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The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

March 2008 Archives

When the CEO is Catholic

posted by deacon greg kandra

It’s not every day that you encounter the CEO of a major corporation who is also a devout Catholic. But the Associated Press just ran this intriguing profile of the new head of Eli Lilly and Co., and it bears […]

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Name that church

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

What’s the most popular name for a Christian church? A reporter in Chicago conducted an informal survey of the Windy City and found some interesting answers: If church names are any indication, St. Paul is the most popular saint in […]

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DiNardo’s new digs

posted by deacon greg kandra

America on Wednesday will welcome a new cathedral — or co-cathedral — in the Lone Star State, as the shiny new co-cathedral of the Sacred Heart finally is dedicated in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. It’s been a massive undertaking — […]

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A deacon’s ministry behind bars

posted by deacon greg kandra

You never know where a deacon will pop up. This item about a deacon in prison ministry comes from a newspaper in Canada, and columnist Peter Duffy. It illustrates the surprising and vitally important work deacons are doing beyond the […]

Answering the ultimate casting call

posted by deacon greg kandra

Sometimes, the most effective evangelists use unexpected tools. This fascinating piece from The Catholic Herald in Wisconsin profiles an actor who is turning his passion for theater into The Passion: Silence enveloped the audience at the Cathedral of St. John […]

Meet the pope’s tour guide

posted by deacon greg kandra

Predictably, there’s a flurry of press coverage these days about the pope’s upcoming visit to the U.S. — and the New York Times has contributed a snowflake or two with this profile of the papal nuncio, whom The Gray Lady […]

Welcome to a new blog: “Art and the Catholic Church”

posted by deacon greg kandra

A hearty “Deacon’s Bench” hello to a shiny new deacon’s blog — from Brooklyn, no less! — focusing on art and the church. It’s the brainchild of an artist and brother deacon by the name of Bernard M. Deschler, whose […]

Magdi Christian Allam’s next sacrament: marriage

posted by deacon greg kandra

The astonishing story of the Muslim who was baptized by the Pope at the Easter Vigil now has another interesting twist. He will be married in the Church next month: The Muslim journalist Magdi Allam, who was received into the […]

Cardinal Foley honored by the Christophers

posted by deacon greg kandra

The Christopher Awards are among the most meaningful prizes bestowed during the springtime awards season; they recognize not only achievement, but also values. (Department of Full Disclosure: Your Humble Blogger has one on his shelf, from 2002, for co-writing the […]

Understanding Pennsylvania’s Catholics

posted by deacon greg kandra

My father was a Pennsylvania Democrat, from the coal mines of Scranton, back in the day when it meant supporting people like Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy. So it’s with no small amount of interest that I read today about how […]

Taking Christ out of Christianity

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

There aren’t many things these days that leave me utterly speechless. But this item did: That triumphal barnburner of an Easter hymn, “Jesus Christ Has Risen Today – Hallelujah,” this morning will rock the walls of Toronto’s West Hill United […]

Is the Easter Vigil too long?

posted by deacon greg kandra

Over at America’s blog, James Martin is taking a long, hard look at the elephant in the nave, and he poses the (to some) shocking question: is the Easter Vigil just too long? For me and for most Catholics, the […]

Anne Rice’s journey: “I trusted that He would help me”

posted by deacon greg kandra

Just before Easter, the writer Anne Rice, whose new novel on Christ has just been published, posted an item in the Washington Post’s On Faith section about her own faith journey. An excerpt: Why did faith come back to me? […]

Happy Birthday, dear Flannery

posted by deacon greg kandra

One of the most influential and enduring Catholic writers in America remains Flannery O’Connor. Today is her birthday. And, over at Busted Halo, a writer has taken a pilgrimage to her fabled Georgia homestead Andalusia: You’ll find her along the […]

The house that Benny built

posted by deacon greg kandra

This is the first glimpse at the design for Yankee Stadium’s papal mass on April 20. You can read more about it via the National Catholic Register right here. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack. I don’t care if […]

A pastor’s toughest job

posted by deacon greg kandra

Here’s an interesting perspective on life in the pulpit, from several preachers in Pennsylvania. This comes to us from the York Daily Record/Sunday Times: In seminary, Greg Lindsey imagined that sitting at a dying man’s side would be the most […]

Rejoice, heavenly powers: my first Triduum as deacon

posted by deacon greg kandra

Last time I checked, I still had a pulse. Over the last four days, there were times I wasn’t sure that would be the case. But at this late hour on Easter night, I can finally say, with certainty: I […]

“There are times you feel the Holy Spirit just needs a typist”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Here’s something a lot of us can relate to: being brand new on the job and approaching your first big challenge. In this case, the job is being newly ordained — and the challenge is a little something called Easter. […]

Homily for Saturday, March 22, 2008: Easter Vigil

posted by deacon greg kandra

Whether you realize it or not, this evening we are present at creation. First, there was the creation of the world – signified by the fire that burned at the entry to our church, fire that was then blessed and […]

Homily for Friday, March 21, 2008: Good Friday

posted by deacon greg kandra

Sixty years ago, the psychiatrist Viktor Frankl wrote a best-selling book about his experiences as a prisoner in Auschwitz. “Man’s Search for Meaning,” is considered to be a classic about the worst nightmare of the last century. Frankl describes how […]

Homily for Thursday, March 20, 2008: Solemn Mass of the Lord’s Supper

posted by deacon greg kandra

When I was growing up, like a lot of families, mine had one of those small, cheap Kodak Instamatic cameras. You used those flash bulbs that looked like ice cubes…and got these little square pictures back from the drug store […]

Chrism Mass comes but once a year…

posted by deacon greg kandra

On Holy Thursday, I’ll have a couple of rare privileges in my still-new diaconate life. In the morning, I will join the other clergy at the annual Chrism Mass at our cathedral, and serve as deacon on the altar beside […]

News you can use

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Warning: Crucifixion Bad For Your Health

Mikhail Gorbachev, Christian

posted by deacon greg kandra

This is an amazing bit of news for Holy Week: Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Communist leader of the Soviet Union, has acknowledged his Christian faith for the first time, paying a surprise visit to pray at the tomb of St […]

Remembrance

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

There is a remarkable mini-industry that has sprung up on YouTube: home-made music videos crafted from Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.” Clearly, this film has resonated with people, and moved them to create something deeply personal from that […]

John Allen’s Catholic “mega-trends”

posted by deacon greg kandra

One of Catholicism’s most insightful observers, John Allen, had some sage words for the faithful recently in Denver. He was invited to speak by his friend, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, and brought up an intriguing theme: mega-trends in the Catholic […]

Braxton: a little background

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

A few readers have been wondering just what kicked up the kerfuffle in Belleville, and what exactly Bishop Braxton had done to incur such animosity among his priests. As usual, I turned to the definitive source on episcopal matters, and […]

Spy Wednesday

posted by deacon greg kandra

Wednesday of this week marks what has been known for centuries as Spy Wednesday — traditionally, the day on which Judas spied for an opportunity to betray Jesus. It’s thought to be the day when Christ’s betrayer may have clinched […]

Convert corner

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Coming into the Church this Easter? New? Just browsing around? Pull up a chair and stay awhile. And if you have a few free moments, wander over to this terrific blog, Catholic Converts. I stumbled on it when it got […]

Welcome to a new blog: “Helping Others with Cancer”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

As we continue our journey through Holy Week, I got an e-mail from a reader, alerting me to a new and, I think, very interesting voice in the blogosphere. It is aimed at those suffering with cancer — both those […]

More on the Exultet, “this wonderful and only apparently simple melody”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Our good friends over at Zenit have posted a little something on the Exultet, of which I wrote a at some length a few days ago. Seems someone was curious about where this chant originated — and why it’s sung […]

Lubich on love

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

We should live in such a way that in our last hours we will not regret having loved too little. — Chiara Lubich, whose funeral mass was celebrated today in Rome, at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls. I don’t think […]

“Shining like the sun”

posted by deacon greg kandra

A joyful h/t to Jim Martin at the America blog, for pointing out this momentous event: I wanted to celebrate today, March 18, the 50th anniversary of a great epiphany that changed the course of Thomas Merton’s life. After years […]

DiNardo: “The media has been crucial since the moment St. Paul sent a letter”

posted by deacon greg kandra

The first cardinal from the Lone Star State used an opportunity recently to speak up — and speak out — on television and the media. He spoke in late February at the seventh annual Catholic Television of San Antonio (CTSA) […]

Humanae Vitae at 40: “This is when the door to the cafeteria opened”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

The popular press is beginning to notice a not-too-insignificant anniversary this year: the 40th of Humanae Vitae. The Religion News Service takes note here: Asked about her church’s ban on artificial birth control, Emily Kunkel inhales deeply and pauses. “It’s […]

Notice anything different?

posted by deacon greg kandra

Pope Benedict continues to put his own distinctive stamp on the pontificate. Below, the pope in Brazil in May of 2007: And here he is today, Palm Sunday, in Rome, 2008:

Jesus the Jew

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Just in time for Holy Week, here’s a fascinating dissection of something often overlooked: the Judaism of Jesus: Recently a popular blogger — let’s call him Rabbi Ben — zinged the scholarship of a man we shall call Rabbi Rob. […]

I hate it when this happens

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Shroud of Turin Accidentally Washed With Red Shirt.

Christ’s transportation

posted by deacon greg kandra

Here’s a poem for Palm Sunday — perhaps the only one of its kind, marking our own entry into Holy Week. It’s”The Donkey,” by G.K. Chesterton: When fishes flew and forests walked And figs grew upon thorn, Some moment when […]

Why the crucifix?

posted by deacon greg kandra

This coming week, countless Catholics around the world will venerate the cross with a kiss — and we will be reminded again of the powerful place this instrument of death holds over our imagination, and in our Catholic culture. Even […]

Majority of priests in Belleville call on bishop to resign

posted by deacon greg kandra

This is some pretty astonishing news: most of the priests in one prominent American diocese have called for their bishop to step down: When dozens of priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Belleville met Wednesday in Germantown to discuss […]

Seven days that shook the world

posted by deacon greg kandra

After spending the last few weeks in the desert of Lent, suddenly we find ourselves in an oasis, clutching long leaves of palms. But like so many things you see after being in the desert, it’s a mirage. What we […]

Soledad O’Brien: anchored in faith

posted by deacon greg kandra

Several months ago, Your Humble Blogger ran a pretty interesting piece about CNN star Soledad O’Brien. Here’s another glimpse at her life of faith, from the Catholic Herald in Milwaukee: With a resumé that touts a degree from Harvard, O’Brien […]

Chiara Lubich dies

posted by deacon greg kandra

This moved a short time ago on the Catholic News Service: Chiara Lubich, the 88-year-old founder and perpetually smiling symbol of the Focolare movement, died early March 14 in her room near the Focolare headquarters in Rocca di Papa, south […]

Mentioning the unmentionable from the pulpit: “I was honestly shocked”

posted by deacon greg kandra

When was the last time you heard contraception or Natural Family Planning mentioned in the pulpit? A show of hands? Me neither. But a deacon in Alaska took up the subject not long ago — and had a powerful impact […]

“Riverdance” from the Bronx?

posted by deacon greg kandra

This remarkable story from the New York Times shows, beautifully, just what a melting pot New York City has become: Taja Garnett’s parents are from Belize, but her nickname is “Irish girl.” Ever since Taja, 10, joined the Keltic Dreams, […]

Waltzin’ Walken

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

After watching again his funky dance in “Weapon of Choice,” I couldn’t resist throwing this into the mix. Christopher Walken and John Travolta from “Hairspray.” One of the more bizarre, but oddly enchanting, duets in Hollywood history.

Dueling headlines

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Social Encyclical Won’t Be Ready Before Summer Social Encyclical Due May 1?

BULLETIN: Kidnapped Iraqi archbishop found dead

posted by deacon greg kandra

Tragic and horrifying news. From the New York Times report: The body of the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, Paulos Faraj Rahho, who was kidnapped by gunmen in Mosul late last month as he drove home after afternoon mass, was […]

Brett Favre: Hail Mary passes…and Hail Marys

posted by deacon greg kandra

Here’s a glimpse at a side of legendary quarterback Brett Favre that most may not know: his Catholicism. From the Catholic News Service and Catholic Online, courtesy the Green Bay diocesan paper, The Compass: While the sports world came to […]

McCain’s Catholic problem

posted by deacon greg kandra

It would seem like a natural fit: Catholics and John McCain. But the presumptive GOP nominee may have his work cut out for him to woo that critical voting bloc. This, from U.S. News and World Report: When Sen. John […]

The next must-see on my movie list

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Coming soon from Disney/Pixar. “Wall-E.” Take a peek. I dare you not to smile.

Spitzer’s other scandal: his abortion bill

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

With all the news buzzing today about New York governor Eliot Spitzer, it’s perhaps useful to look at his recently proposed legislation on the issue of abortion. It’s set alarm bells ringing throughout the state. My parish is one of […]

“Here comes everybody”

posted by deacon greg kandra

That was what James Joyce once said about the Catholic Church. It’s still that way, and we’re still “everybody” — a motley and wonderful bunch of saints and sinners, marching toward something we hope (despite all our obvious flaws) is […]

Bound for glory: the journey toward baptism at Easter

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

As we continue the countdown to Easter — 10 days until the Vigil! — it’s heartening and inspiring to read about those who are making the journey toward that baptismal font. The St. Anthony Messenger has a great piece this […]

Some great thoughts on preparing for the pope

posted by deacon greg kandra

If you’re looking for a little context on the upcoming papal visit, you’ll do no better than to drop by Amy Welborn’s superlative blog, where she offers us this pearl of great price: Over the next two months, before the […]

Ireland’s “Year of Vocation”(s)

posted by deacon greg kandra

Over at Clerical Whispers, there is news about a “Year of Vocation” being trumpeted in Ireland — a place that needs vocations (singular and plural) more desperately than most of us can imagine. (N.B. near the bottom, a reference to […]

Mormons apologize for “inexcusable” disrespect toward Catholics

posted by deacon greg kandra

This hasn’t gotten too much attention outside Utah, but it should. The picture below is part of a series of controversial photographs which have been criticized for showing disrespect toward Catholicism by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of […]

At last! A Catholic shop for motorcycle gangs!

posted by deacon greg kandra

I’m sure you’ve been wondering: ‘Where on earth can I get my Hell’s Angels leather jacket repaired and find a nice rosary, too?” Look no further. There’s news about one in Colorado, from columnist Dan England: Four years after they […]

Meanwhile, from the Awards Desk …

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

‘Tis the season. Awards season, that is. And you might want to wander over to the Bloggers Choice Awards to see who the contenders are in different categories. (Your Humble Blogger is listed in Best Religion Blog.) There are a […]

Judge not? An aspiring deacon’s dilemma

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

In New Jersey, a nominee for the state’s Superior Court happens to be a man training to become a Catholic deacon. And that may cause a conflict, according to this South Jersey paper: A judge in Middlesex County who is […]

The eighth deadly sin: bad reporting

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

As Catholic stories go, it sounded like a bombshell: the pope had added seven new deadly sins that could send a person to hell — and one of them was polluting the environment! I was assigned to write that story […]

The Bar Mitzvah boy who is a jerk

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

As we prepare for Holy Week, our Jewish brothers and sisters are preparing for Passover. And that led me to this peculiar video (h/t Rod Dreher) which is — as Rod put it — “jerky.” I agree with him. Why […]

Worth a thousand words

posted by deacon greg kandra

New York governor Eliot Spitzer and his wife Silda, March 10, 2008. Photo: by Mary Altaffer, AP

Dancin’ Walken

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Bless her heart, the Anchoress has posted a terrific clip of Christopher Walken dancing in Pennies from Heaven. Most people forget he was a happy hoofer — taught by his mother, I believe — before he became one of the […]

Touched by an angel?

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Those nuns who taught you in elementary school are now teaching science a thing or two about alternative medicine. Check out this item, from the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal: Here at the Providence Rest nursing home, which […]

Sotto Voce: “I have never so strongly felt the sense of aloneness…”

posted by deacon greg kandra

Frequent visitors to the Catholic blogosphere will be familiar with the blog Clerical Whispers, run by an Irish priest who calls himself “Soto Voce.” Over the weekend, he posted a cry from the heart, which speaks, I think, for many […]

“Become more Catholic, or else”

posted by deacon greg kandra

Anyone wondering what the pontiff will have to say when he visits the U.S. next month need look no further than the current issue of the New York Sun, which has this tantalizing preview: Pope Benedict XVI will use his […]

A first look at Anne Rice’s “The Road to Cana”

posted by deacon greg kandra

Just in time for Easter: Anne Rice’s trailblazing new book about Jesus. It’s the second part of her “Christ the Lord” trilogy, and follows Christ en route to his first miracle, and the seismic event that will launch his ministry. […]

The Exultet: “Join me in asking God for mercy…”

posted by deacon greg kandra

I find myself, this Easter, confronting an awesome giant. It is the same massive and beautiful creature that has terrified and intimidated generations of deacons. It stands astride the holiest time of the year, daring you to pass. It laughs […]

Foul ball?

posted by deacon greg kandra

What on earth does basketball have to do with Marcel Lefebvre? When it comes to a recent controversy in Kansas, a lot. The item below is from the Washington Post’s On Faith section: It’s easy to dismiss what happened in […]

“Lazarus, come out!”: Homily for March 9, 2008, 5th Sunday of Lent

posted by deacon greg kandra

If you somehow forgot to change your clocks this morning and “spring forward,” you can blame a man named William Willet. It was Willet, an English builder and outdoorsman, who is responsible for Daylight Saving Time. In 1905, while horseback […]

Nun were better: remembering the sisters of the ’60s

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Some will remember the mid-20th century as the “brick-and-mortar” era of the American Church — parishes going up, vocations booming, schools clogged with children in uniforms. And nuns. Lots of ‘em. I can still see them: the starched habits, the […]

“The number one challenge in vocations is parents”

posted by deacon greg kandra

A diocese in Florida is trying an innovative approach to vocations — targeting two specific age groups in one fell swoop. Florida Catholic has details: Church vocation directors say a crucial element of encouraging vocations is inviting young people to […]

A cardinal’s life, by George

posted by deacon greg kandra

What is it like to be a prince of the Church? The Chicago Tribune has taken the time to answer that question with a rich, in-depth look at a day in the life of Cardinal Francis George: The cardinal archbishop […]

A new monastery in Cuba?

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

An astonishing bit of news from the Havana Desk: Cuba has invited the Catholic Church to open a new monastery on the island and a German Benedictine order said Wednesday it would send four monks to establish a “spiritual centre.”The […]

Whatever happened to the papal tiara?

posted by deacon greg kandra

I was wondering about that not long ago, and a pal sent me this little bit of information. Turns out, it’s at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington: The display of two papal gifts is housed on […]

Blogs, glorious blogs

posted by deacon greg kandra

I’m humbled and delighted to report that I’ve been nominated in several categories for the Catholic Blog Awards. I’m in some very lofty company. Check the link to see the nominees and vote! There are a lot of categories, and […]

Moses the druggie?

posted by deacon greg kandra

And now, from our Psychedelic Desk, this bit of weirdness, which just crossed the wire: High on Mount Sinai, Moses was on psychedelic drugs when he heard God deliver the Ten Commandments, an Israeli researcher claimed in a study published […]

Isn’t the Seven Storey Mountain next to Space Mountain?

posted by deacon greg kandra

I stumbled on this sad and sobering testimony today in the America blog, In All Things, from a California undergraduate professor: While reaching for examples to explain 20th century interpretations of salvation as the movement from inauthentic to authentic existence, […]

Fit to be tithed

posted by deacon greg kandra

Do you tithe? A don’t know many Catholics or do — or, at least, who admit to it. But it’s very big in some Protestant denominations. And the CBS News program Sunday Morning recently looked at this phenomenon: Pastor Marty […]

Three cheers for old Martin Sheen

posted by deacon greg kandra

One of the most prominent and outspoken Catholic actors — and one of America’s most vocal advocates for the poor and disenfranchised — is about to receive an honor from the country’s most famous Catholic university. From the Associated Press: […]

Doing double duty

posted by deacon greg kandra

If you want to know what it’s like to be a priest in America in the early years of the 21st century, this piece from Pennsylvania may give you an idea: The Rev. Steven Palsa of St. Philomena Catholic Church […]

How the unchanging Church…changed

posted by deacon greg kandra

From Chicago comes this story about an exhibit on Catholicism — and our religion’s powerful impact on the Windy City culture. But the news about faith in the Second City is decidedly mixed: In John R. Powers’ Chicago of the […]

Catholic swingers

posted by deacon greg kandra

I’m referring, of course, to swing voters. Much has been made of how Catholics are voting this year — and now Tim Rutten has offered some intriguing secular analysis in the Los Angeles Times: Today, one in four Americans is […]

Everything’s coming up rose

posted by deacon greg kandra

At countless churches around the world this Sunday, Lenten purple will give way to…pink?! No. Rose. The vestments are rose. It is Laetare Sunday, described succinctly right here: The fourth, or middle, Sunday of Lent, so called from the first […]

Homily for the funeral of Deacon Jim Hynes: March 1, 2008

posted by deacon greg kandra

Do not let your hearts be troubled. I know there are many troubled hearts here this morning. Mine is one of them. I grieve with Kathleen, and James, and Teresa, and all of Jim’s family. All those who loved Jim. […]

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This blog is no longer active
This blog is no longer being actively updated. Please feel free to browse the archives or: Read our most popular inspiration blog See our most popular inspirational video Take our most popular quiz ...

posted 10:42:40pm Dec. 12, 2010 | read full post »

One day more
A reminder: "The Deacon's Bench" is closed! Please enjoy the archives! ...

posted 11:26:20pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Meet Montana's married priest
Earlier this week, I posted an item about Montana getting its first married priest. Now a local TV station has hopped on the bandwagon. Take a look, below. ...

posted 10:29:55pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Big day in the Big Easy: 10 new deacons
Deacon Mike Talbot has the scoop: 10 men today were ordained as Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This group of men was formally selected on the day the evacuation of New Orleans began as Hurricane Katrina approached. The ...

posted 6:55:42pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Gaudete! And let's break out a carol or two...
"Gesu Bambino," anyone? This is one of my favorites, and nobody does it better than these gals: Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Staade. Enjoy. ...

posted 1:04:10pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

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