Cadaver Synod

One of the strangest episodes in the turbulent history of the Church in the ninth century was a meeting and ecclesiastical trial has come to be known as the Cadaver Synod. During a period of great political upheaval in Italy, from the year 872 – 965 there were 24 Popes. With so much chaos and such frequent shifting of power structures, very few documentary sources … Continue reading Cadaver Synod

Book of Kells

In most Catholic Churches, on most Sundays, you’ll see a large book being carried in the entrance procession.  That’s the Book of the Gospels.  If you look at one up close, you’ll see that it’s a large, somewhat ornate book, containing the Gospel reading for each Sunday.  Although the Book of the Gospels has only recently started appearing in most Catholic parishes, the truth is, … Continue reading Book of Kells

Boniface VIII

In the history of the Catholic Church there have been good popes, and bad popes.There are also been more than a few who have exerted great influence over Western civilization, while simultaneously engaging in behavior that today would never be tolerated.  One great example of this is Pope Boniface VIII, who was pope from 1294 to 1303. First the bad news.  Raised in an influential … Continue reading Boniface VIII

Book of Blessings

It has to be said, right up front, that Catholics love blessings.  We will bless almost anything: Water, candles, meals, our children, new cars, animals, boats, wedding rings, palms, ashes, salt, eggs, houses, new cars, and all kinds of people:  sick people, old people, engaged couples, mothers, students, teachers…. We have a blessing for almost anything. But what is a “blessing,” exactly?  A blessing is … Continue reading Book of Blessings

Bishops’ Accoutrements

Recently the Catholic people of the diocese of Columbus received a new Bishop—Frederick Campbell—following the retirement of our previous bishop.  Bishop Campbell’s installation ceremony received extensive media coverage, and there was considerable interest in the accoutrements of a Bishop. The most well-known symbols of a bishop are the mitre and crosier.  The mitre is the two-pointed headdress that symbolizes the special dignity of their office. … Continue reading Bishops’ Accoutrements


Occasionally, something ends up closely associated with the Church that has no connection to our beliefs, our theology, or our religious mission.  These things take on the characteristics of a tradition (with a small “t”), and start to seem like a Catholic thing, when they’re really just accidents of history. One primary example of this is the game of Bingo.  A form of legalized gambling, … Continue reading Bingo

Which Bible?

One of the questions I’m often asked as a priest is “Which Bible should I read?”  It’s a fair question.  If you wander into the Bible aisle of you local bookstore, you’ll find a dizzying array of choices, with different translations, different features, sizes, colors, and bindings.  The most important consideration is the issue of translations.  In order to gain the best understanding of the … Continue reading Which Bible?

Benedict XV

When Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope on April 19th, he took as his name, Benedict the Sixteenth.  There has been much commentary since then on precisely why he made this choice, and what it might mean.  One possibility is that the new pope wants to draw some parallels to the last pope to take this name, Benedict XV. Born Giacomo della Chiesa, Benedict the … Continue reading Benedict XV