Archive | November, 2011

9 Reasons Catholics Go to Mass

November 29, 2011


According to Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley

Catholics come to Mass because we desire:

1. To respond to God’s love.

2. To encounter Christ in the most profound way possible.

3. To gather and pray with our parish family.

4. To strengthen our particular family.

5. To witness to our faith and provide a living legacy to our children and grandchildren.

6. To be transformed by Christ’s grace.

7. To participate in Jesus’ victory over death and the salvation of the world.

8. A foretaste of heaven.

9. To follow God’s loving guidance and to commit to deepening our relationship with 

Any of these at the top of your personal list? If your reason isn’t listed above, what is it?


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Advice for life

November 29, 2011


In a letter to the people of Canada just before dying of cancer, Jack Layton, the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party, offered these words (I cribbed them from a column by Father Ron Rolheiser):

Love is better than anger.

Hope is better than fear.

Optimism is better than despair.

So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.

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It’s starting to look a lot like Advent at the Catholic Spirit

November 29, 2011


Upon returning to the Catholic Spirit offices from lunch, I was greeted by the handiwork of the Christmas committee.

Nativity scene in our hallway.

Nice decorations! Now we just need to add some gifts beneath it.

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Advent in two minutes

November 28, 2011


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Cyber Monday

November 28, 2011


If you are online gift shopping today please consider supporting and our sponsors:

St. Patrick’s Guild

If you prefer to give to a good cause as a Christmas gift please consider The Pontifical Mission Societies.

If you’re shopping at Amazon get there by clicking HERE and The Catholic Spirit will get a commission for your purchase at no additional cost to you.

If you prefer to support The Catholic Spirit with a direct gift please visit and use the SUPPORT THE SPIRIT box on the right-hand side about three quarters of the way down.

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A fabulous big game hunt in Montana!

November 28, 2011


As the sun dipped to the mountain tops near Great Falls, Mont. on the Friday afternoon after Thanksgiving, I figured it was now “Jesus time.”

We had about an hour of legal shooting time left, then just a few more hours of hunting the next morning before our trip would end with the 15-hour drive back to Minnesota. I had already tagged a whitetail doe, and my son, Andy, was still waiting to fill his buck and elk tags, which he bought as part of a special youth combination license. My son, William, also was waiting to fill his whitetail doe tag after a few close encounters but no shot taken. With time running out, I turned to the Lord and asked for his help to bring some deer our way.

Throughout this  trip, we had seen lots of animals, many of which were on land we couldn’t hunt. Still, it was cool to see so many whitetail and mule deer in the hills, mountains and lowlands of North Central Montana. I was able to shoot some with my camera, including a nice group of muley does with a buck (shown above).

Seems like every year God does something special late in the trip to put smiles on our faces and meat in the freezer. Two years ago, again on the Friday after Thanksgiving, my son, Joe, and I tagged mule deer bucks on the same stalk. Last year, I shot my whitetail doe on the last morning of our trip, and Grandpa Bob Guditis got an elk on the following morning, which was the last day of the rifle season.

So, I was not at all giving up hope as we continued looking for deer in the twilight of this day. In fact, I coined a popular sports phrase when I told Bob we should hunt until the final whistle.

That’s exactly what we did. There was a grassy lowland area near the mountains that is a whitetail magnet. It is a crop field with a double row of trees on the western edge. Because the lowlands are mostly grass, this gives the deer a rare piece of cover.

We have seen deer bedded or standing in the cover many times. In fact, last year we saw a beautiful 10-pointer that Andy came close to getting a shot at. It ran out of some cover and right past Andy at about 100 yards. He was waiting for it to stop or at least slow down, but it did neither. In wide open spaces like these, deer will run a long way before stopping.

We saw the 10-pointer a few days later when my son, Joe, was with me. It was with some does, so we went on a stalk. Because we had only doe tags, we had to leave the 10-pointer alone. Joe ended up getting a nice doe on the stalk. I probably could have gotten one, too, as they ran out of the cover when we approached to get Joe’s deer. Ever since then, we had been wondering if we would see that buck again this year.

Time for a stalk

On our final look at this piece of cover on Friday, Bob spotted some deer just outside the cover and walking in a grass field. Quickly, he saw that one of them was a nice buck. So, Andy grabbed his .308 caliber rifle that Bob had given him, and the stalk began. William joined in, hoping that maybe he could get a shot at a doe.

I tagged along as well, but mostly to carry gear and help William. Andy has been on stalks like this before, so I knew he would do fine on his own. We started on the opposite side of the tree rows from the deer, and walked down the outside row of pine trees toward the deer.

We had gone about 300 yards or so when Andy decided to poke through the trees to see if he could spot the deer. He did, and held his hands out wide to let me know that the buck had a very good-sized set of antlers. That got us all very excited.

He went about another 100 yards, then looked again at the deer. William and I stayed back a little bit so we wouldn’t be seen. Andy then got down on all fours and crawled to the other row of trees, which were only about half the size of the pines. He slipped all the way through, then sat up to a shooting position. At that moment, I made my greatest contribution of the stalk.

Finger on the  trigger

When he was ready, I asked him if he wanted the shooting sticks. He motioned me over, and I belly crawled just a few yards to him and handed him the sticks. I was itching to see the buck, but I stayed in the trees so I wouldn’t spook either the buck or the two does that were with him.

Andy didn’t wait long to put his finger on the trigger. He actually pulled back once without firing, because he had forgotten to take the safety off.

Once he put the gun on fire, he settled in and locked the crosshairs on the buck’s chest. He fired, then I heard the telltale thump of the bullet hitting the deer. The buck wheeled and ran straight away from us. Andy fired again, not sure whether the first shot had found its mark.

The search

After that, we all stood up and I asked Andy what he saw. He said he watched the buck do the classic mule kick after the shot, then run toward the trees. So, we walked the edge of the tree line looking for blood or a fallen deer. We went about 275 t0 300 yards, then decided to duck into the trees.

That was a mistake. There was neither blood nor beast in there, though we scoured the tree lines for another 100 yards or so beyond where we started.

Meanwhile, Bob was back at the truck watching us. He had seen the whole thing, and witnessed a very important part that we all missed — the buck falling 30 yards from where he had been hit.

Trophy found!

So, Bob got out of the truck and made his way toward us to let us know the buck was down. In fact, it never made it to the trees. William spotted it first, then told the rest of us. Turns out, I was only about a step or two away, but I was looking farther ahead.

It was a magnificent buck with a beautiful, wide 10-point rack. We knew instantly this was worthy of mounting, so we made a decision to take it in to a taxidermist in Great Falls. We chose Waylon’s because Bob had used him to mount a black bear he shot a year ago. He also has a butcher shop in the same building, so we could get the meat processed there also.

The look on Andy’s face when he saw the buck was priceless. I think I had more joy than if I had shot the buck. We had a brief celebration and photo shoot, then got busy field dressing the buck. I gladly volunteered for the task, with Andy serving as my assistant. This marks the fifth deer I have field dressed this fall.

Once back at the truck, I performed a very important part of the process — removing the tenderloins. The two oblong pieces of meat near the hind end would look very nice on the grill back home. We have a tradition of grilling the tenderloins within a few days of the hunt. Because Andy was going back to Winona State University Monday morning, we decided to have them on Sunday night right after we returned home from the trip.

 Other good news

It wasn’t just a good trip for us. Jerry Gray, Bob’s son-in-law, shot a  nice eight-point buck during the trip, plus a bonus cow elk on the last  day of the rifle season, which was Sunday.

Due to a lack of snow caused by warm weather, the elk were higher up. So, he hiked to the top of a  small ridge on Bob’s land to gain some altitude. He looked across a draw  and spotted a group of several cows on the other side. He took a 400-yard shot with this .30-06 and hit the animal. After running down the  draw and up the other side, he found blood and, eventually, the elk. It  was still alive, so he took a final shot.

Once again, God blessed us tremendously on this hunt. Not only did we enjoy great food — courtesy of Grandma Sharon, a fabulous cook — but we had some awesome stalks with great results.

Over and over, I have thanked God for his great generosity. So did Grandpa Bob, who responded to my words of gratitude by pointing to our Heavenly Father and noting his abundant blessings.

Thus, during this Thanksgiving — now Advent — season, I think it’s only appropriate to thank God for creating the deer and the elk  and the great habitat that they live in, and to celebrate his vast and unending kindness toward us.

Praise the Lord!


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Occupy Advent

November 27, 2011


We all know of the movements of Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Minneapolis.   I propose another, decidedly Catholic, movement: Occupy Advent!

As early as Halloween, I started seeing Christmas ads on TV  and hearing Christmas music in stores and on the radio. I am no Scrooge – I love Christmas as much as the next person but I don’t think that holding Christmas in our hearts all year means to fall away to the commercialism of the secular season!

By missing this most important time of the liturgical year that calls us for preparation and waiting, we rush right into the Christmas season without the Christmas heart. The art and discipline of waiting is lost on our generation of “Give it to me now” attitudes. I am guilty myself when I find myself waiting more than 5 seconds for my computer to respond! A happening which gives me much fodder for the confessional. Which reminds me – celebrating the Sacrament of confession is another beautiful way to prepare during this season of waiting.

Advent waiting is anything but somber – we are waiting, but we are waiting for Christ so it is always a joyful waiting. So put away the Red and Green and let the first greenery that you bring into the house be an Advent wreath (If you missed the first week – jump in now!).

We need to bravely take back this time. I am not proposing to stand outside and hold a protest – rather hold off on putting up the tree, hold off on the Christmas carols, hold off on the parties and festivities… at least until Gaudette Sunday (That is the week that the priests wear the pink – I mean rose – colored garments. The term Gaudete refers to the word “Rejoice”. Rose vestments are worn to emphasize our joy that Christmas is near. Where as Advent as a whole is a bit penitential – by the time we get to the 3rd week – we can throw in a bit of rejoicing!) And when your neighbors ask why you haven’t lit up your outdoor lights yet – tell them you are participating in Occupy Advent.

Not sure what Advent is about? Check out this 2 minute video from Busted Halo:

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Be brave!

What are some of your favorite Advent traditions? Please share them with me! We need to band together in Occupy Advent!

Maybe we should have T-Shirts made!

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New words at Mass: How did it go at your parish?

November 27, 2011


A woman reads the new words for Mass prayers from a pew card Nov. 26. (Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit)

With the implementation of the new Roman Missal this weekend at parishes across the United States, I was curious how worshippers at my parish’s Saturday evening Mass would adapt to the changes to the words of many prayers.

While no one seemed too flustered, autopilot did kick in for many people, including a gentleman sitting behind me who was having trouble remembering that the response “And also with you” — previously spoken five times during the Mass — had now changed to “And with your spirit.” He ended up being one for five.

My parish, like most others, provided worshippers with pew cards highlighting the changes, and the priest who presided at Mass briefly held up a card each time a new response was coming up.

For the longer prayers, people took the cues and read accurately from the cards, although they noticeably stumbled over still-unfamiliar words like “consubstantial” and “incarnate.” When it came to the quick, brief response, “And with your spirit,” however, people forgot to glance at their cards and there was a noticeable mix of old and new responses. To his credit, our priest didn’t seem to stumble over any of the newly worded prayers he was responsible for speaking.

My parish offered a great deal of catechesis about the changes in bulletin inserts over the last several months. So did The Catholic Spirit, through a six-month series on the changes and a special edition focused on the new Roman Missal (see

Still, change is never easy, and no one should expect a perfectly smooth transition to new prayers the first week after 40 years of having different words ingrained in our minds and hearts. People will inevitably acclimate themselves to the new language in the coming weeks and months.

How did the changes go in your parish on this first weekend?

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Abortuary in Regions is Closing!

November 26, 2011


Congratulations to Pro-Life Action Ministries and to all people (including Archbishop Nienstedt) who embrace life and participated in the 40 Days for Life campaign. Your prayers and sacrifices worked! Read the beautifully written email from Brian Gibson below for details of this exciting news.

Licensed under Creative Commons

Brian was honored by the Archdiocese last month as a Champion for Life–a tribute he richly deserved!

Brian’s Email 

Dear Kathy,

 Regions Hospital, bowing to the pressure brought by prayer and the presence of thousands of Christians, announced today that the abortuary within the hospital will close on December 9, 2011. This comes after seven 40 Days for Life campaigns involving thousands at the hospital, petitions drives, phone calling and emailing campaigns, and millions of dollars in lost business for HealthPartners over its ownership of the hospital and the abortuary.

 I cannot express properly the waves of emotions of joy I am experiencing with this victory.

 I have little doubt the reason for this announcement on the Friday after Thanksgiving was intended to minimize the publicity of the closing and to pass a “Regions only” spin to the news. But it matters little as to the claims of the hospital, we know how much prayer and labor has gone into convincing hospital officials to close their abortion mill.

 This is the first abortion facility to close in Minnesota in more than two decades.

 We thank God first and foremost for this great victory. It is the Lord of Life who has moved hearts and changed minds. We also thank all those who prayed ardently, kept vigil or stood in witness at Regions, who signed petitions, sent correspondence, picketed at HealthPartners clinics and annual meetings, and who aided the boycott of HealthPartners medical insurance these past six years.

 Happy Thanksgiving again!

 Your brother in Christ,

 Brian Gibson

In an email received later, Brian Gibson wrote: “Join with us on Friday, December 9 at Noon to thank God for His victory with the closing of this killing center! This victory rally will be at Regions Hospital located at 640 Jackson Street, Saint Paul, MN. We will gather at the same place we held our 40 Days for Life prayer services.”

A St. Paul Pioneer Press article  states that in 2010 there were 545 abortions conducted at Regions. Again, thanks to Pro-Life Action Ministries and to everyone else who helped close this place of sadness.


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Thanksgiving Day Prayer

November 24, 2011


Start your Thanksgiving Day feast with this prayer from the USCCB publication Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers.

Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Lord, we thank you
for the goodness of our people
and for the spirit of justice
that fills this nation.
We thank you for the beauty and fullness of the
land and the challenge of the cities.

We thank you for our work and our rest,
for one another, and for our homes.
We thank you, Lord:
accept our thanksgiving on this day.
We pray and give thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord.

R: Amen.

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