Homily for August 2, 2015: 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Last week, millions around the world were shocked to hear that an American hunter had gunned down a beloved lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe.But there is another important story that didn’t spark as much debate or outrage. It should have.I’m speaking of the undercover videos that show how Planned Parenthood has been killing the unborn and harvesting their tissue. The details are gruesome. Limbs and organs are divided up like parts of a used car. On the videos, people discuss techniques—like h … [Read More...]


“Will you do this for me?”: how one man became a monk

The Oregonian this weekend has published a long and detailed look at life inside the Mount Angel Abbey, and it includes the story of how one man with "minimal" religious upbringing eventually found himself behind the abbey walls as a Benedictine monk, living a life of strict discipline: In another life, [Martin] Grassel, 52, was raised in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where his religious edification was minimal: a handful of visits to Sunday Mass, a catechism class for kids.When Grassel moved … [Read More...]

“Pray for mercy, pray for healing”

That was the consistent message of this afternoon's Holy Hour in the Archdiocese of New York, held at the beautiful Church and Priory of St. Vincent Ferrer. This placid house of prayer on Lexington Ave., staffed by the Dominicans, proved the perfect setting for an hour devoted to … [Read More...]

You’re invited: Jubilee for Deacons in Rome during Year of Mercy

The following letter has been sent out this week from Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization:  Dear Deacon:As you are aware, the Holy Father has charged the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization with … [Read More...]

Deacons in “a new model of parish management” in St. Louis

This won't be a surprise in some places, and it echoes what is happening now in Pittsburgh. But it's interesting to realize that, in certain dioceses, this sort of thing is still radical and new. From the St. Louis Review:The clergy appointments announced in the paper this week include one that … [Read More...]

I’ll be there. Will you?

As luck (or the Holy Spirit) would have it, my office closes early tomorrow and I'll be able to take the short walk from my desk to this beautiful church for a special Holy Hour. Won't you join me? If not with your presence, with your prayers?From Kathryn Jean Lopez: We must pray unceasingly … [Read More...]

Coming to TV this Halloween: “Exorcism: Live!”

A better title might be "Exploitation: Live!"  BYOPS (Bring Your Own Pea Soup).Details from The Los Angeles Times: Destination America is looking to instill a little more fright -- and a few less spirits -- into viewers this Halloween with "Exorcism: Live!" Yes, it's a real show. On television. … [Read More...]

Planned Parenthood website hacked? Really? — UPDATED

CNN reports: Planned Parenthood's website went down Wednesday afternoon in what the nonprofit health services organization called "an attack by extremists."The hack comes in the wake of the publication of several undercover videos by anti-abortion activists seemingly showing Planned Par … [Read More...]

Austrian theologian: “Married priests and women deacons should be reintroduced as soon as possible”

From The Tablet in London:The dean-elect of Salzburg University’s Catholic theological faculty has called for married priests and women deacons in the Church. “Married priests and women deacons should be reintroduced as soon as possible. That would bring new dynamism to the Church”, the future d … [Read More...]

Church in Spain declares transgendered person not “suitable” to be a godparent

From Huffington Post in Spain: Alex Salinas is 21 years old. He was assigned female at birth, but is now living as his authentic self as a man. He is a "firm believer" and wants to be a godparent at his nephew's baptism but the diocese of Cadiz and Ceuta is standing in his way. According to them, … [Read More...]

Cardinal O’Malley speaks out on Planned Parenthood and “the throwaway culture”

The USCCB has just released this statement from Cardinal O'Malley regarding recent news about Planned Parenthood: WASHINGTON—Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap., archbishop of Boston and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), responded, July … [Read More...]

Their days are numbered: after thousands of years, Rome to stop using Roman numerals

Wow.From The Telegraph: They have survived thousands of years since their birth in ancient Rome, but Roman numerals are finally to be phased out after they were deemed too complicated for the modern-day capital.Until now, Rome has remained stubbornly wedded to the ancient numeric s … [Read More...]

First look: trailer for “Spotlight,” starring Michael Keaton, on the Boston sex abuse scandal

From Variety: The film from director/co-writer Tom McCarthy tells the true story behind the Boston Globe’s investigation into child abuse in the Catholic Church. The group of reporters won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2003 after uncovering the local Boston Archdiocese’s massive cove … [Read More...]

What ever happened to that Buffalo church being moved to Georgia??

A friend dropped me a line to ask if I'd heard anything more about this unusual undertaking.I posted on it a few years back, when The Deacon's Bench was still at Beliefnet: Instead of building a neoclassical church, Wilbur’s growing parish wants to buy classical-style St. Gerard’s, take it ap … [Read More...]

Farewell, my lovely: a New York church prepares to close

I received this message two days ago, from a New York City parish just a few blocks from my office that is slated to close.I was impressed by the fervor and prayerfulness surrounding events the people in the pews are planning for their church. I think it speaks to the sense of dedication and d … [Read More...]

Protesters complain about Mel Brooks making fun of Hitler

Seriously?From The Washingtonian: Olney Theatre’s production of Mel Brooks’s 2001 musical The Producers only has three more performances, but it’s not going to close without a bit of manufactured controversy. Audience members at Montgomery County playhouse are going to have to walk past a small … [Read More...]

Are you doing this at Mass? Stop that!

View image | gettyimages.comThis crossed my Facebook feed this afternoon and it's too good not to share.  From EpicPew, a few of the 10 Things You Might Be Doing Wrong at Mass (#5 irks me no end): 1. Changing posture early Seriously, what’s the deal? Why can’t we just wait ’til we actually fini … [Read More...]

How grieving the loss of his children led this father to the priesthood

And that's not all.A remarkable vocation story, and a remarkable vocation, from The Cody Enterprise in Wyoming. Among other things, it gives a powerful sense of what it means to minister in some of the more remote corners of the country: In the New Testament, Paul asks the Romans, “And how can p … [Read More...]