“The Bench” moves to Aleteia

That sound you hear is the moving van backing up into my driveway. Beginning Sunday, November 1, you will find this blog over at Aleteia.  Fittingly, the move is happening on the feast of All Saints. (I'm hoping a few of them will help with the wrapping and packing...)I owe a tremendous debt to all at Patheos and beyond who helped make "The Bench" what it is today—including, first and foremost, my pal Elizabeth Scalia. We go way back—I like to say I knew The Anchoress before she took the vei … [Read More...]


Why don’t they write hymns like this anymore?

Our entrance hymn this weekend is "For All the Saints" and it left me feeling nostalgic for church music that is vigorous and, in a way, muscular. Read some of my thoughts on church music right here. But for now, crank up the volume and listen to this spectacular version below. They really don't write them like this anymore. Dammit.  … [Read More...]

Deacon at work: blessing the hounds

I grew up around horses in Maryland. My sister, Karen, loves them; we spent our family weekends heading off to horse shows, fox hunts, and pony club meetings.  The scents of my childhood were the intermingled perfume of horse sweat, leather saddle soap, and freshly manufactured manure.Ah. Good ti … [Read More...]

Homily for November 1, 2015: All Saints Day

When I’m doing a baptism, the first question that is asked in the ritual is: “What name do you give your child?”Everyone answers that perfectly.But the second question is trickier.“What do you ask of God’s church for your child?” The correct answer, of course, is “Baptism.”Even though … [Read More...]

How did that “exorcism” show turn out?

 Variety has this review: Yes, the various researchers and psychics who went into the haunted house — which provided the inspiration for the movie “The Exorcist” — spoke often of feeling cold and strange. But as is so often the case with these exercises, viewers at home simply had to … [Read More...]

Kid in popemobile gets “top prize” at White House

View image | gettyimages.comFron AP: A toddler dressed like the pope and pushed along in a popemobile got the top prize at President Barack Obama’s White House Halloween.Upon seeing the costume, Obama turned to the news media and declared “top prize.” Read more and see more pictu … [Read More...]

Pastor Appreciation Month: When was the last time you did something like this for your pastor?

Behold, how they are marking Pastor Appreciation Month at the Elevation Church in North Carolina. Read more about it here. Did you do this for World Priest Day? Hmmm?  (I won't even mention World Deacon Day. Oh. Wait...)Oh, and I love the "Holly Spirit" line—which, I guess, refers to the past … [Read More...]

Archdiocese releases statement on “live” exorcism scheduled to be on TV tonight

From St. Louis: The cable network “Destination America” reportedly plans to air a purported exorcism live on national television on Friday, October 30, from a home in St. Louis which was associated with the well-known exorcism of “Roland Doe” in 1949. Given the public nature of this event, the A … [Read More...]

Brick by brick: Pennsylvania’s Lego-loving priest and his remarkable hobby

From CNS:  Bob Simon fell in love with two things at the age of 5 — the Catholic Church and building with Lego.Now, as a 51-year-old priest, Father Simon has discovered a way to merge both of these passions.The pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Moscow finds that his Lego-building ho … [Read More...]

Is this the hardest teaching of Jesus?

It just might be. Given some of what I'm reading around the interwebs these days, an alarming number of us Catholics seem temperamentally incapable of practicing Christ's great commandment, to love the enemy (or even just someone with whom I have sharp ideological or theological disagreements). So … [Read More...]

The pope will have the last word: Francis to write document following Synod

Details:The Vatican’s second most powerful figure said Wednesday that Pope Francis will pen a document following the recently concluded Synod of Bishops on the family, something that until now no Vatican official had confirmed. Speaking to the ANSA news agency, Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, t … [Read More...]

Dear CNBC…huh?

Dear CNBC:Things looked so promising Tuesday, didn't they?Remember this headline from The New York Times?: CNBC May be the Big Winner of the Next Republican Debate  Remember this excited quote from Becky Quick?: “Fantastic!” she said. “This is our time.” But 48 hours later, this is what t … [Read More...]

John Boehner on the power of the Holy Spirit

This is something exceptional: the departing Speaker of the House, discussing candidly his Catholic faith and how it led to his decision to resign. … [Read More...]

Bishop to deacons: “I want you to be a witness in your parish”

From The Trenton Monitor:  Coming together as a brotherhood, deacons of the Diocese of Trenton were challenged by Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., to live up to the summons issued by Pope Francis on his recent trip to the United States."When the Pope met with us, he told us to focus our … [Read More...]

NYC board reportedly to vote on removing “St. Patrick” from annual parade

 View image | gettyimages.comThe late Cardinal John O'Connor must be turning over in his crypt.The scoop: [Parade board director] John Lahey has called a meeting of the parade’s board of directors for Thursday, October 29, the purpose of which is a vote on several proposed cha … [Read More...]

High school students volunteer to serve as pallbearers for those who die alone

Some may remember the story I posted last year about Jim Skerl, the teacher at Cleveland's St. Ignatius High School. In 2002, he established a group called the St. Joseph of Arimathea Pallbearer Society, made up of young men who volunteer to serve as pallbearers at the funerals of people who had no o … [Read More...]

How the Catholic Church forever changed Jewish life

At the clergy convocation in my diocese last week, a rabbi got up to speak about the 50th anniversary of Nostre Aetate and noted this sobering fact: when he was growing up in New Jersey in the 1960s, he would try to time his departure from school so that he wouldn't run into the Catholic kids who w … [Read More...]

In the email: “I’m the Catholic Deacon who married Tig Notaro…”

You may remember this story from over the summer: Catholic deacon presiding at lesbian wedding in Mississippi?  It was about stand-up comedian and breast cancer survivor Tig Notaro: Her family is completely on board, including the Catholic deacon cousin who’s agreed to marry them. “They’re like, T … [Read More...]