The power of prayer? Syria announces support of plan to surrender chemical weapons

It’s not a done deal yet, but this sounds promising.  From CNN:  The Syrian government supports a proposal to put its chemical weapons under international control as a way to avert a Western military strike, Syria’s prime minister said Tuesday. The Russian plan “aims to stop the Syrian bloodshed and prevent a war,” Wael Nader [Read More...]

Schedule published for Saturday’s prayer vigil at the Vatican

People attending a candlelight vigil in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 11, 2012 marking the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring) From CNS:  Here is a breakdown of what will be happening and when: 5:45 pm (Rome time) — About 50 priests will begin hearing confession in [Read More...]

Catholic university cancels appearance by Geraldo Rivera, son of a “lay deacon”

From Politico: Geraldo Rivera has been uninvited to speak at Duquesne University after posting a revealing picture of himself on Twitter, according to a report, in a manner the radio and television personality called “incredibly rude” to POLITICO. Rivera had been scheduled to appear in October on a panel at the school in Pittsburgh on [Read More...]

Deacon at work…at work

Here’s a glimpse of my other life, where sometimes church is a corporate office and the altar is a meeting table. This morning, CNEWA president Msgr. John E. Kozar celebrated Mass for the intentions of our donors in the board room of our headquarters in Manhattan. [Read more...]

Here comes the Son

At the edge of the property where I’m on retreat, just before the beach, there’s a stunning outdoor altar and crucifix.  I took a few snapshots last night before dinner. This morning, I got up early to see if I could catch the sunrise over the Atlantic. Here’s what I saw. [Read more...]


Well, it’s over. Msgr. Joseph Funaro, my pastor emeritus, has been to sent to his rest. The funeral Mass this morning was beautiful. On a glorious summer Saturday, the church in Forest Hills was packed: two bishops, a couple dozen priests, throngs of friends and family, a small army of altar servers.  Music ranged from [Read More...]

A Widowed Michigan Priest—and a REALLY Late Vocation

From the Detroit Free Press, here’s an interesting profile of a pastor who was just ordained six years ago—when he was in his mid-70s—after raising a family. Snip:  [Rev. William] Spencer, 81, is pastor of Holy Name of Mary Parish, which is composed of two churches that recently merged — Our Lady of Lake Huron [Read More...]

Why Men Shouldn’t Be Ordained—UPDATE

Remarkably, this little satire has become one of the most popular posts at The Bench, ever.  (Its appeal may be more universal than I ever imagined. It was recently picked up by a Buddhist blog, which thought it had humorous applications to Buddhist monks.) For some reason, the post is getting renewed attention and traffic [Read More...]

Japanese Commuters Join Together to Push 32-ton Train Off Trapped Woman

There’s a great homily in this story:  Japanese commuters teamed up to heave a 32-ton train carriage away from the platform to free a woman who had fallen between the train and the platform at rush hour. In a nightmarish scenario, the woman, who is in her 30s, slipped and fell into the eight-inch gap [Read More...]

A Prayer for Mental Health

The following e-mail arrived today from a priest: Hello Deacon Greg. We do not know each other, but I stumbled upon your website today. I am asking, please, that you pray for me and give my name to others who have a ministry of prayer. I am a 51-year-old priest and have terrible terrible mental [Read More...]