“Do not be afraid”: a Christmas homily

From Midnight Mass, 2007, here’s my first Christmas homily.  While the references are dated, I hope the message still resonates.  For so many this year, the central theme —Do not be afraid—is more urgent now than ever.  – Dcn. G. + Like a lot of people of a certain age, I remember well the first [Read More...]

In Middle East, Christianity “close to extinction”

Sobering news for Christmas: Christianity faces being wiped out of the “biblical heartlands” in the Middle East because of mounting persecution of worshippers, according to a new report. The study warns that Christians suffer greater hostility across the world than any other religious group. And it claims politicians have been “blind” to the extent of [Read More...]

“Come, then, let us observe the Feast”: the first known Christmas sermon

It comes to us from the great St. John Chrysostom, from 386.  (Source).  Stuck for something to say on Christmas?   Try this on for size: BEHOLD a new and wondrous mystery. My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn.  The Angels sing.  The Archangels blend [Read More...]

Great moments in journalism: how the NY Times bungled the Newtown story

After surveying some of the mistakes in the Times’s early coverage of the tragedy, the paper’s new public editor gives the coverage a long-overdue thrashing: On the first day, The Times reported on its Web site that the gunman was Ryan Lanza, attributing that information to other news organizations. It was actually his brother, Adam [Read More...]

The best advice I ever got about serving Mass at Christmas…

…It was actually something I overheard. As I’ve noted before, we have a remarkable cadre of altar servers in my parish—100 of ‘em, boys and girls, from ages 8 to 18, every one of them a gem.  They are selfless, generous, enthusiastic and (for the most part, except for a few yawners, scratchers and gigglers) [Read More...]

All you “Les Miz” fans: the 12 Days of Christ-Miz

The cast of the London stage production gets in the spirit. [Read more...]

America’s crumbling Christian consensus

Historian Molly Worthen takes a look at religion’s role throughout American history in today’s New York Times: Religion has been a feature of human society since Neanderthal times, but so has religious indifference. Our illusions of the past as a golden age of faith tend to cloud our assessment of today’s religious landscape. We think [Read More...]

Montreal deacon charged with producing child porn

Details, from the Toronto Sun: A well-known Montreal-area Deacon who once spoke on behalf of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, has been charged with production and distribution of child pornography. William Kokesch, 65, appeared in a Montreal courtroom Saturday afternoon via videoconference. The day prior, based on a tip from the public, Montreal police [Read More...]

Merry Christmas from The Bench!

If you somehow slipped off my mailing list this year…do me a favor and just pretend you got this in the mail. Merry Christmas!  [Read more...]

Homily for December 23, 2012: 4th Sunday of Advent

[Click here for readings] A few weeks ago, I saw an ad on the subway for Cole Haan shoes that was a little out of the ordinary: there were no shoes, no pictures of people wearing shoes.  There was just a phrase, printed on a dark background.  It said: “No great story starts with: ‘It [Read More...]


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