Archive | November, 2012

Deer hunting at night?

November 29, 2012


I read a shocking article in the StarTribune yesterday, in which outdoors writer Doug Smith described the attempt by Chippewa tribes in Wisconsin to allow night hunting for whitetail deer.

My first thought was “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Then, as I continued to reflect on this disturbing action by the tribes, I recalled that this is exactly the kind of thing I have feared all along in the ongoing treaty rights debate.

I wondered if the victories won by the tribes would lead to more actions like this. It’s understandable that, after winning a major victory, they might try to win more rights.

But, where do you draw the line? That’s the question I keep asking. I understand that we have to honor whatever rights the treaties have granted. But, I think it can be very hard to understand just what rights the bands are entitled to. And, with so many more people using the resources now than when the treaties were signed 150 years ago, the implications are more dramatic.

For me, a big issue is the whole concept of “sovereign nation” status that the tribes have. I would like to see that come to an end and have everyone in the country governed by one set of laws. I don’t necessarily mean just take over the bands and forces our laws upon them. But rather, enter into intense and determined negotiations to settle the matter once and for all.

If we don’t, things like the night-hunting proposal will keep popping up. And, I don’t believe things like this do one bit of good in helping build relations between Indians and non-Indians. Building bridges between the two cultures is desperately needed and long overdue. I don’t think it is a good long-term solution to continue to have sovereign nation status. If the bands continue to get more rights, there is going to be a pushback. Imagine deer hunters setting up camp on the eve of the firearms opener, then hearing shots in the dark and seeing flashlights shining in the woods.

Thankfully, a judge in Wisconsin temporarily blocked the band’s plan to night hunt for deer. But, the issue is far from over. There still must be a final ruling in the case, which sets up the possibility of night hunting in Wisconsin for deer.

I, for one, hope this never happens. Deer hunters – and the deer themselves – deserve better.


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When you least expect it, God shows up

November 26, 2012


God puts us where he wants us.

He puts others where he wants them, too.

Sometimes our stories and those of others become enjoined, our “where” and the “where” of others come together, and God makes his presence felt. That’s what seems to happen in “Unexpected Presence,” a gathering of a dozen stories destined to awaken one’s spirituality and remind us we’re all part of a greater story.

In less than an hour you’ll breeze through this little, pocket-size ACTA Publications collection that’s subtitled “Twelve Surprising Encounters with the Divine Spirit.”

These are first-person pieces, the longest only 13 pages and a couple only six. Every one is a winner, though, a credit to Dave Fortier who wrote one of them and edited the rest.

A few of the writers are published authors, but not all.

Alice Camille, a well-known Catholic writer and religious educator,  shares the time when, burned out on church work and temporarily employed at an incense factory, she had to explain the parable of The Prodigal Son to her co-workers. It’s an unforgettable anecdote you’ll find yourself re-telling others.

Charlotte Bruney is a lay pastoral administrator in New York who writes about the Holy Week she spent not at the church services she loves but as chaplain in a university hospital with a very busy trauma center. She notes, “Its steady diet of tragedy felt to me like an eternal Lent.” Instead of attending the Mass of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday or venerating the cross on Good Friday, Bruney tells of baptizing an infant with a massive tumor, of holding the hand of a suicidal heroin addict going through withdrawal, of bringing communion to a woman with an irreversible condition, of encouraging a scared teen to go through with a bone marrow transplant — and finding God in each setting. She writes:

I was not where I wanted to be that week; it was not what I wanted to be doing. Still, should I really be so surpassed to find the Divine One lurking in the darkest of places?

These are heartfelt and heart-warming stories all. You love the punch line from Donald Paglia, the head of a diocesan family life office who finds that parenting is the last thing he wants to do one evening.

Fortier’s own “confession” is a worthy entry, too, one that will make readers reflect on, as he puts it, “the greater story” often hidden as we make our judgments about those whose lives touch ours. These are stories that reveal God alive in our world, and that’s something we all need to be reminded of. — BZ


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A doe with my bow… almost

November 26, 2012


After shooting my biggest buck ever this fall, the only thing left to accomplish in the woods is getting my first deer with a bow. I would have to try for a doe because Minnesota allows hunters to tag only one buck per year.

I went out twice last week on a metro property that is archery only. The first time, I saw nothing. The second outing, which took place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, nearly gave me an opportunity to take a nice doe.

I knew that the cold weather would get the deer moving, so I put on heavy layers and climbed into one of my ladder stands that morning. Things were very quiet until about 8:30, when I heard something walking in the snow behind me. I turned to look and saw a doe and her fawn coming in at about 25 to 30 yards.

They walked around a deadfall, then turned and started coming directly toward me. Their line of travel would take them almost right underneath my stand. Then, they stopped at about 15 yards or so.

The doe, walking ahead of her fawn, turned broadside and started nibbling on a small tree branch. Unfortunately, she was standing behind a small tree. The trunk was right in front of her vitals. There was room on either side, but I didn’t think I should shoot. She looked relaxed and content, and I figured she eventually would take a step forward.

That’s all I needed – one step. But, she ended up jerking her head up and spooking. I was flabbergasted. I thought I was motionless. Thinking about it later, I figured she probably saw my breath. Her head was up because she was munching on the twig, so my breath must have alerted her. That’s the problem with hunting in the cold – you can’t hide your breath.

She did what most spooked whitetails do – she ran about 25 to 30 yards, then turned and looked back. It was a great shot opportunity for a gun hunter, but I had no shot with my bow.

Amazingly, she stood there for a few moments, then turned and came all the way back in. I thought I would get a shot at her this time.

I was wrong. She stood facing me with her head up, looking right at me. Then, she did what no deer hunter wants to see – she stomped her foot.

I was hoping if I sat still, she would calm down and resume feeding. Instead, she did the worst thing possible – she snorted, then ran off. Game over.

Sure looked like things were going to come together for me this time. If it wasn’t for the small tree, I would have had a perfect broadside shot. But, that’s bow hunting. You can have a deer in range, but not take a shot.

I was bummed for a while, then reminded myself that I shot the buck of a lifetime earlier this month. That has a way of melting away the disappointment.

I hope to get out again, but not sure if I will. The archery season lasts until Dec. 31, but I don’t know how to hunt the post-rut period. From what I’ve heard and read, it’s all about food. So, finding food sources and setting up near them is the key. Don’t know if the two stands I have set up now are in the right place or not. One of them was in a good spot on Saturday, but I don’t know if deer movement patterns will change after the rut comes to a close.

I will do some more research on that. One thing appears likely – I definitely could end my second year of bow hunting without putting a tag on a deer. I can’t say that I failed to kill a deer. I hit two and don’t know if they died or not. All I know is I did not recover either one.

What I can say definitively is this – bow hunting is extremely hard, and any deer taken with my bow will be a well-earned  trophy!

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Here’s a book for when you haven’t got a prayer

November 26, 2012


There’s a misleading subtitle on a wonderful new book, “Acceptable Words: Prayers for the Writer”; although writers are certainly the target audience, the collection isn’t just for writers, it’s for anyone.

Prayers come from a wide-ranging list, names you know and names you’ve more than likely never heard. There’s Thomas Merton and G.K. Chesterton, e.e. cummings and Bernard of Cluny, Thomas Aquinas, Jane Austen, John Donne, T.S. Eliot, Henri Nouwen, John Henry Newman, Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn and so many more.

But there’s also American poet Otto Selles and novelist Sandy Tritt, South African political activist Joe Seremane, Luci Shaw, Macrina Wiederkehr, Frank Topping, William J. Vande Kopple and Scott Hoezee.

Though they pray from different eras and in many different styles, a base of belief undergirds them all. As editors Gary D. Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney note, “These are the prayers of those who love words and who love God’s world and who love the ways in which the words and the world may come together. These prayers are acts of devotion, are expressions of frustration, are pleas for hope and understanding.”

Hoezee, a minister and theologian, penned a few of those that spoke to me. In one, for example, he asks the Lord:

Help me listen to the ordinary things people tell me. Make me attend to how they speak and to the yearnings of their hearts that emerge in such daily conversations. If I need fresh language and new metaphors, let them emerge from the ordinary as well as from the extraordinary so that the words I wrote may, must so, speak strength and grace into the commonplace of people’s lives.

Topping, a methodist minister and playwright,  prayed one of those that non-writers will find of value:

Lord Jesus, write your truth in my mind, your joy in my heart, and your love in my life, that filled with truth, possessed by joy, and living in love, your integrity, your humor, and your compassion might be born in me again.

Artists of all kinds will appreciate these lines from Dag Hammarskjold, the late United Nations’ general secretary:

Thou takest the pen — and the lines dance. Thou takest the flute‚ and the notes shimmer. Thou takest the brush and the colors sing. So all things have meaning and beauty in that space beyond time where Thou art. How, then, can I hold back anything from Thee?

There are dozens just as meaningful and touching as these, prayers by Dom Helder Camara, by Rainer Maria Rilke, by the ancient composers of the psalms.

Schmidt and Stickney have organized them into eight categories with teasing introductions to each that will whet your appetite to dive into the batch of prayers that follow.

The writers’ way with words glistens in nearly every single one. Some are more formal and pietistic, some more earth-bound and in everyday language. You’ll find many you’ll want to pray over and over, but let me share just one more example from this Eerdmans paperback ($16). It’s credited to the conference of European Churches:

Lord God, we have given more weight to our successes and our happiness than to your will.

We have eaten without a thought for the hungry.

We have spoken without an effort to understand others.

We have kept silence instead of telling the truth.

We have judged others, forgetful that you alone are the judge.

We have acted rather in accordance with our opinions than according to your commands.

Within your church we have been slow to practice love of our neighbors.

And in the world we have not been your faithful servants.

Forgive us and help us to live as disciples of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Savior. Amen.

— BZ

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Catholic Relief Services offers some ‘Good News – For a Change’

November 20, 2012


The federal “fiscal cliff” is looming. Tensions remain high in the Middle East. Hurricane Sandy’s victims are still struggling to pick up the pieces left in the storm’s wake.

A lot of the news we hear about is tragic and sad.

But, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, Catholic Relief Services has something positive to share: “Good News — For a Change.”

The initiative highlights fantastic strides being made in the fight against global poverty thanks to generous donations to CRS and other humanitarian agencies.

“Too often, we focus on problems,” John Rivera, CRS’ communications director said in a news release. “We thought we’d take a different approach. Drawing on our tradition of Catholic social teaching, with its focus on the common good and integral human development, we decided we would emphasize both our grounding in the Gospel as well as our effective action for improving the lives of the people we serve. Hence, ‘Good News — For a Change.’”

Here are some of the highlights cited by CRS:

Between 1990 and 2010, more than 2 billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources, such as piped supplies and protected wells.

Guinea worm disease, an infectious parasitic disease, is on the verge of eradication. While there were 3.2 million cases in 1986, fewer than 400 cases now exist in just four African countries (about 99 percent of transmission is occurring in South Sudan).

In 2011, an estimated 6.9 million children died before their fifth birthday, compared to around 12 million in 1990. Rates of child mortality have fallen in all regions of the world in the last two decades.

More girls around the world are attending school and advancing further than ever before.

There are effective ways, with the use of antiretroviral drug therapy and related medical care, to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child in as many as 98 percent of cases.

You can read CRS’ full “Good News — For a Change” report online.

CRS is the official international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic community.

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Did you know … Some impressive facts about SJV College Seminary

November 19, 2012

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I recently received my fall copy of Vianney News, and the “Did you know…” section on the publication’s back page caught my eye.

It highlights some very impressive facts that, I suspect, many people don’t know:

• St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul is the largest college seminary in the United States.

• More than 300 people attend the Last Chance Mass every Sunday evening during the school year in its chapel.

• SJV seminarians are up every day at 5:30 am for 6:15 am prayer and holy hour.

• The typical seminarian studies 40 hours a week, and the average GPA for SJV men is 3.45.

• SJV seminarians are teaching religious education in parishes throughout the archdiocese.

• Several SJV men are invited to speak at local and national events.

Want to know more about SJV? Visit its website, or look for it on Facebook.

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Famous people who were adopted

November 19, 2012


Licensed under Creative Commons by Paul Stein

When it is the birthday of my friends and family members who are adopted, I make sure to tell them, “I’m so glad you were born!” Not every child is given the chance to live. Thankfully, some women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy do allow their babies to exist in God’s creation.  Perhaps they have turned their backs on abortion. Maybe they made an unselfish decision years later, that their child would fare better if placed with other parents through adoption. And how glorious it is when couples open their homes to children in need of a family.

Imagine the babies who were not allowed to live. Imagine all the little ones, across the world, awaiting a new home. (Click here for information on international adoption.)

My friend Tina and her husband Dave adopted a 9-year-old from Ethiopia two years ago. Eli has blessed them in numerous ways, and they have been a blessing to him. Below is a humerous conversation they had about Thanksgiving, which is a new experience for him:

Tina: Sadly, the longer Eli is with us, the less I will have these conversations…but it’s not over yet!

Eli: So is beef made from turkey?
Tina: What? (chuckling) No honey, beef is from cows.
Eli: Why do they call it beef turkey then?
Tina: It’s beef JERKY, not turkey! (ok I had to laugh)

November is the month to celebrate the gift of adoption. Did you know the people in this video were adopted?

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Today is Give to the Max Day! Support your favorite Catholic School or cause!

November 15, 2012


Today is the day to potentially give your giving a little more punch.

From the GiveMN website:

Today our communities come together for 24 hours of online giving. Every donation you make during Give to the Max Day 2012 will help qualify your nonprofit or school for prize money and awards, furthering the impact of your donation.

There are several ways your donation can go further on Give to the Max Day.

Leaderboard prize grants – nonprofits which raise the most dollars will earn a spot on one of the four leaderboards. There are prize grants for each of the top 10 spots on all leaderboards. Prizes are as follows: 1st place – $12,500; 2nd place – $5,000; 3rd place – $2,500; 4th-10th place – $1,000.

Golden Tickets – One nonprofit donor and one K-12 public schools donor will be randomly chosen every hour to have $1,000 added to their donation. One nonprofit donor and one K-12 public schools donor will also be selected randomly from throughout the 24 hours of giving to have $10,000 added to their donation!

Matching grants – hundreds of nonprofits are offering a dollar-for-dollar match so you can double your donation.

Learn about the nonprofits and schools serving our area, make a donation, and watch your generosity change lives. For complete rules and prizes, click the link below.

Here’s how to find your Catholic School or organization

1) Click on this link




Note: The “Find a School” button seems to apply to public schools only.


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Big buck appears in season’s final minutes

November 12, 2012


I was sitting high in a ladder stand yesterday near Red Wing during the final day of the 3A firearms season. In several days afield, including several dawn to dusk sits, I had seen only two deer – a buck that was too small based on the Zone 3, southeast Minnesota four-point antler restriction, and a doe that spooked and ran before I could shoot.

So, it had been a frustrating season. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go out hunting yesterday, but my friend and hunting partner, Bernie Schwab, persuaded me to give it one last try. He was gearing up for an all-day sit. I didn’t know if I wanted to hunt that long.

From the outset, the weather was brutal. It was cold, very windy and it rained some. I couldn’t sit all day, so we got down for lunch and came back at 1:30 for the afternoon sit. In the morning, I had been sitting in the stand  where he had shot a nice 10-pointer the previous weekend, plus seen lots of does. After lunch, I decided to sit in a stand on the far south end of the property that I just put up last year. Bernie saw a buck from it last year, and only sat in it once this year. I thought that might help, as the deer would be less disturbed.
This buck came out with only about 10-15 minutes of shooting light left. I ranged him out in the picked bean field at 180 yards, which would have been a very long shot with a shotgun, and one I would prefer not to take. I decided that I would try it in the last five minutes if he didn’t come in.
But, guess what? He turned toward me and trotted right at me. He passed the tip of a finger of woods that I had ranged at 100 yards, and he kept coming farther, then turned and gave me a great broadside shot. I shot more than once, and am not sure which one was the kill shot. He came right to the edge of the woods where my stand was and went in just a few yards and died.
I knew he was nice when I saw him come in, but was too busy getting ready for a shot to examine his antlers. He’s a beauty! He was a 10-pointer originally, but he broke off one of this brow tines, plus another small point near the tip of one of his main beams.
Fortunately, the five points on the opposite side are intact. He’s got a 19-inch inside spread, and I’m going to have him mounted. That was the only deer I saw all day. I just kept telling myself, “I only need to see one deer.” Frankly, I would have been very happy with a doe, as it would have provided some venison for the freezer.
This afternoon, I called Lou Cornicelli of the DNR to tell him about my hunt. I also asked him to delete an email I had sent last week, in which I railed on the four-point rule because it keeps me from shooting a deer for the table.
If I had shot the small buck I saw on opening day, I never would have had a chance at this one, which will be at the taxidermist very soon. And, just as important, I will have lots of venison to enjoy in the months ahead. Praise God for this great blessing!
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A peek into Catholic sisters’ lives

November 10, 2012


I smiled, reminisced, nodded in recognition and chuckled aloud reading “Habits,” a witty work that takes us — in wee snapshots — into the world of Catholic sisters.

With source material from the stories and the oral histories of the Sisters of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn., Susan Sink has crafted 43 100-word stories that pull back the curtain on what is was like to enter and live in and serve in a community of Catholic women religious during the past century.

Each story is a little gem that gives you answers to some of those things you’ve always wondered about sisters — what it was like to have to go around dressed in those habits, what they thought of the strange-sounding names the were given and the big one, of course: What kind of girl becomes a nun?

One answer comes in the story “Vocation”:

I thought I’d like to be a Dominican because they always looked so scholarly. Then I thought, “That’s no way to join.” So I prayed,”Lord, you’ll have to show me.” After a year out, in 1925, I figured it was time. I didn’t join for the glamour, actually.

These days, I’m so tired of hearing young women say: “I’m going to try the life. It’s so beautiful and peaceful.” Stuff like that. You don’t try it out; you go because it’s what God wants.

You’ll love the anecdotes about life in the monastery — sneaking out windows to go to the movies, the fact that some had beer (free from a generous local brewer), kitchen duty that included having to butcher a bear and, touchingly, that last cigarette.

Spirituality oozes out of all of it. One story in particular cleverly paints the picture of convent life:

Going to bed was liturgical. We lived our faith, practiced its words and gestures. It made climbing the stairs to bed a procession. Even the barn was a sacred place. We kept it clean as though Mary and Joseph could show up at the door any evening in need of a place to stay.

A plus for those of us whose lives were touched so deeply by sisters is that “Habits” triggers memories of the women religious who formed our lives.

So, Theophilia, Dolorine, Grace — how’d she ever get lucky enough to get Grace? — wherever you are, consider this a literary toast. You Felicians were terrific.

NOTE: “Habits” is self-published by Susan Sink and available for $12 at, on the author’s website, and at


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