Octavia Spencer from “The Help” to star as God in “The Shack”

Yes, they’re making a movie from the best-selling book. Variety has the scoop: Octavia Spencer is in final negotiations to play God in Lionsgate’s adaptation of the bestselling novel “The Shack.” Stuart Hazeldine is directing the pic, with Gil Netter producing through Netter Productions along with Brad Cummings. Production is set to start this spring. [Read More...]

John Allen: “Mercy is the spiritual bedrock of this papacy”

Crux has just published the introduction to a new book by John Allen, “The Francis Miracle.” One compelling detail describes the pope’s May 2013 visit to a parish on the northern outskirts of Rome: The pontiff was scheduled to arrive at 9:30 a.m., but the pastor, a balding, amiable Romanian immigrant named Fr. Benoni Ambarus, heard the rotor [Read More...]

Have they found Jesus’ childhood home?

View image | gettyimages.com Maybe. From Huffington Post: A British archaeologist says a first-century dwelling found beneath a convent in Nazareth, Israel, could have been Jesus’ childhood home. Dr. Ken Dark of the University of Reading and the Nazareth Archaeological Project argues that although the evidence can’t prove Jesus grew up in the house, it [Read More...]

Who proclaims the Gospel at Mass?

This popped up today over at OSV’s The Catholic Answer: Q. If a deacon is assisting at Mass, should he be the one to read the Gospel, or is it merely a preference of the celebrant? A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin: The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) observes: “The sacred Order of [Read More...]

New York’s Cardinal Edward Egan dies at 82

From The New York Times:  Cardinal Edward M. Egan, a stern defender of Roman Catholic orthodoxy who presided over the Archdiocese of New York for nine years in an era of troubled finances, changing demographics and a priesthood of dwindling, aging ranks shaken by sexual-abuse scandals, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 82. Joseph [Read More...]

Pew Research: Pope’s popularity continues to grow in U.S., with 95% favorable rating among Catholics

From Pew:  Nearly two years after becoming the leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis continues to grow more popular among Americans. Fully nine-in-ten U.S. Catholics now say they have a favorable view of Francis, including nearly six-in-ten who have a “very favorable” view. Francis’ favorability rating among U.S. Catholics is comparable to ratings for [Read More...]

Court rules man cannot sue for burns suffered while praying over hot meal

From N.J.com:  A New Jersey man cannot collect damages for burns he suffered while bowing his head in prayer over a sizzling steak fajita skillet at Applebee’s, a state appeals panel ruled today. In March 2010, Hiram Jimenez visited the restaurant in Burlington County with his brother, Rafael, and ordered a steak fajita, which was [Read More...]

Fr. Rosica: “It was never my intention to sue”

Crux reports:  Despite a frenzy in the conservative Catholic blogosphere, a high-profile priest who volunteers as an English-language assistant to the Vatican press office says he’s not planning to take legal action against a Canadian blogger who had criticized him, and considers the matter closed. The Rev. Thomas Rosica, also a Canadian, said Wednesday he [Read More...]

Just in time for Lent: Bacon Soda

Actually, this has been around for a few years but it’s suddenly become The Rage, and I’m sure it must have something to do with the penitential season because—are you sitting down?—this flavored soda does not contain meat.  You’re welcome. I was skeptical but someone who dissected the product wrote:  At first taste I thought [Read More...]

Curt Schilling stands up for his daughter—and wins

Tony Rossi has the scoop:  Former baseball great Curt Schilling … tweeted a congratulatory message to his daughter for making it onto the Salve Regina University softball team next year. Soon after, the vulgarity about his daughter started. Schilling wrote on his blog: I started to see…tweets with the word rape, bloody underwear and pretty much [Read More...]

“The Anchoress” speaks!

Look who turned up in a Q & A over at America, our own Elizabeth Scalia:  What do you do as managing editor? I seek out strong writers who have something to say about the life of faith—in all of its glories and its teeth-gritting difficulties. While some writers lean left or right, they’re all starting [Read More...]

Two brothers, raised Baptist, choose two different faiths as teens

A fascinating read, from The Wall Street Journal: Many people change faiths, but not like Brad and Chad Jones. Identical twins, the brothers grew up in Elkin, N.C., a small town in the Bible Belt, the only children of devout Baptists. As boys, they attended the First Baptist Church of Elkin, studied Scripture, went to [Read More...]

SF teachers sign petition protesting archbishop’s morality clauses

From the AP: Teachers and staff from four Catholic High Schools in the San Francisco Bay Area are urging their archbishop to remove morality clauses from the faculty handbook. Teacher Jim Jordan said Tuesday a petition with 355 signatures of teachers and staff will be delivered to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone by union representatives. Jordan is [Read More...]

Historic: first married couple to be canonized together

From Zenit:  Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, informed recently that the parents of Saint Therese of Lisieux – Louis and Zelie Martin –, will be canonized this October, coinciding with the Synod on the Family, which will take place at that time in the Vatican. Thanks be to [Read More...]

“Priest” offers to hear confessions via Snapchat?

From San Antonio: Instead of turning to church to confess your sins, could you instead turn to your phone? A local ordained priest says he’s offering confessions digitally for the first time through the Snapchat app.  However, some faithful believers are skeptics. “It’s not confession.  It’s not what the sacrament is all about,” said Rev. [Read More...]

Want to become a better confessor?

I got an email yesterday about this, and it looks very enticing: The Thomistic Institute will be holding its fourth annual Conference for Priests, Becoming a Better Confessor: Using the Virtues and Vices in the Confessional, this summer at Baltimore’s historic Basilica of the Assumption, from July 7-9, 2015. We have put together a great [Read More...]

Vatican: “Threat exists” from ISIS against pope, but “we know of no plan for an attack”

From Crux: While acknowledging that ISIS represents a real threat to Pope Francis and the Vatican, the commander of the Vatican gendarmes says security services have no knowledge of a planned attack. “The threat exists. This is what has emerged from my conversations with Italian and foreign colleagues,” said Domenico Giani, inspector general of the [Read More...]

Great moments in parenting: baby bottles that look like beer bottles

From The Los Angeles Times: Babies don’t drink beer, and for good reason. But if you’d like for all the parents in your Mommy & Me class to give you dirty looks — and question your sanity — you can now at least give the illusion of handing your child a baby beer bottle. Perpetual [Read More...]