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The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

January 1970 Archives

Pope to youth: “Learn to love, truly to love, to learn the art of real love”

posted by jmcgee

The pope had some wise things to say to young people from Catholic Action during a question and answer session Saturday: After a question from a young woman of Catholic Action, Benedict XVI responded, “It is very important, I would […]

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Seige: hostages killed in Baghdad Catholic church

posted by jmcgee

A dramatic standoff in an Iraqi Catholic church has come to a violent end. Details: At least seven Iraqi Christian worshipers and seven Iraqi security forces were killed Sunday night after commandos stormed a church in Baghdad where a band […]

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Free birth control?

posted by jmcgee

Maybe, according to this report: Fifty years after the pill, another birth control revolution may be on the horizon: free contraception for women in the U.S., thanks to the new health care law. That could start a shift toward more […]

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“Alice Dancing Under the Gallows”: a story the world needs to see

posted by jmcgee

That’s the title of a new documentary, about the world’s oldest holocaust survivor. The trailer is below. Here is grace, dignity, courage and hope, summed up so beautifully in her simple creed: “Music is God.”

“When October goes…”

posted by jmcgee

For the last day of the month: what may arguably be Barry Manilow’s best song (or, at least, my own personal favorite), set to a gorgeous lyric by the legendary Johnny Mercer. The Wikipedia entry on this song says: In […]

Best. Light show. Ever.

posted by jmcgee

Decorating your home with synchronized Christmas lights and music is so 1980. Why not decorate for other holidays, too?  Check out the incredible Halloween display below, set to “Thriller.” Wow. I mean, just WOW. 

Boehner: “I’ve been praying all day, every day”

posted by jmcgee

With the election just a couple days away, the man who is hoping to be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives had a few things to say recently about prayer: House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has a […]

“All you holy men and women, pray for us…”

posted by jmcgee

I was pleased to see the Concord Pastor discovered this recording of John Becker’s beautiful “Litany of the Saints.” It’s been used a time or two in my diocese at the cathedral. While not as haunting as the traditional Gregorian […]

Respecting life…by opposing the death penalty

posted by jmcgee

That is one message that is often lost during Respect Life month, and the USCCB is bringing it to the forefront as October comes to an end: As the 2010 edition of Respect Life Month drew to a close, the […]

There be drama in “There Be Dragons”

posted by jmcgee

Beliefnet’s Movie Mom Nell Minow is featuring at her blog a promotional clip for the upcoming movie, “There Be Dragons,” about Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei.   The movie is due out in the spring of 2011.  Take a […]

Homily for October 31, 2010: 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, World Priest Day

posted by jmcgee

In the early 1950s, some of the most important mission work in the Church was happening in a place many of us might find surprising: Florida. Back then, the total number of Catholics in Florida came to just 70-thousand. That’s […]

For Halloween, a musical interlude

posted by jmcgee

Here’s a sweet treat for your candy sack: a classic musical moment from Frank Oz’s “Little Shop of Horrors.” Ellen Green warbles about her longing for a better life in sunny suburbia. (“I cook like Betty Crocker, and I look […]

After abortion: “I have a story to get through to other women…”

posted by jmcgee

From St. Louis comes this powerful story about the woman coordinating that city’s 40 Days for Life campaign: Maria Thompson was a teenager when she became pregnant. The 18-year-old was living in Mexico City. The father, 11 years older than […]

Happy Halloween, from the USCCB

posted by jmcgee

The USCCB tweeted a short time ago that they were decorating pumpkins around the office. The entry below was a favorite.

Preacher attempts to break record for longest sermon

posted by jmcgee

Is this really such a good idea? If you are attending Lambeg Parish Church in Lisburn this weekend, bring a cushion. Parishioners at the church will have the opportunity to sit through their rector’s attempt to break a UK record […]

Gianna, the heart of the soccer team

posted by jmcgee

A friend from Albany sent this my way, and thought it was worth noting at the close of Respect Life month. It’s a wonderful testament to the gift of life — all life. At a time when 90% of Down […]

Most popular boys’ name in Britain: Mohammed

posted by jmcgee

And Damien Thompson has some reasons: Is it a function of the scale of immigration from Muslim countries over the past decade? I’m sure that’s not the main factor. The answer, I suspect, lies in the findings of a poll […]

“We are the Catholic vote”

posted by jmcgee

The latest ad from CatholicVote.org., below.

A beautiful and uplifting tribute to priests

posted by jmcgee

Just in time for the observance of World Priest Day this weekend, a reader from Milwaukee sent me the video below, of this year’s ordinations of priests. It’s artfully produced, and carries a beautiful message. Take four minutes to watch […]

“My God is an awesome God…”

posted by jmcgee

So sang the thousands of young people who gathered last weekend at Six Flags Over Texas for the Lone Star State’s World Youth Day. You can get a taste of what they experienced by visiting this link and watching a […]

Knights of Columbus restoring JFK’s grave

posted by jmcgee

It evidently needs some work, and the Knights are stepping up to pay for it: Workers plan to begin restoration work on Thursday of walls near John F. Kennedy’s gravesite where words from his 1961 inaugural address are inscribed. The […]

“Myths about Catholic voters”

posted by jmcgee

The President of the dissident group Catholics for Choice has his own spin on the subject of Catholics and how we vote: As the election nears, many news outlets are repeating misinformation about what Catholics believe and what they can […]

People are awesome!

posted by jmcgee

Don’t believe it? Just watch. (Uh, but don’t try this at home…) You will be amazed. I promise. 

“Protect thy neighbor”: Catholic parishes passing out condoms

posted by jmcgee

It’s happening in Switzerland: Roman Catholic parishes in the central Swiss city of Lucerne caused an uproar with an AIDS awareness campaign that involves giving teenagers condoms bearing the slogan “protect thy neighbor as thyself.” The parishes started handing out […]

On kneeling: “On our knees, we’re the same height as our children…

posted by jmcgee

A gorgeous and thought-provoking meditation on something that seems to have fallen out of fashion: kneeling. From Heather King: The first time I went to Mass, in trembling and fear, I was shocked to see people kneeling. In the middle […]

O’Donnell: “Pray that the eyes of the voters be opened”

posted by jmcgee

“God is the reason that I’m running. If I didn’t believe that there were a cause greater than myself worth fighting for, if I didn’t believe that it takes a complete dying of self to make things right in this […]

Vatican opposes death sentence for Tariq Aziz

posted by jmcgee

The infamous Iraqi — and Chaldean Catholic — faces death by hanging, and the Vatican has urged that the sentence be changed: For the second time in two days, the Vatican on Wednesday opposed the death sentence handed down to […]

Katie Couric: foot in mouth, along with a pumpkin latte

posted by jmcgee

One of Katie’s favored media writers, Howard Kurtz, offers this tidbit: Katie Couric is feeling liberated. Not because she is nearing the end of her five-year contract as CBS anchor–although there’s an unexpected plot twist on that front–but because she’s […]

Can you spot the deacon in the picture?

posted by jmcgee

Hint: he’s the one wearing the dalmatic. Read more about it here.

Brother Carty’s way: “I ask the parents to raise them in their faith…”

posted by jmcgee

After dissing sisters, the New York Times has embraced brothers — or at least, one colorful Christian Brother at a unique school that caters to the city’s poor: It is 8:30 a.m. at De La Salle Academy, a private school […]

“This is in your face anti-Catholicism” — UPDATED

posted by jmcgee

That’s how Matthew Archbold at National Catholic Register describes the postcard below that many in Minnesota found in their mailboxes this week.  It was sent out by a Democratic non-profit, with a simple message: the Catholic Church supports a party […]

Reporter in Chile: “The Catholic presence was everywhere”

posted by jmcgee

I love reading about mainstream journalists who are also unabashedly Catholic — and this reporter from the AP, who covered the Chilean mining accident and rescue, offers some insight into what sustained the men and their families: A reporter who […]

Bye Bye, “Busted”

posted by jmcgee

The Editor-in-Chief of Busted Halo, Bill McGarvey, has announced that he’s stepping down after six years at the helm: I am very proud of this site’s transformation into the vibrant multi-media platform that it is today. The discussion happening on […]

Empty altars: Baltimore may cut masses

posted by jmcgee

America’s first diocese may soon begin reducing masses as a result of the priest shortage. From the Baltimore Sun: With Father Patrick Carrion away, a nun led a morning service last week at St. Mary Star of the Sea, directing […]

“On ‘The View,’ Stephen Colbert presented the Cross…”

posted by jmcgee

Stephen Colbert’s Catholicism continues to grab attention. The latest, from Kathryn Jean Lopez: “I hope that applause is for my mother’s womb.” I certainly enjoyed when Stephen Colbert slipped that in during a recent appearance on ABC’s The View. The […]

Bloggers “shining a spotlight on Catholics who do not live the faith”

posted by jmcgee

 The AP’s Rachel Zoll has discovered something that may not be news to some of us in the blogosphere: Pressure is on to change the Roman Catholic Church in America, but it’s not coming from the usual liberal suspects. A […]

RIP the Walkman

posted by jmcgee

And now a moment of silence — literally — as a once-beloved icon of the ’80s is laid to rest: Sony will stop selling its Walkman portable tape player in Japan, the land of that once-iconic device’s birth. That’s “weirdest” […]

Making a list, checking it twice

posted by jmcgee

It’s a little early for Christmas, but some people are indeed making lists — and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that The Bench has just landed on this one: the Top 50 Catholic Blogs. There are some familiar names, […]

And now, San Diego

posted by jmcgee

It’s been described as the biggest document release ever regarding clerical sexual abuse — but details in the Los Angeles Times don’t add that much to what we already know: After a three-year legal fight, documents were released Sunday detailing […]

The Ephesians 4:29 Rule

posted by jmcgee

That’s the proposal for blogging set forth by my diaconate brother in bloggery, Scott Dodge: Since no blogger is an island, there are other Catholic bloggers with whom I associate and with whom I even collaborate sometimes. I keep abreast […]

“I’m just like you”

posted by jmcgee

This new PSA from New York State says it all, charmingly.

Sam Brownback, Catholic

posted by jmcgee

After 16 years in Congress (including a failed run for the White House), Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback is running for governor of Kansas. The Kansas City Star has a lengthy look at his life, which included converting to Catholicism […]

Tony Blair’s sister-in-law becomes Muslim

posted by jmcgee

There’s another convert in the Blair family, according to news reports: It could certainly make family get-togethers interesting. Tony Blair’s sister-in-law Lauren Booth has converted to Islam. The former prime minister is also a religious convert – he became a […]

Pastor keeps promise to dying priest, enters rehab

posted by jmcgee

A priest in Massachusetts made an unusual announcement to his parishioners — and it happened under unusual circumstances: Members of St. Lucy Parish received some surprising news in the bulletin this weekend. In his weekly letter to parishioners, the Rev. […]

Another good reason to skip dessert

posted by jmcgee

A tasty treat from the Arizona State Fair. Yum. How long did it take them to think up that name?

Meet New York’s subway preachers

posted by jmcgee

They are an exotic, quirky breed. Now the New York Times offers this look at some of them: The graffiti has been replaced by advertising. The tokens have been replaced by MetroCards. But the subway preachers are a constant. They […]

“How he wished to go”: priest dies while celebrating mass

posted by jmcgee

From the AP in Florida: A Catholic priest reportedly died during morning Mass at a church near Tampa. The website for the St. Stephen Catholic Church in Valrico says Monsignor John Scully died Friday while consecrating a holy ceremony. Scully […]

Homily for October 24, 2010: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted by jmcgee

Several years ago a friend of mine named Heather King published a powerful book called “Parched.” It is the story of her life as an alcoholic, and her long road to recovery. Heather lived much of her youth thirsting for […]

Caught on tape: Dolan rips the Times

posted by jmcgee

The other day, I posted on New York’s archbishop and his on-going feud with the New York Times. The local CBS affiliate aired the report below, which includes an interview with Archbishop Dolan (as he’s rarely seen — without his […]

A deacon’s business card

posted by jmcgee

He posted this on his Facebook page, and I re-post it here with his permission.  I like the title under the name…

How about “The Deacon’s Wench”?

posted by jmcgee

In the past, I’ve noted the curious habit in some dioceses of referring to deacons and their wives as “deacon couples”. Now, Deacon Bill Ditewig is tackling that subject — and some others involving spouses, terminology, and what it all […]

Woman seeking Christian roommate accused of discrimination

posted by jmcgee

A posting on a church bulletin board has now become a case for the courts: A 31-year-old woman who placed an ad for a Christian roommate on her church bulletin board has been charged with housing discrimination. The Alliance Defense […]

Pope Paul: “I am also a deacon…”

posted by jmcgee

“Last year when Pope Benedict XVI met with the permanent deacons of the Diocese of Rome, he recalled an incident that occurred at the Second Vatican Council. Each day when the council was in session, the Gospel was enthroned to […]

Pittsburgh: the city of cardinals

posted by jmcgee

That’s the surprising distinction that Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Ann Rodgers explores: The City of Champions can claim a new American title: No. 1 in producing cardinals for the Catholic Church. With the expected elevation of Cardinal-designate Donald Wuerl of Washington, […]

“The successful priest or deacon is the one who is in love with Christ”

posted by jmcgee

Hundreds of clergy gathered earlier this week for the first-ever joint convocation of priests and deacons in the Brooklyn Diocese. Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley delivered the keynote (which contained the sterling quote in the headline).  The story, from “Currents,” below.

Artist plans to recreate Twin Towers “prayer rooms”

posted by jmcgee

The above rendering will evidently recreate the areas Muslims used for prayer in the World Trade Center. Details: In an interview with Art Threat, Las Vegas-based artist Paul-Felix Montez wants to create a downtown exhibit that addresses the experience of […]

Conan’s first guest? Pick the pope!

posted by jmcgee

The once-and-future late night star Conan O’Brien is getting set to launch his new series on TBS — and he’s asking viewers to pick his first guest. There’s an online poll — and the first choice is Pope Benedict. Vote […]

F. Murray Abraham to star as John Henry Newman

posted by jmcgee

The award-winning star of “Amadeus” is scheduled to play the celebrated “blessed,” according to news reports: The first film about Blessed John Henry Newman is in the works. Italian director and screenwriter Liana Marabini, who specialises in directing films about […]

What would Joseph and Mary tweet?

posted by jmcgee

Someone has an idea, and we’ll start to see it unfold this Christmas season: Throughout Advent, Twitter users will be able to follow “Natwivity” and witness different figures from the world’s most famous story bash out 140-character updates each day. […]

Catch the drift: the Church’s “crisis of attrition”

posted by jmcgee

This week’s Commonweal contains a must-read: Peter Steinfels’ long, hard, grieving look at the state of the American Catholic Church. It begins with this observation: It is not often that someone at a New York dinner party calls for a […]

Dolan takes aim at The Times — again

posted by jmcgee

And, as he did last year, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York lets them have it: I know, I should drop it. “You just have to get used to it,” so many of you have counselled me. “It’s been that […]

New book reveals “Smorgasbord Catholics” who love their Church

posted by jmcgee

There are some pretty compelling conclusions here — and I’m sure there will be a lot of debate about what it all means. Details: Public outcry about the sex-abuse crisis, disdain for arrogant bishops and disagreement with church doctrine about […]

Revealed: what makes a homily good

posted by jmcgee

“If anyone ever compliments me and says, ‘Gee, that was a good homily,’ I learned a long time ago never to ask them why because I get so depressed. I worked so hard on this and I expect them to […]

A reminder

posted by jmcgee

If anyone has forgotten, there are some broad guidelines that I posted several months back about blog comments. Please read them and follow them. The vitriol and lack of charity lately has become — to use a word — insidious. […]

What the media is coming to

posted by jmcgee

This is pretty funny — and, I think, not too far off the mark. H/T to Marcel at Aggie Catholics.

A St. Louis Cardinal — and a Washington Redhat

posted by jmcgee

That would be Raymond Burke (though he now resides in Rome) and The Donald (Wuerl, of course). They are on the list of 24 new cardinals just announced.  Rocco reports: We have liftoff….. The list, in order: Amato, Naguib (Alexandria), […]

Bless you, Father Dowling

posted by jmcgee

And rest in peace, Tom Bosley. Think about it: when was the last time a TV series featured priests and nuns as lead characters??

Apocalypse when: did we miss it?

posted by jmcgee

Well, maybe. Or maybe not. Details: The end of the world is coming! Or here, maybe. Or did it already happen? It’s a good news/bad news situation for believers in the 2012 Mayan apocalypse. The good news is that the […]

Archbishop Nienstedt: “You have to be 100% Catholic”

posted by jmcgee

The prelate who’s sparked some controversy lately is explaining himself with this interview: The Catholic archbishop for the Twin Cities defended his right Monday to speak to fellow Catholics on social issues, and said a shrinking Roman Catholic church is […]

IVF: “The younger sister of eugenics”

posted by jmcgee

So say Poland’s Catholic bishops in a letter obtained by Reuters: Bishops of Poland’s influential Roman Catholic Church have branded in vitro fertilization (IVF) “the younger sister of eugenics” in a letter aimed at swaying lawmakers ahead of a parliamentary […]

O’Donnell questions separation of church and state — UPDATED

posted by jmcgee

Two weeks before the election, controversial Catholic Senate candidate — and notable non-witch — Christine O’Donnell waded into the issue of church-state separation in a broadcast debate.    From the AP: Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell of Delaware on Tuesday […]

Cheers: priest opens bar in a Roman crypt

posted by jmcgee

Not only that, but it’s named for a beloved pope. From AFP: The beer is cheap, the waiters are talkative and the music is 1960s Motown — but the new pub that opened its doors this week in a historic […]

The boss is undercover, but his faith is out in the open

posted by jmcgee

Longtime readers will know I have a special affection for the TV show “Undercover Boss,” but I missed it this past Sunday. Thankfully, Kevin Knight at New Advent didn’t. He’s posted a link to the video of the episode, and […]

Habit-forming

posted by jmcgee

“We human beings need symbols to remind us that we are not made for this world but, as St. Elizabeth Seton used to say, we are ‘children of eternity.’ Each piece of the habit reminds the person wearing it that […]

The priest in the Hawaiian shirt

posted by jmcgee

Earlier, I posted on a priest developing a reality TV series. In a time-honored fashion, someone at a local TV station saw the story, and has tracked down the priest for a profile. See below. View more news videos at: […]

Poland’s popular sex guru: a Catholic priest

posted by jmcgee

Believe it or not. Details: Father Ksawery Knotz doesn’t see himself as a sexpert. Dressed in a brown habit of the Capuchin friars, he certainly doesn’t look like one. Yet, since the celibate Catholic priest started publishing his online sex […]

Homer Simpson, Catholic

posted by jmcgee

So says the Vatican newspaper — and when is it ever wrong? Details: He is an idle, pea-brained glutton with a permanent craving for doughnuts and Duff beer, but Homer Simpson has been declared a true Catholic by the Vatican’s […]

Could the next big reality TV star be a priest?

posted by jmcgee

Check this out, from (of course) California: Kardashian. The Situation. Father Steve? With a little help from on high – and the green light from a high-ranking TV executive – that third name soon might fit just fine among pop […]

Need to jam? There’s an app for that

posted by jmcgee

I love New York.   H/T Paul Snatchko.

Worth a thousand words — or, at least, three

posted by jmcgee

I’m not quite sure where the above image came from — a church of some sort, it appears — but it was spotlighted at the often-hilarious FAIL website, and subsequently picked up the Bad Vestments blog.

“Everything spoke of God and His presence…”

posted by jmcgee

“Brother André Bessette, originally from Quebec in Canada and a religious of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, experienced suffering and poverty starting very young. This led him to pay recourse to God in prayer and an intense interior life. […]

Is organized religion just too conservative?

posted by jmcgee

This commentary in the Los Angeles Times suggests that young people are being turned off by churches that seem to embrace conservative politics: The most rapidly growing religious category today is composed of those Americans who say they have no […]

Wow: 9,000 confessions at parish mission

posted by jmcgee

Well, it was in 1891. But this clip from the Brooklyn Eagle (thanks to Pat McNamara!) offers a fascinating glimpse at the way we were: On the Tuesday after the beginning of the week’s exercises the missionaries commenced to hear […]

In Chile: “Gracias a Dios”

posted by jmcgee

Just days after their dramatic rescue, some of the Chilean miners returned to where it all unfolded to offer prayers of thanksgiving: About a dozen of the miners rescued in Chile returned to the San Jose mine Sunday for a […]

Did you see any kids?

posted by jmcgee

I got an email from a reader and blogger, D. Scott Miller, alerting me to this post of his. He’s involved with youth ministry, and in the course of his blogging, referenced a blog post of my own, about the […]

Anglican “earthquake”: bishop set to convert

posted by jmcgee

And more may be joining him in the months ahead. Details from Damien Thompson: Bishop John Broadhurst, Bishop of Fulham in the Anglican diocese of London, is to resign his post later this year to join the Pope’s Ordinariate. The […]

Barbara Billingsley, RIP

posted by jmcgee

The iconic ’50s TV star (“Leave It to Beaver”) passed away today at the age of 94. Her obit is here. But some of us will always remember her, first and foremost, for this classic moment from “Airplane.”

“It gets better” … by making Catholics seem worse

posted by jmcgee

Well, this left me speechless. Openly gay Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson has decided that the best way to attract people to his cause is by tearing down others. Here, as part of the “It Gets Better” project (designed to help […]

10 Lessons from 25 years in ministry

posted by jmcgee

These come from the Rev. Bill Shuler, at the Capital Life Church in Arlington, Virginia: 1. The goal is not to win a debate but to redeem the heart. 2. One’s public witness is only as authentic as one’s private […]

Homily for October 17, 2010: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted by jmcgee

If there is one recurring theme in this Sunday’s readings, it is persistence. Whether it’s Moses, or St. Paul, or the relentless widow in the parable, it’s all about never giving up. Holding fast. Refusing to grow weary. Living what […]

Patricia Heaton, a Feminist for Life

posted by jmcgee

Everybody loved her on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” (which starred some guy from my parish in Forest Hills). And now there’s even more reasons to admire and appreciate Patricia Heaton: Actress Patricia Heaton is well-known for playing a harried-but-loving wife and […]

Who’s that woman? The story of a soul named Annie

posted by jmcgee

If you ever wonder about that ragged old stranger that you pass on the street every day — and usually go out of your way to avoid — the New York Times’ Dan Barry finds a poignant answer. He did […]

One dam thing after another

posted by jmcgee

Wow. Amazing video from Italy, at Lake Cingino Dam in the alps, of Ibex taking a stroll along the face of the dam. Details and more pictures here.

A rosary for the unemployed

posted by jmcgee

In this “month of the rosary,” here’s something – literally – heaven-sent. Elizabeth Scalia has created a remarkable new way of praying the rosary that will be a valuable resource for people looking for work. She spoke about it on […]

Let there be light!

posted by jmcgee

“We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all […]

“Is pre-marital sex always wrong?”

posted by jmcgee

A study from CARA asked that question of Catholics and Protestants — and the resulting answers may surprise you: In 1972, 39% of adult Catholics responded that premarital sex was “always wrong.” Among Catholics attending Mass at least once a […]

Diocese backs ban on wearing rosaries

posted by jmcgee

It’s a trend that’s sparking concern — and one Colorado diocese is taking a stand: Responding to a ban on the wearing of rosaries at a Colorado public school, the Diocese of Colorado Springs has said it does not oppose […]

Catholics reallly ARE coming home

posted by jmcgee

And the attention-grabbing ad campaign of Catholics Come Home may be responsible for luring some people back to the pews in at least one big diocese. Details: Eight months ago, the Diocese of Green Bay began airing television commercials for […]

Decision ’10: Catholics leaning to the right

posted by jmcgee

Could this be a bellwether for the coming election? Take a look: A new poll reveals that Catholic voters, generally the middle ground in the religious political debate, are moving toward the political right, mirroring what pollsters believe is the […]

Headline of the day

posted by jmcgee

Office for evangelising cyberspace does not have internet access

“Not a witch” vs. “Not a Marxist”?

posted by jmcgee

The subject of faith came up — prominently — in last night’s debate between the two contenders for Senate in Delaware: Christine O’Donnell, the Republican Delaware Senate candidate, and her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons, hurled personal attacks at each other […]

Scariest chart of the day

posted by jmcgee

To get a clearer idea of what it means — and what can be done about it — check out Msgr. Charles Pope’s blog this morning.

“We have to show God’s love in action…”

posted by jmcgee

“I don’t find it difficult to pray. All the training and experiences I’ve had help me to pray today in spite of a busy schedule. I was never told, ‘You have to pray this many hours every day.’ From an […]

Stephen Colbert: “I love my church”

posted by jmcgee

The good people at the Religion News Service have discovered something a lot of us have known for a while: MCPF (My Close Personal Friend) Stephen Colbert is, indeed, a good Catholic boy: Colbert has said that he attends church, […]

“God won”

posted by jmcgee

Aren’t we supposed to be unfazed by this sort of thing? Aren’t we supposed to shrug it all off, attribute it to science and engineering and the sheer grit of the human psyche?   Isn’t it supposed to have more […]

Hey, you’ve just been rescued from a mine shaft after 70 days! What are you gonna do?

posted by jmcgee

This guy’s not going to Disneyland. Not yet. Chilean miner Esteban Rojas, 44, gets on his knees to pray after being rescued from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine, near Copiapo, Chile, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010. Rojas was […]

The Chile rescue: a deacon candidate who knows the drill

posted by jmcgee

Well, whataya know? I got an email this morning from a reader, alerting me to this piece about Greg Hall, a Houston man who owns a drilling company involved in the rescue of the miners in Chile.  Greg Hall also […]

Bank on it: new stem cell bank offers hope

posted by jmcgee

Some encouraging news out of Maryland this week, in the field of adult stem cell research and treatment: Nineteen-month-old Mason Shaffer has no qualms about somersaulting off a couch in his family’s Pennsylvania home. He’s equally fearless when exploring new […]

Quote of the day — maybe of the year

posted by jmcgee

“There are actually 34 of us, because God has never left us down here.” — 19-year-old Chilean miner Jimmy Sanchez, in a letter sent up from the mine Tuesday. Read more here.

The Chile miners’ deacon saint

posted by jmcgee

Pictured above is a statue of St. Lawrence, patron of miners (and chefs). The statue — complete with dalmatic, miner’s helmet, and lamp — was carried to the site of the Chile mine accident in August, shortly after the 33 […]

Carville and Matalin to speak at New York’s Al Smith Dinner

posted by jmcgee

One of the more famous — or infamous — political duets will perform at one of the country’s premiere Catholic fundraisers, according to the Archdiocese of New York website: Political consultants James Carville and Mary Matalin will be the guest […]

The UK’s “Benedict bounce”

posted by jmcgee

Nearly a month later, spiritual uplift in the country continues to bounce along.  From a British writer at Patheos: Since the pope’s mid-September visit here, there is a definite sense of English Catholics suddenly rediscovering their confidence (the Scots have […]

Hitchens and Blair to debate

posted by jmcgee

This should be interesting, to say the least: One is a prominent atheist, the other a devout Roman Catholic. Both share mutual admiration for each other, but for a few hours next month, they will be adversaries, facing off over […]

New Vatican evangelization office unveiled

posted by jmcgee

An important new Vatican office was announced today — but not without what might be considered an embarrassing hitch. Details: Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday outlined his most tangible initiative yet to try to revive Christianity, creating a Vatican office […]

Bye bye bingo?

posted by jmcgee

A fabled Catholic cultural institution may be vanishing in one part of the country: It seems that the “bingo bubble” in many areas of the Albany Diocese has burst. The game of chance long subsidized many parishes and schools, bringing […]

Why do bad things happen to good people?

posted by jmcgee

The brilliant Dr. Peter Kreeft offers some provocative answers: First, who’s to say we are good people? The question should be not “Why do bad things happen to good people?” but “Why do good things happen to bad people?” If […]

Welcome to the Wild West

posted by jmcgee

That’s how British journalist Anna Arco describes the Catholic blogosphere, and she makes some excellent observations. A snip: This year, at a talk given at New Orleans, Archbishop Claudio Celli expressed his concerns about the challenges facing the Catholic blogosphere. […]

Amazing: the armless pianist who won China’s Got Talent

posted by jmcgee

This is something something truly remarkable. Details: An armless pianist who plays with his toes has won the first series of China’s version of the internationally popular television talent show “China’s Got Talent.” Liu Wei, 23, who lost both his […]

Christianity in America: “remarkably resilient”

posted by jmcgee

That’s the assessment of a new poll, which finds a surprising number of people in “unchurched” parts of America still describe themselves as “Christian”: While it’s no surprise that the highest proportion of self-identified Christians reside in the South, a […]

Homophobia in the Church? Really?

posted by jmcgee

The opening paragraphs of this piece at Huffington Post by Michele Somerville certainly got my attention: I attended a Roman Catholic baptism about two weeks ago. A crowd of young parents and others of all ages stood in semi-circle around […]

The perfect car for commuting to Spacely Sprockets

posted by jmcgee

The self-driving automobile is no longer a fantasy. All they have to do now is figure out how to make it fly. Check this out: Anyone driving the twists of Highway 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles recently may […]

A beautiful lesson in charity in Chile

posted by jmcgee

A makeshift altar near the mineshaft in Chile These opening paragraphs from a report on the trapped miners in Chile are a homily waiting to be given: Engineers Sunday rushed to reinforce a shaft through which to hoist 33 men […]

“The archbishop certainly restarted the discussion, didn’t he?”

posted by jmcgee

Hundreds of thousands of Catholics found a DVD from their archbishop in the mail last week — and the reaction has been decidedly mixed: When the archbishop’s controversial DVD arrived in the mail last week, Renee Miller’s first instinct was […]

A home for Latin in the Lone Star state

posted by jmcgee

A church in North Texas is now the official home for the Latin mass in that part of the state. From the Dallas Morning News: Jack Schmidt converted to Catholicism about a decade ago and never learned Latin. But that’s […]

Ann Coulter, Catholic

posted by jmcgee

I’ve wondered about that for a while, and now this curious piece in the New York Times — in the Fashion section, believe it or not — confirms it (though Coulter, it seems, is, um, un-comfirmed…literally): Ms. Coulter was born […]

CNN = The Jesuits?

posted by jmcgee

“The CNN culture is still very strange. You walk into that building, you think you’re the Jesuits and you’re protecting a certain legacy. They still look at Fox as a carnival–not Fox as a brilliant marketing entity. It’s weird. They’re […]

A feast, and a first

posted by jmcgee

“O God, who bestowed on the Priest Blessed John Henry Newman the grace to follow your kindly light and find peace in your Church; graciously grant that, through his intercession and example, we may be led out of shadows and […]

Foreign affairs: how they form deacons in Europe

posted by jmcgee

Over at Deacons Today, Bill Ditewig offers a fascinating glimpse at how deacons are formed in Europe: In Germany, anyone who wishes to pursue official ministry (whether as a lay person or a deacon) must FIRST complete either a degree […]

“Smell like a monster”

posted by jmcgee

An inspired little take-off on those Old Spice commercials, courtesy The Muppets. Go ahead. Laugh. I did.

Homily for October 10, 2010: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted by jmcgee

Last week I went to see the new movie “The Social Network.” It’s a fascinating look at the creation of “Facebook” – the social networking site that started among a few people at Harvard and became a phenomenon, now touching […]

A funny thing happened on the way to the pulpit

posted by jmcgee

Did you hear the one about the people who are trying to find humor in ministry? Check it out: Can you say the word “breast” in a sermon? If so, how often? When trying to keep a congregation’s attention during […]

On the collaboration of priests and deacons

posted by jmcgee

This week, my own bishop, Nicholas DiMarzio, offered some thoughts on the collaboration between priests and deacons in his weekly newspaper column: On the day of ordination, the ordaining bishop asks the deacon candidate the following question: “Are you resolved […]

“The Last Lecture” wasn’t the last word

posted by jmcgee

Longtime readers of this blog will remember that I posted several items about the final months of Randy Pausch — I even preached about him one Sunday. Now comes word that his widow is writing a book about what it […]

New York bishops: “We must be cautious when we vote…”

posted by jmcgee

The bishops of New York state have just released a statement about the upcoming election. A snip: “We Catholics are called to look at politics as we are called to look at everything – through the lens of our faith. […]

A film critic sneers at Christians — and Roger Ebert takes offense

posted by jmcgee

Evidently, Andrew O’Hehir of Salon, in reviewing (unfavorably) “Secretariat,” took a few gratuitous swipes at director Randall Wallace. And now Chicago’s legendary Roger Ebert is calling him on it: O’Hehir mentions that Randall Wallace, who directed the film, “is one […]

What’s the secret to staying married 75 years?

posted by jmcgee

This couple can tell you.  You don’t see many stories like this — and it’s truly something to celebrate. From the Catholic Review in Baltimore: Edwin Becker was 19 when he decided that he couldn’t live his life without Gertrude. […]

Worth a thousand words

posted by jmcgee

Pontifical North American College seminarians Keith D. Romke of the Diocese of Rockford, Ill., and Mark R. Payton of the Archdiocese of Perth, Australia, are seen after being ordained  deacons in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 7. Thirty […]

Art criticism by crowbar

posted by jmcgee

There’s an update on that controversial art exhibit in Colorado: A Montana woman has been charged with criminal mischief after allegedly taking a crowbar to a controversial art museum display in Colorado that critics say portrays Jesus Christ receiving oral […]

“Your task, dear members of the Catholic press…”

posted by jmcgee

“My very dear brothers and sisters, whoever works in the media, if he does not wish to be “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1) — as Saint Paul would say — must have well-rooted in himself […]

Pro-life message: “My mom is REALLY going to kill me”

posted by jmcgee

That’s the eye-opening message on a billboard that’s just gone up in Michigan. Check it out below. H/T

Stormy weather: TV weatherman fired over his faith?

posted by jmcgee

That seems to be what happened, according to this account: A Virginia Beach TV weatherman has been fired — and the reasons management gave him were all related to his after-hours ministry. Jon Cash, a 21-year employee of WAVY-TV, appeared […]

Protests erupt over Christian flag display

posted by jmcgee

It’s unfolding in a small city in North Carolina, and has prompted a remarkable — and remarkably unified — response: A holy war is brewing in a small North Carolina city, where the Christian flag seems to be flying everywhere. […]

Bertone to journalists: “Serve the truth”

posted by jmcgee

The “Vice Pope” had a few things to say to a gathering of Catholic journalists yesterday — including a call for them to remain independent of any particular political agenda: The richness of a Catholic journalist is the Gospel he […]

Report: Saudis arrest Catholics during mass

posted by jmcgee

Their crime? Evidently, just being Catholic. From AFP: Saudi police raided a secret Catholic mass in Riyadh last week and arrested a dozen Filipinos and a Catholic priest, charging them with prosyletising, a local daily reported on Wednesday. The raid […]

Surf’s up: California’s annual Blessing of the Waves

posted by jmcgee

While countless churches around the country were blessing animals for the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, some of the faithful who live on the Pacific coast were offering prayers of blessing for the waters whose name means “peaceful”: Hundreds […]

Are you now or have you ever been…?

posted by jmcgee

The AP is reporting that a growing number of churches are now making it a habit to conduct routine background checks: More churches and religious groups are conducting background checks and taking other steps to protect children against mistreatment in […]

Yes, Virginia, there is a Christmas…

posted by jmcgee

An early skirmish in the annual “war on Christmas” ended quickly, and without any apparent bloodshed, after the party which fired the first shot waved a white flag of surrender. Details: Richmond will have a “Christmas” parade after all. The […]

Don’t stop believing: “Glee” gets religion — UPDATED

posted by jmcgee

I caught part of last night’s episode of “Glee,” which dealt (rather delicately) with the idea of religion.  The plot swirled around a teenager who discovered the face of Jesus on a grilled cheese sandwich, and another kid, whose father […]

Defining deacons

posted by jmcgee

The diocesan paper for San Francisco is taking a look at deacons this week — and offers a solid overview of the vocation and the men who are becoming a part of it: An active parishioner and energetic volunteer outside […]

What do you hear?

posted by jmcgee

This was sent to me by a deacon friend of mine, and it’s a winner. It was produced by a Protestant church in Abilene, Texas.  

Catholic campus welcomes a different set of “Angels”

posted by jmcgee

That would be “Angels in America,” Tony Kushner’s acclaimed (and controversial) depiction of what the author describes as “a gay fantasia on national themes.” This isn’t the first time a Catholic school has produced the play;  I found this account […]

Why wear the habit?

posted by jmcgee

I can think of no more compelling answer than this one. Take and read. It speaks volumes.

“Was there no one to step between Tyler Clementi and that bridge?”

posted by jmcgee

The tragedy of Tyler Clementi has provoked a lot of comment in the media, but this essay by a renowned Baptist minister struck me as particularly sharp, and challenging: When gay activists accuse conservative Christians of homophobia, they are also […]

A parish’s biggest loser just might be a priest

posted by jmcgee

A Virginia priest has come up with a novel way to raise money for kids to attend World Youth Day in Madrid: New Year’s Day has come early for Father Steve Schultz, parochial vicar of St. Timothy Parish in Chantilly. […]

Shock: art exhibit depicts Jesus in sex act?

posted by jmcgee

That’s what’s causing a furor out in Colorado, according to this report: An exhibit at a Colorado art gallery is stirring up outrage from critics who say it depicts Jesus Christ in a sexual act. Enrique Chagoya’s “The Misadventures of […]

All the Catholic news that’s fit to print

posted by jmcgee

And now, a little news about Catholic news: this comes to us from the Vatican, via Zenit. A snip: What future does the Catholic press have at the height of a digital revolution that is bankrupting many newspapers? According to […]

Fired priest may have been protecting seal of confession

posted by jmcgee

Last month, I posted the story of a priest suing his bishop, after being falsely accused and fired. Now, there’s another twist in the story: The dramatic case of the monk who filed a defamation suit against St. Vincent College […]

Quote of the day

posted by jmcgee

“I always enjoy the effort some put into trying to find any thing and or every thing that is wrong with a situation… I believe that most Catholics, even in our dwindling numbers, are glad to see others return to […]

Romeward bound? Baltimore Episcopal parish may join Catholic Church

posted by jmcgee

Some dramatic news out of Maryland: In a letter to parishioners, the Reverend Jason Cantania, rector of Mount Calvary Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland, announced that the vestry of the parish had voted unanimously in favor of two resolutions. First, […]

In-vitro pioneer wins Nobel

posted by jmcgee

This news won’t fill the Vatican with joy: Robert Edwards of Britain won the 2010 Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for developing in-vitro fertilization, a controversial breakthrough that ignited sharp criticism from religious leaders but helped millions of infertile […]

“Make me a channel of your peace…”

posted by jmcgee

For this feast of St. Francis of Assisi: here’s that beloved hymn, sung before what may well have been its largest audience ever, a worldwide congregation of tens of millions, for the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997.  (Footnote: yes, […]

In Philippines, bishops threaten “civil disobedience” over birth control

posted by jmcgee

The war of words over contraception is heating up — and in a way that might surprise Catholics in the western world.  Could you imagine a threat like this being issued by bishops in the United States?  The latest: Raising […]

Saint of steel?

posted by jmcgee

A Pittsburgh priest (who was actually born in Massachusetts) is on the path to sainthood. From Ann Rodgers in the Post-Gazette: A Pittsburgh priest who heard the confessions of beggars and of the pope, and who was a voice of […]

Grace under water

posted by jmcgee

A church in Washington state held is Blessing of the Animals a little early this year — on Friday. But the local paper was there and captured this colorful gallery of pictures. A choice moment, below. God bless us, everyone.

Seeing Red: annual mass celebrated in Washington

posted by jmcgee

Before the First Monday in October, there’s the First Sunday, and what has become a long-running tradition in the nation’s capital. From the Washington Post: On the eve of a Supreme Court session that will feature six Catholic justices for […]

A dog who prays? St. Francis would approve.

posted by jmcgee

Just in time for the great saint’s feast, this charming video has popped up on YouTube. H/T Sullivan.

Just call him Father Father

posted by jmcgee

A paper in Alabama profiles a deacon who became a priest, and explains the background: The Rev. James Macey was ordained as a priest three years ago, after the death of his wife of 37 years. Before her death, Macey […]

Druids recognized as a religion in UK

posted by jmcgee

Just a couple weeks after the pope’s visit, the United Kingdom has decided to give legal recognition to a pagan religion: The ancient pagan tradition of Druidry has been formally accepted as a religion under charity law in Britain — […]

Homily for October 3, 2010: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted by jmcgee

This gospel about the mustard seed is familiar to so many of us, and I think we all understand the larger point Jesus is trying to make – that even a little bit of faith can work wonders. That it […]

Priest cleared of sex abuse charges for second time

posted by jmcgee

It happened in the Archdiocese of Boston:   Parishioners and priests at St. Francis Xavier Church say they’re happy to have the Rev. Charles Murphy back after he was cleared of sexual-abuse allegations for the second time in less than five […]

Faithful campaign for Mary’s return

posted by jmcgee

A mural of Mary in a Denver church has been covered up — and it’s sparked some controversy: All it took for Mercy Cruz was two days and a few words to gather about 70 signatures for a letter to […]

“True Grit” — then and now

posted by jmcgee

I stumbled upon the trailer for the Coen Brothers’ reboot of “True Grit,” with Jeff Bridges taking on the thankless task of sliding into John Wayne’s boots as Rooster Cogburn. I have to admire the spunk of a movie whose […]

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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