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The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

September 2010 Archives

Pass the basket: a special collection for deacons

posted by jmcgee

Now here’s something I’ve never heard before — but it’s a great sign of the growing importance and value of the diaconate in parish life. St. Louis evidently takes up an annual collection for Deacon Formation: The annual Deacon Formation […]

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In the Clubb House: Obama visits with Iowa Catholic family

posted by jmcgee

President Obama continued his election season backyard tour, and paid a call on the Clubb family — who, whether by accident or design, just happen to be Catholic. From the Catholic News Service: President Barack Obama chose the backyard of […]

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Jerome and me

posted by jmcgee

Today marks the feast of St. Jerome– a prolific writer, scholar, and friend of lions (he reputedly helped one by removing a thorn from its paw). He’s also someone close to my own heart. In his youth, my father was […]

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The Catholic church building boom in Texas

posted by jmcgee

Some heartening news from the Lone Star state. At a time when many dioceses are closing or consolidating parishes, down in Texas, the church business is booming: Each week at Midland’s Our Lady of San Juan Parish, churchgoers attending Mass […]

A joyful noise: kids sing Gregorian chant

posted by jmcgee

And beautifully, I might add. H/T The Anchoress.

A patron saint of sex abuse victims?

posted by jmcgee

That would be the soon-to-be saint Mary MacKillop — who evidently was (briefly) excommunicated as revenge for seeking to have a priest pedophile brought to justice. Fr. James Martin has details: the astonishing story of Blessed Mary MacKillop, an Australian […]

Catholics blazing a trail in stem-cell research

posted by jmcgee

And now for something innovative — a Catholic hospital involved in stem-cell research, but not in a way you might think : Women giving birth by cesarean section at a Catholic hospital in Florida can contribute to cutting-edge research that […]

Two thumbs up: Mormons praise Catholic film reviews

posted by jmcgee

The USCCB’s Sr. Mary Ann Walsh takes note of something interesting in the world of movie criticism: A former Catholic bishop of Salt Lake City once facetiously boasted that he headed the second largest church in Utah. There Catholics comprise […]

America’s Next Top Bishop?

posted by jmcgee

Well, no. It’s not exactly like the TV competition that looks for hot runway models. But Rocco Palmo has posted an intriguing list of up and coming bishops. The Final Four range all over the map — including one celebrated […]

Obama: “I’m a Christian by choice”

posted by jmcgee

In a rare description of his personal faith, the president at a New Mexico gathering answered some questions about religion and abortion: An event billed as a discussion on the economy turned personal Tuesday when a woman asked President Barack […]

Calvary in Haiti: love among the ruins

posted by jmcgee

New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan recently paid another visit to Haiti. The short video below shows what he saw in the ruins of the country’s cathedral. It’s beautiful, and haunting, and tragic.

Losing your religion may be bad for your health

posted by jmcgee

Want to stay healthy? Keep going to church. That, at least, is one conclusion you might draw from a new study: For some people, leaving their religion means more than taking a spiritual risk. They could be risking their physical […]

Are you smarter than an atheist?

posted by jmcgee

When it comes to religion, maybe not. Catholics, in particular, don’t understand the Eucharist at an alarmingly high rate.  That, and more, according to the results of a new survey: If you want to know about God, you might want […]

Giving Anglicans a Wuerl

posted by jmcgee

This news caused a stir last week, and I’m pleased to report that my show “Currents” (on Brooklyn’s Catholic cable channel NET) got the first broadcast interview with Archbishop Donald Wuerl, discussing his appointment to the committee helping to bring […]

Chaput to religion writers: “Master and respect your material…”

posted by jmcgee

Archbishop Charles Chaput delivered a terrific address to the Religion Newswriters Association recently — and concluded with this valuable thought: Journalism is a “knowledge profession.” But like any other profession, the work of journalism doesn’t necessarily translate into self-knowledge or […]

Colbert on faith

posted by jmcgee

For various people who have wondered about the man’s religious devotion — especially in light of his recent testimony before Congress — I found this snip from an interview in 2009: Would your family all sing carols on Christmas Eve? […]

Church as theater

posted by jmcgee

Some unusual news out of Brooklyn, where a Catholic church is playing a starring role in a theatrical production of “Murder in the Cathedral.” A snip from the New York Times review: Comparing the buttoned-up experience of seeing a play […]

Failing the test of TIME: their story about “women priests” — UPDATED

posted by jmcgee

The problems with this item in TIME magazine begin in the second sentence: Alta Jacko is the mother of eight children. She is also an ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church. Actually, no. Whatever else she might be, Ms. […]

Why the Catholic Church is like Starbucks

posted by jmcgee

Well, this post (at a fine new blog I’ve just discovered, Catholic Phoenix) offers some smart answers. Of course, like Starbucks, the Church — being universal — comes in a variety of sizes and flavors, to suit any taste. I […]

“A lot of preachers have had to wing it…”

posted by jmcgee

If you wonder how a preacher goes about his (or her) job, take a look: Pastors take great care to craft sermons they hope will inspire their congregations. Many spend hours each week thinking, researching and writing. When the Rev. […]

Quote of the day

posted by jmcgee

“We are living in an era where people believe in Christ, but not in his Church. They want the king, but not the kingdom; they want to believe without belonging; they want the faith, but not the faithful. But for […]

The Bible in a minute

posted by jmcgee

This is a clever spin on scripture study — and fun, to boot. H/T Concord Pastor. Bible In A Minute – barats and beretaBarats and Bereta Productions | MySpace Video

You can’t say that in church: all about “Pulpit Freedom Sunday”

posted by jmcgee

If you wonder why churches cannot endorse political candidates, Chuck Colson explains — and explains what some preachers may be doing about it this Sunday: In 1954, then-Senator Lyndon Johnson was in the middle of a particularly bruising re-election battle. […]

Homily for September 26, 2010: 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted by jmcgee

When I give instruction to parents before celebrating a baptism, I like to tell them to pay close attention to how the ritual begins. It doesn’t start with an opening prayer, or the sign of the cross, or a hymn. […]

Stephen Colbert cites Matthew 25

posted by jmcgee

His now-famous — and infamous — testimony on Capitol Hill included one surprising moment when, it seems, he broke character and quoted this scripture passage. Colbert teaches Sunday school at his Catholic parish Montclaire, New Jersey. It’s nice to see […]

Facebook for Catholics?

posted by jmcgee

Those savvy media types up in Boston are on the case: Want to get friended by Cardinal Sean? Or maybe LOL with your local parish priest over his latest tweet? First the Boston archdiocese joined Facebook. Now local Catholics have […]

“What good am I?”

posted by jmcgee

Looking for a little musical inspiration for approaching this Sunday’s scriptures? This song, by Bob Dylan, in a haunting interpretation by Tom Jones, says it. Sing it, Tom.

Something truly ineffable

posted by jmcgee

Like a lot of people, I was surprised to read today that an old CBS colleague of mine, Jon Klein, is leaving CNN. He leaves behind an interesting legacy — from Anderson Cooper to Elliot Spitzer.  He also leaves behind, […]

“These were a terrible four days for anti-Catholicism…”

posted by jmcgee

That’s just one of the sharp insights from this analysis of the papal UK trip from the Catholic Herald, courtesy Whispers: In Hyde Park, the Pope literally exposed the heart of the Catholic faith to crowds of thousands and a […]

“No one has the right to build their rights on the broken rights of others…”

posted by jmcgee

That’s just one of the compelling statements you’ll find in the piece from “Currents” below: a glimpse at pro-life feminists who gathered recently in New York. Take a look.

Someone should alert Cardinal Schonborn

posted by jmcgee

“As you know the Church takes great time and care before declaring that an apparition is worthy of belief, and even then it never says that a Catholic must accept the apparition as a matter of faith. We must avoid […]

Art imitates life

posted by jmcgee

What the world has been waiting for: News Barbie! Complete with her own microphone!

Another reason not to have mass outdoors

posted by jmcgee

Folks at an Episcopal church learned that lesson the hard way: The rector of a Hingham church said parishioners trying to hold a post-Mass picnic at the town’s beach were interrupted by a Canadian goose being shot in front of […]

Was a Quran blessed at a Catholic cathedral??

posted by jmcgee

You might think so, based on some reports. But the rector of the cathedral in Sacramento explains: First of all, the “Qu’ran blessed at California cathedral” was misconstrued and of course the event was not in the Cathedral building but […]

It’s the ’60s, stupid

posted by jmcgee

Historian and theologian Fr. Mark Massa, S.J. has just written a new book called “The American Catholic Revolution: How the ’60s Changed the Church Forever,” and he gave an interview about it to the Religion News Service: Q: Why should […]

Teresa Lewis: attention must be paid

posted by jmcgee

I’m grateful to see that Danielle Bean is paying attention — and the rest of us should, too. Teresa Lewis is scheduled to die by lethal injection Thursday night — and would become the first woman to be executed in […]

Let me count the ways

posted by jmcgee

This moving video was created for a confirmation class, and comes to us from Frank Weathers, one of the contributors to the terrific blog “Why I Am Catholic.” So: why am I Catholic? Cue the music, crank up the speakers, […]

“Powerful and moving”: a priest recalls celebrating mass in a Muslim home

posted by jmcgee

Here’s something inspiring for you. A priest visiting friends in a far-removed Nigerian village last year found himself unexpectedly celebrating Mass in a Muslim home. He writes: Within a short time of my arrival, news went around the community that […]

The pews get even emptier

posted by jmcgee

Grim numbers from Ohio point to a larger trend in the American Church: Almost two out of three Catholics in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky won’t go to church this weekend to celebrate Mass, an event they have been told […]

A Belgian waffle on celibacy?

posted by jmcgee

Two Belgian bishops are openly questioning whether celibacy should be mandatory for priests: The bishop of Hasselt, Patrick Hoogmartens, and his counterpart in Bruges, Jozef De Kesel, said in separate comments that married men should not automatically be excluded from […]

On the other hand, maybe the billboard is correct …

posted by jmcgee

Read all about it. Everybody needs an editor.  And spellcheck.  

Mistress of her domain?

posted by jmcgee

That seems to be the title Christine O’Donnell is going for (with a h/t to Seinfeld, of course).  Elizabeth Scalia takes note, and reminds us of what is taught in the catechism: Perpetual adolescents will demand that the masturbation quotes […]

The pope, and the greatest story never told

posted by jmcgee

One of the biggest surprises of Pope Benedict’s historic trip to the United Kingdom may be how few people realize that it was, in fact, historic. Sunday night, I was chatting by phone with my father-in-law in Maryland. I told […]

“Continuity has always been the papacy’s purpose…”

posted by jmcgee

This nails it: a sterling appreciation of the papal visit — and the papacy — from Ross Douthat: No doubt most of Britain’s five million Catholics do not believe exactly what Benedict believes and teaches. No doubt most of them […]

Husband sacrifices his life for his wife and unborn child

posted by jmcgee

A beautiful and heartbreaking story out of Canada: Brian Wood, a 33-year-old resident of Vancouver, B.C., was killed in an auto collision on September 3, when the driver of an oncoming SUV lost control of the vehicle and crossed the […]

How did the pope play in Britain?

posted by jmcgee

The response appears to have been generally positive — but grudgingly so: British media Monday hailed Pope Benedict XVI for shedding his distant and authoritarian image on his historic state visit, but cautioned the Catholic Church still faced challenges in […]

The holdouts

posted by jmcgee

Some die-hards in Boston are refusing to surrender their church, even after six long years. The video below tells part of their story.

First, the pope visits the Anglicans, now this…

posted by jmcgee

The President paid a visit to the Episcopalians — and went up for communion: On Sunday, President Obama and the First Lady — along with daughters Malia and Sasha — attended 9 a.m. church services at Washington’s St. John’s Episcopal […]

Give us this day our daily toast

posted by jmcgee

A former colleague from CBS News sent this my way, with the note: “You probably know about this. Someone sent it to me.” Actually, no. This is the first I’ve seen it. But if you visit this site, named “Jesustoasters.com”, […]

When the goal is God: NFL stars embracing faith

posted by jmcgee

Hot on the heels of this piece about a devoutly religious NFL player, a reader sent me this item, from Sunday’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, all about faith and football: Adoring fans carried star safety Troy Polamalu on their shoulders — passing […]

What do you put before God?

posted by jmcgee

Ask yourself that question after reading this item about Ramadan and Muslim NFL star Husain Abdullah (a grateful diaconal bow to Scott Dodge for this gem): NFL practices this time of year are designed for maximum sweat production. Coaches are […]

Deacon ordination invitations?

posted by jmcgee

I got an email today from a reader asking a question that pops up from time to time in the deacon world: “Are you aware of any websites that have text for Diaconate Ordination invitations?” Actually…no. The question came up […]

“You might just see someone you know”

posted by jmcgee

I suspect that could be said by any of the 80,000 or so who gathered in Hyde Park today to get a peek at the pontiff. But it was also said by a certain blogger and Vatican observer, in a […]

Woody Allen doesn’t get God, or religion

posted by jmcgee

But he’s made a new movie about faith — or faith in something — and chats about it with the New York Times: At 74, Mr. Allen, the prolific filmmaker and emblematic New Yorker, has hardly found religion. But the […]

“I express my deep sorrow…”

posted by jmcgee

“My thoughts go in a special way to all those who are spiritually united with this Eucharistic celebration, and in particular the sick, the elderly, the handicapped and those who suffer mentally and spiritually. Here too I think of the […]

Deacons, don’t try this in your parish

posted by jmcgee

Funny, we didn’t see anything like this with the pope yesterday in Westminster Cathedral.  But a surprising moment at another Protestant church in the United Kingdom has inspired a new song: t was a Sunday morning that started off like […]

And how was YOUR Thursday night? — UPDATED

posted by jmcgee

It was, um, interesting out in my corner of Queens. And the cleanup is now underway. Some choice shots, courtesy NY1, below. UPDATE: The New York Times assesses the tragic loss of trees, and finds some poignancy: In All Faiths […]

“Religion is not a problem for legislators to solve…”

posted by jmcgee

“Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation. In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalization of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is […]

Benedict and Jesus: the official portrait

posted by jmcgee

H/T to Taylor Marshall, who posted the picture below, by Igor V. Babailov, entitled, “The Truth, the Way and the Life.” To my eye, this is a younger-looking Ratzinger than we’re accustomed to seeing in public. I haven’t been able […]

A tree falls in Brooklyn

posted by jmcgee

And Queens. And Staten Island. And all over the place. When I got home late last night, I knew something was wrong when I got to the subway stairs and saw they were choked with leaves. Then I got up […]

Benedict boost: mass attendance up in Isle of Man

posted by jmcgee

Some heartening news from across the pond: As Pope Benedict XVI begins his papal visit to the UK, Catholic congregations are reporting a rise in numbers in the Isle of Man. The increase is believed to coincide with both his […]

Did you miss the mass?

posted by jmcgee

Have no fear. Every night, the NET will offer a replay, along with special profiles, interviews and analysis — including some pithy insight from “Currents” contributor and uber blogger Rocco Palmo.  Visit this link and click on the tab on […]

Pope: “Have a care also for your deacons…”

posted by jmcgee

“Just as the Eucharist makes the Church, so the priesthood is central to the life of the Church. Engage yourselves personally in forming your priests as a body of men who inspire others to dedicate themselves completely to the service […]

“These revelations were a shock to me, a great sadness”

posted by jmcgee

Pope Benedict arrived in the United Kingdom — but not before making some news on the plane trip over (something that has almost become his custom): As Pope Benedict XVI arrived here Thursday for the first state visit to Britain […]

“Quite inexplicable”

posted by jmcgee

That’s how the Archbishop of Westminster is characterizing comments by Cardinal Walter Kasper, who earlier this week compared the UK to “Third World country.” (Perhaps not the best choice of words for the start of a papal trip…) From the […]

“We remain a people of hope”

posted by jmcgee

“This journey is a pilgrimage, it is a penance and it is a chance to say hello to the Pope – to support him and to say that we are thinking of him in these difficult times. Compared to 30 […]

Booming: Dominican nuns still drawing lots of vocations

posted by jmcgee

Anybody wonder what they’re doing right? This won’t be news to most Catholics who have been paying attention. But the AP is sitting up and taking notice: A handful of Roman Catholic convents are contradicting the decades-long slide in the […]

A prayer for the pope’s trip

posted by jmcgee

Heavenly Father, we give honor and praise to your name.  All power is from you and we thank you for the gift of your son, Jesus Christ, and for his sacrifice for us on Calvary. We humbly ask you to […]

40,000 masses: Tennessee’s oldest priest dies at 97

posted by jmcgee

An amazing life, to be sure. Details: The oldest Catholic priest in Tennessee passed away on Monday. Monsignor George Rohling died at the age of 97. Rohling was a priest for 71 years in the Diocese of Nashville, ministered at […]

Quran aftermath: Pope condemns violence against Christians

posted by jmcgee

He spoke about it at his general audience Wednesday…

The Rescuer

posted by jmcgee

He may have one of the more unusual jobs around — but he’s providing an invaluable service: Lou McClung’s past life as a handyman, and his present career as a photographer, makeup artist and manufacturer, were perfect preparation for his […]

The changing definition of “family”

posted by jmcgee

A new study indicates the meaning of the word is evolving: A majority of Americans now say their definition of family includes same-sex couples with children, as well as married gay and lesbian couples. At the same time, most Americans […]

Our Lady of Sorrows

posted by jmcgee

Image: “The Holy Virgin in Old Age” by James Tissot Can the human heart refrain from partaking in her pain, in that Mother’s pain untold?  Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled, she beheld her tender Child All with bloody scourges rent. For […]

Just what the world needed: the “Benedictaphone”

posted by jmcgee

Looking for a special way to remember the pope’s big trip to the United Kingdom this week? How about this little item: Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the Benedictaphone: a key ring/recording device to let you record the pontiff’s every word. […]

Tea for two: Benedict and Elizabeth, and the tide of history

posted by jmcgee

“Both Elizabeth and Benedict have seen war and its woeful aftermath, up close. They have watched totalitarian regimes advance and decline, and seen religion used as a justification for slaughter. They know what the rhetorical jackboot sounds like and how […]

The next Fulton Sheen?

posted by jmcgee

The esteemed Fr. Robert Barron is about to stake his claim on that title, doing what no priest has done since Sheen: he’ll launch his own national TV show on a commercial network. From the press release: In a bold […]

Two kinds of Catholics: “Purpose-Driven” vs. “Retro”

posted by jmcgee

Over at the Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog, Anthony Stevens-Arroyo has this take on two branches of Catholicism: I avoid writing about “liberal” and “conservative” Catholics. These terms are too easily politicized as Democrats v. Republicans. Moreover, the meanings of […]

Shattering the “servant myth” of deacons

posted by jmcgee

“The creative possibilities for diaconal ministry are opened for the Church when we move away from restrictive notions of the deacon as being primarily defined by service as the minister of charity or social justice. Deacons are primarily those who […]

Pope trip: “Like going to Wembley to watch Bristol City play”

posted by jmcgee

The Beeb has a charming profile of one Catholic family eagerly awaiting the pope’s visit this week — all of them, converts: “It will be just like going to Wembley to watch Bristol City play, with the flags flying, but […]

Can the pastor tell you what to preach?

posted by jmcgee

That’s the question posed to Fr. Z., who offers this response: I think the pastor does have a certain measure of control over what you preach. He is the pastor, even if he is an heterodox jackass. The pastor, parish […]

A growing ministry: nuns get back to the earth

posted by jmcgee

From Pennsylvania comes this story of a group of nuns who have made a thriving ministry from the good earth: Standing in a field of cherry-red maize and ripening pumpkins, John Moreira spotted a large insect flying amid the cornstalks. […]

One parish, 600 baptisms a year

posted by jmcgee

Statistics like that are mind-blowing: my busy parish in Queens averages a little over 100 baptisms a year. Details: Extended families greet one another with hearty handshakes and pecks on the cheek as they file in to Incarnation church in […]

A first look at Eastwood’s “Hereafter”

posted by jmcgee

Clint Eastwood continues to amaze — at the tender age of 80. Here’s the first trailer from his new movie, “Hereafter,” which takes a B-movie premise and seemingly turns it into something approaching art. We’ll have to see how it […]

On their feet, and on their knees: marching for life in Michigan

posted by jmcgee

Diane M. Korzeniewski, who runs the excellent blog Te Deum laudamaus, alerts me to this striking photo essay,covering a march and mass in Michigan, conducted by the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants. She reports a remarkable turnout — more than […]

Thanks for the tips! — UPDATED

posted by jmcgee

The chart above is raising eyebrows — and blood pressures — around the U.K. It’s supposed to make clear to secular event organizers just what is going on during the pope’s trip. But, as this article indicates, it’s causing a […]

“I won’t dance, don’t ask me…”

posted by jmcgee

Well, I could have used information like this about 30 years ago: Scientists say they’ve carried out the first rigorous analysis of dance moves that make men attractive to women. The researchers say that movements associated with good dancing may […]

The way we were: the Twin Towers before 9/11

posted by jmcgee

This video archive shows what would become Ground Zero long before it was a target — and captures the sweet banality of life in the World Trade Center. There’s something inexplicably haunting and poignant about it all. For another spin […]

“Catholics are seen as just another interest group”

posted by jmcgee

“These days, it seems, Americans are religious about everything except religion; and it’s a sign of Catholicism’s widening acceptance and waning influence that, instead of being feared as a monolithic bloc that unquestioningly follows the dictates of its leaders, Catholics […]

Homily for September 11, 2010

posted by jmcgee

We all have powerful memories of where we were nine years ago this morning.  But one of my most vivid memories is from several weeks later. It was late October. That beautiful day in September seemed like a distant memory. […]

Forgotten: the Muslim prayer room in the Twin Towers

posted by jmcgee

While controversy continues to swirl over the proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero, here’s a fact many may not be aware of: Sometime in 1999, a construction electrician received a new work assignment from his union. Sinclair Hejazi Abdus-Salaam was […]

Some timely gospel truth

posted by jmcgee

Jesus told his disciples a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Why […]

Report: abuse in Belgium led to suicides

posted by jmcgee

This news is heartbreaking — and horrifying: Hundreds of sex abuse victims have come forward in Belgium with harrowing accounts of molestation by Catholic clergy that reportedly led to at least 13 suicides and affected children as young as two, […]

Catholic Vote’s new ad: “We are Americans”

posted by jmcgee

That’s the final emphatic line of this new ad from CatholicVote.org. It’s not nearly as effective as the ads they produced for the’08 election, and I find a lot of this frankly over-the-top. But it certainly makes its point. Take […]

“Where the streets have no name…”

posted by jmcgee

Ahead of the anniversary of 9/11, this remains one of the most powerful tributes. It never fails to move me, no matter how many times I’ve seen it:. the stunning performance by Bono and U2 at the 2002 Super Bowl […]

Sad but true

posted by jmcgee

Over at his blog, Andrew Sullivan shakes his head in disbelief at the events of the last 24 hours in Gainesville, and concludes: “We live in an era of religious fundamentalism and fanaticism, exploited, used and manipulated by politicians, for […]

“Reprehensible”

posted by jmcgee

“I view with great dismay the plan to burn copies of the Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by members of the Dove World Outreach Center. Out of respect for those of the Muslim faith, members of our […]

The best way to combat Islam may begin in the bedroom

posted by jmcgee

Or so argues a Catholic priest in Italy, who clearly believes we need to make love, not war: A prominent Catholic priest wants European Christians to fight off Islam with a unique weapon: babies. Father Piero Gheddo, an Italian missionary […]

“We give status quo a case of flop sweat”

posted by jmcgee

My blog sibling here at Beliefnet John W. Kennedy drew my attention to something I hadn’t known about: The Right Network, whose backers include none other than that paragon of virtue, Kelsey Grammer. The clip above gives some of the […]

“Catholics Can”

posted by jmcgee

No, you’re not witnessing some weird liturgical improvisation in the picture above. It’s part of a remarkable mass that was celebrated in Salt Lake City recently. Details: People of all abilities attended the “Catholics Can” Mass at the Cathedral of […]

Questions? Anyone?

posted by jmcgee

Now that his new blog is up and running, Deacon Doctor Ditewig is soliciting questions from his readers. Anything on your mind? Drop by and leave a question in the combox. I’m sure he’d love the company. 

Why burning the Quran is a sin

posted by jmcgee

The esteemed Msgr. Charles Pope from the Archdiocese of Washington sums it up well: Intentionally giving offense is wrong. I do not deny that there are problems in the Islamic world. But I also know that it is wrong to […]

Arrest the pope? Nope.

posted by jmcgee

A group that had planned to arrest Pope Benedict when he arrives on British soil has changed its mind: They met over tea and biscuits in a fifth-floor boardroom at New Scotland Yard, overlooked by portraits of the Queen and […]

More Catholics meet their match online

posted by jmcgee

Looking for love? Stay right where you are. It could be just a few keystrokes away. From Catholic San Francisco: The road single Catholics take in search of Mr. or Ms. Right can be a long and winding one indeed. […]

Quote of the day II

posted by jmcgee

“The Catholic Church remains convinced that to encourage peace and understanding between peoples and people, it is urgently necessary that religions and their symbols be respected and that believers not be the object of provocations that wound their outlook and […]

“Outrageous”

posted by jmcgee

That’s how the Vatican is characterizing the plans by a Florida pastor to burn the Quran on 9/11: Burning the Quran would an “outrageous and grave gesture,” the Vatican said Wednesday, joining a chorus of voices pleading with a small […]

Happy birthday, Mary

posted by jmcgee

Father of mercy, give your people help and strength from heaven. The birth of the Virgin Mary’s Son was the dawn of our salvation. May this celebration of her birthday bring us closer to lasting peace. Grant this though our […]

Quote of the day

posted by jmcgee

“I fear the story of this animosity will be taken to be the story of the real America. It’s not. America was not built on hatred, but on love. This is not the real America. When you attack one religion, […]

“Taking back your faith from the American Dream…”

posted by jmcgee

In the New York Times, David Brooks has taken aim at “the prosperity gospel,” and fires a few well-aimed shots: In the coming years of slow growth, people are bound to establish new norms and seek noneconomic ways to find […]

Historic handshake: pope to meet a clergywoman for first time

posted by jmcgee

It will happen during his upcoming trip to the UK. From the Guardian: Pope Benedict’s arrival in Britain breaks new ground on many levels, with a state welcome from the Queen and the beatification of Cardinal Henry Newman. But buried […]

Priest slaps parishioner for desecrating Eucharist

posted by jmcgee

It happened in Spain — but details are murky: A Catholic priest in Spain’s province of Valencia slapped a young man in a church in the town of Rótova during a local festival on the evening of September 5. Believing […]

A deacon, his wife, and their journey of faith

posted by jmcgee

Des Moines welcomed 13 new deacons last month — and the Des Moines Register offers a profile of one of them: For years, Steve Udelhofen felt a calling into ministry. Steve and his wife, Myrna, started a journey nearly five […]

Trouble brewing over papal liturgies in UK?

posted by jmcgee

So says Brit blogger Damien Thompson: I don’t know what to make of persistent reports that the organisers of the papal Mass at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, have decided not decorate the altar with six candles. Can this really be true? […]

The Muslim gargoyle on a Catholic cathedral

posted by jmcgee

That would be the character above, on the left, which was modeled on the gentleman on the right. He is the Muslim foreman who led the restoration of the tower and worked on the cathedral for 30 years. And wouldn’t […]

Can’t get that song out of your head?

posted by jmcgee

Help is here. A couple minutes with this website and you’ll be good as new. You can thank me later.  (Excuse me now.  I need to do the Macarena…) 

The odd couple: the chaplain and the atheist

posted by jmcgee

From the Wall Street Journal comes this intriguing feature about a chaplain and the non-believer charged with protecting him: They say there are no atheists in foxholes. There’s one on the front lines here, though, and the chaplain isn’t thrilled […]

“Deacons Today”: Welcome, Bill!

posted by jmcgee

I’m delighted to welcome to the blogosphere my friend and sometime partner-in-crime, Deacon Doctor Bill Ditewig (Triple D). (Pause here while all those wearing dalmatics offer a standing ovation.) He’s just launched a shiny new blog on the diaconate called […]

Changing channels: radio star finds a new station in life

posted by jmcgee

Here’s a story that sounds familiar, about a successful media professional who walked away from a high-profile career to work for the Church. From the Indianapolis Criterion: She has met backstage with Taylor Swift, talked with Garth Brooks, had her […]

A Deacon’s Life

posted by jmcgee

One of the regular bloggers over at America, Fr. Francis X. Clooney, S.J., has asked his parish deacon to “guest blog” for a couple weeks, to offer some personal insights into his life as a deacon and his ministry in […]

A “Hail Mary” ad?

posted by jmcgee

I caught this Sunday night during “Mad Men” (which, if you missed it, was the season’s best episode so far). Anyway: this is the latest TV trailer for the M. Night Shyamalan thriller “Devil,” and it may be a part […]

“The lack of arms is a problem…”

posted by jmcgee

Just in time for Labor Day, when millions of workers are taking a day off, comes this look at who — or what — might replace them. The article explains the idea behind these robot thingies. But you have to […]

Pope may try to prevent stoning of Iranian woman

posted by jmcgee

This news broke mid-day and bears watching: Pope Benedict XVI is monitoring the case of an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning and has not ruled out getting involved through diplomatic channels, the Vatican said Sunday. As he has […]

“Praying for what?”

posted by jmcgee

“Of the astonishing and flattering number of people who wrote to me when I fell so ill, very few failed to say one of two things. Either they assured me that they wouldn’t offend me by offering prayers or they […]

A Chicago city church moves to the suburbs — brick by brick

posted by jmcgee

Last winter, I posted this story about a Buffalo, New York church moving, brick by brick, to Georgia. Now, a similar move is about to happen in Chicago: Church congregations have been known to migrate from the city to the […]

“The Whole Gritty City”

posted by jmcgee

That’s the title of a new documentary about New Orleans marching bands competing to perform in the Mardi Gras parade. It was produced, directed and edited by a former colleague of mine from CBS, Richard Barber — and, judging from […]

In defense of “jumping the shark”

posted by jmcgee

It’s a phrase that has become synonymous with going over the top, and signaling the beginning of the end — whether in life, politics or entertainment. Now the guy who wrote the infamous “Happy Days” episode that “jumped the shark” […]

See you in court: falsely accused priest sues bishop for libel

posted by jmcgee

In a rare move, a priest who has been cleared of charges of sexual abuse is taking aim at his bishop — and others — in court. From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: A priest at St. Vincent College filed a libel […]

Enrollments surge at seminary for older men

posted by jmcgee

That seminary would be Sacred Heart in Wisconsin. Details: Sacred Heart School of Theology, the nation’s largest Catholic seminary geared toward older men, posted its biggest enrollment gain in 20 years this month, seminary officials said. Forty-two new students are […]

Homily for September 5, 2010: 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted by jmcgee

In the late 18th century, there was no American portrait artist more famous, more celebrated, more sought-after than Gilbert Stuart. He was born in Rhode Island and was something of a prodigy, producing a formal portrait at the age of […]

A stand-up comic, saved by a priest

posted by jmcgee

Last month, Felipe Esparza won NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” taking home $250,000 and a TV development deal. But the story of how he got there is pretty amazing. From CNS: Esparza’s life has not been a laughing matter. He grew […]

Bishop blasts attempted ordination of a woman

posted by jmcgee

It happened in Phoenix: The Catholic Bishop of Phoenix responded Wednesday to a priest’s reported participation in an attempted priestly ordination of a woman. Urging prayers for all involved, he said such actions are “divisive” and have “profoundly harmful consequences.” […]

A deacon named Phoebe

posted by jmcgee

She pops up in one of Paul’s epistles, and now an Anglican priest has blogged about her. While debate continues about female deacons (or deaconesses), here’s some interesting context: As is often the case with these first century saints, we […]

“Let’s drink to the hard-working people…”

posted by jmcgee

For Labor Day weekend: a classic performance of a great anthem. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, at the Concert for New York in 2001. Days after the attacks of 9/11, some of the biggest names in music gathered for this […]

St. Greg the Great

posted by jmcgee

Today is the feast day of my patron, St. Gregory the Great — who, among many other things, was a writer and a deacon before he went on to becoming a pope and earning the title “great.” (When my wife […]

Thomas Merton on work

posted by jmcgee

I’m reading Thomas Merton’s “New Seeds of Contemplation,” and it seems like every page has a glistening pearl, waiting to be discovered. This caught my eye the other day, and it seems apt for Labor Day: “The requirements of a […]

It’s almost like visiting the Vatican

posted by jmcgee

That’s my reaction to the new signs that are popping up in one orthodox Jewish village in New York — and that are getting a lot of media attention. Check out the local news report below.

Survey: worldwide, most say religion is important

posted by jmcgee

A new survey reports that an overwhelming majority of people in the world believes in the importance of religion — but it breaks down largely along economic lines: More than eight in ten adults in the world say religion is […]

Hawking: God didn’t do it

posted by jmcgee

The celebrated scientist is throwing cold water on the idea that God created the universe: God did not create the universe and the “Big Bang” was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, the eminent British theoretical physicist Stephen […]

BYOP: Bring your own pitchfork

posted by jmcgee

A group of Satanists is planning to rent a city civic center in Oklahoma for one of their rituals. You have to see the bizarre report below to believe it. More details here.

Archbishop Dolan to Muslims: let’s talk

posted by jmcgee

With the controversy still swirling over the Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero, New York’s Archbishop is suggesting regular meetings between faith leaders might help build bridges. From the Wall Street Journal: Archbishop Timothy Dolan said the church was […]

The perfect back-to-school gift!

posted by jmcgee

Yes, it seems, this is legit. Some genius is probably making a mint off of this. Want one? Here’s the website.  Knock yourself out. 

“The days grow short when you reach September…”

posted by jmcgee

Here’s a little late summer chaser for you, as we turn the corner into fall, from the incomparable Durante. Enjoy.

Reformation documents on display

posted by jmcgee

Just in time for the papal visit this month, an exhibit has opened in Scotland showing some of the key documents charting the birth of the Protestant Reformation. Details: A collection of historic manuscripts which document the establishment of the […]

The soldier who would be bishop

posted by jmcgee

America is about to get a new bishop — but one with arguably the most distinctive resume around. His amazing story, from the Catholic Review in Baltimore: On one of the bloodiest days of the Iraq War – April 9, […]

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 immediate aftermath of the storm for this class would be

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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