Archive | January, 2014

Stuck confessing the same sins over and over?

January 30, 2014

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Better to ask for "the usual" here than in confession, where it's not such a good thing to come in with the same list of sins time after time. A good place to get "the usual." Photo/Seattle Municipal Archives.   Licensed under Creative Commons

Better to ask for “the usual” here than in confession, where it’s not such a good thing to come in with the same list of sins time after time. Photo/Seattle Municipal Archives. Licensed under Creative Commons

If a regular customer sits down in a diner and says “the usual”, an experienced waitress will bring their eggs exactly to order without any more questions.

I feel like if I said “the usual” to my confessor he’d know my list of sins as well as the diner waitress knows her regular customers’ orders. When I go to confession it sometimes seems a lot like the time before.

I commit the same sins over and over. It’s some consolation that I’m mostly not out inventing new sins but sometimes when I kneel in the confessional I don’t feel like I’m making much headway.

I guess what I should ask myself  is, do I really want to get these sins off my list and what am I doing to make that happen?

Conversion

What it takes is interior repentance, according to the Catechism. “a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed.

“At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart). “(CCC 1431)

According to one priest, the way to overcome sin is to “look at the causes of it in ourselves, address them, and avoid what leads us into temptation.” He suggests making an examination of conscience at the end of the day to look at each sin in context, ask for God’s mercy and grace and make a resolution to avoid those sins the next day.

Another suggestion is to journal about it and then go back to find patterns that could lead to a trigger or circumstance causing the sin. That can give clues about how to deal with those circumstances to respond differently the next time.

Desire to overcome sin

We have trouble doing  what we know is right because the enemy convinces us to give up the desire in our hearts to be good. If we don’t have the energy to please God, we won’t try very hard.

The solution is to ask the Holy Spirit to heal us and give us back the desire to please God.  A good goal is to ask God to help us eliminate one sin each year.

It is harder to work at avoiding sin than it is to say “the usual”  in confession partly because we’re kind of comfortable with those sins. They’re always there unless we decide we want to get rid of them. But change happens, if we want it.

A clean heart create for me, God;
renew in me a steadfast spirit. 

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Matt Birk to sign copies of his new book at Saint Patrick’s Guild

January 28, 2014

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BirkBookCoverA little over a year after Matt Birk and the Baltimore Ravens emerged victorious in the Super Bowl, Matt will be back home in the Twin Cities signing copies of his new book All-Pro Wisdom.

Birk, a former player for the Minnesota Vikings and graduate of Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul is a committed Catholic and active in the pro-life, pro-marriage and religious freedom movements.

When: 10:30 – Noon, February 8

Where: St. Patrick’s Guild
154 Randolph Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105

 

Read more

Matt Birk: NFL great, faithful Catholic and . . . author

Super Bowl champ speaks to men about defending faith

Faith on fire – Archdiocesan Youth Day draws 1,600

Video and Photos: Minnesotans rally for religious freedom

Pro athletes thankful for life lessons learned in CAA

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9 days, 4 high tech ways to pray to end abortion

January 17, 2014

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9days-day1-color-ENGThis year, to mark the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the USCCB has made available four different ways to engage in a novena for life:

  • App for iPhone or Android
  • Daily text messages
  • Daily emails
  • Online novena page

To sign up for any or all of these, visit the 9daysforlife website.

The USCCB also has a People of Life Facebook page which includes a 9 Days for Life event page.

 

More about 9 Days for Life

9 Days for Life: Get your information here! Kathy Schneeman on what’s going on locally

A day to march for the unborn and a culture of life Archbishop Kurtz of Louisville, Ky on the pro-life efforts of the Church nationally

Nine days of prayer part of Roe v. Wade anniversary General information from Catholic News Service

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When Eucharistic Adoration feels like the library, try more Fear of the Lord

January 6, 2014

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The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of fear of the Lord which enables us to approach Him with awe and reverence. Photo/ElectricDisk Licensed under Creative Commons

The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of fear of the Lord which enables us to approach Him with awe and reverence. Photo/ElectricDisk. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Vitamin D is harder to come by naturally during this cold, dark season. My spirit’s also been lacking another nutrient lately: Fear of the Lord.

I walk into the Perpetual Adoration chapel, kneel before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and sit down without giving Him much more thought sometimes than if I were walking into the library and he were the librarian.

Sadly, some of my Holy Hours can seem like a trip to the library. I get busy with prayer, reading and writing not thinking too much about the Lord in front of me until it’s time to “check out.” At times seeing Him doesn’t move me into rapturous prayer or even hold my attention very long.

More than the season

Winter blahs? Maybe but it goes beyond the season. Our faith isn’t based on feelings but without them life can start to resemble the winter tundra.

Saying I lack fear of the Lord doesn’t mean I feel more bold and brave before Him. It doesn’t mean we’re supposed to live in terror of God, either. As I see it, I’m  missing the awe and reverence I might feel before any king or even Pope Francis.

Fear of the Lord is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that are increased in us at confirmation. (CCC1303)

As Mark Shea writes,  “We who have received his Divine life in baptism and confirmation are to walk in that same spirit of filial, not servile, fear and to likewise offer ourselves in love and not in self-contempt.”

Having some real fear of God mixed in with awe and reverence isn’t a bad thing. After all, even though Christ is with us so humbly in the form of a small disc of bread, He is King of the Universe.

Respect for God

According to the Catechism, “Respect for his name is an expression of the respect owed to the mystery of God himself and to the whole sacred reality it evokes. The sense of the sacred is part of the virtue of religion.

It goes on to quote Bl. Cardinal John Henry Newman:

Are these feelings of fear and awe Christian feelings or not?… I say this, then, which I think no one can reasonably dispute. They are the class of feelings we should have — yes, have to an intense degree — if we literally had the sight of Almighty God; therefore they are the class of feelings which we shall have, if we realize His presence. In proportion as we believe that He is present, we shall have them; and not to have them, is not to realized, not to believe that He is present. (CCC2144)

I think the only cure for my deficiency is to pray that I may believe and become more aware that the Lord is present. Controlling feelings may not always be in our power but it is possible to make an act of the will.

A prayer

I will pray that I don’t take the Lord for granted, as I do the quiet presence of the librarian. Someone suggested saying a prayer modeled after the one priests say before Mass:

Enter this Holy Hour as though it were your first Hour, your last Hour, your only Hour. 

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Another chance to read — not see — ‘The Book Thief’

January 2, 2014

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200px-The_Book_Thief_by_Markus_Zusak_book_coverRecent release of the movie of the same title blessedly returned attention to Markus Zusak’s 2005 novel, “The Book Thief,” giving lovers of great writing a second chance at this superb read.

So many forms of the reality of the human character — the harmful, the hateful, the uplifting, the depressing, the heartwarming and the inspiring — pour from the pages of this World War II-based novel of a young girl’s experiences in a small German town.

It humanizes the German populace in ways few stories from that era do.

As good as the story is, it’s the way the book thief’s story is told that sparkles with creativity.

First, the narrator is unique: “Death,” who throughout the tale gathers souls when, well, when you might expect Death would

Sprinkled here and there are little bursts of bold type in a slightly larger size that serve to further explain or clarify — something like the narrator thinking aloud.

The book isn’t written in the typical story-within-a-story technique, but the text of little books or booklets do appear twice; both times Zusak uses them briefly and with just a perfect touch.

Amid the horror of Nazism, Zusak bring us characters fully human — mean at times and kind at others, foolish yet wise, smart-mouthed yet shy, downhearted yet hopeful. You’ll love the surprises.
Don’t miss another chance to read a great book.

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2013 Outdoors highlights

January 2, 2014

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As I look ahead to outdoor adventures in 2014, I think it’s worthwhile to take a look back on 2013 and recall the blessings of the year. There were many highlights, and I offer this list of the best ones:

Snow bird

It might seem tough to name turkey hunting in the snow – in May! – as a highlight, but May 5 will go down as both a unique and awesome day in the turkey woods. Just days earlier, the area I hunt in Wisconsin was blanketed by 15 inches of snow. It was very strange driving out to my hunting spot and seeing snow everywhere. It looked more like December than May.

I must admit, I had to fight off feelings of despair during my hour-long drive to Ellsworth the morning of my hunt. Would the turkeys be radically affected by the snow? Would they still be interested in breeding? Would they gobble?

Turns out, the birds were quite active indeed. In fact, I had a nice 2-year-old tom on the ground in less than an hour. He gobbled very eagerly on the roost, and I coaxed him in with some aggressive hen calling followed by some soft calling at the end. The bird was standing in the snow when I shot him, and I was sitting in the snow against a tree. It was the first time in almost 30 years of turkey hunting that I had hunted in snow that actually was accumulated on the ground.

It was a very unusual hunt, and a very cool experience overall. But, I NEVER want to hunt in snow again in May. Let’s hope this is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

I did continue to hunt after that because I had bonus tags that the state offers. The hunting was extremely difficult and the toms had lots of hens around. I believe this was caused by the fact that the snow destroyed eggs the hens had laid, so they went out to breed again. Thus, I had very little success calling another bird in. I had some jakes (young toms) come in fairly close, but they ended up not being in gun range. I fired, thinking they were, but they were too far and merely ran off at the shot.

The good news is I spent a lot of time in the woods and learned the properties well. So, i should be in fine shape this year. I look for it to be a good spring season. Two years ago, the early and warm spring caused a very good hatch, and there were lots of jakes running around during the 2013 season. That means lots of mature 2-year-olds this year. I can’t wait!

Buck for the fireplace

Just weeks after finishing my turkey hunting season, I got a call from Lee’s Taxidermy in Prescott, Wis. to let me know that my whitetail buck mount was done. It was the largest buck I had ever taken and I’m not sure if I will ever top it, or even match it. I took Joe, my oldest son, to the taxidermy shop to pick it up. Then, when I got home, I put it up on the fireplace.

Joe has a nice buck mount, too, and we discussed whose was better. Lee Schommer, the taxidermist, said his scored 151, and mine about 153. He did not take exact measurements of mine, but says whenever he tries to estimate the score of a buck, he’s usually within 2 inches of the exact score. So, bottom line is that our bucks are very even. The rack on Joe’s is thicker, but my rack is wider and has taller tines. Honestly, Joe and I are not competitive when it comes to trying to get the biggest rack. It was just fun to compare our buck mounts.

Claire’s first walleye

My 11-year-old daughter Claire caught her first walleye in June on Upper Red Lake. Due to a very busy schedule, we were able to run up to Upper Red for an evening of fishing. We contacted Bear Paw Guides and hired Tyler Brasel to guide Claire, my wife Julie and I for the evening. Just days earlier, the protected slot loosened to allow the taking of fish up to 20 inches, versus 17 prior to that. So, we were very optimistic about being able to catch fish to take home.

The trip did not disappoint. We had our four-fish limit for the three of us (12 fish total) in an hour, and Claire caught lots of fish, starting with her first-ever walleye. Tyler set her up with a bobber rig and it worked beautifully for Claire. Tyler has young kids of his own, so he is very good at helping children catch fish. He did an awesome job with Claire, and it’s a trip we will never forget. Hopefully, we can get back up there again this summer.

‘Tonka bass

I went out to Lake Minnetonka on the Fourth of July with my son Joe to try for some largemouth bass. He was home for the summer and wanted to do some fishing. I wasn’t sure how it would go, as I hadn’t been on the lake in years. However, I did very well on the lake when I did fish it regularly, and wanted to hit my old spots to see if they produced.

Turns out, one spot in particular was as good as it used to be. We caught several nice bass on it, including a feisty 18-incher, and I went home very satisfied. Joe got some action, too, although he was a bit rusty at fishing with plastic worms. Near the end, he started to get the hang of it, and pulling a bass over the gunwale put a smile on his face. I would definitely like to do some bass fishing in 2014!

Breakthrough with a bow

Of course, my top highlight of the year has to be getting my first deer with a bow. Everything came together on the morning of Nov. 6. A young buck with a small eight-point rack came walking by my stand at just 10 yards, giving me a perfect broadside shot. I drew back as he stepped past me and I quickly found his vital area with my 20-yard pin. All of my practice and preparation paid off with a perfect pass-through shot. Tracking was easy in the snow and I found my buck about 100 yards from where I took the shot. It’s hard to put into words the feeling of finding my deer after the shot. I had hit about a half dozen deer previously, but didn’t find a single one, including a small doe that I hit in late September. Ask any bow hunter, and they’ll tell you that failure to find a deer that’s hit is a very sick feeling. Hopefully, I’ll be able to duplicate my success next year.

Sons come through

It was also a good deer hunting year for my two oldest sons, Joe and Andy. Joe got a small whitetail doe on the last day of our hunt in Montana over Thanksgiving week, and Andy ended up taking a doe in Montana plus a doe in Minnesota. So, our freezer is full, plus we were able to give venison away. Our family has been feasting on venison in the last few weeks, and I’m sure our supply of meat will last into the spring and summer. There’s nothing like venison steaks on the grill!

One intriguing possibility for 2014 would be taking Claire turkey hunting. She has expressed interest, and I have said I will take her if she wants to go. She turns 12 in April, and that would be very fun to chase gobblers with her. She’s not sure if she actually could pull the trigger on an animal. But if we go out and call a bird in, and she decides not to shoot, that’s fine with me. I like going out into the woods, especially in the spring, so she won’t disappoint me if she decides to hold off on the shot. We’ll see what she says as we get closer to the turkey season.

The next thing I’ll do is contact landowners after the Wisconsin turkey lottery. I have been blessed to have several landowners who continue to let me hunt, and I can’t wait to get after those birds in 2014!

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9 Days for Life: Get your information here!

January 1, 2014

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9-days-header

Together, let’s build a culture of life.

On January 22, 2014 America will remember the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Since that tragic decision, more than 55 million children’s lives have been lost to abortion, and the lives of millions of their parents have been shattered. In prayerful recognition, “Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage” will take place January 18-26, 2014 and is sponsored by the bishops. (Visit 9Days Resources for Leaders)

The heart of this prayer effort is a simple, youth-friendly novena. Here’s an example:

Day four: Tuesday, January 21

Intercession: For the doctors, nurses and counselors who now know they were wrong in cooperating with abortion: may God grant them the courage to renounce their involvement in the abortion industry and open their hearts to doing his will from now on.

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: Today we honor the life of St. Agnes, a 12-year-old girl martyred in Rome in 304 AD, during the Diocletian persecution. Agnes never wavered in her commitment to remain a virgin and to give her whole life to the Lord, refusing proposals to marry. Her innocence and heroism facing death helped bring an end to the persecution of Christians in Rome. Following the example of St. Agnes, let us remain steadfast in recognizing Christ, who is Love Incarnate, as the source and summit of our lives. May his love give us the determination and courage to live for him and for others, especially the most vulnerable among us.

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Go to an abortion clinic and pray, or set aside an hour today to pray for those who are struggling with a decision of life or death for their unborn child.
  • Pray the Rosary today for someone who has hurt or disappointed you, and ask for the grace to forgive that person.
  • Instead of donating “old clothes,” offer to buy a new piece of clothing or item a charity is seeking.

On your mark…Get set…Pray!

Would you like to subscribe to receive emails or text messages of this novena? If so, click here. It’s as easy as 1-2-3! (And for the tech-savvy–a free app is coming soon!)

Youth = Our hope for a new principle of life

Do you work with youth or young adult ministries? Perhaps you’d like ideas to help you incorporate the novena into your January programming?

And consider promoting Minnesota Youth for Life’s second annual conference (Information here):

Monday, January 20 from 9am-4pm

At Sacred Heart in Robinsdale

Bishop Cozzens will be the celebrant!

And the speakers are: Jason Evert, Dr. Mike Adams, Dave Sterrett and Lila Rose

Join the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-Saint Paul in Prayer

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 10:30 a.m.

MCCL Rally to follow Cathedral of Saint Paul

239 Selby Avenue, St. Paul

Information here: PrayerforLife_flyer (3)

Attend an all night prayer vigil sponsored by Project Rachel

Tuesday, January 21-Wednesday, January 22

7pm-7am

St. Mary’s Chapel at the University of St. Thomas

Information here:  HopeHealingMercy_flyer (2)

“Promote a new way of looking at human life.” (Gospel of Life #99) Thank you!

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