The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

A last hurrah for Poland?

The recent tragic plane crash that left so many in Poland shocked and grieving — and praying — has this reporter below wondering how much longer the country can hold so tightly to its Catholicism.

From the New York Times:

25kulish_CA0-popup.jpgWhen I think back on Poland’s period of mourning after the plane crash that claimed the lives of the country’s president and 95 other people, what stands out are flickering votive candles by the thousands and murmured prayers in unison from as many mouths; the priests sprinkling holy water on the president’s coffin; and the high pointed hats of bishops that seemed to tower above the crowds at every event.


And from the Saturday of the crash until last Sunday, eight days later, when President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, Maria, were interred in Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, church services filled to capacity, with thousands more outside the doors listening quietly over loudspeakers.

“When something horrible happens, we always refer not to some cosmopolitan values but to God himself,” Maria Kret, a Krakow pensioner, told me. “This helps us live through the most terrible circumstances. God is able to survive.”

It was a funeral, and a state funeral, so it was no surprise that churches were filled to capacity.

But a trip from Germany to neighboring Poland is still like a whir through a time machine — to decades or even centuries past when the church occupied such a prominent position in society, or into an alternate universe. This is particular to Poland’s own history, of course, where the church is intertwined with not only the nation’s founding but resistance to foreign powers right up through the 1980s, when a Polish pope and the Solidarity movement, side by side, inspired the country. For Poland, the question now is whether the bond between church and state will loosen, making the recent outpouring of religious sentiment a last hurrah.


As Poland becomes more tied to the rest of Europe, its inevitable secularization has itself become an article of faith, at least for those who view progress as necessarily separate from piety. By that logic Poland will naturally evolve into a secular state like its neighbor, Germany, as it grows more prosperous.

There’s more at the link.

Comments read comments(12)
post a comment
Mike Andrews

posted April 26, 2010 at 6:51 am

The author’s prediction for Poland will probably come true. But it doesn’t have to. After the Second World War, Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc were quite different but they also were quite alike: Governments began the ruthless secularization of society. In most ways, the West actually was more successful than the East. Poland was the happiest exception in the continent. The Poles seem to have a genetic sensibility for Catholicism. Their nation and their society are much more beautiful because of it.

report abuse

Holy Cannoli

posted April 26, 2010 at 7:39 am

Who knows what will happen in Poland?
However, we do know that the Church gains its vibrancy from the holiness of its members who each become holy by being like Christ. Of course, one has to study what it means to be “like Christ.” For that, along with Scripture, the Doctors, the Fathers, and the writings of the saints are invaluable.
Whether it’s Poland, Italy, Germany or even the U.S., the only hope for civilization in its present crisis is that individual Catholics succeed in leavening society. Their success in doing so depends primarily on their interior life and personal love of God.
If we Catholics have not had the influence on society that our numbers and our harmony with the essential principles of Christian civilization should have produced, the reason is to be found in our lack of the interior life which then leads to self-satisfaction with the existing situation including within the Church itself. Does anyone believe that St. Peter (who was on fire with his love for Christ) would have allowed his Church to fall as far as it has today due to the evil within its own walls?
All Catholicity – individual, social, secular, or regular – must begin and end in interior union with Christ. “For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.”
“Et erit unus Christus seipsum amans.” St. Augustine
Credit for the above paraphrased comments is given to the Trappist monk, Dom Eugene Boylan, O.C.S.O.

report abuse


posted April 26, 2010 at 8:27 am

It is also hard to find a country anywhere in Europe to the west of Russia from which more trained, skilled, educated young men and women leave every year for the “west”.
Without the support of the Catholic church, freedom would only have come to Poland much, much later.
The cost, however, has been high. Anyone who does not conform to extremely rigid standards of behavior is unwelcome, especially in the rural areas.
Gays, transgender and women who want anything beside the enforced role of housewife are not left alone, they are persecuted at a level of which conservative Christians in America can only dream.
Those of us Europeans who know Poland like the Poles (all those dumb jokes are so wrong) but I have never once met anyone in Europe who, having spent time in the country wanted to live there.

report abuse


posted April 26, 2010 at 9:44 am

I sense the real story behind this haunting crash at Katyn, and the future of Poland, is something deeply spiritual, that maybe or maybe not we will all know in our lifetime.
This story comes to me in prayer almost daily since it happened. It’s beyond conincidence, that the elite and Poland’s finest would all be killed in a plane crash, AT the site of Katryn where the exact thing happend 50 years ago (except 50 years ago it wasn’t an accident).
Even more “mystical”, is the fact that this crash occured on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, the same day (in terms of church holiday, not actual date), that JP II died.
Something in this story screams “DIVINE MERCY” to me. I’ve never been one to get caught up in end time predictions (except the “end time of death for all of us), but I did give a thought that Sister Faustina (the first saint of the new millinium, by JPII), told us that “from Poland a spark would come that would prepare the world for the 2nd coming.” I think most assumed that spark was JPII, but who knows. Pope Benedict told us not too long ago that the end of the world was NOT nigh.
I certianly believe Pope Benedict, but I sense “something life changing is coming” and there’s “something about Poland” that should be a wake up call, espeically of God’s great mercy. I hope not a nuclear attack, but then, as we have discussed earlier (Father Hardon’s quote by Maria) in the penance sections of this blog, “God will not be mocked”, and we as a country and global world, have certainly done so. Perhaps God is about to allow His own “penance” upon us?
I’m certainly not making any predicitons, only saying that Poland continues to haunt me. In prayer I get a deep sense that it’s “spirtually significant.”
Who could know, except for the fact JPII often taught that there are “no coincidences.” I’m sure that includes Poland, just wondering what it means.

report abuse


posted April 26, 2010 at 11:36 am

I suspect the plane crash had more to do with the well known nastiness and high-handedness of Kaczynski towards all “under” him, including pilots than with God’s desire to prepare us for the second-coming.
This man, together with his not-totally-insane twin brother did more damage to Poland’s integration within the European Community than good.
Only total egomaniacs travel with their entire court, any reasonable person would have separated heads of so many agencies into several flights.
Of course, given the ground conditions, any reasonable head of state would have permitted the pilots to turn back.
I have 10-12% freshmen from Poland every year – they are, without a single exception I can recall, pleasant, extremely well educated, eager to learn and great students.
They also, without exception, are culturally shell-shocked the first months in our country. Women have full human rights! Gays can walk hand in hand down the street and not be beat up!
The Catholic church does not dictate government policy to the parliament!

report abuse

Holy Cannoli

posted April 26, 2010 at 11:48 am

Troll (Internet)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Do not feed the trolls” and its abbreviation DNFTT redirect here. For the Wikimedia essay, see “What is a troll?”.
In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response[1] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[2] In addition to the offending poster, the noun “troll” can also refer to the provocative message itself, as in that was an excellent troll you posted.

report abuse


posted April 26, 2010 at 1:10 pm

I have my hands full working toward the secularization of this country. The Poles will have to sort things out for themselves.

report abuse


posted April 26, 2010 at 1:18 pm

we pray for poland and what they have gone through. i was in poland last year for slot festival amidst thousands of young polish. great to see the emerging church there. pray peace for them.

report abuse


posted April 26, 2010 at 3:06 pm

A couple of years of go I traveled to Poland (Both my parents were Polish LEGAL immigrants) I was baptized and raised Catholic and have fallen away from the church after events I witnessed in the American catholic churches. When I traveled to Poland and entered their magnificent Cathedrals I felt the Presence of God, an emotion I had not experienced since I was a young child. Since then I have had several brushes with death which further assured me there is more to this life than secularism and materialism. There is a another dimension we will enter upon the death of our material body.

report abuse

Dana MacKenzie

posted April 26, 2010 at 4:13 pm

The NY Times certainly seems obsessed with Catholicism lately, doesn’t it?

report abuse


posted April 26, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Frank that’s a great story. I once knew an athiest who was converted by the beauty of the Vatican art, making a great case that God certainly is “Goodness, Truth, and Beauty.”
Dana I think it’s fair to say that everyone is at least “interested” in the Catholic Church (maybe not all obsessed like the NYT’s, but certainly always looking over their shoulders to listen to what the “Big Bad Church is Preaching.”
Why? Because deep in their hearts, they all know that it’s true. That’s why the want it to “go away.
I sometimes wonder if the NYT’s and Bill Maher’s of the country ever stop to think how much they add to the credibility of it being the one true Church? After all, despite lasting 2000 years and still growing and going strong, who would exhaust so much energy to try and bring down a ‘fairytale’?
Final judgement day, as scary as it will be, will also certainly be interesting!

report abuse


posted April 27, 2010 at 9:09 am

Thank you for sharing, Frank. This is why the church will not “go away”. It is made up of the people who have experienced the truth of Christ through his gift of the Holy Spirit. Yes, Klaire, judgement day will certainly be an eye opener!

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

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 ...

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 »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.