Archive | May, 2012

Memorial Day is more than just a holiday

May 25, 2012

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As I went on my 3-mile walk last night, I walked past an American flag at Cretin-Derham Hall High School, just a block from my home in St. Paul. I’m sure I’ve seen it before, but it caught my eye on this occasion.

It got me to thinking about Memorial Day. This particular day has special meaning for me in two ways: 1. My dad is a World War II vet; and, 2. My first wife, Jennifer, died on Memorial Day in 1995.

My thoughts – and emotions – vacillated between these two realities as I took my paces in the evening twilight. The month of May is always hard for me, and this was no exception. I found myself silently saluting those who have paid the ultimate price in military service. I’m glad my dad was not among them, or I wouldn’t be here.

Though Jennifer never served in the military, she is forever linked to this day for me. Perhaps, it’s fitting she died on Memorial Day. I believe she gave everything she had in being a nurse, mother and wife. Many people, myself included, consider her a hero for the way she tirelessly and fearlessly cared for the many cancer patients in her charge, during the time she worked as an oncology nurse. She treated them with respect and dignity, and was not afraid to ask them how they were preparing for death when that reality was imminent in their lives.

One story stands out. On our wedding day in February of 1990, she had invited a terminally ill teenager named Melanie to our wedding and reception. Melanie was a standout track athlete, and beautiful on top of that. Sadly, the cancer ravaged her body, and quickly. In just a matter of months, she wasted away to the point where she looked like a Jew in a Nazi concentration camp.

Amazingly, so close to death, she managed to come to our reception. Seeing her come into the hotel lobby, Jennifer rushed to greet her, seeming not to notice her gaunt condition. I, on the other hand, was taken aback by her appearance, and thought she might die right there in front of us.

Jennifer cheerfully embraced Melanie and thanked her for coming, as her mother stood somberly behind the wheelchair. After a few minutes, Jennifer leaned over to say goodbye. She said that she wasn’t coming back to work for another week, so she wanted to say goodbye.

She knew she would never see Melanie again, and was offering her final farewell.

Jennifer was right. Melanie died a few days later. I often wonder if the two have met in heaven. I know Jennifer is there. I hope Melanie is, too.

This will be a hard weekend for me, as it always is. But, as I like to tell people, it is not a grief without hope. So, as I prepare to shed the tears I always do on this weekend, I humbly ask for prayers. And, I offer this simple message to my dear, departed wife:

“Jennifer, I will always love you. I miss you, and look forward to seeing you again in the fullness of God’s Kingdom. I salute you and your dedicated service to the Lord and to all of those who suffered with cancer whom you lovingly ministered to throughout your nursing career. May you rest in peace.”

 

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New family life director loves the outdoors

May 24, 2012

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Earlier this week, I met Jean Stolpestad, the new director of the archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Life. It was an enjoyable encounter with an added bonus: She loves the outdoors!

We talked briefly about our favorite outdoor activities. She has a passion for duck hunting, which she shares with her husband Craig. She also hunts pheasants and grouse, and even climbs into a deer stand every fall.

It was a fun exchange and I told her I’d like to make her the subject of one of my future outdoors columns. She happily agreed. I have only gone pheasant hunting a few times in my life, and have never gotten one. She and Craig go to South Dakota every year, so that could be a prime opportunity.

I would look forward to the opportunity to spend time afield with Jean and Craig!

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5 reasons why I like the new Blessing for the Child in the Womb

May 19, 2012

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This new blessing was originally developed in March 2008 by the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities for inclusion in the Book of Blessings and Bendicional, and further refined by the Committee on Divine Worship and the body of Bishops. The introduction to the rite observes that the blessing of an unborn child “sustains the parents by imparting grace and comfort in time of concern and need, unites the parish in prayer for the unborn child, and fosters respect for human life within society. (According to Fr. Z’s blog)

“We hope the use of this blessing will provide not only support and God’s blessing for expectant parents and their child in the womb, but also another effective witness to the sanctity of human life from the first moment of conception,” said Archbishop Gregory Aymond, chairman of the Committee on Divine Worship of the USCCB.

I think it will do just that, and here’s 5  reasons why:

1. It asks God to bless the unborn baby

A few years ago when I was pregnant with twins at age 42, I had what was dubbed a “triple high-risk pregnancy.” My concern was primarily for the identical babies, and I wanted us to be blessed right away. I was working for the Archdiocese at the time in the Office for Marriage, Family and Life. A priest from Africa was down the hall, and he gave us a lovely blessing off of the top of his head. When I (notice I said “I”) received the official blessing from our church, it was geared more toward me and not the babes in the womb. A few months later, Archbishop Neinstedt asked our office to review this new Rite for the Child in the Womb, and I was honored to do so. I was thrilled to see that it not only asked God to bless the unborn child, but also to give him/her constant protection, a healthy birth, and to comfort the mother in all her anxiety. I really needed all of those requests!

2. It has a blessing for the mother 

You will notice that this blessing also asks for the blessing of the unborn baby (as stated in #1).

God, author of all life,

bless, we pray, this unborn child;

give constant protection

and grant a healthy birth

that is the sign of our rebirth one day

into the eternal rejoicing of heaven.

 

Lord, who have brought to this woman

the wondrous joy of motherhood,

grant her comfort in all anxiety

and make her determined

to lead her child along the ways of salvation.

3. It has a blessing for the father

Isn’t it great that Daddy can be a part of this blessing? He needs all the Grace he can get, too!

Lord of all ages,

who have singled out this man

to know the grace and pride of fatherhood,

grant hin courage in this new responsibility,

and make him an example of justice and truth

for this child.

4. It has a blessing for the family

Siblings, grandparents, aunties, cousins…they all play an important role in forming this child. How nice for them to receive a blessing! (Plus, this shows the brothers and sisters–who are often left out– how important they are!)

Lord, endow this family

with sincere and enduring love

as they prepare to welcome this child into

their midst.

 

Lord, you have put into the hearts of all men and

women of  good will

a great awe and wonder at the gift of new life;

fill the parish community

with faithfulness to the teachings of the Gospel

and new resolve to share

in the spiritual formnation of this child in Christ

our savior,

who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

5. It can be used within the Mass or outside of it

I told a priest that this was a nice feature because sometimes a woman hasn’t told anyone that she is expecting yet. If the blessing is done during the Mass, and it is done in a general style (meaning that she doesn’t have to stand up or go to the altar), then she doesn’t call attention to herself. Having a blessing of a baby in the womb during Mass is a great way to witness to the congregation, and encourage people to embrace Life.

Having a blessing outside of Mass (hospital, home, chapel…) is nice, because the whole family could be a part of it, and it could offer a different type of privacy if needed.

(See whole text at the USCCB website)

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Montana trip features good weather, gorgeous landscape and turkeys!

May 16, 2012

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This area near Glendive, Mont. was one of several spots that held wild turkeys during a three-day hunt.

I have to admit, it felt a bit odd to be standing in the highlands of eastern Montana Saturday morning. As I scanned this broad, beautiful landscape, I couldn’t help but think about the legions of anglers making their first attempt at catching a walleye back home.

So, why would I forsake the hallowed Minnesota walleye opener –and Mother’s Day, to boot –to travel 10 hours west to Glendive, Montana?

This type of trip wasn’t on my radar screen until a surprise invitation came from the father of my first wife Jennifer (who died of cancer in 1995). “Grandpa Bob” Guditis came up with the crazy idea of hunting wild turkeys in the area. He drives Interstate 94 throughout the year, and had seen turkeys on numerous occasions. So, he did a little research and thought it would be worth a try. He invited me, plus my two oldest sons, Joe and Andy. Joe was due back from college on May 10, so we would be able to go the next day.

After a careful and deliberate talk with my wife Julie about missing Mother’s Day, I agreed to make the trip. On Friday afternoon, we set out for Glendive. We had hoped to get there early enough to do some scouting and try to roost some birds at sundown, but we were too late.

An early sighting

The next morning, we went to a piece of property labeled BMA (Block Management Area). The landowner enrolls in a state program in which he or she allows hunting in exchange for a small fee. Hunters either call or sign in and the landowner gets paid each time a hunter visits the property. It’s a great idea that opens up a lot more hunting land.

We had heard this land holds birds, so we decided to start there. As we were driving in, we saw a group of three toms walking across a field, and that got us excited. We circled around the back side of a small hill and hoped to intercept the birds. But, when we did so and started calling, we got no answer.

Unfortunately, that was typical of what we experienced throughout the trip. We heard very little gobbling, and the birds did not respond much to our calling. But, there was one exception.

Gone to roost

After hearing no gobbles throughout the day, we decided to come back in the evening to see if we could find an area where they roosted. We spread out on the property, then did some calling in the last two hours of daylight. Joe went behind a house into a field with a strip of woods dropping down the hill below it. He heard two birds fly up into the trees, and one of them gobbled several times.

No one else heard or saw anything, so we decided that Joe would set up there the next morning with Andy. We got there at 5 a.m., with the sky already brightening. We dropped them off first, and they hustled down the field to the edge of the woods.

Joe Hrbacek, center, proudly displays his wild turkey with his Grandpa Bob, left, and brother, Andy.

Within minutes, one of the birds started gobbling, soon joined by the other. They then flew down and started working their way toward the boys. Andy did the calling, and these two fired up toms gobbled at every noise he made. Later, he said he didn’t think his calling was very good. But, the turkeys didn’t seem to notice.

Eventually, they knew the birds were just over the hill, only about 25 yards away. They heard a low, humming sound toms make when they are puffing out their chests and displaying, or strutting. This noise is called spitting and drumming, and it’s always a good sign when you can hear it.

They whispered back and forth and now strategized about how to kill both birds. In the end, one bird poked its head over the hill and ran his head up, giving Joe a perfect shot. After a year and a half of waiting to fire a gun in the woods, he jumped on the chance to pull the trigger. Just as he was doing so, the other bird came into view. Right after the shot, the second bird went airborne. Andy fired twice, but the bird flew down the valley and over to the other side.

Lots of looking

I was so glad Joe got the bird. He had gone the longest without taking a shot, so I was hoping he would be the first one to pull the trigger. We took some photos, then resumed the hunt. We explored two more BMAs, plus checked out a piece of state land. Bob ended up seeing a group of eight toms cross a creek on one of the BMAs, but they wouldn’t come in to his calls. He shot three times at the birds, but they were too far away.

Fortunately, they roosted just a few hundred yards away, so we decided to come back the next morning and try for them. We did not get there as early as we had hoped, so we weren’t able to slip in as closely as we would have liked. The birds gobbled just a few times, then flew down and went the other way. We tried to go after them later, but never caught up.

It would have been nicer to have more action. Yet, I wasn’t surprised. Montana had the same early spring that we did here in Minnesota, which meant the birds started to lose interest in breeding earlier than normal. That added up to the lack of response we witnessed.

No regrets

Still, the trip was very enjoyable for all of us. We’re all glad we chose to do it, and maybe we’ll come back again someday when the birds are more active.

It’s important to note that an experience like this shouldn’t be measured solely by the number of birds that fall. Rather, the real value is time spent together. With so many youth losing interest in hunting, a three-generation hunt is becoming rare.

I’m hoping – and praying – that Grandpa Bob will stay healthy for years to come so that we can enjoy more hunts like this with him. As Andy pointed out, it’s always fun going to Montana. We know we’ll see lots of game, which we did on this trip. In addition to turkeys, we saw antelope, mule deer and whitetail deer, plus some upland game birds like pheasants and sharptail grouse. We couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to hunt this area in the fall.

I hope we get the chance to find out!

 

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Hannah and Ann: Two good and holy mothers for Mother’s Day

May 11, 2012

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St. Ann with Mary at St. John the Evangelist in Fort Pierre, SD

Hannah and Ann are two great and holy mothers of the Judeo-Christian tradition.  Hannah is the precursor to Ann.  The Hebrew name Hannah means “grace,” and the name “Ann,” another form of the name “Hannah,” also means “grace.”

Hannah lived in Old Testament times, in the Twelfth Century BC, and her story is told in the first two chapters of the First Book of Samuel, while Ann lived in New Testament times, over one thousand years later, during the late First Century BC and early First Century AD, and her story is told in the Protoevangelium of St. James, a book composed around 165 AD that is not in the Bible but a source for the Christian tradition.

Hannah was married, the faithful wife of Elkanah, and she reached old age without any children, and Ann was married, the faithful wife of Joachim, and she reached old age without any children.  Hannah spent many long hours in prayer, both at home and in the Temple at Shiloh, and Ann spent many long hours in prayer, both at home and in the Temple in Jerusalem.  Both begged God for a special favor, to be blessed with a child.  Hannah miraculously conceived and bore a son, Samuel; and Ann miraculously conceived and bore a daughter, Mary.

Both accepted their child as a gift from God, and in response they consecrated or dedicated their child to God:  Hannah presented her son Samuel to the priest Eli in the temple at Shiloh, and Ann presented her daughter Mary to the priest in the temple in Jerusalem.  It was their belief that God had a special purpose for each of their children, and they pledged to raise their children so they would be prepared to cooperate with God’s will.  Hannah’s son Samuel became the greatest of the Judges while Ann’s daughter Mary became the mother of Jesus the Savior.

Together, these two exceptional mothers offer great example and inspiration to the mothers of today.  Marriage precedes motherhood, so it is the first duty of a mother to be a loving and faithful wife.  All vocations come from God, so wives and mothers are called to be women of faith who pray regularly, both at home and in church.  Christian mothers realize that each of their children is a miracle and a gift from God, and in thanks they consecrate their children to God in the Sacrament of Baptism, and then raise their children to know, love, and serve God, so when the Lord calls their child to their chosen vocation, they will be ready to respond, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening,” and then to say, “Let it be done to me according to your word.”

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Mother’s Day, Mary and the Bread of Life

May 10, 2012

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This Mother’s Day marks one year since my mother succumbed to cancer.  I miss her and think of her often. When I think of my mom, my mind usually turns to food or the family gatherings that were surrounded by food.  Once, while in high school,  some friends stopped over to my house. Before they could leave, my mother had emptied the entire refrigerator! She would not let them leave until they ate something! In the world of food pushers, my Mom was the Godfather or should I say the Godmother! I guess mothers and food are forever linked in most of our minds.  But the food we receive from our mothers is much more than food.  Our mothers are our first teachers and the nourishment that they give to us is counted in greater terms than calories.

When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone. Whether we know it or not, none of us is. We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten. Food is never just food. It’s also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be.
Molly Wizenberg, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, 2009

Yes we have a great gift from our mothers as they teach us who we are, who we have been and who we want to be.  May is also the month of Mary and on May 31st we will celebrate the great feast day of the Visitation.  In the same way our mothers taught us – OUR mother Mary teaches us through the food of life that she brought to the table – Jesus Christ. In times of prayer we turn to mother Mary to be taught the same lesson of who we are, who we have been and who we want to be and it is through Christ, the bread of life, that these things are revealed.

When looking through our church cook book I came across one of the most beautiful stories that illustrates this connection between our mothers, food and the bread of life.  The dedication in the cookbook includes a story from Father Kevin Finnegan.  It goes:

My mother, Evie, took delight in having a day off from work so she could dote on her children and bake bread! Several loaves would be gone within minutes of getting home from school. Several months after my mom died on May 22nd,1983, my family came to a deeper appreciation of mom, the bread baker.  My sister was looking in the freezer for something to cook for dinner when she came across a loaf of her bread. She brought it into the kitchen, and one by one she was joined by my father, my brother and me. We placed the bread on a cutting board and practically watched it defrost. Then we shared it among us, recalling with great affection the devotion which our mother loved and served her family.

“They recounted what had taken place on the way and how He was made known to them in the breaking of the Bread.”  Luke 24:35

My own mother was a kolacky maker, but I will include Evie’s batter bread recipe below.

What memories of food are forever connected to your mother?  Share them in the comments section below.

EVIE’S WHITE BATTER BREAD
1 c. milk                   2 pkgs. active dry yeast
3 T. sugar                1 c. warm water
1 T. salt                    4 1/2 c. unsifted flour
2 T. margarine

Scald milk. Stir in sugar, salt and margarine. Cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add milk to mixture. Stir in flour (batter will be fairly stiff). Beat about 2 minutes.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 45 min. It will more than double in size. Stir batter down, beat vigorously for a minute. Turn into a well greased 9x5x4 in. loaf pan.  Bake in preheated oven at 375* for 50 min.  (Reprinted with permission from Divine Mercy Family Cookbook)

Honor your mother this Mother’s Day with food and stories about family, whether your mother is with you in this world or with the heavenly bread of life.

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A Pro-Life Mother’s Day Gift

May 10, 2012

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(Photo by Dave Hrbacek) Kalley Yanta at a blessing of her billboard with Franciscan Brother of Peace Pio King (L) and Fr. Robert Grabner

We mothers love breakfast in bed on our special day. Other things we cherish are: back rubs given by little hands, “Thanks Mom for Life” corsages from church, brunch with our own mothers, and family traditions.

And if Dad barbecues in the evening so that Mommy doesn’t have to make dinner–Bonus!

This year Kalley Yanta, a mother of six children and an advocate for Life, got something unique–not to mention big–for an early Mother’s Day gift: a billboard!

Mama Yanta’s Gift 

In an excited email to friends and family, Kalley wrote about her husband: “Jonathan Richard Yanta actually bought me a billboard for one month this year, which will be up until Mother’s Day.” (It went up earlier this month.)

Kalley, a former news anchor for KSTP-TV in Minneapolis, gave up her 11-year career in broadcast journalism in 1999 in favor of a higher calling — motherhood. “Since I had my first baby I have been inspired to encourage women not to have abortions,” Yanta said. (Hampton News)

She and her family have been doing just that by being lovely witnesses, and this Spring they have continued to encourage women to embrace Life in their own unique way. Her billboard is around the corner from the new, mega Planned Parenthood in St. Paul, and it is a beautiful reminder of how special every life is. It speaks to mothers of pre-born babies by proclaiming: “U R Worth It” and wishing them a Happy Mother’s Day.

Kalley asks that that people pray that there will be at least a few prospective patients of Planned Parenthood who see it, check out the YouTube video titled “URWORTHIT” (which is mentioned on the billboard), and make a serious u-turn AWAY from that horrific abortion center.  Then they can enjoy celebrating Mother’s Day for years and years to come, instead of facing the painful reminder of that child who is no longer with them.

Location, location, location!

Having a billboard in that location is something that the Yantas have wanted. But for the last few months, they were told by Clear Channel that all boards in the area were booked for 2 years. “Then I got a call from the sales representative saying that one had just become available.  I told Jon this bit of news, and he said, ‘How ’bout a billboard for Mother’s Day?’ ” Jon and Kalley designed it together, and then worked on shooting the video.

Kalley said, “Now I’m hoping the billboard right on Vandalia south of University will open. If that happens, I’ll have to do some fundraising… unless it happens near my birthday or Christmas (ha!).”

I asked Mama Yanta if she might get some special treatment on Mother’s Day even though she already received her special “big gift,” and she replied, “Knowing my husband, he’ll probably still give me flowers and one of his funny, hand-made cards.  But if not, he’s TOTALLY off the hook!”

Watch the lovely YouTube video:

In this clip, Kalley Yanta speaks directly to mothers contemplating abortion. She tells them where to find help, and lets them know that support will always be there for them. Hear the story of how the Yanta family befriended a mom who was abortion-minded, and now they babysit the little girl.

YouTube Preview Image

 

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A turkey in MN… and more!

May 10, 2012

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After hunting hard in Wisconsin for five days, it was time to get out in the woods in Minnesota. The hunting in Wisconsin was tough, and I managed to shoot a young male, called a jake. I took a shot at a mature tom at 30 yards, but missed.

Time after time, birds would hang up and not come all the way in, so frankly, I was expecting more of the same in Minnesota. I was prepared for difficult conditions, but also ready to try some new tactics to go after birds that might hang up.

My friend and expert turkey hunter, Steve Huettl, general manager of Gamehide, has spent a lot of time teaching me effective ways to hunt. He said if you can set up on a gobbler within 75 yards before you start calling, your odds of getting the bird to come within shotgun range (40 yards or less) dramatically increase.

With that in mind, I decided to hike a long ridge and try to find an active bird. I began my walk about 5:30 a.m. and started moving along the ridge, hoping to hear a gobble.

Sounding off

Unfortunately, I started hearing birds gobbling across the road. I had permission to hunt there, but figured I would strike up a bird on this ridge. I was hoping I wouldn’t regret my decision. At this point, it was too late to change. Before long, I heard a gobble in the distance on my side, and quickly began walking toward it. Steve has taught me to stop and listen every time I hear a crow call, and that’s exactly what I did when I heard this familiar sound.

To my surprise, right after the crow called, a tom sounded off very close. In fact, I already was even with the bird. I just slipped through some small trees and grass and got near the edge of the woods.

The turkey continued to gobble, and I eventually did some soft hen calls. He fired right back with an eager gobble, then added a few more. Thinking he was coming in, I got ready to shoot

But, he stayed put. Once again, I was faced with a hung-up bird. I thought about moving closer, than decided against it for fear of spooking the bird.

Good thing I did. Turns out he was still roosted in the tree. About 10 or 15 minutes after I sat down, I heard a ruckus in the trees and saw a black shape drop down to the ground.

Game on!

OK, I thought. Now, it’s show time. He gobbled a few times, then started swinging around to the right and toward me. There was a small clearing straight ahead of me, and I got into a shooting position.

It didn’t take long. In just a few minutes, I saw a head bobbing through the brush. Only a second or two later, I fired.

Things went still, and I briefly wondered if I had hit the bird. Then, I walked over and found him. The shot was only 21 yards. It was a beautiful bird, weighing about 22 pounds with a 9-inch beard. I was absolutely thrilled. It was one of my favorite hunts of all time. Added to my Wisconsin bird, it pushed my career total to 21 birds, with 20 of them coming in the spring and one in the fall.

Back to Wisconsin

With one tag and one day left in my turkey season in Wisconsin, I decided to try one last time for a bird across the border. I visited several properties in my last-ditch effort. I saw a tom in a field, stalked in and called, but no answer. I visited another property and didn’t hear or see a thing. Finally, I went to the last place on my list. I had shot my nicest bird there last year, and hoped it would produce again this year. I saw two hens, and called both in close, but the boyfriend was nowhere in sight.

Finally, at about 5:30 p.m., I went to the far end of the property, where I had heard one gobble on Day 1. At a corner where a mowed path reaches a clover field, I spotted something brown in the grass. Walking up, it appeared to be a mushroom of some sort. But, it wasn’t flat like those I had seen before. Then, it hit me: Could this be a morel?

I called my brother-in-law immediately, and he asked me to take a picture and send it to his phone. I did, but it didn’t work. So, I decided to just pick them anyway, figuring I could discard them later if they weren’t morels.

In only about 20 to 30 minutes, I picked at least 100, filling the back pouch of my turkey vest. They were bigger than I thought morels grew (some were at least 6 inches long), and far more numerous than I imagined. I only searched a very small area.

Paydirt!

When I got home, I called a nearby morel expert, Chris Thompson, academic dean at the St. Paul Seminary. He came over right away and confirmed that they were, indeed, morels. In fact, when he arrived at my doorstep, he looked down, saw my vest and stared into it for five minutes before he rang the doorbell. He was absolutely stunned at my harvest. He said he had been hard at it all spring and only had found one small one.

His look of shock turned to joy when I said I would be happy to share some with him. He took them home to clean them off, then invited me over for fried mushrooms. He pan fried them in butter, then made an omelette with them. Both were delicious. The good news is, there are plenty more left, so there will be more good eating to come.

The day ended at midnight, which was especially long given that I awoke at 3:30 a.m. But, I am not complaining. I started the day with one of my most exciting turkey hunts ever, and ended it with a dinner of fresh morel mushrooms.

I couldn’t ask for more. As my father-in-law likes to say: God surprised me with his blessings! Thanks be to Him.

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How can this be God’s will?

May 9, 2012

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It's hard to see how a loving God could allow suffering and setbacks. But we don't always see the whole picture. Photo/ Ben Sutherland. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Have you ever prayed to do God’s will, really hoping that He will do your will? Then when things turn out worse than you planned, you question how a good God could will such a lousy turn of events? Or do you ever wonder why God would allow things that are both terrible and random to happen to innocent people?

The classic question is, how can an all-knowing, all powerful God allow suffering, crime, disasters and all the other evil of the world?  Throughout history the greatest minds have pondered this problem. I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers in a short blogpost but we can find some insights by looking at two facets of God’s will, which account for everything that happens.

Ordaining Will

This is the “active” will of God, who wants only what is good and holy. It’s God’s plan for all of creation and each person. God’s ordaining will is outside our free will; only He has influence over it.  Examples of God’s ordaining will are found in:

  •  Scripture,
  • The Ten Commandments as given to Moses,
  • The Precepts of the Church,
  • The duties of our state in life,
  • Obedience to lawful authority—civil, family and church, and
  • The New Commandment, as given by Jesus to love one another.

Permissive Will

We often want God’s ordaining will to line up with our own will but most of us are a little more apprehensive about what He’s going to allow. Under His permissive will, God operates in accordance with our free will, the laws of Nature that He established and the actions of angels and demons.

In his blog, Glenn Dallaire talks about how God allows but doesn’t will physical and mental illnesses, accidents, natural disasters, the bad effects of our sinful free will choices and those of the angels and demons, along with their influences and effects upon us.

It’s impossible for God to will evil because as St. Thomas Aquinas writes, God wills his own goodness. When He does allow evil He seeks to draw good from everything.   According to St. Thomas:

God therefore neither wills evil to be done, nor wills it not to be done, but wills to permit evil to be done; and this is a good.

It might seem contradictory that God wills our punishment but in itself that punishment is a good with evil attached to it. This can work the other way, too. Someone doing evil can accidentally bring about good without intending it. The good isn’t intrinsic to the action but it contributes to the beauty and perfection of the universe. One example is when a person is martyred for the faith. This evil action has at least one good result: the martyred person becomes a saint.

We may like some aspects of God’s will in our lives better than others but it doesn’t really matter if they’re the result of His ordaining or permitting will because God’s seen everything that happens to us beforehand, has pondered how we would benefit from it and has approved of it.

St. Augustine summed it up this way:

 “Nothing is done, unless the Almighty wills it to be done, either by permitting it, or by actually doing it.”

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Sign up for daily e-mail reflections from Deacon Winninger

May 9, 2012

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Are you looking for a spiritual boost?

Deacon Thomas Winninger writes a daily e-mail reflection entitled “Jesus Speaking” that aims to do just that.

Discover the meaning to your life. Encounter Jesus on a daily basis. Learn how to live faith in everything you do. Eliminate the frustrations and indecision you face daily. Jesus is speaking to you through these daily morning and evening scripture reflections.

Click here to sign up and take a step forward in your spiritual life.

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