Archive | November, 2011

Eucharist as Thanksgiving

November 15, 2011

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As we dash to the store to buy our turkey, cranberries and stuffing, take a moment to reflect on the Mass.

Better yet – stop into a daily Mass during this busiest of times.

What? Mass and Thanksgiving – what is the connection? Thanksgiving isn’t a Holy Day of Obligation is it?

Although not a Holy Day, there is a connection between this more secular holiday, that revolves around food, family and thanks, to our beautiful gift of the Eucharist.

The word Eucharist is the Greek word for “thanksgiving.”

It is important to remember this attitude of gratitude every time we receive communion. So often when I come to Mass, I bring my worries, petitions and gripes when what I need to reflect on is my thanks.

So why not start a new tradition? Many of our parishes offer Daily Mass on Thanksgiving Day. Try leaving the turkey in the oven and grab the family to give thanks to the the God who made us and all we have possible. Or better yet – stop in for daily Mass on Black Friday before, after or in between your shopping!

If you are worried about your turkey – check out the safety tips at:

Between the thawing and cooking it looks like their is plenty of time to make it to Mass!

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Bishops elect Archbishop Nienstedt, Bishop Pates committee chairs

November 14, 2011


The USCCB is reporting the election results out of Baltimore today. Archbishop Nienstedt and former St. Paul/Minneapolis Auxiliary Bishop Richard Pates currently of Des Moines, Iowa have been elected committee chairs.


Read more: Archbishop Nienstedt chairman-elect of the Committee on Doctrine

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Spiritual dry spell? There’s an app for that.

November 14, 2011


“I’m surprised by how this has spread to different corners of the U.S. already, and we haven’t even pushed it really,” said Flip Caderao, 28, an Ignio designer who noted that they’re getting a slew of email from users, a mix of questions, encouragement and praise. “It’s frightening but awesome as well.”



From the Boston Herald: iPhone app tracks Catholics’ religious fervor

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An amazing deer story: all 11s

November 14, 2011

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I came across perhaps the most amazing deer story I have ever heard. It’s from Rodney Ries, whom I have known for more than 20 years. An avid deer hunter, he has taken both of his sons out over the years to introduce them to his fall passion.

He sent me a text message with a picture of his son, Marcus, with a nice buck that he got on one of the Ries family farms near Red Wing. Here’s the amazing part: Marcus is 11 years old, and he shot an 11-point buck on 11-11-11 (Friday). So, this hunt was all 11s.

This story began earlier in the fall when Rod observed some big bucks on his trail cameras. The buck Marcus ended up shooting was one on the nicest ones, and eventually Rod focused his attention on this one.

Trouble was, throughout the fall, all of the pictures he got of this deer were taken at night. It’s not unusual for big bucks to move exclusively after dark. But, Rod was hoping that when the rut kicked in, this bruiser would start cruising for does during daylight hours.

That’s exactly what happened early last week when he checked his trail cameras once again. Actually, the buck passed by the camera near his stand twice during legal shooting hours, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. But, no one was in the stand either time.

Rod felt almost sick about missing these two chances, then vowed to spend some time in the stand with Marcus. Friday evening was a perfect afternoon for hunting. Soon after climbing into the stand, they started seeing deer. He almost told Marcus to shoot at a small doe, but decided to hold off and see if the big buck would show. They had plenty of shooting time left, so they were confident Marcus would get a shot at a deer that evening.

Sure enough, the big guy showed up and Marcus took a perfect broadside shot at about 60 yards. Rod has trained him well. I have a feeling this young hunter is going to shoot plenty more bucks like this in his lifetime.

So, to Marcus and his proud father, I simply say: Congratulations!

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Give to the Max Day: Wednesday, November 16

November 11, 2011


As you consider your charitable end-of-year giving, please consider donating to pro-life organizations by participating in Give to the Max Day on Wednesday, November 16, hosted by GiveMN–it doubles your dollars!

Licensed under Creative Commons

You can amplify your giving impact in a number of ways:

· Win a Golden Ticket! $1,000 will be given to a random donor’s charity every hour. You could be that donor!

· NEW THIS YEAR… $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000 prize grants will be awarded to the top three small nonprofit organizations – with budgets under $750,000 – which receive the most dollars on Give to the Max Day.

List of some great pro-life organizations

Below are some organizations you may want to consider (I will add to the list as I receive the proper information):

Total LifeCare Centers–Please click here for information on how to donate to this life-affirming organization. It’s so easy to give!

  • Because of you, TLC was able to help thousands of women. Last year, TLC affiliates provided over 24,000 services to women and families. The Centers also performed over 1,400 free ultrasounds, which allowed mothers and fathers to see and bond with their preborn children. Your gift will help them save more babies from abortion and make a huge difference in their work.

Cradle of Hope–Please click here to donate to this beautiful organization (This will bring you to their FaceBook page.) It’s very simple, plus, you’ll be able to view a YouTube video of a happy baby in one of their cribs.

  • Cradle of Hope provides financial assistance to pregnant women and to women with infants under three months old. For many, they are a source of last resort. Their Safe Slumber Program distributes Pack N Play portable cribs to provide a safe and comfortable sleeping environment for infants – and they are a symbol of joy for mothers. Give them the chance to gain even more support with your gift.


Thank you! Your generosity helps families to embrace life!

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Short sit in deer stand yields nice doe

November 10, 2011


I had an opportunity to leave work early yesterday (Wednesday) and sit in one of our hunting party’s deer stands. So, I made the hour drive to Red Wing and took advantage of this brief window of hunting time.

Over the years, I have discovered the joys of hunting during the middle of the week. There are far fewer hunters in the woods, and the deer seem to be active. Last year, in the same stand I was planning to hunt this time around, I took a nice doe with about 15-20 minutes of shooting time left on a Thursday.

I didn’t get down there as early as I would have liked, but I climbed into the stand a little after 3 p.m., giving me about two hours and 20 minutes to hunt. It was breezy, but nowhere near as bad as it was on Saturday. I don’t feel that winds like we had yesterday will shut down deer movement. In fact, the wind direction was favorable for this stand.

Actually, it wasn’t even an hour before a doe popped her head up on the opposite side of the meadow I was hunting. She looked both ways as I got my gun ready. Then, she stepped out and started walking straight toward me. I waited until she cleared some tree branches, then fired. When she didn’t go down right away, I fired a second time. Thus, I filled my bonus antlerless tag.

My friend, Bernie Schwab, likewise tagged a doe, giving us three deer total for our party of six. Our 50 percent success rate is higher than the statewide mark last year of 38 percent. So, I’m very happy. Plus, there is more hunting time left. Bernie is going out with his son, Dan, this weekend and will be buying a bonus tag. With the weather looking good, they should get some action.

Venison preparation tips

Now, for myself and other successful hunters, thoughts are turning to lots of venison dinners in the coming months. Thus, I think it’s a good time to mention one of the best tools I have for preparing venison that is tender — a meat tenderizer.

There are lots of ways to tenderize meat, including slow cooking and marinades. But, I like to grill venison steaks, so I use a tenderizer made by a company called Jaacard. The one I use is called the Super Tendermatic Meat Tenderizer and it features 48 blades that pierce the meat. I go back and forth across each steak three times, and that seems to work.

The first time I used it was five years ago when my son, Joe, shot a nice 10-point buck. I knew the meat might be tough, so I asked Jim Stasny of Stasny’s Food Market in St. Paul, where we process our deer, what we should do. He recommended this type of tenderizer and ordered one for me. It worked very well, then I gave it away to another venison lover and bought the Jaacard for myself.

It’s a little extra work, but it’s well worth it. With my two oldest sons coming home from college in December, I know they will want venison. I’ll be ready. Though I gave the doe to Bernie, I’ll have my buck in the freezer by then. Plus, we leave for Montana next Friday and we’ll have three deer tags to fill — two whitetail doe and one either sex whitetail or mule deer.

If we fill them all, I’ll have more than enough meat for my family, plus plenty to share with others. After a tough bow season, it’s nice to have success with my gun.

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Hope for the homeless?

November 10, 2011


As the weather in St Paul turns ever colder, the number of tents appearing out side the Dorothy Day Center increases.  For the first time in its 30 year history, the Center has begun to turn away those seeking a warm, safe place to spend the night because there is simply no more room.  Inside nearly 300 of the lucky ones sleep shoulder to shoulder on mats upon the floor grateful for the opportunity.  Tim Marx, CEO of Catholic Charities who operates the Center, calls it our “canary in the coal mine”, an early warning of pending disaster in our community.

But thanks to the volunteer efforts of men from St John Neumann Catholic Church in Eagan, the Knights of Malta and friends from through out the Twin Cities, there will be room for 50 more homeless men seeking shelter ever night through March.  Each night 2 volunteers and a staff member from the Dorothy Day Center, open up the old Catholic Charities offices on Old 6th Street and admit those who otherwise would have been forced to spend the night in the cold.  By 7:00am the next morning, everyone is up and on their way and the old building is once again quiet till it opens its doors to welcome those less fortunate in our midst once again the following evening.

Each evening nearly 7000 of those whom Christ loved the most, seek a warm safe place to sleep in our 7 county metro area.  50 beds hardly seems like a drop in the bucket, unless you’re one of those 50 guys.  And maybe if more men like those from SJN and Malta and friends throughout the area join together, we can find more opportunities to help in the current crisis and to advocate for a real, long term solution soon.  In the mean time,

  • Consider investing 1 night with us.  You may not sleep well but you will enable 50 other men, who have no bed of their own, to do so.
  • Contact your State legislator and make certain that during any Special Session or during the upcoming 2012 regular session, the issue of hunger and homelessness in MN gets as much attention as a billion dollar stadium or a $750,000,000 bridge to Wisconsin.
  • Pray.  Pray that we as a society come together to meet everyone’s needs.  Its not only what Christ told us to do, it is what we must do if our society is to survive.

Sleep well.

Steve Hawkins, KM

Steve Hawkins is a member of St John Neumann Catholic Church in Eagan, MN and a member of the Order of Malta, a lay religious order of the Catholic Church which for more than 900 years has lived out its call to “Serve the poor and defend the faith”. He and his wife Judi reside in Burnsville, MN. 

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What’s up with incense?

November 10, 2011

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Pope Benedict XVI circles the altar with incense during Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York April 19, 2008 (CNS photo/Gary Hershorn, Reuters)

Every Sunday at many Catholic parishes, an altar server lifts the top of a golden censer (also called a thurible) which hangs on a chain and the priest drops a spoonful of incense onto the burning coals inside. He blesses it and a fragrant smoke rises. The priest bows and swings the censer over different objects in the sanctuary and sometimes over the congregation until the scent of incense fills the church.

Is this just a Catholic ritual? What does it mean and why do we do it?

First, incense is an aromatic substance obtained from certain resinous trees which give off smoke or perfume when it’s burned. The Church uses incense to purify and sanctify, as well as to express reverence and prayer:

“Let my prayer be incense before you; my uplifted hands an evening sacrifice.” (Ps. 141:2)

From ancient times, pagans and Jews used incense for religious and other purposes. In Jewish rituals, it was used with offerings and as part of unbloody sacrifices. (Lev. 6:15) In Exodus 30, God commanded Moses to build an altar of incense.

At Jesus’  birth, the Magi gave Him a gift of frankincense (Matt. 2:11). According to the fourth century Latin poet Juvencus, the incense was offered to Jesus as God, the gold was offered to Him as King and the myrrh to Him as Man.

In Scripture and in the Church

While there’s no evidence that Christians offered incense to God in the first centuries of the Church, they were probably familiar with it from Jewish religious practices and the New Testament (Luke 1:10; Rev. 8:3-5). After the earliest recorded use of incense at Mass in the fifth century, it began to be incorporated more regularly into the Liturgy starting in the 11th century.

In our day, incense is optional in any form of the Mass during these parts of the Liturgy, according to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), a detailed document which governs  celebration of the Mass:

  • The entrance procession;
  • At the beginning of Mass, to incense the cross and altar;
  • At the procession before the Gospel and the proclamation of the Gospel itself;
  • After the bread and the chalice have been placed on the altar, to incense the offerings, the cross and the altar, as well as the priest and the people.
  • At the elevation of the host and the chalice after the Consecration.

How many swings of the censer?

Before incensing anything, the priest (or altar server if they’re incensing the congregation) bows profoundly to the person or object being incensed, except for the altar and the offerings for the Mass, and then swings the censer. The more dignified the person or object being honored, the more swings:

  • Three times: The Most Blessed Sacrament, a relic of the Holy Cross and images of the Lord exposed for public veneration, the offerings for the Sacrifice of the Mass, the altar cross, the Book of the Gospels, the paschal candle, the priest and the people.
  • Twice: relics and images of the saints exposed for public veneration, but only at the beginning of the celebration following the incensation of the altar.
  • Once:  If the altar is freestanding from the wall, the priest incenses walking around it. If the altar is not freestanding, the priest incenses it while walking first to the right side and then to the left.

At the final commendation at a funeral Mass, the priest may incense the coffin, both as a sign of honor to the deceased’s body and as a sign of the faithful’s prayers for the deceased rising to God.

Anything you’re wondering about?

When it comes to Church practices like this, it helps me just to know what’s going on and why. If there are other aspects of the liturgy or Church teaching that you’ve been curious about, send in your question to and I’ll ask an expert.

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Catholic joke book offers a lot to smile about

November 7, 2011


A boy comes home from Catholic school and tells his mother he has a part in the class play.

She asks, “What part is it?”

The boys says, “I get to play the part of a husband.”

The mother scowls and says, “Go back and tell the teacher you want a speaking part.”

He’s got a million of ’em, does Deacon Tom Sheridan.

And they’re not all that lame.

In “The Third Book of Catholic Jokes,” Sheridan offers a collection centered on aging and relationships, and chances are you’ll chuckle at the majority.

You may very well have heard versions of some minus the Catholic angle, but that doesn’t detract from what I think is the real service Deacon Tom is doing with all three books in this series: All these are jokes one can tell in mixed company — and even in church. You’ll find these Acta Publications paperbacks at most religious goods stores.

Here’s my personal favorite joke from book number three:

At 75, the elderly pastor was finally retired and enjoying his one passion: fishing.

He was sitting in his boat when he heard a voice cry, “Pick me up; pick me up!”

Looking around, he couldnsee anyone. He thought he was dreaming until he heard the voice again, “Pick me up.” He looked in the water and there, floating on a lily pad, was a frog.

“The priest said, “Are you talking to me?”

“Yes,” the frong repled. “Pick me up, kiss me, and I’ll turn into the most beautiful woman you’ve ever see. I’ll make sure that all your friends are envious and jealous because I’ll be your bride.”

The pirest looked at the frog, reached over and picked it up carefully. Then he dropped the frog into his front pocket.

From the depths of the pocket the frog cried out, “Are you nuts? Didn’t you hears what I said? Kiss me and I’ll be your beautiful bride.”

The priest opened his pocket looked down at the frog and said, “Nah. At my age it’s too late. I’d rather have a talking frog.”

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For the unemployed, here’s a powerful, prayerful guide from a Catholic who was there

November 7, 2011


What was Timothy Mullner going to do without his vice-president’s title, a staff to direct and an expense account?

Terminated — by phone yet — the life-long Catholic turned to God to ask where God was calling him.

One of the answers was to write “A Spiritual Guide for the Unemployed.”

This is a book filled with realistic, down-to-earth, from-the-gut emotional releases that will likely resonate with most of the 9-plus percent of the U.S. population that is out of work. Yet it’s a prayerful, powerful work with touches of humor, anecdotes that will make you misty-eyed, and will probably have many of the unemployed among God’s children nodding their heads in agreement.

Easy to read and relate to

Mullner, who once was youth minister at St. Stephen in Anoka, Minn., writes about asking for God’s grace — “Help me be gracious” upon learning that his position was being eliminated. Among the thoughts and questions for reflection at the end of each chapter he suggests “Write a prayer or poem about ‘Hearing the news.” “Don’t think, just write,” he says.

There’s both prose and easy-to-read poetry — prayers in poem form, really — in this unique self-help book. Readers will find it full of understanding. Having been unemployed myself at one time, I could related to thoughts like, “I kept wondering what I could do and whom I could talk with to correct this ‘obvious’ error.”

There’s this great line in a prayer/poem to the Lord: “Your will be done, and quickly wouldn’t hurt.”

Advice and encouragement

Mullner’s unemployment period wasn’t over quickly, however. His 15 months without a job meant selling a house, moving in with friends, and taking a call from an adult son who says, “You’ll be OK, Dad.”

Now employed, Mullner advises, “Choose hope over fear and faith over despair.”

The book’s closing section is a useful “Top Ten List for Finding Your Way Through Unemployment.”

As beneficial as I think that will be, I can’t help but wonder if these words of Mullner’s may not be even more supportive — yet challenging — to those still looking for work: “God is waiting to see what you’ll do with the gifts you’ve been given.”

It’s beautiful writing, not unexpected from Mullner, who contributed to the Catholic Bulletin during his time in Anoka.

Thanks to Liguori for publishing something so helpful.

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