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The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

January 2009 Archives

Okay. I’m going to go lie down now…

posted by deacon greg kandra

…’cause this short video below is really exhausting. Astounding. But exhausting.

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Happy birthday, Tom!

posted by deacon greg kandra

Good old Patrick McNamara remembered, and posted on the happy fact that today is Thomas Merton’s birthday: Today marks the birth of Thomas Merton, who writes at the beginning of his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain: “On the last day […]

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Octuplet mom “obsessed” with having kids

posted by deacon greg kandra

If anyone had any lingering doubts about the peculiar details surrounding the octuplet story, this latest item should put them to rest. This family needs prayers. Lots of ‘em.

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SSPX website: “Judaism is inimical to all nations in general”

posted by deacon greg kandra

If the Vatican hoped the controversy about the SSPX would just quietly go away, well, it won’t. The Society’s official website has some eye-opening, jaw-dropping statements that indicate that anti-Semitism isn’t just a passing fancy with one or two members. […]

On the Mahony probe: “What’s really going on here?”

posted by deacon greg kandra

A reader in Los Angeles alerted me to this column by LA Times writer Tim Rutten — who finds some interesting connections between two unlikely species: a cardinal and an elephant: What do Billy the elephant and Cardinal Roger M. […]

Homily for February 1, 2009: 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted by deacon greg kandra

When I was 14 years old, the one movie that I really wanted to see was one that I couldn’t: “The Exorcist.” I was too young. If you want to know the truth, when I finally saw it a few […]

Chairman of Steele

posted by deacon greg kandra

The GOP has selected an African-American Catholic to head the Republican National Committee — not only that, but he’s a Marylander (go Terps!) and a former seminarian. From CNA: The Republican National Committee has chosen Michael Steele, a devout Catholic […]

A deacon on a mission: “I still ask, ‘Why me?'”

posted by deacon greg kandra

You never know where deacons will pop up — or what you’ll find them doing. And this item from a paper in upstate New York gives a great example: A trip to Jamaica changed Kevin Carges’ life. There, he saw […]

Williamson: “Mea culpa”

posted by deacon greg kandra

Some new developments in the still-unfolding SSPX melodrama: In the wake of the firestorm caused by his remarks on Swedish TV, Bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) has written a formal letter of apology to […]

Octuplets: pro-life, to the max — UPDATED

posted by deacon greg kandra

The woman who just had eight babies has a few more at home — which may give new meaning to the phrase “Freedom of choice act.” Her choice was remarkable, in many ways. From the LA Times: The woman who […]

Happy St. Vincent Pallotti Week!

posted by deacon greg kandra

As Catholic Schools Week draws to a close, I was delighted to find this piece in the Catholic Standard about my alma mater, St. Vincent Pallotti High School, in bucolic Laurel, Maryland. The school has changed a lot in the […]

Sacked

posted by deacon greg kandra

According to reports, you won’t be seeing this ad during the Super Bowl.

Pope decries “pessimism” of annulments

posted by deacon greg kandra

Pope Benedict is evidently trying to crack down on what he perceives as a growing number of easily-received annulments: Granting marriage annulments too easily and without real cause plays into a modern form of pessimism that basically says human beings […]

States of faith

posted by deacon greg kandra

“Is religion an important part of your daily life?” The good people at Gallup asked that question and came up with an interesting snapshot of which parts of America are most devout: Want to be almost certain you’ll have religious […]

SSPX leader: Jews are “a people of deicide”

posted by deacon greg kandra

Another member of the SSPX has decided to share his thoughts about the Holocaust with the world: In the wake of a global furor triggered by Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to lift the excommunication of four traditionalist Catholic bishops, including […]

Here come the Anglicans?

posted by deacon greg kandra

It’s starting to look that way. From Catholic Online’s Deacon Keith Fournier: For many years I have been covering the stories of members of the Anglican Clergy who have been so deeply disappointed with the move away from orthodoxy within […]

Report: Cardinal Mahony under investigation by feds

posted by deacon greg kandra

The sex abuse scandals may no longer be on the front page every day, but U.S. officials haven’t forgotten about them — and this story could have huge repercussions. From the Los Angeles Times: The U.S. attorney in Los Angeles […]

FOCA in focus: how serious a threat?

posted by deacon greg kandra

Catholic parishes are gearing up for another offensive in the war on FOCA (the notorious Freedom of Choice Act that President Obama has promised to sign): On the past two Sundays, parishioners at the Holy Family Church in Nutley, New […]

Sleeping beauty: husband’s kiss revives woman in coma

posted by deacon greg kandra

What can love do? This astonishing story out of London offers one answer: A woman who doctors believed could remain comatose indefinitely recently revived after her husband asked her for a kiss. Just ten days after giving birth to her […]

Catholic schools have changed — and so have Catholics

posted by deacon greg kandra

This columnist in Michigan, Julie Mack, takes another look at what’s happening in Catholic schools (during National Catholic School Week), and suggests its part of a larger trend: I recently read that enrollment in American Catholic schools peaked in 1965, […]

That Higher Power: an alcoholic turns to God

posted by deacon greg kandra

The New York Times runs a blog called “Proof,” described as being about “alcohol and American life.” One of the contributors is author Jim Atkinson, a recovering alcoholic. And this week, he wrote about religion’s role in his sobriety: My […]

Well, this is a start

posted by deacon greg kandra

That big fat stimulus bill evidently won’t include money for contraceptive programs. From CNA: A $200 million provision for contraception programs is being dropped from the $825 billion stimulus package following criticism from pro-lifers and Republican congressmen. President Barack Obama […]

But can you use it on Fridays during Lent?

posted by deacon greg kandra

I’ve received no less than three e-mails today with this image (you can click to enlarge). It comes from the blog Creative Minority Report:

Fellay to Williamson: that’s enough from you, Dick

posted by deacon greg kandra

Those controversial remarks by SSPX’s Bishop Richard Williamson have prompted this response from fellow SSPXer (and his superior), Bishop Bernard Fellay: The affirmations of Bishop Williamson do not reflect in any sense the position of our Fraternity. For this reason […]

A little message from the folks at SSPX

posted by deacon greg kandra

Anyone curious about what SSPX thinks about the Pope’s recent decision to lift their bishops’ excommunication should take a glance at the SSPX literature. They contend they were… a) never really excommunicated. b) not really in schism. But wait, there’s […]

Isn’t Pledge a furniture wax, too?

posted by deacon greg kandra

The other day, I posted about this “pledge” video. Finally, someone has responded. Here’s an idea we can all get behind! A grateful h/t to good old Fr. Austin Murphy.

Bishop: “Obama is not the enemy”

posted by deacon greg kandra

But he has a clear idea who is: Bishop Robert Hermann, administrator of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, says that the election of President Barack Obama would not have occurred without the support of lax Catholics. “If at this stage […]

Pope: Journalists should bear “silent witness” with “serenity of conscience”

posted by deacon greg kandra

The pope offered a few words recently to a group of Catholic journalists, and they’re worth reading and pondering: Benedict XVI has sent a message to participants in the national congress of the Italian Catholic Press Union (UCSI). The congress, […]

“This all-too-human Church…”

posted by deacon greg kandra

“The Church was a billowing desert tent, once so tiny it held but a single man, wearing the simple clothing of the people of his time. It was now a vast tent, cobbled onto, ripped asunder, patched so many times […]

Good church, but bad PR? — UPDATED

posted by deacon greg kandra

It’s an old problem, but it bears repeating: when it comes to public relations, the Catholic Church is a disaster. The debacle over SSPX and Bishop Williamson is only the latest case in point. (And it’s not just the Vatican. […]

Want to feel great? This will do it

posted by deacon greg kandra

Do yourself a favor. Wander over to The Anchoress, where she’s posted this charming, irresistable, smile-inducing short film. You’ll be glad you did. Really.

Are teenagers having LESS sex?

posted by deacon greg kandra

It seems that way, according this surprising piece from the New York Times: Parents have worried for generations about changing moral values and risky behavior among young people, and the latest news seems particularly worrisome. It came from the National […]

From habit to helmet: the sister soldier

posted by deacon greg kandra

Here’s a remarkable tale of a nun who is also serving in the U.S. Army: She’s an Army captain, a Catholic sister and a doctor. Deirdre Byrne wears many hats — quite literally: a scrub hat when she’s doing surgery […]

What kind of Catholic am I?

posted by deacon greg kandra

The author of the essay below wondered that about himself — and he comes up with a pretty good answer. From the Washington Post’s On Faith section : In the end it wasn’t Thomas Aquinas, Pope Benedict or even St. […]

Pledging allegiance — UPDATED

posted by deacon greg kandra

Could you imagine what the world might be like if some celebrities made this sort of statement about Jesus? This seems sadly misplaced to me. And yes: more than a little bit creepy. UPDATE: A reader sent me the following […]

“It is scandalous that someone of this stature in the Church denies the Holocaust” — UPDATED

posted by deacon greg kandra

“The reinstatement is an internal Church matter. However, it is scandalous that someone of this stature in the Church denies the Holocaust. Denial of the Holocaust not only insults the survivors, memory of the victims, and the Righteous Among the […]

What makes a school Catholic?

posted by deacon greg kandra

As an earlier post noted, this is Catholic Schools Week, and a number of dioceses are promoting and celebrating the remarkable work of America’s Catholic school system. One of them is the Diocese of Providence, where the Rhode Island Catholic […]

Odd communion moments: #523 in a continuing series — UPDATED

posted by deacon greg kandra

Last night, at the 5 p.m. vigil mass, the last woman in line for communion received the host, and then pulled out from her purse a brown paper napkin. “Can I have another?,” she asked. “I want to take it […]

The way we were

posted by deacon greg kandra

You don’t see classrooms like the one above anymore, do you? This marks the beginning of Catholic Schools Week. Pat McNamara takes note. The rest of us should, too. The last four decades have seen massive changes in the way […]

A consecrated virgin captures her life in a blog

posted by deacon greg kandra

I stumbled on this blog the other day: Sponsa Christi, which contains reflections from a newly consecrated virgin, a 23-year-old young woman who hopes to pursue a career in theology or canon law. (Above is a picture from her rite […]

A minister converts: “I respect the Methodist church, but it’s not the fullness of the Faith”

posted by deacon greg kandra

From Virginia comes this inspiring story of one man’s journey to the faith, involving Methodism, music and monks: When Jeff Hendrix was 5 years old, he experienced a moment of “transcendence” while listening to the 19th-century symphonic suite “Scheherazade” by […]

Feeling the heat: developing a “Catholic Climate Covenant”

posted by deacon greg kandra

Is there a Catholic stance on climate change? A group of concerned Catholics evidently thinks so and is launching a new effort to raise awareness of it: During the Easter season, the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change plans to publicly […]

Is the Mac Catholic?

posted by deacon greg kandra

That’s the question at the heart of this essay — which, among other things, notes that a lot of Catholics on the web use Macs (including, I confess, Your Humble Blogger.) The author notes: I’ve noticed a rather interesting correlation […]

A schism ends, a controvery erupts — UPDATED

posted by deacon greg kandra

This little bit of news, about the Pope’s reinstatement of four SSPX bishops, is raising a few eyebrows. Jeff Israely, at TIME magazine, takes a closer look: Pope Benedict XVI has reinstated four bishops from an archconservative breakaway wing of […]

Homily for January 25, 2009: 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted by deacon greg kandra

A few years ago, a group of Catholic filmmakers in Brooklyn, Grassroots Films, created a short movie about vocations called “Fishers of Men.” It takes its title from the gospel passage we just heard, weaving together interviews, music and images […]

The saint in the underwear drawer

posted by deacon greg kandra

Fr. Jim Martin, whose beautiful book, “My Life with the Saints,” has become something of a modern classic, has now branched out into the DVD universe. Below is a snip from “Who Cares About the Saints?”, now available from Loyala […]

You are there: Fatima, 1917

posted by deacon greg kandra

Fascinating pictures capture a miraculous moment. H/T New Advent and Patrick Madrid.

The saint with the quill in his hand

posted by deacon greg kandra

January 24th marks the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers and journalists. McNamara’s Blog has more on his life and work. Below, a familiar and timeless piece of advice from the good saint — words welcome at […]

That’s one way to cut short a honeymoon — UPDATED

posted by deacon greg kandra

As many expected, President Obama has struck down a rule prohibiting U.S. funding for overseas clinics that provide abortions. Some observers predicted it would be his first act in office. It wasn’t. It wasn’t even his second or third. (And, […]

A virtual church — and virtually me

posted by deacon greg kandra

Illustration by Dan Salamida Some doofus is babbling on in America magazine this week about blogging. But I do think the illustration is pretty hilarious, and bears an uncanny resemblance to the author. Oh: and if you’re really bored, you […]

YouTube? MePope

posted by deacon greg kandra

The Vatican’s very own YouTube channel debuted today. Very snazzy. Take a look. Now, if they could just do something about that awful Vatican website.

“We so rock”

posted by deacon greg kandra

“Every time a nation does something big, the members of that nation who are 4 feet tall—the children who are 10 and 12—are looking up and absorbing. Forty years ago, in 1968, that grim and even-grimmer-in-retrospect year of war protests, […]

The Vatican and Obama: “What is it that Rome doesn’t get?”

posted by deacon greg kandra

With a new president now working in The Oval, commentators have started looking at how he will get along with the Vatican — and vice versa. From CNS: The Vatican has struck a positive tone as it opens relations with […]

When a deaf man hears the call

posted by deacon greg kandra

Up in Boston, they’re getting ready to make a little bit of history. From the Pilot: “You have five months and 26 days before your ordination,” a woman told Deacon Shawn P. Carey after Mass Dec. 28 at Newton’s Sacred […]

When you encounter life’s hills…skate

posted by deacon greg kandra

This delightful video shows an Australian Franciscan friar, Fr. Gabriel, using his own unique skills to minister to young people. There’s a lesson here, I think, for us all. (But shouldn’t this guy wear a helmet??) H/T Roman Catholic Vocations.

“Fill our hearts with thankfulness”: Wuerl’s prayer for Obama

posted by deacon greg kandra

As was widely reported, the new president attended the National Prayer Service yesterday at the National Cathedral in Washington. (Among other things, for the first time that service included a sermon delivered by a woman.) Less widely reported is the […]

At the inaugural: the Tuskegee Airman who is also a deacon

posted by deacon greg kandra

A reader sent this my way: the surprising, largely untold story of a special guest at the Obama inaugural: Among the millions who braved the cold to watch as President Barack Obama made history by becoming this nation’s first African-American […]

“I’ve never seen the meaning of the priesthood so clearly incarnated before my eyes…” — UPDATED

posted by deacon greg kandra

Shortly after I posted this item, soliciting feedback about how Jesus has changed your life, I read this piece that illustrated it, through the profound heroism and stoicism of one ordinary priest: Father Tom is one of the sweetest and […]

How has Jesus changed your life? This priest wants to know.

posted by deacon greg kandra

A retired priest who once worked at my parish — and who many years ago was pastor to the very first deacon ordained in the Diocese of Brooklyn — has asked me to spread the word about a project he’s […]

Egad

posted by deacon greg kandra

Doesn’t this guy ever shut up?

The new president’s first act…

posted by deacon greg kandra

…was issuing this proclamation, below: As I take the sacred oath of the highest office in the land, I am humbled by the responsibility placed upon my shoulders, renewed by the courage and decency of the American people, and fortified […]

More like the pope than the messiah?

posted by deacon greg kandra

“An event that commentators repeatedly described as an ‘only in America’ catharsis had its closest parallel overseas. No inauguration has generated the kinds of crowds and emotions that surrounded Mr. Obama’s. In recent memory, the event that probably came the […]

What next? “The Wave”?

posted by deacon greg kandra

Over a ZENIT, they’ve posted a little something about a spreading liturgical innovation: ovation. Take a look: Q: The parishioners in our church used to be spontaneous in their reactions to excellent homilies that the priests deliver. The parishioners, sometimes, […]

“You are loving to everyone you have made”: a lesson for us all

posted by deacon greg kandra

Regarding the Rick Warren prayer, a reader dropped me an e-mail to point out that, in one short paragraph, the pastor managed to reference the three great monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam: Almighty God — our Father. (Christians) Everything […]

The lone Catholic cleric at the inaugural festivities

posted by deacon greg kandra

It was, as Rocco notes: Fr. Daniel Coughlin of the archdiocese of Chicago — who offered the closing benediction at the post-inaugural lunch in Statuary Hall. Coughlin’s prayer as delivered: Let us pray. Lord God of history,we have been blessed […]

Rick Warren’s inaugural prayer

posted by deacon greg kandra

The full text, below: Almighty God, our father, everything we see and everything we can’t see exists because of you alone. It all comes from you, it all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory. History is your […]

Worth a thousand words

posted by deacon greg kandra

From the swearing in, January 20, 2009. You can read about the bible he used here.

And now, a word from the pope

posted by deacon greg kandra

Benedict sent a cable to the new president on this historic day: ON THE OCCASION OF YOUR INAUGURATION AS THE FORTY-FOURTH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA I OFFER CORDIAL GOOD WISHES, TOGETHER WITH THE ASSURANCE OF MY PRAYERS […]

No rabbi? Who knew?

posted by deacon greg kandra

Over at TIME, Amy Sullivan looks over the roster of people on the inaugural dais and finds one or two glaring omissions: Inauguration audiences on Tuesday will hear the new President deliver the most anticipated Inaugural Address since John F. […]

Seattle welcomes its first married priest

posted by deacon greg kandra

In Washington state, another married man has been ordained to the priesthood — and he chatted with the local paper about his exceptional journey: Tom McMichael had been a Lutheran pastor. The day after his ordination as a Roman Catholic […]

A Catholic actress in Hollywood

posted by deacon greg kandra

Many of us remember Siobhan Fallon Hogan when she was just Siobhan Fallon, on “Saturday Night Live.” But the National Catholic Register’s Tim Drake shows us another side of her: Siobhan Fallon Hogan has forfeited acting projects rather than compromise […]

On Inauguration Eve: Obama as pancake expert

posted by deacon greg kandra

Here’s a little something from Mr. Peabody’s WABAC Machine. Barack Obama before he had mastered the art of walking on water and giving sight to the blind. Peach cobbler, anyone?

“Dear Barry…”

posted by deacon greg kandra

The head of the USCCB, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, has just sent a letter to the soon-to-be-president: Dear Mr. President-elect: I recently wrote to assure you of the prayers of the Catholic bishops of the United States for your […]

Quote of the day

posted by deacon greg kandra

A reader (and deacon candidate) found the following quote over at Happy Catholic, and thought it appropriate for our discussion about deacons and the poor: Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do […]

Blessing the river

posted by deacon greg kandra

Our Byzantine brothers and sisters gathered recently in snowy Pennsylvania to continue a winter tradition: On a frigid, snowy Sunday afternoon, congregants and clergy from five local Byzantine churches celebrated their faith atop Veterans Memorial Bridge, singing a prayer as […]

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson’s invocation

posted by deacon greg kandra

This got a lot of attention when the news broke several days back. I suspect few actually heard the prayer when it was delivered. Reading it, it reminds me of the Dangerous Prayer of Blessing that was prayed over Henri […]

Word clouds: presidential edition

posted by deacon greg kandra

The New York Times has created some interesting interactive material for their inaugural coverage, including this spiffy glimpse at what the presidents said in their inaugural speeches, structured as “word clouds.” They’ve also got this interesting look ahead to what […]

Speaking of deacons and social justice…

posted by deacon greg kandra

…which was a big topic of discussion following this post, the deacons of the Diocese of Brooklyn received a letter this weekend from Bishop DiMarzio. It begins with this quote from the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life […]

“Danger, Will Robinson!”: the man who was the Robot dies

posted by deacon greg kandra

Another icon from my youth has passed away: Bob May, who donned The Robot’s suit in the hit 1960s television show “Lost in Space,” has died. He was 69. May died Sunday of congestive heart failure at a hospital in […]

Free at last

posted by deacon greg kandra

I can’t think of a more joyous way to remember Martin Luther King, Jr. today than with this little clip, courtesy Concord Pastor, performed by the legendary Blind Boys of Alabama.

Salt and light

posted by deacon greg kandra

My “goddaughter” in Florida sent this to me, and it’s fascinating: a cathedral carved from salt. Take a look.

The priest shortage: Virginia feels the pinch

posted by deacon greg kandra

Parishes of the Commonwealth of Virginia may soon share something else in common: priests. From the Virginian-Pilot: The tradition of one priest per Catholic parish will pass away at many South Hampton Roads churches under a new five-year diocesan plan […]

After 57 years, a pastor steps down

posted by deacon greg kandra

They don’t make many like this this fellow anymore: After serving as the pastor of SS. Cyril and Methodius Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Olyphant, Pennsylvania for over 50 years, Monsignor Stephen Hrynuck, 97, has retired due to health concerns. […]

Life, as I know it, is over

posted by deacon greg kandra

Because I just bought me one of these here fancy new-fangled telephone thingies. The good news is that my pastor doesn’t know how to use one. The bad news is that I’m afraid he may learn.

Someone needs to show this to Obama. Now.

posted by deacon greg kandra

A sensational new video from the people at CatholicVote.

My people

posted by deacon greg kandra

My grandparents emigrated to this country from Austria-Hungary (what became Czechoslovakia) in the early years of the 20th century, settling in a tiny coal mining town outside Scranton, where my grandfather spent much of his long and difficult life underground, […]

A country without Catholic schools?

posted by deacon greg kandra

Hot on the heels of this news in the Diocese of Brooklyn last week, the New York Times has taken a longer view of what’s happening in Catholic schools around the country: It is a familiar drill in nearly all […]

A reader writes

posted by deacon greg kandra

A deacon sent me this e-mail yesterday, which is challenging and thought-provoking — for me and, perhaps, for all deacons: I read your column (blog) regularly and enjoy it. It is obvious that you enjoy your ministry – especially your […]

Virtually Catholic

posted by deacon greg kandra

How can Catholic teachers, ministers and religious use the internet to connect with young people? The Georgia Bulletin has some answers: Today’s college students are always plugged into technology, don’t carry the do-not-trust-anyone-over-30 hang-up and are not afraid to share […]

Homily for January 18, 2009: Dedication of the St. Pio Chapel

posted by deacon greg kandra

This afternoon, at the 5 p.m. vigil mass, retired Bishop Thomas Daily will celebrate mass at our parish, and rededicate what was once the baptism chapel. It will become a chapel in honor of St. Pio, “Padre Pio.” My homily […]

Vatican cuts deal for its own channel on YouTube

posted by deacon greg kandra

The pope is taking another big leap into new media: The Vatican will soon have its own channel on the video sharing site YouTube where the Catholic faithful or the curious will be able to see Pope Benedict or Church […]

Let us pray: the presidential edition

posted by deacon greg kandra

Steven Waldman over at Beliefnet has compiled a pretty interesting archive of all known inaugural prayers through history. Did you know the practice didn’t begin until 1937?? Take a look and see what you think. Evidently, the presidential pray-ers never […]

What’s a deacon?

posted by deacon greg kandra

This chump thinks he knows.

Read it carefully — it may be a while before we see another document like this

posted by deacon greg kandra

This may be one of the president’s final proclamations — maybe the final one? — before he leaves office: The sanctity of life is written in the hearts of all men and women. On this day and throughout the year, […]

Are single-sex schools better?

posted by deacon greg kandra

That’s the question a lot of parents and educators are asking — and Our Sunday Visitor takes a closer look: Dr. Leonard Sax didn’t have a very supportive response when a patient in his private practice in Maryland told him […]

The sins that only the pope can forgive

posted by deacon greg kandra

Few Catholics are aware of it, but now there’s word that the Vatican is lifting the veil on a secretive panel which deals with only the most serious of sins: One of the Vatican’s most secrecy shrouded tribunals, which handles […]

The the impotence of proofreading

posted by deacon greg kandra

The tittle says it tall. From poet-performer-teacher Taylor Mali.

Ricardo Montalban, RIP

posted by deacon greg kandra

The wires reported yesterday the death of Ricardo Montalban, at 88. Among other things, he was the brother-in-law of legendary Hollywood Catholic Loretta Young. Those of us Of A Certain Age remember the strange and smooth stylings of Ricardo Montalban […]

USCCB corrects “misleading” FOCA novena

posted by deacon greg kandra

Like a lot of people, I’ve gotten e-mails and notices about a FOCA novena tied to the inauguration and the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. But now the USCCB has taken the unusual step of alerting Catholics to the fact […]

They laugh alike, they walk alike, at times they even talk alike…

posted by deacon greg kandra

…you could lose your mind! Take a look at this picture of twin Jesuits: And read the unusual story behind them here. As the post points out: vocations really do run in families.

The miracle of life

posted by deacon greg kandra

From the good folks at Catholic Media House, a powerful short film — and it couldn’t come at a better time.

Am I smarter than a 6th grader?

posted by deacon greg kandra

After reading this, no.

Work in progress

posted by deacon greg kandra

A few more shots of the new studio facility for NET in Brooklyn, then and now. (I know this fascinates you, doesn’t it?) There is still more work to do; the studio itself is an empty shell, awaiting lights and […]

The Littletons, Part Deux

posted by deacon greg kandra

The good folks at ZENIT have posted the second part of the interview with the Big Littleton family. A snip: James and Kathleen Littleton tell about their experience of raising obedient children, as well as children who know how to […]

Playing for “Peanuts”

posted by deacon greg kandra

If you love “Peanuts” — and who doesn’t? — you’ll find this item from Wednesday’s Times especially fascinating: In a “Peanuts” strip from the mid-1950s, Charlie Brown walks through the first panel and finds Schroeder sitting in front of an […]

Where are the nuns?

posted by deacon greg kandra

A posting by the Catholic News Service looks at that question — and finds some intriguing theories: Statistics leave no doubt that the number of women religious has dropped sharply over the last 50 years, but there is an ongoing […]

Danger: News Director at work

posted by deacon greg kandra

My new office. If I behave, they may give me a chair. Actually, this was taken in our still-under-construction office space back around Thanksgiving. Things have improved since then. I now have a floor. We move into our new studio […]

“What a Friend we have in Jesus…”

posted by deacon greg kandra

The words of that old spiritual rang in my ears as I read this delightful item from Fr. James Martin about his newest “Friend” on Facebook. I’m still waiting for Him to ping me.

From the Neuhaus funeral: “This loss tilts the world on its axis”

posted by deacon greg kandra

In New York City today, they crowded into the Church of the Immaculate Conception to bid farewell to Fr. Richard John Neuhaus. One of the people there was Fr. Frank Mann, of the Diocese of Brooklyn — a friend and […]

Is a bad economy good for vocations?

posted by deacon greg kandra

It’s National Vocations Awareness Week, and out in Erie, Pennsylvania, some are speculating that the economic downturn could mean a surprising uptick in vocations to religious life: The Rev. Edward Lohse said it’s too early to tell if America’s rough […]

School closings in Brooklyn: “You’ve already hit the iceberg and you’re waiting for the lifeboat”

posted by deacon greg kandra

Yesterday, I posted an item about how the economy is affecting private schools and families. Later in the day, that news hit close to home. From the New York Times: The Diocese of Brooklyn has proposed closing 14 elementary schools […]

The REALLY big Littleton family

posted by deacon greg kandra

What’s it like to live in a really really big family? Meet the Littletons of Chicago — James and Kathleen, who’ve had 19 (yes, 19) children. ZENIT has the first of a two part interview: Q: What do you suggest […]

Seeing Mary? Keep it to yourself — UPDATED

posted by deacon greg kandra

The Vatican is reportedly preparing to issue new rules about Marian apparitions: Catholics who claim they have seen the Virgin Mary will be forced to remain silent about the apparitions until a team of psychologists, theologians, priests and exorcists have […]

Mmm-mmm good: a helping of “Soup” for Catholics

posted by deacon greg kandra

A popular inspirational series has now published a volume offering inspiration specifically for Catholics. The Catholic Review in Baltimore has the soup — er, scoop, from CNS: The “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series can now add Catholics to the […]

“We could have 90% of Catholics in Congress and it really wouldn’t mean anything…”

posted by deacon greg kandra

With a new team in charge in Washington, winds of change will inevitably be blowing — and the National Catholic Register looks at where those breezes may take us: The 111th Congress convened on Jan. 6 with strengthened Democratic majorities […]

Obama picks gay bishop to deliver invocation at the Lincoln Memorial

posted by deacon greg kandra

This just in: the president-elect has invited an outspoken Episcopalian cleric to give the invocation at a key inaugural event next weekend: An openly gay bishop will deliver a prayer for President-elect Barack Obama in an inauguration event on Sunday […]

The dwindling clergy: it’s not just a Catholic thing

posted by deacon greg kandra

If you thought that the vocation crisis was just a Catholic problem, think again. This comes from the Erie Times News in Pennsylvania: Is there a Protestant clergy shortage? Yes and no. The answer, as in the Catholic Church, often […]

Pulling kids from Catholic school: “We just couldn’t keep writing the check”

posted by deacon greg kandra

Tough times are taking a toll on Catholic schools. There are increasing reports of school closings and consolidations in my own state, and now the Washington Post is taking a look at what’s happening in private schools around the country: […]

Washington’s OTHER African-American president — and he was Catholic

posted by deacon greg kandra

Catching up on various bloggery this Sunday, this item from Patrick McNamara caught my eye — and might raise an eyebrow or two. As Washington prepares to welcome the country’s first African-American president, it seems the city had another African […]

Quote of the day

posted by deacon greg kandra

“The cycle of Christmas solemnities brings us to meditate on the birth of Jesus announced by the angels suffused with the luminous splendor of God; Christmas time speaks to us of the star that guided the magi from the east […]

I’m back

posted by deacon greg kandra

Miss me? Yeah, I didn’t think so. I spent a blissful two-and-a-half days out at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, New York — the historic house of formation for the Dioceses of Rockville Centre and Brooklyn. It was my […]

Gimme a break — and I’ll take it

posted by deacon greg kandra

I’m headed to Huntington, Long Island this afternoon for my annual diocesan deacon retreat. Things will be quiet on The Bench. But you will all be in my prayers, in one way or another. I’m taking my camera, and hope […]

Praying “that all shall be well…”

posted by deacon greg kandra

People crowd into a job fair in New Brunswick, New Jersey on January 7, 2009. From AP/Mel Evans The economic news this morning went from grim to grimmer, with unemployment hitting a 16-year high. Yesterday, the Concord Pastor offered this […]

A “cancer-free” baby is born

posted by deacon greg kandra

The brave new world gets braver, and scarier, every day. From the world of medicine: The first child in Britain known to have been screened as an embryo to ensure she did not carry a cancer gene was born Friday, […]

Bilked: a Ponzi scheme that took aim at Catholics

posted by deacon greg kandra

Hot on the heels of the Madoff scandal comes this story about a businessman who allegedly bilked investors out of millions using a similar scheme — and who specifically targeted Catholics: An 82-year-old businessman was charged Thursday with running a […]

In England, Catholic weddings take the plunge

posted by deacon greg kandra

From across The Pond comes this sobering news about the startling drop in Catholic marriages: The number of marriages in Roman Catholic churches in Britain has fallen by a quarter since the start of the decade to just 9,950 last […]

See, this is why I’m a dog person

posted by deacon greg kandra

This guy set up a camera to record what his cat was doing all night. I can’t help but wonder if the cat now sleeps outside. Do you think Pope Benedict has these problems?

A bitter pill

posted by deacon greg kandra

Oops. The inventor of the pill — or, rather, The Pill — now says his famous creation was a mistake: Eighty-five-year-old Carl Djerassi the Austrian chemist who helped invent the contraceptive pill, now says that his co-creation has led to […]

Vocation directors, take note

posted by deacon greg kandra

In Wichita — where the lineman, I think, is still on the line — they have an astounding 46 seminarians in formation for the priesthood. This, in a diocese with only 120,000 Catholics. How’d they do it? A priest, Fr. […]

“Neuhaus is gone”

posted by deacon greg kandra

Those were the words in the subject line of an e-mail just sent to me by The Anchoress. Fr. Richard John Neuhaus died early this morning from cancer. He was 72. Over at First Things, there is this poignant note: […]

Another slow news week in Brooklyn

posted by deacon greg kandra

Must be the post-holiday slump that leads to things like this. BTW: Patrick McNamara’s blog on church history is truly terrific reading. Check it out.

Tara & Bella: a modern parable on living

posted by deacon greg kandra

A reader sent this my way, and it’s a charmer, from my former colleague Steve Hartman, who has an undeniable knack for this sort of story. It contains a beautiful lesson for us all. Watch and enjoy. (I dare you […]

Believe it or not: atheists who advertise

posted by deacon greg kandra

I’m not sure if atheists have a bandwagon, but they do have some buses. Ads for atheism are suddenly cropping up on public transportation. From the New York Times: The advertisement on the bus was fairly mild, just a passage […]

Another deacon wades into the web!

posted by deacon greg kandra

A recently ordained deacon up in Canada has just launched his own website — a gift, he tells me, from his wife. The deacon is Lynn Pion from Edmonton Archdiocese in Alberta, Canada. The site is a small treasure trove […]

Buttoned

posted by deacon greg kandra

I caught the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” last week and found myself unexpectedly moved — fascinated, and then drawn in to the strange tale of a life lived in reverse, and a love that refuses to let […]

Helping Catholics who are suddenly single

posted by deacon greg kandra

Baltimore may be leading the way in developing a ministry for “single again” Catholics — a group that tends to be largely overlooked in our marrige-and-family-friendly faith. From the Catholic Review: Many couples share everything during their marriage, from a […]

Thou shalt not steal: Brooklyn bishop victim of identity theft

posted by deacon greg kandra

From the My Own Backyard Desk (on the Bishop Beat) … some startling news about a modern crime hitting very close to home. According to the New York Daily News: Thieves stooped to a new low over the Christmas holiday, […]

Virgina’s new Congressman Perriello and “the Service Generation”

posted by deacon greg kandra

There’s a new breed of congressman in Washington, says the Washington Post, which offers us this heartening profile of one of them: In his new Capitol Hill office, Rep. Tom Perriello, 34, displays a diverse collection of mementos. There’s the […]

The nun’s story

posted by deacon greg kandra

Few stories could be more poignant or tender than this tribute to a Trappist nun who passed away just before Christmas: When did Jeannie go to bed, not to get up again? I know she was there during the Chapter […]

Tim Kaine: the Catholic who will head the DNC

posted by deacon greg kandra

This was a surprising tidbit that drifted across the wire yesterday, about the man Barack Obama has picked to be the new chair of the Democratic National Committee: If anyone had any doubts about Barack Obama’s willingness to listen to […]

About those 12 days…

posted by deacon greg kandra

I kept meaning to post on this during the peak of the Christmas season. Now that you’ve carted the tree to the curb and picked up the last of the needles from your rug, the truth can be revealed. If […]

Church sit-ins: arrests in New Orleans, perseverance in Boston

posted by deacon greg kandra

Some may remember the stories of churches being occupied by unhappy parishioners in Boston and New Orleans. Now police have made some arrests in Louisiana: At least three people have been arrested today after the Archdiocese of New Orleans sent […]

I can’t believe it, either

posted by deacon greg kandra

First, there was the chestnut stuffing at Thanksgiving. The pumpkin pie. Then the carrot cake at the office Christmas party. The chocolate mousse at Christmas. The plate of cookies Christmas night. Egg nog. The ziti and eggplant and tiramisu at […]

Quote of the day

posted by deacon greg kandra

“The unfolding of the Church’s history always occurs within the context of the history of the age. Today, here, that means Southeast Michigan’s struggle to find a new way to establish a vibrant economy, so that families have sufficient resources […]

“Well, so that is that…”

posted by deacon greg kandra

Brother deacon and blogger supreme, Scott Dodge, from Salt Lake City, unearthed this surprising nugget, the last part of W.H. Auden’s “For the Time Being, A Christmas Oratorio”, whose opening lines pretty much sum up the bittersweet mood of this […]

Vroom

posted by deacon greg kandra

After a long, long, long wait — 46 months — Detroit will be getting a new bishop to replace retiring Cardinal Adam Maida (who put in his papers during the papacy of John Paul II!). The Motor City’s new guy […]

Looking for a really beautiful mass?

posted by deacon greg kandra

Look no further. My siblings in Catholic broadcasting, Catholic TV in Boston, are now airing every Sunday the mass from Notre Dame in Indiana. The basilica is stunning, the liturgy is reverent, the music is magnificent — and there’s nothing […]

Mourning “the flying priest”

posted by deacon greg kandra

Over at Whispers, Rocco has posted a poignant tribute to a priest who died on New Year’s Eve, while trying to move a tree that had fallen during a windstorm. His name was Fr. Michael Kelly, 53, from the diocese […]

Splinter Catholics in Buffalo: “Sometimes, I feel like I’m breaking rules”

posted by deacon greg kandra

A paper in upstate New York has this curious report about a splinter group of Catholics seeking to attract a wider following: A decade ago, when a large group of Catholics feuded with the Diocese of Rochester over issues such […]

We three queens

posted by deacon greg kandra

The Queens Came Late The Queens came late, but the Queens were thereWith gifts in their hands and crowns in their hair.They’d come, these three, like the Kings, from far,Following, yes, that guiding star.They’d left their ladles, linens, looms,Their children […]

A Capuchin charts his own “long road to the priesthood”

posted by deacon greg kandra

The road to a vocation isn’t always smooth, or straight — and there’s a Capuchin friar telling his story in his own blog, The Long Road to the Priesthood. Now that story is attracting the attention of the local press […]

“I want to love the way she does”: one man’s remarkable journey of faith and hope

posted by deacon greg kandra

An alert reader spotted this in a Texas newspaper and thought it deserved a wider audience. I agree. It’s a powerful testimony to perseverance — and it shows how just one person can make a difference in the life of […]

Homily for January 4, 2009: Epiphany of the Lord

posted by deacon greg kandra

On a summer’s day in 1879, an amateur archeologist named Marcelino de Satuola went into a cave in Altamira, Spain, looking for prehistoric artifacts. He’d been there several times before, and hadn’t found much of interest. But this day, he […]

What do you call a search engine that doesn’t eat meat on Fridays?

posted by deacon greg kandra

Catholic Google. It looks just like the other one…but with some significant differences. A description, from TechCrunch: CatholicGoogle, a new site based on Google’s custom search, is “striving to provide an easy to use resource to anyone wanting to learn […]

Christmas, 1968

posted by deacon greg kandra

What do you get when you combine 1 grandmother + 1 Instamatic camera + 1 nine-year-old in a new sweater? This:

The Kennedys and abortion: where a Catholic dynasty went wrong

posted by deacon greg kandra

With another Kennedy poised to enter politics (and declaring support for abortion part of her platform), a writer in the the Wall Street Journal takes an interesting historical look at how the most celebrated Catholic family in America became a […]

Luring back lapsed Catholics: “With hurt, there’s a call to reconcile”

posted by deacon greg kandra

There’s a renewed push in many parishes to lure back Catholics who have wandered away from the faith. And this item, about one deacon’s efforts, illustrates one move underway in Memphis: Dressed in cream-colored robes, beneath a portrait of the […]

Packed

posted by deacon greg kandra

Jeff Miller, the Curt Jester, notes the following: Using just anecdotal evidence I wonder if today’s Holy Day of Obligation is the least attended. Year after year no matter what parish I might go to on the Solemnity of Mary, […]

Addressing the ball

posted by deacon greg kandra

A local station here in New York has been running a “Honeymooners” marathon all day today — and I was lucky enough to catch this episode, which always just slays me. I’ve seen at least a dozen times, and it […]

“We come like the magi”: a prayer for the new year

posted by deacon greg kandra

We come like the magi,as wise and as foolish men and women to kneel before the Christ child.We bring our regrets from the past year,our shame, our guilt,acknowledging our failures and ready to begin afresh. Touch us with your hand […]

Previous Posts

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 immediate aftermath of the storm for this class would be

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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