The Holy Faceplant and the Communion of Saints

06/06/2016 Comments (4)

This weekend — with 21 other men with whom I was privileged to share a five-year journey of diaconal discernment and formation — I went down on my face on the marble floor of the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey.

Prostration is a confession of unworthiness. A document from the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, discussing the prostration of the sacred ministers on Good Friday, explicitly links this Good Friday gesture to the day of ordination, adding:

Thus he expresses the conviction of being nothing before the Divine Majesty, and repentance for having dared to measure himself, through sin, with the Omnipotent. As the Son who abased...READ MORE

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SDG emerges from silence…

05/28/2016 Comments (22)

The Ordination of St. Stephen as Deacon, Vittore Carpaccio, 1511 (detail).

…in more ways than one.

Not quite four years ago I announced that I was undertaking seminary studies for a graduate degree in theology as a candidate for ordination to the permanent diaconate at Seton Hall University’s Immaculate Conception Seminary — and went into intermittent academic semi-hiatus. Certainly I haven’t posted here a lot lately.

Now — emerging from five days of silence under the discipline of my diaconal class’s canonical retreat — I’m overjoyed to say that the time of preparation is drawing to an end.

Two and a half weeks ago, I and my 21 classmates were in the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark for our graduation Mass.

One week from today, on Saturday,...READ MORE

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Is ‘The Jungle Book’ Blasphemous?

04/14/2016 Comments (11)

In his Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling offers quaintly mythic etiology-accounts or origin stories for such phenomena as the tides (“The Crab That Played With the Sea”) and the distinctive features of various animals (“How the Camel Got His Hump,” “How the Leopard Got His Spots,” etc.). In The Second Jungle Book, in the tale “How Fear Came,” the elephant Hathi relates an elephant creation-myth for the Jungle. According to this tale, Tha, First of the Elephants and Lord of the Jungle, drew the jungle from the watery depths with his trunk.

This story is briefly alluded to in the splendid new movie version of The Jungle Book, in a scene I wrote about with admiration in my review: The...READ MORE

Filed under children's books, disney, family films, jungle book, myths

Are Meatless Fridays Still a Thing? Does it Matter?

50 years after the U.S. bishops made it optional, year-round Friday abstinence is making a modest comeback — but for many American Catholics it isn’t even a real option, because they’ve never been told it’s still a thing.

04/08/2016 Comments (55)

“Lent is over. Why bring up meatless Fridays now?”

Yeah. About that…

“Catholics used to eat fish on Fridays instead of meat, but Vatican II changed all that.”


“What’s the point of meatless Fridays? Meat isn’t a luxury these days, and avoiding it for one day isn’t a sacrifice for most people. So why bother?”

Okay, let’s talk about that.

Let’s start at the beginning…

Contrary to common misconception, abstinence from meat on Fridays throughout the year has never been abolished from Roman law. It was not abolished by Vatican II. It was not abolished by Pope Paul VI or Pope St. John Paul II. It was not abolished by the 1983 Code of Canon Law. It remains the universal law of the...READ MORE

Filed under asceticism, fridays, meatless fridays

The Old Chocolate Cross?

03/26/2016 Comments (6)

It comes to my attention that a couple of weeks ago Melanie Bettinelli, a homeschooling mother of five who blogs at The Wine-Dark Sea, wrote a winsome essay in defense of chocolate crosses, which she was not quite surprised to learn some Christians consider offensive, even blasphemous.

“The cross should be venerated, not eaten, nor tossed casually in an Easter basket beside the jelly beans and marshmallow Peeps,” according to a diocesan spokesman requoted by Bettinelli from an article opposed to chocolate crosses. “It’s insulting.” Bettinelli then offers the following thoughtful reflections:

I wonder if he’d also find cross-shaped Easter breads insulting, or lamb-shaped cakes? There’s a...READ MORE

Filed under cross, crucifixes, crucifixion of jesus, eastertide, good friday, sacred art

Best films of 2015: More lists!

My circle of Christian cinephiles converged on the year’s best films more closely in 2015 than usual.

02/26/2016 Comments (8)

My final semester of seminary has been one of the toughest of the last four years, so I’ve been neglecting whatever I could neglect…but now, with the Oscars hard on us, the deadline is here for my annual round-up of the year-end best films of some of my friends and peers (see previous years).


  • This year I think there’s more overlap amongst our lists than ever before. 4 of the 5 top-named films are on my personal top 5 — and my other top-5 film is in an 8-way tie for 7th place.
  • In particular I don’t think I’ve ever agreed so extensively with Kenneth Morefield (who notes at 1More Film Blog that his list this year is more populist than usual). 5 of his top 10 are in my top...READ MORE

Filed under movies, top film lists

What Did Mary Know and When Did She Know It?

Your ultimate resource on the “Mary, Did You Know?” controversy!

12/24/2015 Comments (41)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

’Tis the season of social media memes of Saint Nicholas punching Arius in the face, outrage over the latest corporate disses to the season, and another round of controversy over the lyrics of “Mary, Did You Know?”

I kid, I kid. I shared a Saint Nicholas punching Arius meme myself this year (although the zeal some seem to have for theological punching does give me pause). As for “Mary, Did You Know?”, I have no brief one way or the other. I’m not a fan or a non-fan; I can’t even say I’ve so much as heard the song one time.

Out of curiosity, I did Google the lyrics. I understand the controversy. The song is typically Protestant in sensibility,...READ MORE

Filed under christmas wars, mary, mother of god, virgin mary

The Pope, the Seminary and the Seminarians

09/26/2015 Comment

U.S. and Vatican flags fly at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary outside of Philadelphia.


Two days ago, at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, I witnessed screaming nuns and even priests standing on pews with their phones in the air, as Pope Francis came down the aisle, looking not unlike teenagers at the arrival of some performing artist. 

The nearly 150 seminarians at my alma mater, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa., who met Pope Francis on the steps of the theology building after the Pope's Mass at Philadelphia's Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, couldn't match the volume of the capacity crowd of nearly 25,000 at St. Pat's — but they more than matched their enthusiasm. 

For one thing, the seminarians weren't just cheering for the Vicar of Christ:...READ MORE

Filed under papal visit to the u.s., pope francis, st. charles seminary, steven greydanus

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About SDG

Steven D. Greydanus
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Deacon Steven D. Greydanus is film critic for the National Catholic Register, creator of Decent Films, and a permanent deacon in the Archdiocese of Newark. With David DiCerto, he co-hosts the Gabriel Award–winning cable TV show “Reel Faith” for New Evangelization Television. Steven has degrees in media arts and religious studies, and has contributed several entries to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, including “The Church and Film” and a number of filmmaker biographies. He has also written about film for the Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy. He has a BFA in Media Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York, and an MA in Religious Studies from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Overbrook, PA. Steven and his wife Suzanne have seven children.