What does a deacon wear under his alb?

Now it can be shown. Here’s a first for “The Deacon’s Bench”: The  men about to be ordained deacons earlier this month for the Archdiocese of Atlanta show off some equipment they used to help get them through all the kneeling the ceremony entails. More on the 16 new deacons — and what else they [Read More...]

Did your ordination look like this?

I know that mine didn’t. Uber-traditionalist Cardinal Raymond Burke ordained three new deacons for the Institute of Christ the King at their seminary near Florence on January 30th. You can see more snapshots and learn more at the New Liturgical Movement website.  A cappa magna was there, too! Meantime, want to sample something 180 degrees [Read More...]

Reality check: Hannah Montana's dad on Hollywood and Satan

In this interview with GQ, Billy Ray Cyrus talks at length — and with candor — about some of the bad choices he made, and their impact on his family (particularly his famous daughter Miley) and their faith: “Somewhere along this journey,” he says, “both mine and Miley’s faith has been shaken. That saddens me [Read More...]

Behold: "All Things New"

I was away most of the day — down in Trenton for a funeral — so I completely forgot (smack of forehead!) that today marked the beginning of my new column at Patheos, “All Things New.” If you missed it and are curious, check it out.  It will be up every Wednesday (if I remember [Read More...]

Mother with cancer refused to abort her child: "It's the best decision I ever made…"

And even her doctors are amazed. Details: A mother who refused to abort her unborn baby after discovering she had leukaemia, has stunned doctors by giving birth to a healthy baby girl. Victoria Webster, 33, was diagnosed with cancer during a routine blood test when she was 21 weeks pregnant. Medics pleaded with her to [Read More...]

"Personally, I'm appalled"

That’s one blogger’s response to this post about a priest who used one of my homilies, verbatim and without attribution, last weekend. From Quantum Theology, here’s Michelle M. Francl-Donnay: The deacon isn’t particularly perturbed, “As far as I’m concerned, the Holy Spirit owns the copyright to my work, not me, and I’m glad others can [Read More...]


I knew Lara Logan during my time at CBS News, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more tenacious, eager, committed reporter. She was someone who could have gotten by on just her looks, but didn’t.  She rolled up her sleeves and went into some of the most dangerous places on earth, to get the [Read More...]

Ah, Gethsemani

Longtime readers will know that I have great affection for Thomas Merton and have spent some memorable, meaningful hours at the place he called home for half of his life, the Abbey of Gethsamani, in Kentucky.  Below is a favorite shot, from several years ago: Your Humble Blogger on the front porch of Merton’s hermitage. [Read More...]


That was what they used to call her, that barely five-foot tall bundle of life and laughter, the warm and winsome wonder whom I knew better as just “Aunt Agnes.” She was the wife of my dad’s oldest brother, Joe Kandra; that’s the two of them, above, a decade or so ago, shortly before he [Read More...]

Philadelphia confronts "a crisis of faith"

While the Philadelphia Church reels from the latest grand jury report, a local columnist struggles to put the damning news in context: At a time when the traditional family is under assault, marriage is threatened with redefinition, and we have reached the grim milestone of 50 million abortions since 1973, our bishops have shredded their [Read More...]

From the e-mail bag: that homily sounds familiar

A reader writes: I was directed to your blog, The Deacon’s Bench, by a link on The Anchoress’ blog.  As I began reading the homily posted for World Marriage Day, I was shocked to recognize it… because my own pastor had preached this homily almost verbatim during Mass on Sunday (and on Saturday evening also [Read More...]

A Valentine's Day nightcap: three little words, from a dog

Paging Dr. Doolittle… [Read more...]

Historic first: new cathedral's stained glass windows will provide solar power

Let there be light!  It will be the first church in North America to use this particular kind of solar energy. Details: A different kind of trinity is emerging at Saskatoon’s newest cathedral, where the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon is combining art, technology and faith in a stunning and environmentally-friendly project. The Holy Family [Read More...]

Atlanta's new deacons

Smile and say “Jesus!” A grateful diaconal bow to Deacon Steve Swope of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, who sent along the picture below: Atlanta’s 16 new deacons, ordained on February 5. The Georgia Bulletin offered a preview of the rite (but as yet hasn’t posted online a followup.)  Congratulations and welcome, brothers!  Ad multos annos! [Read more...]

Deacon, quadriplegic, inspiration: the remarkable ministry of Frank Bice

What an amazing story. Meet Deacon Frank Bice, from the Diocese of Rockville Centre, a former seminarian who suffered a debilitating football injury in college but has turned it into an opportunity to minister to people around the world, via the web. Newsday profiles him (subscription required), and notes: “I’m really incredibly lucky,” said Bice, [Read More...]

Say Amen: meet the Charismatic Catholics

Turns out, there’s a growing wave of them in Florida — which surprises quite a few non-Catholics: Most of the 300 or so in the room ignored the folding chairs and stood, swaying side to side, hands lifted in praise. They sang the lyrics projected onto a wall above them, “Holy Spirit, come with your [Read More...]

Shoot: county mandates no cursing for Valentine's Day

Well, dang. Can something like that actually work? The New York Times investigates: It’s shaping up to be a darn nice Valentine’s Day here in Mobile County. An optimistic band of middle school students hopes that for just one day no one in the county will curse. Perhaps people can substitute “sugar” or “snap.” Or [Read More...]

So who was St. Valentine, anyway?

There’s a lot that’s not known about this early saint, but what is known isn’t exactly romantic. From NPR, which peers into Roman history: From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had [Read More...]