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The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

October 2009 Archives

Catholicism: the next generation

posted by jmcgee

“This new generation seems ideally positioned to address the lamentable tendency in American Catholic life to drive a wedge between the church’s pro-life message and its peace-and-justice commitments. More generally, they can help us find the sane middle between two […]

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Anglican watch: delay on document is “technical”

posted by jmcgee

So says Vatican Radio, denying previous reports that the problem was all about the celibacy issue: “There has been widespread speculation, based on supposedly knowledgeable remarks by an Italian correspondent Andrea Tornielli, that the delay in publication of the Apostolic […]

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Want to feel really old?

posted by jmcgee

Grace Slick — “White Rabbit,” “Somebody to Love,” etc. — just turned 70.  “I grow old. I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled…”   Sigh. 

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Homily for November 1, 2009: All Saints Day

posted by jmcgee

[This weekend, I’m preaching a special children’s liturgy, which will include a belated commemoration of World Priest Day.  So for those looking for an All Saints homily, I’ve decided to dip into the vault: this is a re-post from my […]

To serve and protect: from cop to deacon

posted by jmcgee

It’s not unusual for men who are called to police work to feel a similar call to serve others as deacons. Case in point, from Oregon: It was 10 years ago that Martin Larner drove his police motorcycle past St. […]

Message to deacons: “Contemplate the face of the Lord daily”

posted by jmcgee

An alert reader found this nugget buried among the many propositions that resulted from the just-finished Synod of Bishops of Africa: Permanent Deacons  This Synod has identified the service of Reconciliation justice and peace as the urgent face and form […]

Send in the clown masses!

posted by jmcgee

Finally, one ministry where the idea of a clown mass is not as far-fetched as it sounds:  A circus ministry team, which includes a Boston priest, is charged with bringing the word of God to circus performers, people who are constantly […]

Living together — but not the way you might think

posted by jmcgee

This is a little out-of-the ordinary: the story of a couple who lived together before getting married, but had a change of heart.   The Denver Catholic Register interviewed them: Western Slope parishioners Mike and Toni (not their real names) have […]

Pregnant and with cancer: one mother’s story

posted by jmcgee

As we near the end of Respect Life month, this story jumps out as especially timely: My son is not a hugger. He’s almost 2 years old, and I can count on one hand the times he’s squeezed his chubby […]

Going the other way: from Catholic to Anglican

posted by jmcgee

Here’s a curious tidbit from Maryland, about an Episcopal bishop who wants to remind people that the conversion door swings both ways: Lost in talk of the splintering of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton says, is the appeal […]

When a priest is diagnosed with cancer

posted by jmcgee

Out in Los Angeles, there’s this remarkable story of a priest’s own struggle with cancer — and how he’s using that to spread the gospel message: In his flowing, cream-colored chasuble, Msgr. Marc Trudeau ambled back and forth in front […]

“Come on in, the water’s holy!”

posted by jmcgee

Check out this classic Colbert from earlier in the week. MCPF Stephen Colbert on the pope: “He’s like a flying squirrel.” You have to see it. Enjoy.

Holy hee haw: the Bluegrass Mass?

posted by jmcgee

Personally, I’d love to hear this for myself: There was some Catholic toe tapping to the strains of banjo and fiddle as the first ever “Bluegrass Mass” was celebrated in September exactly where it belonged: the “birthplace of country music,” […]

Celibacy issue holding up Anglican document

posted by jmcgee

That seems to be a sticking point in publishing the document that will help ease the way for Anglicans hoping to enter the Catholic Church: The delay in publishing the apostolic constitution, which will allow large numbers of Anglicans to […]

Tim takes on the Times

posted by jmcgee

That would be Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, who just posted a lively, and timely, attack on anti-Catholicism in general — and the New York Times in particular. He lists a number of compelling and frankly outrageous examples, […]

Want better preaching? Do your part

posted by jmcgee

Over at his blog, Msgr. Charles Pope has some intriguing ideas about one way to improve the quality of homilies: My own experience as a priest powerfully underscores the role of congregation in helping to craft the preaching moment. I […]

The quality of mercy: widow forgives husband’s killer

posted by jmcgee

From Texas comes a moving story of forgiveness: On July 9, 2007, while unloading groceries in his garage, Don McCullough noticed a young man hurrying along the sidewalk and perspiring on the hot day. McCullough called out and offered the […]

Novelist Mary Gordon writes about “reading Jesus”

posted by jmcgee

Acclaimed Catholic novelist Mary Gordon has a new book out — and the subject strikes very close to home: it’s all about the gospels.  From Newsweek: The novelist and literary critic Mary Gordon loves the story of the prodigal son, […]

Anglican watch: Kung criticizes pope for “piracy of priests”

posted by jmcgee

One of the most famous — and infamous — Catholic theologians is not impressed with Pope Benedict’s overture to the Anglicans: Dissident theologian Father Hans Kung criticized Pope Benedict XVI for his recent opening to discontented Anglicans, charging the pope […]

Larry laughed, Jesus wept

posted by jmcgee

Larry David has had his moments of brilliance. But this wasn’t one of them: Comedian Larry David is under attack from critics who say he pushed the mocking of religion and Christian belief in miracles over the edge in the […]

A dab a day will do ya

posted by jmcgee

Looking for the snazziest haircut?  Look no further.    This explains how to get the “Mad Men” look. And to think: I was sporting it before it was cool (when every one else thought it was square…) 

Dolan v. Rigali: wanna bet?

posted by jmcgee

This just in from the Bench’s Manhattan Desk.   It’s a joint release from the archbishops of New York and Philadelphia:  Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, and Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, have placed a friendly wager on […]

If the Anglicans can do it, why can’t Catholic deacons?

posted by jmcgee

The God Googler Mike Hayes is continuing his googling up in Buffalo, and he’s taken the time to raise a question on many minds these days: we have welcomed married men who have had differences with us into our priestly […]

The very model of a modern major catechist

posted by jmcgee

Just in time for All Saints Day (next Sunday), a friend sent along this clever variation on a familiar Gilbert & Sullivan patter song. Enjoy.

Deacons and the collar: the debate continues

posted by jmcgee

Judging from the e-mails I receive on this topic, this is a subject that never seems to grow old. The question: should deacons wear the collar? Last year, I posted a lengthy look at the question, with some sage insight […]

Now it can be revealed: the order for admission to heaven

posted by jmcgee

I sharp-eyed reader sent this along, and it’s a hoot. Brian Doyle spills the beans in the current edition of Notre Dame magazine: To be admitted without review by committee: children under the age of 12, sixth-grade teachers, the mothers […]

A letter I never thought I’d see in the New York Times

posted by jmcgee

In today’s paper, they’ve published a couple letters responding to Maureen Dowd’s Sunday screed. This one was both humble, and humbling, because it put the entire kerfuffle in such a beautiful context:   To the Editor:  Lay as well as […]

The Shroud of Turin, now online

posted by jmcgee

Another hopeful sign that the church is stepping into the 21st century.     Visit the site for more info. Meantime, a story about it, below.  And there’s a bit of news attached to all this: the pope will pay […]

The U.S. gets another basilica

posted by jmcgee

This one is in Connecticut: Pope Benedict XVI has elevated St. John the Evangelist Church in downtown Stamford in the Bridgeport Diocese to the status of minor basilica. The designation was announced Oct. 17.  Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport […]

A knock on Knock: “This is not good witness to the faith”

posted by jmcgee

An Irish bishop is throwing cold water on those who are anticipating another Marian apparition in his country: A Catholic archbishop in the west of Ireland has told pilgrims to Knock they should not look for apparitions at its shrine […]

The nun who works at an abortion clinic: an update

posted by jmcgee

Actually, it’s more of a footnote. This is regarding my post last week about Sr. Donna Quinn.  The canon lawyer Dr. Edward Peters is offering his own thoughts on the matter at his blog. There are a couple “canonical options” […]

Move over, O’Malley…

posted by jmcgee

…Dolan’s got himself a blog.   H/T Rocco, of course.

Some people have too much time on their hands

posted by jmcgee

But this is awfully impressive.     

Mother of 10, grandmother of 28 to be honored

posted by jmcgee

This sounds like one busy woman: A philanthropic mother of ten and grandmother of 28 will be honored for her work at the upcoming Tenth Annual Awards for Outstanding Catholic Leadership. The Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI) will present the award […]

Rules for Catholics on the internet

posted by jmcgee

How should we behave in cyberspace? Eric Sammons has some very good suggestions.   They should be printed and taped to every computer workspace…  

I feel suffused with ignominy

posted by jmcgee

Because I had to look up that last word in the headline to find out what it means. Evidently, it pops up in the proposed new translation of the Roman missal. And one bishop used a lecture last week to […]

Quote of the day

posted by jmcgee

“Who cares? Soon I’ll be in a wooden box in front of the altar. What matters is the bigger picture. God matters, the truth matters. We as individuals don’t matter. We think we matter but we don’t.”   – The […]

The best “Mad Men” episode. Ever.

posted by jmcgee

Betty seethed. Don cried. Roger resisted. And Joan’s hapless husband Greg decided to join the army so he could be a surgeon. Would he have to go overseas? “Maybe West Germany, or maybe Vietnam, if that’s still going on,” he […]

Benedict, the Anglicans and Islam

posted by jmcgee

I have to say, I think Ross Douthat is on to something here, in a piece from Monday’s New York Times: The news media have portrayed this rightward outreach largely through the lens of culture-war politics — as an attempt […]

What we have become

posted by jmcgee

The cartoon below, from Steve Breen at the San Diego Tribune, says it all. H/T to my Beliefnet blog neighbor Tony Jones.

Is Pope Benedict a closet liberal?

posted by jmcgee

That’s the question posed by my friend and former Beliefnetizen David Gibson in today’s Washington Post:  Thus far, Benedict’s papacy has been one of constant movement and change, the sort of dynamic that liberal Catholics — or Protestants — are […]

“We’ve been praying for this for two years”

posted by jmcgee

The New York Times has this intriguing look at one Anglo-Catholic parish that may be one of the first to jump across the Tiber: When the Vatican announced last week that it would welcome groups of traditionalist Anglicans into the […]

Maureen Dowd on “The Nuns’ Story”

posted by jmcgee

I’m sure this will be getting plenty of play around the blogosphere over the next few days — that sound you hear in the distance is William Donohue, barking out another angry press release — but here’s a first look […]

Is The Exodus beginning?

posted by jmcgee

Reading this kind of news, you have to wonder: The Rt Rev John Hind, the Bishop of Chichester, has announced he is considering becoming a Roman Catholic in a move that could spark an exodus of clergy. Bishop Hind said […]

Make your own kind of music…

posted by jmcgee

…starting with the stairs. This wonderful little video just made me smile. Enjoy.

Murder in the rectory — UPDATED

posted by jmcgee

This shocking story broke late yesterday: A Catholic priest who ministered to the poor from his wealthy New Jersey parish was found beaten to death in his church rectory yesterday — possibly by someone he was trying to help, sources […]

Soldier, reporter, Catholic

posted by jmcgee

That sums up the unusual resume of Sgt. Neil McCabe. Boston’s diocesan newspaper The Pilot has more: While Sgt. Neil W. McCabe was prepared for the blazing temperatures and the dusty, dry conditions which are part of the arid desert […]

Why give to your parish?

posted by jmcgee

Here’s one answer, from my parish in Queens. It’s part of our annual stewardship drive, and this video is being shown Sunday at all the masses. Kudos to one of our trustees, Roger Aguinaldo, who shot and produced it. (Shameless […]

Homily for October 25, 2009: World Priest Day

posted by jmcgee

[I’m not preaching this Sunday.  We’re showing a stewardship video at all the masses.  But, since it’s World Priest Day, I thought I’d re-post for reflection my homily for this occasion last year.] It happens more often than you may […]

“The largest gathering of Catholics in Texas”

posted by jmcgee

A remarkable Catholic ministry conference in Texas has gotten some attention not just for its focus, but for its size. From The Dallas Morning News: In its 2,000-year history, the Roman Catholic Church rarely has been accused of failing to […]

Two deacons in the family

posted by jmcgee

Some things run in the family — like religious vocations:  For Deacon Mark Gallagher, the ordination of his son, Charles, as a transitional deacon Oct. 8 in Rome was almost like father, like son. Mark Gallagher has been a permanent […]

Sister act: nun works at abortion clinic

posted by jmcgee

Anyone who is still wondering why the Vatican is investigating women religious in the United States might want to ponder the implications of this story:  A Dominican nun has been seen frequenting an abortion facility in Illinois recently – but […]

“Contrary to popular perception, the role of women is very diverse”

posted by jmcgee

That’s what noted author and theologian Dr. Pia De Solenni had to say yesterday, discussing the role of women in the Church on my show “Currents.”   She has a lot more to say about women’s ordination and the importance of […]

The Burke Effect

posted by jmcgee

It appears the Vatican has a new kingmaker — or, at least, someone whose voice and views will be having a powerful impact on the American Church.   From the Catholic News Service:  Pope Benedict XVI’s naming of U.S. Archbishop […]

Faith leaders condemn Holocaust comparisons

posted by jmcgee

This piece of news strikes me as sane and sensible — and long overdue:  Religious leaders are urging their colleagues and politicians to keep comparisons to Nazism and the Holocaust out out of American public policy debates. The Interfaith Alliance […]

What every blog reader needs to remember

posted by jmcgee

From today’s Liturgy of the Hours, and Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:  “Guard against foul talk; let your words be for the improvement of others, as occasion offers, and do good to your listeners, otherwise you will only be grieving […]

Burying the lede: the death of the Catholic press

posted by jmcgee

Is the Catholic media on its last legs?  A priest-editor in Asia has a few intriguing thoughts on the subject:  For another few decades (two to four?), Catholic journalism will rely to some decreasing extent upon the printing press to […]

Little Flower, big news

posted by jmcgee

Wander over to The Catholic Key blog and you’ll find some remarkable news that connects the Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux, with this week’s trailblazing move by the Vatican regarding the Anglican communion:  I am the Anglican Catholic Bishop […]

Could some core beliefs be “deal-breakers” for the Anglicans?

posted by jmcgee

Liz Lemon would be impressed.   The New York Times is helping to put the Anglican conversion story in context, by warning our Separated Brothers and Sisters that they might want to thInk twice before jumping the Tiber — and […]

Did “The Simpsons” cross the line?

posted by jmcgee

The Catholic League’s William Donohue thinks so:  Bill Donohue says he’s okay with “gentle fun” being poked at his faith. But the Catholic watchdog says The Simpsons went too far on Sunday when they cracked wise about the Eucharist. At […]

Weigel on the Anglicans: “Theological shock-therapy”

posted by jmcgee

George Weigel has now weighed in on the Anglican situation. From the Washington Post’s On Faith blog:   The first wave of reactions to the October 20 Vatican announcement of a new arrangement for receiving into the Catholic Church groups […]

Stupid media tricks

posted by jmcgee

I’d like to cut this poor girl a little slack, but look at this clip and you’ll have to agree: this is really beyond dumb. Based on my experience, here’s what I think happened. This was probably written by an […]

Anglican converts? Don’t expect a stampede

posted by jmcgee

That seems to be the conclusion of some observers here in the United States:  The Vatican’s invitation to disaffected Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church won’t have much effect in the United States, clergy members and theologians predict. American […]

“It’s the browning of the Catholic Church in the U.S.”

posted by jmcgee

If you want to know where the Catholic Church in the United States is headed, you might want to look south. The Latino presence is strong, and growing. And as part of its series on Latino America, CNN takes a […]

Want to buy an altar? Cleveland’s Catholic inventory is up for sale

posted by jmcgee

One American diocese is having what sounds like the world’s biggest church garage sale:  The scattering of sacred and religious artifacts from parishes closed by the Cleveland Catholic Diocese is under way. The diocese’s online liquidator is advertising hundreds of […]

Alito on the Catholic court: “One of those questions that does not die”

posted by jmcgee

At least one member of the country’s highest court is a little miffed at all the attention being paid to the court’s Catholic majority. From the AP: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito voiced frustration Tuesday over what he called […]

“An Anglican petting zoo”?

posted by jmcgee

Not everyone is  enthralled with the remarkable new bridge that Rome has built across the Tiber. Deacon Eric Stoltz notes: The Vatican proposal appears to closely follow the old practice of “uniatism,” which is not–or up to this point, was […]

Quote of the day

posted by jmcgee

“If this reconnection is well-facilitated, we may see the entire African arm of the Church of England (which is currently its most vibrantly-growing branch) cross the Tiber, and that will be a very interesting development, especially as Catholics are exposed to the Anglican-use […]

A journalist in the pulpit?!

posted by jmcgee

A journalist friend and former colleague sent this to me with the note: “You’ve got some company.”  Indeed!  It’s the story of another journalist-turned-clergyman:   On the first Sunday morning of October, pastor Steve Scott looked far beyond the surroundings […]

Looking for a clergy shirt? Be careful

posted by jmcgee

A company that sells clergy shirts offers this clever ad:

Fr. Rutler reacts: “It is a dramatic put down of liberal Anglicanism”

posted by jmcgee

A producer in my office contacted well-known Anglican convert Fr. George Rutler to ask if he’d be interested in being interviewed on the big Anglican news.   He wasn’t available, but he e-mailed this statement, which he’s releasing to the […]

Here come the atheists

posted by jmcgee

If evangelicals can climb on soap boxes, why not atheists?   A report from the AP:  Ads promoting atheism will be going up in New York City subway stations. The monthlong ad campaign begins next Monday in a dozen Manhattan […]

Here come the Anglicans

posted by jmcgee

The big news, still unfolding:  The Vatican has announced that Pope Benedict is setting up special provision for Anglicans, including married clergy, who want to convert to Rome together, preserving aspects of Anglican liturgy. They will be given their own […]

“In Due Season”

posted by jmcgee

Several months ago, I blogged about Paul Wilkes’ remarkable book “In Due Season.”  (I even preached about it in one of my homilies.)   Now I’m pleased to see that Beliefnet has posted an exclusive excerpt.  Take a look.  You […]

Big news about to break?

posted by jmcgee

You sort of get that impression from the blogger American Papist, who takes note of a big briefing happening tomorrow at the Vatican:  We inform accredited journalists that tomorrow, Tuesday 20 October 2009, at 11am, in the John Paul II […]

Check out this Catholic funeral

posted by jmcgee

After all the hand-wringing over Senator Kennedy’s funeral, a reader decided to send me something altogether different. I thought I’d post it and see what folks think.  It’s the webscast of the funeral of a sister, held earlier this week at […]

“It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men”

posted by jmcgee

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more heartening and hope-filled story for a Monday: the tale of a lawyer who traded in the courtroom for the school room:  “Pick your head up, buddy,” Tom Dunn said to Darius Nash, who […]

The North American martyrs: “We are afflicted in every way”

posted by jmcgee

Anyone who needs a reminder of the price some missionaries have paid need only read a brief summary of what happened to the North American martyrs, whose feast we celebrate today:  The first Jesuit missionaries arrived in Quebec in 1625. […]

Wilmington files for bankruptcy

posted by jmcgee

Days after its retired bishop died, another American diocese has gone Chapter 11:  The Catholic diocese [of Wilmington] Delaware has filed for US bankruptcy protection on the eve of a civil trial involving high-profile sex abuse. The move automatically delays […]

Worth a thousand words

posted by jmcgee

The Archbishop of New York bumps into one of his flock.  Would you like fries with that?  H/T to Mayor McCheese, a.k.a. Rocco.  

“This is a hoax”

posted by jmcgee

This is what our media-besotted culture has come to: The episode that transfixed the nation last week — a spaceshiplike balloon floating through the Colorado skies with a 6-year-old boy named Falcon believed to be inside — was declared a […]

“Thanks, Jews!”

posted by jmcgee

That’s what the “T” of the cross really means, doesn’t it? Check out this priceless Stephen Colbert take-down of Justice Antonin Scalia. And a grateful h/t to my new blog neighbor Michelle McGinty. (For those who are new to my […]

What’s George Washington doing in jail?

posted by jmcgee

For the answer, check out  this unusual art project: photographing ordinary people who happen to bear the names of presidents. 

Quote of the day

posted by jmcgee

“The faithful must be renewed, and those who have fallen away need to be invited back to the Church. We need to spread the kingdom of God to those without hope. Amid all of our prosperity, so many people are […]

Can you imagine a pro-life crowd like this in the U.S.?

posted by jmcgee

I can’t.  It’s in Spain.  The AP report: A huge crowd rallied in Madrid Saturday against a bill to ease restrictions on abortion — a vivid and emotional show of how the issue remains sensitive two decades after abortion was […]

Homily for October 18, 2009: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted by jmcgee

Anyone who lives and works around Brooklyn knows Bishop Ford High School, right off the Prospect Expressway. It’s just a block from my office. And I imagine a lot of Catholics who live in the diocese know the story of […]

Meet the man behind “Catholics Come Home”

posted by jmcgee

We were lucky to have Tom Peterson stop by our studios last week for a sit-down.  He’s the mastermind behind the powerful (and incredibly effective) “Catholics Come Home” ads that have brought an estimated 100,000 Catholics back to the Church. […]

Slow day at the office

posted by jmcgee

Sorry, but I just got a big kick out of this. If you have a video camera on your laptop, and you’re bored, what else are you gonna do but create your very own music video? Enjoy.

Sarah Silverman’s “stupid” idea

posted by jmcgee

A comedian’s suggestion to sell the Vatican isn’t going over well with at least one archbishop:  Sell the Vatican to help the poor? U.S. comedian Sarah Silverman might think it’s a great idea, but a Nigerian archbishop called the suggestion […]

A mother’s nightmare, caught on tape

posted by jmcgee

If this doesn’t make you cringe, nothing will: a horrifying video of a commuter train running over a baby carriage. Miraculously, the child survived with just a minor injury.      

A mother, a son and his father, a priest — UPDATED

posted by jmcgee

This story is tragic on so many levels:  With three small children and her marriage in trouble, Pat Bond attended a spirituality retreat for Roman Catholic women in Illinois 26 years ago in hopes of finding support and comfort. What […]

“Virgin Maria Auxiliatrix”: the hottest phrase on the web?

posted by jmcgee

Well, here’s something different.  It turns out that one of the top search terms on Google yesterday was “Virgin Maria Auxiliatrix.”  I’m not sure why, or what sparked this sudden Marian curiosity.  But my blog neighbor here at Beliefnet Mark […]

Cheaper by the dozen: meet the Fatzingers

posted by jmcgee

Do you know anyone who has more than two or three kids?  How about 12? : Returning to the site where they wed just over 20 years ago, Rob and Cecilia “Sam” Fatzinger entered the historic chapel at Sacred Heart […]

Nuns make construction work habit-forming

posted by jmcgee

Jesus, of course, was a carpenter, and these inspiring women are clearly following his lead:  Dressed in T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase “Volunteer, Make it a Habit,” about 80 nuns from congregations nationwide worked side by side in New Orleans Oct. […]

Man’s best friend

posted by jmcgee

As St. Theresa reminds us, in this excerpt from the Office of Readings for today, it’s Christ: What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side? Unlike our friends in the world, he will never abandon […]

Answered prayers

posted by jmcgee

“There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers.” – St. Teresa of Avila, whose feast is today.  The quote has inspired numerous people, including Truman Capote. 

A possible Eucharistic miracle?

posted by jmcgee

Maybe.  It’s in Poland.   Fr. Z. has the scoop, which sounds a lot like a miracle that I witnessed a few years ago, in Lanciano, Italy.  

Gay marriage ad features Catholic mom

posted by jmcgee

The ad below, appearing in Maine, is raising eyebrows — and blood pressures. One Catholic group is demanding it be removed. Take a look and see what you think.  

Candidate for sainthood is also a candidate for medal of honor

posted by jmcgee

And he could become one of just a handful of chaplains to win the medal:   A Kansas priest already under consideration for sainthood has won the endorsement of the Army’s top civilian leader to receive the Medal of Honor. The […]

Faith at your fingertips: praying the rosary

posted by

I still have my first set.  Do you? It was given to me as a first communion gift: simple black beads with a plain plastic cross.  They’re small, child-sized, but I carried them in May processions when I was in […]

Pope to make first visit to Rome’s synagogue

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Benedict will become only the second pope to visit the synagogue — and the timing is more than mere coincidence:  Pope Benedict will make his first visit to Rome’s Jewish synagogue in January, the Vatican said Tuesday. Benedict, leader of the world’s 1.1 […]

“We know from our own broken marriage that hope is possible”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

The pope has appointed a married couple — who admit they almost got divorced — to a high-ranking Vatican council.  Their unusual and inspiring story, from CNA: A married couple recently appointed by Pope Benedict to be consultors for the […]

Con man posing as deacon charged with abuse

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

An unusual abuse accusation out of Minneapolis: A man who alleges that he was sexually abused as a child by a con man posing as a Roman Catholic deacon went public Monday to challenge recent statements made about the case by […]

A first look at summer: a glimpse at “Toy Story 3″

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

With the leaves changing and the frost coming, here’s something to look forward to: a glimmer of warmth and sunshine, coming next June.   It’s the official trailer for “Toy Story 3.”  Enjoy.  

A Latter-day St. Damien?

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

From our Utah Desk…a curious news report out of Salt Lake City indicates that one of the men canonized a saint this past weekend has also been embraced by the Mormons.  And that’s not all: Father Damien, the Roman Catholic […]

You can do it

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Check out this little film of a bird learning to fly, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself moved to tears.  This is all of us, isn’ t it?   Learn To Fly from Christian Letruria on Vimeo.

Another warning

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Just a reminder: Your Humble Blogger will be on satellite radio’s The Catholic Channel tonight, at about 8:20 ET, appearing on The Busted Halo Show with Fr. Dave Dwyer. You can catch it on Sirius Radio’s channel 159. Or XM’s […]

St. Columbus?

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

These days, with efforts underway to elevate to sainthood contemporary figures like John Paul, Fulton Sheen and Mother Teresa, we tend to forget that a little more than a century ago, there was a great effort to canonize Christopher Columbus. […]

Scholar claims God created us, but not the earth

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

And now, a little head-scratcher for a Monday morning.  A leading scholar claims that a botched translation has been misleading us for thousands of years: Professor Ellen van Wolde, a respected Old Testament scholar and author, claims the first sentence […]

Resurrection: finding new uses for old churches

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

What can you do when a parish closes and the church is all-but-abandoned? Some novel solutions, in Albany: Old church buildings never die. They’re just revived for other purposes, be it a new house of worship or an artists space. […]

But is she housebroken?

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

A friend sent this along, and I can’t help but think that a saint whom we recently celebrated —  Francis of Assisi — would approve.  Meet Jessica, the hippo who’s also a family pet:

Know when to hold ‘em: meet the poker-playing priest

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Just when you thought you’d seen it all…along comes this: A South Carolina priest made headlines this week when he starred in a new poker competition on US television this week. Father Andrew Trapp, an assistant pastor at Garden City […]

“It is just a miracle”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

With a tapestry of the new saint fluttering outside St. Peter’s Basilica, thousands crowded inside the church to watch Hawaii’s most beloved citizen become a saint:  Pope Benedict XVI elevated Father Damien of Moloka’i to sainthood today, 120 years after […]

Albania asks for Mother Teresa’s remains

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Could Mother Teresa soon be on the move?   From the AP:  Albania wants the remains of Nobel Peace laureate Mother Teresa and the only post-independence monarch to be returned to the country, the prime minister said Friday. Mother Teresa’s […]

New York Times editorial on Fr. Damien: “Those with leprosy are longing for more”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Here’s something you don’t see every day — a New York Times editorial about a Catholic saint: Damien de Veuster was a young missionary from the 19th-century Belgian countryside when he went to work at the leprosy settlement in Kalaupapa, […]

Hawaiian church to be renamed for St. Damien

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Some interesting news from the Pacific, as Hawaii prepares to celebrate its first saint:  The Catholic parish in Kaunakakai will be renamed St. Damien Church as soon as Pope Benedict XVI declares the sainthood of the missionary to Molokai. Signs […]

Oops

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

It’s nice to see this new ministry in a diocese getting some attention. But the errors contained in this article about deacons are really pretty embarrassing.

Homily for October 11, 2009: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

A few weeks ago, a remarkable story popped up, about fashion photographer Michael Belk.  His work has appeared in Vogue and GQ, but after many years of success, he felt compelled to do something more meaningful.  Belk is a devout Christian, who […]

Gingrich on Catholicism: “This is the place that I belong”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

“I don’t know that I wanted to become a Catholic so much as I became a Catholic. I don’t know that it was volitional in that sense. Having gone to the basilica (The Basilica of the National Shrine of the […]

Quote of the day

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

“Go and find him when your patience and strength run out and you feel alone and helpless. Jesus is waiting for you in the chapel. Say to him, ‘Jesus, you know exactly what is going on. You are all I […]

Now that you’ve won the Nobel Peace Prize…

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

…could you spare three minutes to watch this, Mr. President? Thanks.

Who is God? A movie looks for answers.

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

This unusual documentary, “Oh My God,” is hitting movie theaters this fall. The trailer below — featuring, among others, Ringo Starr and Hugh Jackman — gives an intriguing preview.     

Need a laugh? Here.

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

It’s Friday. The start of a long holiday weekend. Couldn’t you use a good laugh about now? Last night’s episode of “The Office” was sweet, funny, touching — and, in the final few minutes, uproarious. They offered what may be […]

Quote of the day

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

“Ultimately, the Catholic who is very angry is a Catholic who is full of fear. He sees what is going on around him and he fears that God cannot overcome it. He fears that perhaps it is possible that our […]

The Nobel also-rans

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Before the prize was announced early this morning, the AP ran an item on the likely winners, which included this priceless sentence, buried deep in the story:   U.S. President Barack Obama is thought to have been nominated but it’s […]

The Vatican’s odd couple: Diaz and Benedict

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

How will the new U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican get along with the pontiff? NCR’s John Allen sat down for a chat with Miguel Diaz and came away with some interesting insights: In some ways, one could think of Díaz […]

Vatican greets Obama’s Nobel Prize “with appreciation”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

The Vatican had warm words for the Nobel committee’s decision:  News that U.S. President Barack Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize was met with high hopes from the Vatican spokesman. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi told journalists Oct. 9 […]

What if Dorothy Day were alive today?

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

She might very well be pleased with this unusual endeavor in Ohio, which is taking her values into the 21st century:  The Dayton Catholic Workers Movement, a charitable organization that helps the homeless, is opening a new Dayton restaurant. The restaurant, the […]

October 24: Lay Fast for Priests

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

With World Priest Day approaching on October 25, a number of people will be joining an international fast for the world’s priests:   Anna Rae-Kelly saw the Catholic priesthood becoming embattled as a result of the clergy abuse scandal that […]

The Catholic Church and gays

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

“The Church hates gay people.”  Well, judging from some of the comments around here, that’s the impression some people have.   It couldn’t be further from the truth.  For a clear and concise explanation of the Church’s teachings on homosexuality, […]

Busted. Again.

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

For those who have nothing better to do this long weekend: Monday night, at about 8:20 ET, Your Humble Blogger will be appearing on The Busted Halo Show, on Sirius Radio’s The Catholic Channel.  I appeared on the show a […]

Pax Obama?

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

I don’t think anybody expected this to move across the wire this morning:  In a stunning surprise, the Nobel Committee announced Friday that it had awarded its annual peace prize to President Obama “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international […]

Mourning “a priest’s priest”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Wilmington’s retired Bishop Michael Saltarelli died yesterday after a battle with cancer, and the local paper has an affectionate appreciation of his life and legacy.  It helps to remind us what being a bishop is all about:  With a strong […]

Mickey Rourke on the priest who saved his life

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

In the Year for Priests, here’s a story that reminds us the impact a priest can have on just one life: Mickey Rourke has revealed that he was on the verge of suicide before he turned to the Catholic Church […]

“I’ve never seen anything like it…”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

When I saw this story and realized it had occurred at a secular, state university, I thought it was nothing less than remarkable: The melodic voices of 32 University of Northern Colorado students wafted through the predawn of Oct. 1 […]

“Vocations come from being open”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

This story from the Catholic Standard in Washington caught my eye, because the young priest now serves at the parish (and school) where I grew up.  He has some sound insight into vocations:      In second grade, right around […]

Quote of the day

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

“Liberals are critical of [authority], although they’ll use it when they’re in power. Conservatives would tend to be less critical, but equally dependent upon it. Consequently, when you get into the church, you get the conservatives unhappy because bishops aren’t […]

Rhapsody in tan: a Beach Boy will finish some Gershwin songs

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

From the “What Were They Thinking?” file…some curious musical news, courtesy the Los Angeles Times: In a surprise union of two quintessentially American composers from different eras, one the 1960s mastermind of “Good Vibrations,” the other the Jazz Age creator […]

Where do bishops come from?

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Everywhere.  But there are a few places that seem to be especially successful at growing them.  The top greenhouses are written up right here.  Fascinating reading. 

“The left’s hostility to Catholicism is on gaudy display”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

A man who may be testing the waters for a 2012 run for the White House has a few thoughts on what he considers to be serious challenges facing Christians in general — and Catholics in particular. Here’s former Senator […]

iGod: Catholic TV’s new iPhone app

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

My siblings in Catholic communications, Catholic TV in Boston, have produced an iPhone app.  Not only that, they’ve also produced a mischievously clever ad for it, below.

Further proof that it’s a big church — UPDATED

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Any church that can accommodate both Michael Moore and Sean Hannity — not to mention their monumental egos — is pretty darn huge.  (And pretty darn forgiving, too.)   You can read about their little chat here.   Meantime, a snip, […]

A tale of two weddings

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

A missionary priest offers this beautiful glimpse at one part of the priestly life — and bearing witness to a precious sacrament, in two very different settings:   I had been away from Tanzania for one month enjoying a vacation […]

Priest, chaplain, husband

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Dallas is mourning the death of a man who had three distinct callings: The Rev. Paul F. Gray had a ministry that spanned more than 40 years and included service as a chaplain for the armed forces, the Dallas Police […]

Bishops apologize to Jewish leaders for “feelings of hurt”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

After a few months of simmering tension, the Catholic bishops have offered Jewish leaders an olive branch:  U.S. Catholic bishops have tried to reassure Jewish leaders that interfaith dialogue will never be used as a means of proselytism or a […]

“Fight like hell to do any good”: the legacy of Aengus Finucane

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

The world has lost a remarkable and spirited warrior in the fight for charity and justice — and attention must be paid:  The Rev. Aengus Finucane, a Roman Catholic missionary and Irish aid pioneer who braved civil wars and learned […]

Shore thing: new deacons for Wilmington

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

A diocese in Delaware is about to gain a new batch of deacons (just in time for All Saint’s Day — and the Advent-Christmas rush that will follow!) Details: Fifteen men from throughout Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore will soon […]

African bishop: Obama election may be “divine sign”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Well, that notion fits in nicely with those who seem to think of the new president as some sort of messiah: Barack Obama’s election as the first African-American President of the United States could be interpreted as a “divine sign,” […]

Colbert v. Dawkins, Round 2

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Absolutely priceless. Enjoy.        The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c Richard Dawkins www.colbertnation.com Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Michael Moore

Scientist claims he’s reproduced Shroud of Turin

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

The age-old debate about the authenticity of one of the world”s most famous religious relics now has a new wrinkle.  From  Reuters: An Italian scientist says he has reproduced the Shroud of Turin, a feat that he says proves definitively […]

Deacon gets papal honor. (Oh, and Mother Angelica got one, too.)

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

A congratulatory shout-out to two stalwarts in Catholic communications: Mother Angelica and Deacon Bill Steltemeier of EWTN, who this weekend received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal.  There’s a complete write-up here that gives details. 

Miguel Diaz meets the press

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

The new U.S. envoy to the Vatican, Miguel Diaz, had his first sit-down with reporters on Monday, and stressed dialogue and “collaboration”: Stressing the priorities that he said the Obama administration has in common with the Vatican, Diaz sketched out […]

Read it and weep

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

One of the pleasures of the blogosphere is discovering new and refreshing voices. Many are gifted. A few are brilliant. And then there are those who defy any description. Every now and then, you encounter someone who just makes you […]

Apocalypse, huh?

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

A scene from the upcoming end-of-world blockbuster “2012” more or less exemplifies what it means to “Jump the Shark.” This just might be the disaster movie to end all disaster movies. Just watch this snip and try not to howl. […]

A leading economic indicator: robbing from poor boxes

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

From Boston comes this story that shows that lengths some will go to — and the depths some will plunge — during hard times:  Whoever broke into St. Ambrose Church had to squeeze between a statue of St. Ambrose and […]

Words to live by: “Turn off the news”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

As one who toiled long and hard in the network news business for nearly three decades, I can give this suggestion a hearty “Amen”:   I don’t mean to put anyone out of work in this difficult economy — I even […]

Are the heroes of Michael Moore’s new movie…priests?

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

You sorta get that impression, from this intriguing entry from Progressive Revival at Beliefnet:  Roman Catholic Priests are the surprising voices of clarity and conviction in Michael Moore’s new film Capitalism: A Love Story.   The Priests in this documentary, one of whom […]

“We all have secrets. Let’s smoke indoors.”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Longtime readers know I’m a big fan of “Mad Men,” so I was delighted to discover this wicked parody. Anyone who is just now catching up with this absorbing series — and who feels completely adrift — can find all […]

At the “Red Mass,” a plea for the unborn

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

The annual “Red Mass” took place in Washington Sunday — and some big names were in the pews. From the AP:  An American cardinal on Sunday issued a plea for the rights of the unborn at a church service that […]

From Maui, a big “Aloha” for Fr. Damien

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

The Church will get a new saint later this week — one with a unique American connection — and visitors are already en route to Rome for the main event.  From the Maui News:  Dozens of Maui Catholics have begun […]

Bishops address suicide: “Life matters”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

On the day when we marked Respect Life Sunday in the United States, the good people of Ireland marked a Day for Life.  And the bishops there released a pastoral letter on a subject many would rather not talk about: […]

“Mountain” climbing with Thomas Merton

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

It had completely escaped my attention, but Doc Mac notes that it was on this day in 1948 that one of the great autobiographies of the 20th century was released, Thomas Merton’s “The Seven Storey Mountain.”  The book had a […]

Just what the Year for Priests needed — a chorus line!

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

This is, um, interesting.  H/T Damien Thompson, who explains what’s going on here. “Mass” at Plobsheim, France, Pentecost 2009 from Donald Jenkins on Vimeo.

Here’s a first: a film festival named for a pope

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

A decade after Pope John Paul’s historic letter to artists, a group of artists in Florida is putting on a film festival that celebrates the human spirit: Pope John Paul II’s legacy serves as an inspiration to people of all […]

Blushing in the blogosphere

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Several people e-mailed me to say, “Hey, did you know you’re in NCR?”   No!  But I’m humbled and delighted to be mentioned in some exalted company in this piece by Heidi Schlumpf.  Thanks for the props!   Check out […]

Homily for October 4, 2009: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted by deacon greg kandra

Looking for it? It’s right here.

Homily for October 4, 2009: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

When he was 16 years old, Dan Powell was playing football at a Boy Scouts camp when he was tackled, and suffered a traumatic injury.  He broke his neck.  Dan was left a paraplegic, paralyzed from the chest down.  He […]

Visitors to the Capitol can finally see ‘God’

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

This is the sort of thing that you don’t hear about in the mainstream press, but it’s worth noting:  When the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center opened in December 2008, the national motto, “In God We Trust,” was nowhere to be […]

Who started the fire?

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Turns out, Billy Joel didn’t tell the whole story.  The fire actually began on Pentecost.  So: check out this interp of a classic, courtesy the indispensable New Advent and New Zealand’s Liturgy blog.   For those deacon candidates studying Church […]

The story behind one of the most famous pro-life photos in the world

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Photo: by Michael Clancy Many of us have seen it, but few of us have heard the story behind this iconic photo of a fetus clutching a doctor’s finger. But the man who took the picture wants the story to […]

Welcome, Miguel

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

The pope greeted the new U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican today:   Welcoming the new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI outlined wide areas of potential cooperation with the administration of President Barack Obama, but drew a sharp […]

Seeing Red

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Washington’s Catholic lawmakers will celebrate the annual Red Mass this Sunday, and a producer at CNN looks at some of the history behind this event:  The beautifully ornate Catholic church in the nation’s capital has seen its share of history […]

Happy One Week Anniversary!

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

And they said it wouldn’t last.   I’m marking my first week here at Beliefnet, after two years at my previous address, and so far, so good.  I haven’t broken anything, and the Pope hasn’t called to complain.    I’d […]

I’ve headed cross-town

posted by deacon greg kandra

Those who are looking for “The Deacon’s Bench” can now find it at Beliefnet, the large (and growing) spiritual website. Change your bookmarks! My new URL: http://blog.beliefnet.com/deaconsbench/ Come by and visit!

“The 13th Day”: the trailer for the movie about Fatima

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

A new movie about Fatima, “The 13th Day”, is to be released later this year, and screenings have been announced in several major American cities. If you’re curious, the movie’s trailer is below. You can also visit its website.

Can you hear me now? The problem of microphones in church

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Most of us are used to them these days, but that doesn’t mean we have to love microphones during mass.  The Catholic Register up in Canada gives this issue some amplification:   If every modern church has a box full […]

A deacon’s journey: “If you’re going to be a Catholic, you’d better be a good one”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

From a paper in Minnesota comes this profile of new deacon, who has a remarkable story to tell:  After six years of prayerful study, Vern Behrends recently preached his first homily at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Worthington, beginning with […]

Vatican rep: free speech is not an obligation

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

We’re accustomed to defending all forms of free speech in this country.  But a Vatican archbishop is drawing a line in the sand:     While the freedom of expression is a right, states are not obliged to protect expression […]

“Love is everlasting”: St. Theresa and a heart aflame

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Like most of us, I have people in my life that I have a hard time loving.  So this morning’s entry for the Office of Readings, for the memorial of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus (or Therese of Lisieux, […]

Princess Di’s ancestor may become a saint

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

That intriguing tidbit comes from Doc Mac:  Born in 1799 to Second Earl Spencer (whose descendants include Princess Diana), George Spencer studied at Cambridge and was ordained an Anglican priest in 1824. As time went on he began to have […]

Where should you get married in a recession?

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Why, right here, of course.  

Previous Posts

This blog is no longer active
This blog is no longer being actively updated. Please feel free to browse the archives or: Read our most popular inspiration blog See our most popular inspirational video Take our most popular quiz ...

posted 10:42:40pm Dec. 12, 2010 | read full post »

One day more
A reminder: "The Deacon's Bench" is closed! Please enjoy the archives! ...

posted 11:26:20pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Meet Montana's married priest
Earlier this week, I posted an item about Montana getting its first married priest. Now a local TV station has hopped on the bandwagon. Take a look, below. ...

posted 10:29:55pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Big day in the Big Easy: 10 new deacons
Deacon Mike Talbot has the scoop: 10 men today were ordained as Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This group of men was formally selected on the day the evacuation of New Orleans began as Hurricane Katrina approached. The ...

posted 6:55:42pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Gaudete! And let's break out a carol or two...
"Gesu Bambino," anyone? This is one of my favorites, and nobody does it better than these gals: Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Staade. Enjoy. ...

posted 1:04:10pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

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