’s 100 percent free. I recommend it.

Confession is hard for most people. It’s hard for me, too. I don’t go nearly as often as I should. But as our pastor, Monsignor Scheyd, is fond of saying, we shouldn’t think of Confession as punishment.

Nor should we think of it as a gloomy occasion for guilt and shame and all those other bad things that people imagine Catholics wallow in. Rather, we should think of Confession as a source of strength.

So be strong. Get strong. Go to Confession. Just do it.

(Follow Matthew on Twitter (@matthennessey)

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