There is a nice Q and A about World Youth Day with Archbishop Nienstedt on the USCCB Media Blog.
Archive | August, 2011
Living a life of gratitude nurtures the soul, and quite frankly, it’s the right way to live. Thankfulness is a virtue wise adults want to instill in their children, and they start working on this from the moment their babies open their toothless mouths. How many times have you heard a parent instruct Junior: “Say ‘Thank you’!” ? And the mumbling baby responds with something like: “Gank you!”
And when children grow a little bit bigger and learn how to hold a pencil, their parents give them friendly (or stern) reminders after birthdays and Christmases: “Don’t forget your thank-you notes!” or, “You’re not leaving this house until all your thank-you notes are done!”
But does all of this tutelage sink in? We parents can only hope and pray.
When I was in high school I worked in Door County, Wisconsin one summer at a candy store called “Uncle Tom’s.” The owner resembled a skinny Santa Claus and the kids loved him. They knew that if they recited, “Gratitude is attitude!” he would give them a free bag of popcorn. He wanted to teach youngsters about the importance of giving thanks because, he explained, it’s the only way we can really be happy. Uncle Tom ran out of popcorn every day because his lesson was such a huge hit.
G.K. Chesterton stated, “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
Today I wanted to share a little story with you about a mother and son who must experience this ‘happiness doubled by wonder’ of which Chesterton spoke. Their expression of thankfulness illustrates the power of gratitude. It also shows that some parents are great teachers by their instruction and modeling, and that kids sometimes do ‘get it.’
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Each year, on her son’s birthday, a mother stops by Pro-Life Action Ministries (PLAM) to thank them for helping her through an abortion temptation over 20 years ago. She brings a thank-you note and a red rose. Some years her son, now a young man, accompanies her, and this past year for the first time, he appeared in full military uniform.
“She gushes out thank yous,” said Brian Gibson, executive director of the ministry.
When I asked Brian if the young man looks like he’s being dragged there against his will by his mother, he stated enthusiastically, “No, the son expresses his gratitude just as much as Mom. In fact, he’s proud and delighted to be there.” (This young man deserves some popcorn!)
Just thinking about this beautiful scenario sends shivers up my spine. Quite often pro-life work can be thankless, and the thought of someone so full of gratitude, gives me hope. I have a feeling that this gentleman is a true soldier for the unborn and all defenseless people. He and his mother are living precisely how Blessed John Paul II suggests in Evangelium Vitae:
“We are all called to express wonder and gratitude for the gift of life and to welcome, savor and share the Gospel of Life.” (#84)
Gratitude is Attitude
Brian Gibson told me, “Being thanked from time to time is not necessary, but it keeps us going. It bolsters us to no end and helps us so greatly.”
Through the work of Pro-Life Action Ministries, more than 2,600 babies have been saved from abortion over the last 30 years. And, yes, Brian and his staff have received other thank yous. “Being thanked reminds us of why we’re in this ministry. It keeps us going,” he said.
So far this year, PLAM has directly helped 57 mothers embrace life. It is the oldest and most comprehensive sidewalk counseling organization in America, and their offices are right here in St. Paul (visit them at http://www.plam.org).
When recalling his visits from the mother and her son, Brian told me, “Nothing is so fulfilling as to have the witness of the lives we have helped to save.” And when I thanked him for his part in saving all those babies he responded, “I can’t take the credit, I’m just a ball player.”
To this I say, “Play ball!”
A Conventual Franciscan Priest
St. Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941) was born on January 7, 1894, in Poland. His baptismal name was Raymond. As a youngster he was drawn to the priesthood, entered religious life with the Conventual Franciscans friars in 1910, and was given the religious name Maximilian. He made solemn vows in 1918, and because of his devotion to the Blessed Mother, added Mary to his religious name. He was sent to Rome where he studied philosophy and theology and was ordained to the priesthood in 1918. He contracted tuberculosis, and because of his illness, returned to Poland.
Father Kolbe became a lecturer in church history in Krakow, Poland, but he is most remembered for his zeal for Mary. Before he was ordained, he established a society to foster devotion to Mary known as the Militia of Mary, an organization of priests, religious, and laity dedicated to promote her as the queen and mother of society and a special aid in the road to conversion to God and holiness. After ordination he also founded The Knights of the Immaculata, a monthly magazine which he edited.
A Traveling Priest
Father Kolbe traveled extensively over the next few years. He was transferred to Grodno, near Warsaw, where he founded a Franciscan community and continued his writings. After another bout with tuberculosis, he moved to Niepokalanow, also in Poland, which means “town of the Immaculata.” In 1930 he made a missionary journey to Nagasaki, Japan, where he founded a second “town of the Immaculata.” He returned to Poland in 1935 due to illness, and upon recovery, he made a second missionary expedition, this time briefly to India, then back to Nagasaki, only to be recalled to Poland to be the superior of 760 Franciscan friars.
The New Information Age
Wherever he was, at home or abroad, Father Kolbe used multimedia – newspapers, magazines, and radio broadcasts – to continue his special ministry to spread devotion to Mary, and his writings reached millions of people around the world.
World War II
The Germans invaded Poland in 1939, and Father Kolbe was arrested by the Gestapo, detained for ten weeks, and released. He continued his writings, some which promoted Polish patriotism and criticized the Nazis. He was arrested again, this time on February 17, 1941, and imprisoned in Warsaw where he was tortured, and then, on May 28, he was transferred to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
A Martyr’s Death
At Auschwitz Father Kolbe encouraged terrified fellow prisoners, secretly offered Mass with bread and wine that had been smuggled inside, and heard the confessions of captives who were facing near-certain execution. In July there was an escape attempt on his unit, and in punishment, the Nazis randomly selected ten prisoners to die by starvation. Francis Galjowniczek, one of the ten, cried out, “What will happen to my family?” Father Kolbe stepped forward and said, “I am a Catholic priest from Poland. I would like to take his place because he has a wife and children.” Unexpectedly, the commanding officer accepted Father Kolbe’s offer. Galjowniczek was allowed to step aside, while Father Kolbe and the other nine were led off to the starvation chamber. Two weeks later only four were still alive, and Father Kolbe was the only one still conscious, and the Nazis executed him on August 14, 1941, by lethal injection.
Recognition and Patronage
Pope John Paul II, a fellow countryman, canonized Father Kolbe as a martyr and saint on November 9, 1982. Francis Galjowniczek survived, was present for the ceremony, and lived to the age of 93. St. Maximilian is the patron saint of drug addicts and their families, as well as journalists and political prisoners.
This year the Perseids peak on the night of Aug. 12-13, although the nearly full moon will interfere with your ability to see many meteors — debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle through which the Earth passes. If you’re lucky, this year you might see as many as a few dozen per minute.
The shower gets its name from the location in the sky from which the meteors appear to radiate — in this case, a point near the border between the constellations Perseus and Cassiopeia, although the meteors might flash anywhere across the sky.
The Perseids are also known in some circles as the “Tears of St. Lawrence” — named after the third-century martyr whose feast day, Aug. 10, typically falls when the meteor shower is most visible.
The easiest way to watch the Perseids is to lie back in a comfortable lounge-style chair with a blanket and snacks. Plan on staying outside for an hour or two for the best viewing experience.
For those in the Twin Cities area and western Wisconsin who would like to learn more about the Perseids and the night sky, the University of Minnesota astronomy department is hosting a free Perseid Meteor Shower Party from 9 to 11 p.m. Aug. 12 at William O’Brien State Park near Marine On St. Croix. The evening will include a short indoor presentation and then telescope viewing of celestial objects in addition to meteor shower watching. For more information, call 651-433-0500.
So pray the skies stay clear and make it a family night under the stars, planets and the Tears of St. Lawrence.
August 11, 2011
The cool nights we’ve had this week are turning my thoughts to the fall hunting seasons. It promises to be a busy fall, as I go to three states to hunt both by myself and with my kids — Minnesota, Wisconsin and Montana.
Get on the web
Now is a good time to get on the websites for the state you’re going to hunt to look up regulations and, more importantly, find out if there are any lotteries you need to apply for. Some of the application deadlines are fast approaching — Aug. 19 for the archery hunts at Minnesota’s Camp Ripley, for example. I’m continually amazed at the number of hunters who don’t pay attention to deadlines and miss opportunities to hunt because of it.
For Minnesota, the DNR’s website has everything you need to know. Just go to the hunting section and you can look up anything you’re interested in. For example, I wanted to know if the special youth deer hunting season was going to be offered again this year. Last year was the first time this hunt was offered, and I was delighted to know the hunt is on again for this year.
No shortage of game
I took my son, William, out for one afternoon of this four-day hunt last year, and it was action packed. We saw a flock of 16 wild turkeys, plus two deer that were about 150 yards away. With the 20-gauge shotgun he was using, I felt the deer were out of range. This year, however, I am going to let him use my 12-gauge. Some of the new slugs that have a ballistic tip are said to effective out to 200 yards. I’d like to give them a try.
Before he does that, however, he is going on a special youth hunt in Wisconsin. Like Minnesota, the rules and regulations for this hunt are on the state DNR’s hunting section.
Gearing up for Wisconsin
The good news this year is that he will not have to buy an antlerless tag for the unit he will be hunting in, which he had to do last year. Not only that, the junior patron license I bought for him comes with three deer tags — one buck and two antlerless.
Unless something amazing happens, he likely won’t fill all three tags. On the other hand, I bought three spring turkey tags in Wisconsin this year and was able to fill them all, so you never know. The bottom line is William will have great deer hunting opportunities in two states, plus his junior patron license in Wisconsin also includes a fall wild turkey license.
Great opportunities in Montana
And, that’s not all. His third chance at a deer will come during the week of Thanksgiving in Montana. He will have a full week to try for an antlerless whitetail. These are the easiest licenses to get — and the cheapest. For $80, he can buy one over the counter.
There is no lottery for this license, like there is for whitetail and mule deer buck tags, and tags for other big game species like elk. He bought this same license last year, but did not get a deer. He went out a couple of times and saw deer, but did not get a shot. It was so cold that he eventually lost interest.
I highly doubt it will be that cold this year. On one of the days we were there, the temperature was minus-15 with a wind chill of minus-29. Usually, temperatures range from the 30s all the way to the 60s. If the weather is anything close to normal, William should have some fine days to hunt.
Don’t be misinformed
It pays to do some studying of the hunting seasons and regulations where you are planning to hunt. I recall a painful incident last year involving a friend who took his son out deer hunting for the first time in northern Minnesota.
He bought his teenage son a new rifle and was excited to take him out. And, he borrowed my 7mm rifle for himself. They went hunting with the boy’s grandfather and uncles. As it turned out, the boy saw two does well within range.
But, he never fired a shot. Why? It seems the other members of the party didn’t understand the regulations. They told the boy he needed an antlerless permit to shoot a doe, so he didn’t pull the trigger.
The painful truth
They were wrong. In the regulations, it says that youth under 18 may shoot a deer of either sex and do not need an antlerless permit. There were a few exceptions in some zones in southwest Minnesota that had very low deer levels, but the general rule allowing youth to take a deer of either sex was in effect where my friend and his son were hunting.
It was hard for me to see the painful look on my friend’s face after telling him that his son could, indeed, have shot one of the does. So, I hope he will get that chance again this year.
Good news for young hunters
One thing I have learned is that many states, including Minnesota, are highly dedicated to offering great hunting opportunities for youth. I have been fortunate enough to take advantage of the special hunts and licenses my kids have been eligible for.
In fact, my son, Andy, who is going to Winona State University starting next week, bought his final youth deer and elk tag in Montana. You can buy this half-priced tag all the way until your 18th birthday. He turned 18 on March 23, but the tags went on sale at the beginning of March, so he was able to hustle and get his application in before his 18th birthday.
After getting two mule deer bucks and one whitetail buck in the three previous years he bought the tag, he is hoping to get an elk this year. Last year, he saw an elk for the first time and took a shot, but missed. He had to shoot quickly because the herd was walking through a small opening. He thinks it was about a 250-yard shot.
Those are not easy shots to make. On that same trip, I had a group of whitetail does at 250 yards, and I missed three times. I didn’t have a good rest, which makes all the difference. The next day, I had a longer shot and made it because I was shooting from a prone position with a good rest.
Bring it on!
Can’t wait ’til the hunting commences. I will start with the archery season here in Minnesota. I am working hard to become proficient with my bow. In fact, I have been shooting so much that my arms and shoulders have been getting sore. I actually have had to back off on the practice.
To be honest, I’m chomping at the bit to get out there with my bow. I have some promising places to hunt, so I’m optimistic. I’m in no hurry for summer to end, but I will be glad when fall arrives!
August 10, 2011
Astronomers recently concluded that, if there ever was a church on the moon, it most likely closed because, while the silence was conducive to a reverent celebration of liturgy, the place just had no atmosphere.
BUT THIS IS NO JOKE:
We’ve stepped up the video presence on our website thanks to Catholic News Service.
Click on http://thecatholicspirit.com/videonews/ to get the latest news each day.
This page is the larger screen; a small screen is on the home page at http://www.TheCatholicSpirit. Good video piece in “Survivor founds museum.” And for an interesting feature story, click on “Telling Time in Rome.” Bet you didn’t know all the cool stuff about Vatican City and St. Peter’s Square.
August 9, 2011
What happened last month in the Catholic world?
Order accuses Father Corapi of sexual, financial wrongdoing, falsehoods 1 comment(s) | 397 view(s)
Bishop Brown asks diocesan advisers to look into Crystal Cathedral 2 comment(s) | 222 view(s)
Three priests get new assignments 0 comment(s) | 221 view(s)
What’s the big deal about natural family planning? 0 comment(s) | 209 view(s)
Evangelization school equips students to be light on campuses 0 comment(s) | 196 view(s)
Vatican today — July 28, 2011 0 comment(s) | 195 view(s)
Savage youth count blessings in midst of bus tragedy 0 comment(s) | 185 view(s)
Answering God’s call to a vocation 0 comment(s) | 182 view(s)
Get a good read — on what’s happening at local Catholic bookstores 4 comment(s) | 178 view(s)
Historic St. Joseph church sold for $1 0 comment(s) | 172 view(s)
August 8, 2011
I deepened my appreciation for our bountiful fishery here in Minnesota after reading a recent article in Time Magazine about the state of our world fishery. The gist of the story is this — the ocean is getting fished out.
I have worried about that in recent years, and now, it seems, the facts confirm my suspicions. According to the Time article, the worldwide catch has been 90 million tons a year since the mid-1990s. That’s a lot of fish! And, not surprisingly, the seas cannot sustain such a staggering harvest.
Thank goodness we have fisheries managers in our state who have been paying attention to catch rates and have implemented restrictions that are keeping our lakes well stocked with fish — at least, for now.
At times, I do get frustrated with slot limits, especially when I am catching lots of walleyes that I have to throw back because they fall within a protected slot. After reading about the worldwide fish shortage, however, I will be sure not to complain about releasing fish. At least we have plenty of fish to throw back.
The answer for the global fish shortage is the fish farm. According to the article in Time, around half of the fish consumed around the world are raised in ponds and tanks. I’m sure most, if not all, Americans have eaten fish from farms, but I much prefer the wild variety.
And, best of all is when you eat what you catch yourself. But, with the global shortage in mind, I also will be just as glad to release fish for someone else to catch and eat.
In the meantime, folks involved in worldwide fisheries management may want to say a prayer to the One who filled the nets of those famous fishers of men who worked all night but came up empty.
August 5, 2011
When I visit a suffering person, I sometimes don’t know how to act. I really can’t feel their pain. It seems like the person is bearing a heavy and unjust load, and anything I come in with is pretty light in comparison.
A person is in pain and I don’t feel like I’m much help. How can any good come out of the situation?
Suffering is a mystery that requires faith and humility. Any good that comes from it in no way “justifies” it. But love and goodness can be the fruits of suffering–whether from sufferers or those in contact with them.
A woman I know suffered a traumatic brain injury late last year and spent a long period in recovery, including 10 days in an induced coma. Also, after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Tucson, Ariz. in early January, she was in a similar condition. In both cases, thousands of people responded with prayers and words of encouragement. Some even experienced positive change in their own lives.
Through the Gospel, writes Bl. John Paul II in his 1984 apostolic letter Salvifici Dolores, (On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering), Christ teaches us to do good when we suffer and also to do good to those who suffer.
In the messianic programme of Christ, which is at the same time the programme of the Kingdom of God, suffering is present in the world in order to release love, in order to give birth to works of love towards neighbour, in order to transform the whole of human civilization into a “civilization of love”.
Suffering always involves an experience of evil and evil is a lack, limitation or distortion of good, Bl. John Paul states. “Man suffers because of a good he doesn’t share, from which he is cut off or of which he’s deprived himself,” John Paul writes. Therefore, suffering explained through evil always in some way refers to a good.
In taking on his own suffering, Christ destroyed this evil and replaced it with good as he accepted our sins with that love for the Father which overcomes the evil of every sin. Jesus himself is present in each suffering person, since his salvific suffering has been opened to every human suffering, giving us the opportunity to participate in the work of redemption.(Col. 1:24)
Love is released when a person offers their suffering to God and suffers virtuously by persevering through all that disturbs and causes harm, Bl. John Paul states,
In doing this, the individual unleashes hope, which maintains in him the conviction that suffering will not get the better of him, that it will not deprive him of his dignity as a human being, a dignity linked to awareness of the meaning of life.
Also, when the suffering person is “gravely ill, totally incapacitated, and … almost incapable of living and acting, Bl. John Paul writes, “all the more do interior maturity and spiritual greatness become evident, constituting a touching lesson to those who are healthy and normal.”
It seems clear that the suffering person can bring good or love into the world, but what about those who aren’t suffering?
Bl. John Paul states that a suffering person unleashes love in family members, caregivers and even strangers—as it did in the Good Samaritan. Suffering can stir unselfish love that affects his heart and actions. It opens a sensitivity of the heart that has a unique emotional expression to it.
But this love can’t be forced, Bl. John Paul writes. “The eloquence of the parable of the Good Samaritan, and of the whole Gospel, is especially this: every individual must feel as if called personally to bear witness to love in suffering.”
Suffering doesn’t automatically cause love to grow but it does provide a challenge and an opportunity, writes theologian Peter Colosi, in his article, “John Paul II and Max Scheler on the Meaning of Suffering,” What the non-suffering person does for the sufferer isn’t as important as the fact that they do it with as much love as possible, according to the philosopher Max Scheler, who influenced Bl. John Paul.
A brain-injured woman in an induced coma may not be able to acknowledge our love or we may feel awkward trying to figure out how to love and serve a suffering person. But as Bl. John Paul points out, good—and love—will come from the situation if we allow the Lord to show us how to be the Good Samaritan.
August 5, 2011
Jim and Jennifer were at their wedding rehearsal on a Friday night when a tornado struck the church, collapsing the walls and roof and tragically killing them both.
They’d led good lives and went straight to heaven, where they asked St. Peter for a favor: Could they still get married?
St. Peter said, “Well, sure. Tell you what: I’ll come and get you when we can do that.”
Jim and Jennifer were pleased, but it was five years before St. Peter showed up and said they could get married.
And so they had their wedding. It wasn’t too long though that the couple realized they’d made a mistake. The went to St. Peter and asked if they could have a divorce.
“Well, we frown upon that here,” St. Peter said, “but let me see what I can do. I’ll call you.”
After waiting five years to get married, though, Jennifer was concerned that it might take just as long to start divorce proceedings. “How long will it take?” she asked.
St. Peter was miffed. “It took five years to bet a preacher up here. Who knows how long it will be before a lawyer shows up!”
AND HERE’S THE NO-JOKE:
Joseph’s Coat, the St. Paul walk-in center for the homeless and needy, will be doing it’s annual distribution of school supplies and backpacks Aug. 29 and 31, so there’s still time for all of us to donate so some kids feel good about going to school this year because they have a new backpack and school supplies like the other kids.
I’ll be taking the backpack pictured here and picking up crayons, pens, pencils, markers, 3-ring binders, looseleaf paper — all that good stuff you use to love to have — and dropping it off at 1107 West Seventh in St. Paul.
Donations are accepted on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m to 2 p.m.