Archive | April, 2013

It’s turkey time!

April 29, 2013


My wild turkey season in Wisconsin begins Wednesday. I will be hunting with Bob Guditis, who is the father of my first wife, Jennifer, who died of cancer in 1995. I still call him my father-in-law. That’s what he’ll always be to me.

We went out scouting yesterday and enjoyed a fabulous afternoon, with temperatures in the upper 70s. I’m sure the warmth will get the breeding going strong. I talked to one of the landowners, and he says he has been hearing turkeys gobbling along a ridge regularly. I’ve got my blind close to that ridge and near the edge of two large agricultural fields that have some waste corn from last fall.

An area like this is excellent for turkeys and I have killed several birds in this spot over the last six years. I’m confident that there will be birds around, which is what you want.

Another good sign is seeing a few turkeys tracks, plus wild flowers blooming, a sure sign that spring is here. We did see a few patches of snow as we drove around, but it will be gone soon. I think we’ve seen the last of the white stuff.

Bob, meanwhile, got excited when I showed him the piece of land he’ll be hunting. It’s got a nice trout stream running through it, and he’s an avid flyfisherman. So, he’ll have both a shotgun and a flyrod with him. If the turkeys aren’t active, he’ll head to the stream for some trout fishing.

I just hope the weather is decent for at least part of the time. It’s looking like we won’t see the 70s during our week-long hunt, but I would be OK with 50s. After all, turkeys are not nearly as temperature sensitive as humans are. In fact, the most gobbling I ever heard at dawn came on a very cold morning in early April when the temperature was 22 degrees, and only warmed to the low 40s.

This gobbling fest took place on the same property Bob will be hunting. I hope and pray he can get a nice tom to come in close enough for a shot!

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St. Joseph the Worker the virtue of work

April 29, 2013


StJoseph&Jesus_vertMay 1 is the memorial of St. Joseph the Worker.  Joseph was a carpenter (Mt 13:55) and an exemplary worker.  God wants each of us to be good workers.

Work is a good thing.  God made it so when God worked for six days when God created the world.  On the seventh day, God rested from all of the work he had done (Gen 2:2).

It is part of God’s master plan for the human race that people would work and be partners with the Creator in the ongoing work of creation.  When God placed the man in the garden, God told him to “care for it” (Gen 2:15).  God also said, “By the sweat of your brow shall you get bread to eat” (Gen 3:19).  Cain and Abel were workers, one a tiller of the soil, the other a keeper of the flocks (Gen 4:2).  Noah was a ship builder.

St. Joseph was a tremendous worker.  Modern Bible translations say that Joseph was a carpenter, but he most likely was a craftsman who worked in both wood and stone.  Joseph invested the talents and abilities that God gave to him (see Mt 25:14-17,19-23).  He delivered a valuable service to his customers and provided for his family.  Since he was a righteous man (Mt 1:19), it is presumed that he was industrious, that he gave an earnest and steady effort, and that he was diligent and conscientious, reliable and dependable, productive and efficient.  As we commemorate St. Joseph on May 1st, it is a time to take note of his positive attributes as a worker, and use these exceptional qualities as an inspiration and guide to help us be better workers ourselves.

Work provides resources to support one’s self and one’s family; contributes to the well-being of others and society; enables a person to share with others, particularly the needy; prevents unnecessary dependency; utilizes one’s unique skills and gifts; keeps a person constructively occupied; reduces gossiping and meddling in the affairs of others; and can be an avenue to personal holiness.

While work is a virtue, sloth is a vice and a capital sin.  The slothful person is lazy, has little ambition, gives little or no effort, is sluggish and apathetic, and avoids work.  Often laxity in work goes hand-in-hand with laxity in the spiritual life.  St. Paul has stern words for lazy Christians:  “If anyone [is] unwilling to work, neither should that one eat” (2 Thes 3:10).

Laziness is a sin against God’s love.  It is the failure to invest talents in a constructive way for the benefit of others and the glory of God.  St. Joseph honored God by being an industrious worker.  His memorial is a reminder that God wants each of us to be good workers.

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Peter takes the plunge of faith

April 13, 2013


Fisherman mosaic at outdoor altar at Church of the Primacy of Peter Tabgha in Galilee Israel

Fisherman mosaic at outdoor altar at Church of the Primacy of Peter Tabgha in Galilee Israel

A Puzzling Passage.   After Jesus rose from the dead he appeared on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The gospel includes some curious details: “On hearing it was the Lord, Simon Peter threw on some clothes (he was stripped) and jumped into the water” (NAB, 1970), or according to the most recent translation, “When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea” (Jn 21:7) (RNAB, 2010).

Sin and Separation.  Peter was in the boat and Jesus was on the shore, and they were about one hundred yards apart.  Peter may have loved Jesus, but the sin he committed when he denied Jesus three times put distance between them. Jesus is the reconciler. Jesus reconciled all things to himself through the blood of his Cross (Col 1:20). Therefore, at the sight of Jesus, Peter may have felt that mercy would be available to him if he would only go to Jesus.

A Major Conversion Moment.  For Peter it was a time of decision, a moment of truth.  Jesus had prayed for Peter’s faith (Lk 22:31). Jesus wanted Peter’s faith to increase to a much higher level. It was time for Peter to go from moderate belief to full belief, from hesitation to confidence, from doing what he wanted to whatever Jesus asked, and from wanting to safeguard his life to a willingness to lay down his life for God and the sheep (Mt  10:39;16:25; Jn 15:13). For Peter it was time to take a leap of faith, to take the plunge. Peter jumped out of the boat and into the sea to go to Jesus.

Lightly clad Peter.  Some translations say that Peter was stripped or naked; others say that he was lightly clad. Peter would have been wearing a loin cloth, and when he went to see Jesus on the shore it would have been polite to appear before him fully dressed. Symbolically, Peter’s nakedness suggests that his sinfulness was exposed before Jesus and that he was in desperate need of forgiveness.

He tucked in his garment.  Fishermen typically wore a smock, a loose outer garment, particularly during the nighttime hours when it often was quite chilly. A swimmer would not put on a cloak before swimming because it would create so much drag in the water, even if it was tucked in or tied down with a belt or rope.

Come to the water.  By the time the Gospel of John was written, probably in the late 90s AD, the ritual for the Sacrament of Baptism was already established in the early Church. Peter was about to make a profession of faith with his three statements, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you” (Jn 21:15,16,17). Faith in Jesus leads to baptism. At the symbolic level, the outer garment may represent a baptismal garment, his jump into the sea may represent the descent into the waters of an immersion baptismal font, and his arrival on the shore may represent the emergence up the steps out of the font by a new believer. Through his plunge into the water, Peter’s sins were washed away, and he was created anew in Jesus who is living water (see Jn 4:14; 7:38).

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Where are the Women?

April 13, 2013


Creative Commons license by wonderline

Mary anoints Jesus’ feet.


During the conclave I happened across a group of protesters outside of the Archdiocesan Chancery office.  As I was leaving the Cathedral parking lot, I noticed a woman parking her car.  She paused to pull a sign out of her trunk.  I watched in amazement as this woman took advantage of the free parking in the Cathedral parking lot (Intended for visitors to the Cathedral) while she took the opportunity to stand in some sort of protest against the Catholic Church.   Talk about taking advantage of Christian hospitality.  I would have towed her car!

As I left the lot and took a look at the signs they were carrying. They said, “Hey Cardinals, where are the women?”  I almost pulled over my car, jumped out and said, “I am right here!”


There are so many things wrong with this scenario – I felt compelled to set it right.

  1. First off – there is no Cardinal inside of the building they were protesting.  Just our Archbishop.
  2. If they took the time to check – they would find out that Archbishop Nienstedt has more women in his Cabinet (roughly equivalent to a board of directors) than most Fortune 500 companies.  These are strong woman in decision making positions.
  3. The fact that women are not ordained  in no way diminishes the role of women in the church.  Priests have a certain role in God’ s plan for the Church just as married couples, single people, religious orders and yes – women!

If you haven’t ever read Pope John Paul’s letter to women, you can find it here.  When I first read it I was able to realize that being a Catholic Feminist (In the context of the new feminism – much like the new evangelization) is not an oxymoron.

Pope Francis even dedicated his first Wednesday audience talk on women in the church.

As the Pope notes, the first witness of the resurrection were women.  In fact Jesus and the founding Fathers of the Church elevated women in a way that was unprecedented in their time,  Christ spoke to the Samarian woman, had women disciples, and the early church was supported by women. Besides the more familiar names of Mary, Martha and Mary Magdalene, check out Pricilla and Lydia, the maker of purple cloth. Women have shaped the church from it’s origin.

Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources. – Luke 8:3

Let’s not talk of ancient history only.  Throughout the history of the church we have many women who have served the church.  The list of saints are full of them.  Four  women are considered Doctors of the Church (This is a very special title accorded by the Church to certain saints. This title indicates that the writings and preachings of such a person are useful to Christians “in any age of the Church.” Such men and women are also particularly known for the depth of understanding and the orthodoxy of their theological teachings.) Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, and Hildegard of Bingen.  All of these saints are models of women in the Church. These aren’t wimpy women.  They all faced hardships of their times and helped to shape the Catholic Church we know today.

Let’s move on to present day.  Women have been aiding the mission of the Church locally and in a very tangible way through the work of the Council of Catholic Women.  This year they celebrate 81 years of service to the Catholic church.  Check out the topics at their convention in May – Be the Voice of Catholic Women.

I couldn’t talk about women in the church today without mentioning one of my heroins: Helen Alvare.  Here is her Bio:  Professor of Law at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, where she teaches and writes in the areas of family law and law and religion. She is a consultor to Pope Benedict XVI’s Pontifical Council for the Laity, a consultant for ABCNews, and the Chair of the Conscience Protection Task Force at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey. She co-authored and edited the book, Breaking Through: Catholic Women Speak For Themselves. Professor Alvaré received her law degree from Cornell University and her master’s in systematic theology from the Catholic University of America.

In addition to the credits above she started the movement “Women Speak for Themselves.

I was blessed to hear her talk recently for the Siena Symposium.  Instead of me trying to share her wisdom and spirit – see it for yourself here:

She reminds me that women can have it all.  If we know what “all” means.

Like I said – She is my hero!

I hear there is a “Women’s Argument of the Month Club coming soon.  The idea is women getting together to learn and discuss what it means to be a Catholic woman.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Catholic Faith Formation more information can be found here.

So in answer to the question posed on the protest signs; “Where are the women?”  My answer is: “We are right here!!”

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Bishop Paride Taban Speaks about Peacemaking in South Sudan

April 12, 2013


On Tuesday, April 9, the Center for Mission at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis hosted a speaker’s forum for Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban to hear his personal stories of joy, struggle and heartbreak as he works for much needed peacemaking in the South Sudan.


Bishop Paride Taban served in the Diocese of Torit in the South Sudan from 1983 – 2004 and was present during the brutal and socially debilitating war between the North and the South.  Villagers were often killed or kidnapped by the army, and the conflict left many homeless and hungry.  He spoke of villagers, left without food, eating “dogs, cats and rats” whatever they could find. Taban himself spent 100 days in jail and with other prisoners went on a hunger strike until international pressure forced his release.

As a reaction to these events, Bishop Taban became an outspoken leader for peacemaking and established Holy Trinity Peace Village in Kuron in 2005.  This village emphasizes human dignity and sharing of the common good regardless of age, sex, political affiliation or religion (Christian, Moslem or Tribal).  The village has successfully accomplished his objectives of peace and tolerance providing food, education and health care for all.

This year, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon awarded Bishop Taban the 2013 Sergio Vieira de Mello Peace Prize for his tireless efforts at peacemaking in war-torn Sudan.

After speaking at the Center for Mission Forum, Bishop Taban accepted an invitation from Principal Kathleen Segna and Assistant Principal/Teacher Amy Hoenecker to speak at St. John’s Catholic School in Hopkins. The entire school assembled to greet him with a rousing “Karibu” (“welcome” in Swahili).  Bishop Taban shared his experiences and walked among the student to greet everyone, answer questions and shake hands.   At the end, the students presented the Bishop with several items from Minnesota and sang a farewell blessing.  He was so touched, that this 77 year-old Bishop demonstrated for the kids his ability to hop like a frog 100 times and led students in jumping jacks.


The Center for Mission will continue to periodically host guest speakers for the Mission Forum lunches.  For more information regarding the forum or Bishop Paride Taban, contact Mickey Friesen,

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Fixing my bow

April 5, 2013


A very troubling and perplexing problem came up last week during one of my archery practice sessions. I had been doing well shooting at 20 yards since getting my new Vapor Trail string installed at A1 Archery in Hudson.

Then, things went bad last week while I was shooting at 20 yards, my usual distance. The first arrow hit 2 inches to the right. Then, the second one did, and the third. I had been hitting the bullseye or close to it regularly, so this was strange. As I continued shooting, the arrows started drifting farther to the right. Finally, I had one hit six inches to the right.

I thought my shooting form was going bad, and I got very upset with myself. Turns out a screw was loose – not inside of me, but on the bow. The day after Easter, I called A1 to ask the guys there about my problem. They instructed me to bring the bow in, which I did.

When one of the guys took a look at it, he instantly found the problem – a screw on the bottom cam had popped out. As a result, two other screws came loose and the string slipped off of the grooves on the cam. This caused three problems: 1. Altered arrow impact, 2. lower draw weight, and 3. shortened draw length.

He took about 1o minutes to find a replacement screw and put it on. Then, he sent me to the shooting range to check it out. My groups tightened right back up again, and I readjusted my sight pins.

As I did so, I saw another employee with his bow, and noticed he had a long stabilizer on it. When I asked him about it, he mentioned the brand name of the stabilizer, Bee Stinger. I asked if the shop carried this brand, and he went and got one for me to try.

Instantly, I liked it and knew this was something I should have on my bow. So, I bought one. I had my first home session with it yesterday, and it performed beautifully. It offers both dampening of bow movement after the shot and stabilization during the shot. I discovered that I could hold the pin steadier on the target, and the bow didn’t jump so much after releasing the arrow.

I’m sold on the Bee Stinger. At my age (51), I have discovered that I am not as steady as I used to be. I’m happy to have assistance in this area. Now, I’m back on track with my shooting, and can’t wait to try it at longer distances.

Finally, I want to say a big thank you to the guys at A1. They really took care of me on this one, and they have won my loyalty. I have gone to other local shops, but A1 has become my go-to archery store!

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Thank You Pro-Life Action Ministries!

April 4, 2013


planned parenthood

It was one of those days.

In the morning I had my eyes dialated. Driving was difficult. I needed groceries–I wanted to cook a meal for a friend who had back surgery. The twins were cranky and needed their naps. The big kids were pokey. It was rainy and cold.

There were dozens of excuses. There always are.

But it was Good Friday, and we have a family tradition of praying in front of  St. Paul’s Planned Parenthood. The service is organized and executed by Pro-Life Action Ministries (PLAM). Director Brian Gibson, his staff and a host of volunteers do a stellar job. Taking it up with the Author of Death is not easy work. They organize clergy to lead these prayer vigils every year, giving clear witness to the sanctity of human life.

The Prayer Vigil

We parked easily on the UST Seminary campus. A bus shuttled us to the abortuary. We sat near four young mothers and their wee ones. The busdriver thanked us all and said, “Have a blessed Easter!”

At the site, we prayed peacefully with hundreds of others. Our teenagers took turns holding the twins on their backs. Others held a life-size cross on their shoulders. We were humbled by the disabled people who attended, and the children were affirmed by the classmates they saw. It’s like a family, really. Everyone is curtious. Everyone is prayerful. That is, everyone except for the those on the other side.

They blasted Celtic music–trying unsuccessfully to drown out our religious songs and prayers. They wore neon pink and had a party atmosphere. What is so joyful about ending the lives of preborn babies? We wondered. They held obscene signs. One woman with green hair held a placard that said: “Safe Sex is Good!” They seemed to mock us by having a transvestite march with them, too,  impersonating a woman or mother. Their false witness backfired, however. They showed our kids that the pro-choice view is convoluted. They cemented in their brains the fact that the Author of Life offers the way to the Truth. From going to these prayer vigils they have no doubt which side is right and which side is wrong. This is why we bring them again, and again, and again. Sometimes we even bring their friends.

In fact, one year when the Planned Parenhood was located in Highland Park, I received a tough question from my son’s buddy. He pointed to an incinerator-type thing outside the facility and asked, “Is that where they put the little babies?” I answered honestly, “I don’t know. Maybe.” He was disgusted. He was ignited. That kid will be a voice for the voiceless forever. The next generation needs to understand that women who don’t embrace life, carry the cross of regret forever. The youth need to work hard to help us end the right to abortion. But how can they do this if they do not learn about the atrocities of abortion?

Matthew Kelly, author of Rediscover Catholicism states:

“The only response to this cultural environment that will hold our students in good stead for a lifetime is to ignite in them a love of learning and a hunger for the truth.”

Sidewalk Counseling…Saving lives

Since March of 1981, PLAM has organized the nation’s most comprehensive and thorough sidewalk counseling program. It has documented that more than 2,500 babies have been spared from a torturous death. “These are children whose parents had decided to abort them and who were scheduled to be killed. The overwhelming majority would have been killed the same day they were saved.” (Pro-Life Action Ministries’ website– In fact, last year when the kids and I were at the Good Friday prayer vigil, a baby was saved by Fr. Larry Hubbard and some of the sidewalk counselors! When we heard the good news, we were so joyful. (Read the beautiful story:

Thank you, Pro-Life Action Ministries, and all the people who pray to end abortion. Please consider attending a prayer vigil if you haven’t attended one before. And bring some youth; they will be ignited. I hope it will become a tradition for your family, too.



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Reflections on the Triduum – The Easter Vigil

April 1, 2013


Easter Lily For the last 7 years or so I have helped with the liturgy for the Easter Vigil at my parish.  I love helping with this liturgy.  Their is so much going on! Baptisms, confirmations, first communions and the history of the the Church all rolled into one.  When I went to my first Vigil some 10 years ago it was the beauty and drama that caught my attention.
The church was filled with flowers and banners and the choir was singing “Horse and chariots are cast into the sea!” and the night starts outside with a fire.    Even to a secular eye their is allot going on – I remember thinking “this is like a Cecil B DeMille movie or an opera!”

The history of the world unfolds in the readings.  Present day new Catholics are welcomed into the church.  The culmination of the last three days is given its context.
But their is such paradox and depth and mystery.  Every year I try to understand it more.

Their is always something that surprises me in this liturgy, this year it is the line from the Exulet.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer! Most blessed of all nights, chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Happy fault and necessary sin?

I went on line to read Pope Francis’ homily for Easter Vigil  to look for insight.  He speaks of the surprises  too, but he speaks of the surprise of the  women as they entered to tomb.

“We can imagine their feelings as they make their way to the tomb: a certain sadness, sorrow that Jesus had left them, he had died, his life had come to an end. Life would now go on as before. Yet the women continued to feel love, the love for Jesus which now led them to his tomb. But at this point, something completely new and unexpected happens, something which upsets their hearts and their plans, something which will upset their whole life: they see the stone removed from before the tomb, they draw near and they do not find the Lord’s body. It is an event which leaves them perplexed, hesitant, full of questions: “What happened?”, “What is the meaning of all this?” (cf. Lk 24:4). Doesn’t the same thing also happen to us when something completely new occurs in our everyday life? We stop short, we don’t understand, we don’t know what to do. Newness often makes us fearful, including the newness which God brings us, the newness which God asks of us. We are like the Apostles in the Gospel: often we would prefer to hold on to our own security, to stand in front of a tomb, to think about someone who has died, someone who ultimately lives on only as a memory, like the great historical figures from the past. We are afraid of God’s surprises.”

I understand the fear – the fear of newness.  When I come on the unexpected I become fearful.  I want to control and if I can’t control the situation I usually lash out at those closes to me. When I left the Easter Vigil on Saturday night (well close to Sunday morning) My plans were set for the next day.  Family to church in the morning, Easter brunch at my sister’s house followed by driving my children back to their respective colleges.

But something unexpected happened.

My husband got a call in the middle of the night.  His father was dying and he left to be at his bedside.  Suddenly, our world turned topsy turvy.

My father in law died on Easter in the afternoon.  Pope Francis words came to me.

“We are like the Apostles in the Gospel: often we would prefer to hold on to our own security, to stand in front of a tomb, to think about someone who has died, someone who ultimately lives on only as a memory, like the great historical figures from the past. We are afraid of God’s surprises.”

The Easter Vigil, like every Mass is meant to remind us,

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; but has risen” (Lk 24:5-6)

As I tried to find the words to comfort my mother-in-law and my husband, those words of the angels came to mind.

This isn’t the blog post I intended to write.  Things happened and we deal with the unexpected.

A little about my father in law.

Bob was once asked to a tryout for the Yankees baseball team, but declined the invite because of various complications. I think their were times in his life that he regretted that he didn’t try.

In the last few days of my father-in-law’s life he was asked, “Bob, if you get better what are you looking forward to doing?”

In those moments when a person is ill and the life here and our past seems to merge in our minds, Bob replied “Play Ball.”

The days and months ahead will be filled with grieving for Bob.  The thought though comes to mind that if we truly believe the Easter story, we wouldn’t be sad.

If we believe in the resurrection Bob will get to “Play ball.”

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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