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

Vespers at St. Pat's: What Did Pope Francis Really Talk About?

09/24/2015 Comment
On Thursday evening a capacity crowd of nearly 25,000 people filled the newly restored interior of Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York, not for a holy day Mass or even for an ordinary daily Mass, but for a prayer that — as cathedral rector Msgr. Robert Ritchie emphasized in his introductory remarks — countless clergy, religious and even laity pray in small groups or alone several times a day every day of the year: the Liturgy of the Hours, specifically Evening Prayer, or Vespers. 
It was, of course, Pope Francis, coming straight from Washington, DC via JFK Airport for his first-ever appearance in New York, that brought the crowds there. The trappings were far from ordinary: long...READ MORE

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Jesus is not your sock puppet

Would Jesus approve of gay “marriage,” as Jimmy Carter says? How Christians of every kind of persuasion threaten to turn Jesus into a sock puppet.

07/10/2015 Comments (42)

One of my favorite lines in Robert Bolt’s stage play A Man for All Seasons which was not carried over into the 1965 film comes during an exchange between Sir Thomas More and the Spanish ambassador Signor Chapuys (a character omitted in the film).

Chapuys, who is politically opposed to King Henry’s wish to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon, takes More for an ally — but More’s position is nuanced, and Chapuys is startled by the Lord Chancellor’s insistence on his loyalty to his king. Remonstrating with More, Chapuys “glibly” quotes, “Render under Caesar the things which are Caesar’s” — and then, raising a “reproving finger,” adds, “But unto God—”

“Stop!” More cries agitatedly, and must...READ MORE

Filed under gay marriage, jesus of nazareth, jimmy carter

Redefining Marriage, Part 1: Who’s to Blame?

06/26/2015 Comments (267)

Editor's note: In light of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark opinion legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, it seems fitting to repost this article written in June 2011 by Steven Greydanus.


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10


Don’t blame the gays.

Same-sex marriage was not foisted on New Yorkers by less than 5 percent of the population. I mean, you can blame them a little. But same-sex marriage isn’t the real problem—it’s only a symptom of the problem.

Don’t blame the Evil Party or the Stupid Party. They were instruments of evil, not the root cause. I’m not saying don’t hold responsible the politicians who pushed through...READ MORE

Filed under marriage, same-sex marriage

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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.