In Philadelphia, deacons will witness marriages and wear the collar—UPDATED

A deacon in the City of Brotherly Love sent me an e-mail about a little brotherly love from the archbishop. Below is the text of a letter sent to the priests and deacons of Philadelphia: February 13, 2013  Dear Brother Priests and Deacons, An important part of the life and work of the Church [Read More…]

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Would you give this man bread?

Periodically, I’ve posted images here by the great French water color artist, James Tissot.  His epic undertaking on the life of Christ is collected in the Brooklyn Museum, which periodically hosts special showings of his work. One striking image has bearing on today’s gospel: it’s called “Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness.”  Along with Tissot’s keen eye [Read More…]

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Under the dome: a glimpse inside “the management crisis” within the Vatican

The Washington Post gives another perspective on the papal resignation—and lifts the curtain on the mess that is the Curia: Guests at the going-away party for Carlo Maria Viganò couldn’t understand why the archbishop looked so forlorn. Pope Benedict XVI had appointed Viganò ambassador to the United States, a plum post where he would settle [Read More…]

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Does the Holy Spirit pick the pope? Ratzinger didn’t think so.

Some more great context and insight on the upcoming conclave from NCR’s John Allen:  People typically ask two kinds of questions about conclaves: those that deal with the event in general and those that pertain to this one specifically — who the leading candidates are, what the issues seem to be, and so on. We’ll [Read More…]

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Report: Pope Benedict last summer indicated “not much more” could be expected of him

Details from AP:  Journalist Peter Seewald recalled in an article for German weekly Focus published Saturday asking Benedict during a meeting last August at the pontiff’s summer residence, Castel Gandolfo, what more could be expected of him and his papacy. Seewald said Benedict replied: “From me? From me, not much more. I am an old [Read More…]

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Woodstock Theological Center to close in June

From NCR: After almost 40 years as a leading U.S. institution of Catholic theological research and reflection, Woodstock Theological Center will close its doors June 30. Formed by the Jesuits in 1974 and based at Georgetown University here, the center has been a significant resource for developments in Catholic thought on a variety of issues. [Read More…]

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Reports of an early conclave—and tweeting cardinals will go silent

A few tidbits this morning from Catholic News Service:  Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, confirmed this morning that top cardinals and canon lawyers at the Vatican are studying the possibility of beginning the conclave to elect a new pope before March 15. But only the cardinals can announce the exact date the conclave will [Read More…]

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Homily for February 17, 2013: 1st Sunday of Lent

[Click here for readings.] This was the kind of news all of us carnivores love – but it couldn’t have come at a worse time. On Ash Wednesday, a hamburger chain called Jake’s Wayback Burgers announced the introduction of a new hamburger called the Triple Triplenine-patty burger. Nine hamburger patties, nine slices of cheese, lettuce [Read More…]

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What about the pope’s last, unfinished encyclical?

His planned trilogy on the theological virtues will remain, it seems, incomplete.  Catholic News Service has some interesting background:  In December, the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said that Pope Benedict’s fourth encyclical would be released in the first half of 2013. Treating the subject of faith, the encyclical would complete a trilogy on [Read More…]

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“Ashes to Go”: Episcopalians take to the streets for Ash Wednesday

An interesting glimpse at how our Episcopalian siblings marked the beginning of Lent—and their foreheads—in Maryland, from the Baltimore Sun: Leta Dunham got her breakfast order to go at a Roland Avenue Starbucks Wednesday morning: a grande triple skim latte in her cup and, on her forehead, an ashen reminder that we are all destined to become [Read More…]

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Archbishop Lori pens “Prayer for the Church in Time of Transition”

This is an initiative launched by the Knights of Columbus.  A press release sent out tonight reads: The Knights of Columbus – the world’s largest Catholic fraternal group – is asking its members and all Catholics to pray daily for the pope and the church in anticipation of Pope Benedict XVI’s retirement and the election of a [Read More…]

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“Alex, I’ll take ‘Great Catholic Evangelists’ for $1,000…”

And the answer is: “This jolly figure has been called the greatest evangelist in the church today.” And I reply: “Who is Fr. Robert Barron?” And with this, I lose. Well, I still think Fr. Barron is a great evangelist, but he himself has another answer in mind —and it’s worth checking it out in [Read More…]

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The Vatican confronts the digital age

Is the changing media landscape becoming a growing problem for the church?  One writer thinks so, and makes some compelling observations:  When Joseph Ratzinger became pope in 2005, the most common assumption (made by his fans and detractors alike) was that he’d continue in his role as an enforcer of theological orthodoxy. There were visions of [Read More…]

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“Exult, let them exult…”

It’s that time of year again. If you’re looking for a handy recording of the “Exsultet,” a great resource is this National Association of Pastoral Musicians page, which has a PDF of the music and text, plus an MP3 recording that the more media-savvy may be able to download.   The page also has some [Read More…]

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Deacon Bill Steltemeier of EWTN dies

A giant in Catholic broadcasting—and one of the most familiar and recognizable deacons in America—has died. From the National Catholic Register:  Deacon R. William Steltemeier Jr., died on Feb. 15 at age 83 after an extended illness. Familiar to Eternal Word Television Network’s international family of viewers, for three decades he had been a faithful [Read More…]

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Cardinal: next pope should not condemn contraception

Details:  The new Pope should not condemn contraception, its former leader in England and Wales suggested today as speculation began about the future of the Church following the surprise resignation of Benedict XVI. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor said that while a radical departure from previous teaching was not likely, it would be “wise” to focus on [Read More…]

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Benedict at the beginning and at the end: a plea for unity

It’s interesting to revisit Benedict’s first homily at pope, delivered eight years ago, and place it beside his last homily, delivered on Ash Wednesday. From the Mass for the Inauguration of the Petrine Ministry, Sunday April 24, 2005:  The task of the shepherd, the task of the fisher of men, can often seem wearisome. But [Read More…]

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Cardinal Mahony: “I am being called to be humiliated…”

From his blog: From our earliest catechism days we learn about the virtue of humility.  We study it, we think about it; but we don’t embrace it. And why?  Because humility is all about self-effacing, about seeing ourselves as far more diminished than we had hoped.  As a result, few of us set out to [Read More…]

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