“How to Build an Awesome Altar Serving Program in 10 Easy Steps”

People who visit The Bench regularly know that I never tire of gushing about my parish’s altar servers. We have about 140 of them, boys and girls, aged 9-22.  As I’ve posted pictures and sung their praises, readers have asked repeatedly, “How do you do it? What’s the secret?” Well, after much prodding, the moderator [Read More…]

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How I spent Epiphany Sunday

I spent part of the day with these guys: Our 11:30 Mass included the presentation of gifts by the magi, and a lovely procession of altar servers, carrying candles and torches. Our administrator, Fr. Frank Passenant, also began the liturgy with an old tradition: blessing chalk, and then scrawling the date above the entry to [Read More…]

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Want to nurture young Catholics? Here. Try this.

We installed new altar servers at my parish this morning: 38 kids, the largest class ever. This brings the grand total of servers to something close to 150 (not sure the exact number…it might be 140.)  The picture here shows the new recruits lined up in the main foyer of the rectory, waiting for the [Read More…]

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Are we walking to heaven backward?

That’s the provocative headline to this post by Msgr. Charles Pope, who raises some compelling points about the priest’s orientation during the celebration of Mass. Snip: There are many factors that have fed the crisis of the leadership among the clergy. But I propose that liturgical orientation is both emblematic of the crisis of leadership and [Read More…]

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The Cat in the Hat Eucharist

N.B.: This is not a Catholic Mass. It comes from our Anglican siblings in Canada. This is a couple years old, but for some reason it fluttered across my Facebook feed yesterday. The rector says: “We take the Eucharist seriously, but we do so with humor, with love, with invitation.” Alrighty then. That helps explain [Read More…]

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On the Extraordinary Form: “Pope Francis has not contradicted Pope Benedict”

This moved last week.  It’s a followup to the story about the Vatican’s action regarding the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate and the use of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. From one of the Franciscans: Pope Francis has also severely restricted our use of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, and this has been [Read More…]

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Meet the man who sang at Rio’s Eucharistic Adoration: “The arms of St. Peter’s are really big”

It was a mesmerizing and deeply moving moment during the pope’s visit last week.  But who was the guy on his knees strumming the guitar? From Religion News Service:  Growing up Roman Catholic in Newfoundland, Matt Maher never imagined that his childhood interest in music would lead to a career as a Grammy-nominated, chart-topping Christian rocker — [Read More…]

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The problem of instant canonizations at Catholic funerals

This is a common problem in the preaching at Catholic funerals, and something every priest and deacon should be wary of. This writer nails it: Laura’s funeral Mass was beautiful—that is, up until the homily. It was then that things took a turn for the weird. After speaking a few words about God’s love, the [Read More…]

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Sanity and Clarity

After some of the heated emotions stirred up by yesterday’s news regarding the Extraordinary Form, two responses bring a level of sanity, clarity—and, I think, charity. First, from the Franciscans:  The fact is that Pope Francis has not forbidden the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite to the Franciscans Friars of the Immaculate. Simply put, after personally [Read More…]

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Priests and deacons and blessings (oh my!)

With ordination season rapidly approaching, some helpful information from canon lawyer Dr. Ed Peters:  1. The practice of receiving a priest’s “first blessing” after his ordination Mass is a praiseworthy custom, but there is no specific indulgence attached to receiving such a blessing or, for that matter, to attending a cleric’s ordination Mass. 2. There [Read More…]

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