Archive | December, 2014

A toast to friendship

December 31, 2014

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Friends make our lives richer, even when the friendship ends.

Friends make our lives richer, even when the friendship ends.

At a time when we gather to toast and reminisce, I’m remembering New Years’ past and the friends who celebrated with me.

I tend to rewind a lot of holiday memories at this time of year and think about the people who’ve been part of my life. Some are still my friends, which makes the memories that much sweeter. Sadly, others have either passed away, or otherwise passed from my life.

It’s hard to imagine who or where I’d be without friends. Through the years, they have supported me, challenged me, laughed and cried with me, and just been there with me.

Friendship not necessary?

C.S. Lewis calls friendship the most spiritual of the loves he describes in his book, “The Four Loves.” Of all those loves, which include affection and romantic love, friendship is the least natural, instinctive, biological or necessary.

Without Eros (romantic love) none of us would have been begotten and without Affection none of us would have been reared; but we can live and breed without Friendship. The species, biologically considered, has no need of it.

I think the assertion that we don’t need friends for survival is debatable. Mine have bailed me out in many ways and I them. At least it’s hard to imagine life without them. In losing friends I have most fully realized this.

We see in our friends qualities and virtues that we can’t see in ourselves. And true friendship takes us beyond ourselves.

Aristotle presents three marks of friendship.

  1. Benevolence: We actively pursue our friend’s wellbeing.
  2. Reciprocity: Friendship has to be mutual and not done only for the sake of our own desire.
  3. A sense of mutual indwelling: Friends are a single soul existing in two bodies.

Friends with Christ

I think this is the kind of friendship Jesus wants to have with us. He mentions it three times in John 15:13-15:

Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends…

It has been through losing friends that I have most able to accept and appreciate the Lord’s friendship—and to learn more of what it means to be a friend.

Friendship may be unnecessary, like philosophy and art, and it may have no survival value, as Lewis states. But instead, he writes, it gives value to survival.

As midnight rolls around, I drink a toast to friends who have enhanced my survival by loving me and showing me how to love the Lord!

Happy New Year!

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Patience: The Perfect Holiday Gift

December 19, 2014

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I’ve had a lot of time to think while sitting on hold with Minnesota’s health insurance exchange during the past month. While I waited, I had to listen to Kenny G or a clone play the same nasally music snippet again and again as I thought of my depleting cell minutes.

I was told a computer glitch was preventing my insurance application from going through. No one in three agencies seemed to know much about the problem except that it had to be corrected by one of the others.

My experience has me thinking about patience—not that I’ve been so patient. It does seem, though, that patience is what God has asked of me.

Patience and suffering

The word patience comes from patient, which means to suffer. That might mean severe pain but I think more often irritation or inconvenience at an oversight or act of nature that make us wait. It’s frustrating and feels unfair.

A more complete definition of patience is, “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”

We know delay, trouble or suffering can be expected but we’d rather not see them. Like when my jacket lining gets caught in the zipper. Or when my purse strap loops around my car gear shift–again! These are not great tragedies but annoyances that cost precious seconds in the race of life.

Leo Tolstoy recognized that it’s a battle to be patient: “The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”

Patience seems to be losing these days, on the road at least. Fewer folks will wait until traffic passes to turn and the green light seems to get longer and longer. I find myself reluctant to let others go ahead of me because it will slow me down.

Life is faster

Doesn’t everything seem faster now, so that when we do have to wait it’s less tolerable? Emails and texts move in a split second. Food is faster. Shopping takes a click with instant credit.

Some say we shouldn’t be too patient or we’ll be left behind. What the world doesn’t understand is that patience is the first attribute of love, according to St. Paul, who writes that love isn’t just patient when you have time but ALWAYS.

It also makes sense to be patient if you want to get things done, from zipping your jacket to closing a complex business deal. Archbishop Fulton Sheen put it this way:

“Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is ‘timing.’ It waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.”

The Israelites living before Christ had to wait. It took them 40 years to enter the Promised Land. Later they waited in exile in a foreign country to return home. Through it all they waited for centuries for a Messiah that God had promised. The Jewish people are still waiting.

Scripture shows that they weren’t always patient. Like me they got upset and angry when they should have accepted or tolerated delay, trouble or suffering.

God sent his Son to help with this

The good thing is, God came through anyway. He settled and later resettled the Israelites on the land. Then he sent his Son to save us and show us how to be patient.

I know God gives me opportunities to be patient. Sometimes these opportunities seem like gifts I wish I hadn’t opened. If I’m actually going to act on them, I need God’s help—the grace he offers. If I do accept his grace they usually turn out to be good gifts.

Eventually my insurance problem was resolved. I have health coverage for 2015 and I’m truly grateful. Most of all, I am thankful that Christ came quietly and gently as a baby 2,000 years ago, bringing new life to an impatient world.

Merry Christmas!

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Having fun hunting and scouting

December 15, 2014

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I have visited the property I bow hunt in Wisconsin twice over the last three days. I hunted there Friday morning, and did a little scouting yesterday afternoon.

I did not see a deer on Friday, but I did have the chance to take a brief walk in the woods before heading in to the office. I did some more walking on the property yesterday, after I was done doing some volunteer work at the Christmas tree farm owned by Charlie MacDonald.

The number of visitors went down later in the afternoon, so Charlie let me go with a good chunk of daylight left. Immediately, I headed to the ridge I had been hunting all fall. I checked the trail that goes by my stand and saw several piles of deer droppings, so I know deer are still using the area.

Then, I started walking along the ridge to do some scouting. I was looking for deer trails, funnels and good spots to put up stands. I walked around quite a bit, then picked a spot that I think looks good. Here’s what I liked:

1. It is a place where the terrain necks down (funnel)

2. It also contains the thickest cover I saw on the ridge

3. There is only one trail going through it

4. I found good trees on either side of the trail for putting up stands

5. With two stands up, I can hunt in any wind direction

The problem I have been having is finding a funnel area where deer have to come through. There just isn’t one on this property, as there is a bench down the hill from where the woods begin. Even on the spot I just described, there is a flat bench down below me that deer likely use. But, that bench is very open, and the cover is not nearly as thick as the spot I want to hunt.

That’s important, as deer really like to be in and around thick cover. And, once the leaves drop, the cover thins out everywhere. If you can find a spot where it’s still thick, that’s a spot worth hunting. If it’s in a funnel area where you can cover the width of a funnel with a bow shot (25 yards or less in my case), then you’ve really got something.

That’s exactly what I have here. Even though I won’t be able to cover the bench down below this spot, I know that deer will move through the heavy cover in this spot. There was a clearly defined deer trail through it, with some droppings to verify that deer were traveling there.

Another thing I like about hunting heavy cover is that I think you are less likely to spook deer as they come through. First — and very important —the deer can’t see you from a long ways away. Second, they feel more comfortable in cover and are less likely to be on high alert as they travel through it. And third, all the cover helps the hunter blend in more and avoid sticking out like a sore thumb.

Of course, I’ll have to be alert at all times because deer won’t be visible until they’re close. Plus, the heavy cover will restrict my shooting lanes even if I do a good amount of trimming.

But, that’s OK. The truth is, in bow hunting, there always are tradeoffs. So, what you need to do is take advantage of every asset, and do your best to limit the liabilities.

In other words, simplify the process. That’s what I’m doing here. I will set up two stands to hunt one trail. The nice thing is, I will set up each stand so that I will have a 15-yard shot to my left, which means I can take the shot while sitting down. That will keep my movements to a minimum, which is very important in bow hunting. I’ll just need to grab my bow, quietly lift it off the bow hanger, draw and shoot.

I plan on cutting two shooting lanes for each stand so that I can draw and shoot once the deer gets slightly past me, no matter which way it is coming down the trail. That gives me a slightly quartering away shot, which is ideal, plus it gets me out of the deer’s field of vision. I have killed all three of my archery deer with that type of shot, and none of them saw me draw.

I hope to get the two stands set up sometime between now and when the woods “green up.” Then, I can leave them alone for several months until archery season begins.

I never envisioned that bow hunting would be a year-round affair, but I am starting to realize the importance of doing stuff throughout the year. Already, I shoot year round to keep my arm and shoulder muscles in shape. So, doing a little work on stands doesn’t seem like a big deal.

Hopefully, putting up stands during the winter and early spring will help build anticipation for the upcoming bow season.

 

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Fly a Little Higher: The story that keeps on giving

December 5, 2014

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Sobiech family

Sobiech family

I’ve been known to pitch a few books into the trash because they were rubbish. Many were forgotten as soon as I’d turned the last page. Some stories would hover over me for a while, but then drift away. Only a few have become my constant companions and Fly a Little Higher by Laura Sobiech is one such literary gem. It’s the story of hope; how God answered a mom’s small prayer in a big way.

As you might recall, Laura is the mother to Zach Sobiech, singer and songwriter of “Clouds.”  Zach wrote this song to say farewell to friends and family as he was suffering from terminal osteosarcoma. The iTunes and YouTube sensation hit the radio waves about this time two years ago, a few months before Zach succumbed to his bone cancer.

His mother’s lovely memoir profoundly changed my “mommy attitude” and taught me so much as it glided me through each chapter. It has helped me circumnavigate the difficult times I tend to encounter when a bulk of our nine kids is home for the summer. You see, for whatever reason June, July and August have been routinely challenging. We’ve dealt with my parents’ divorce, Aunt Angie’s brain surgery, Grandpa Dan’s aneurysm, the loss of dear friends, and nitpicking lice out of six little heads. The summer of 2013, one of our little twins suffered with Lyme disease. So, when we sailed into Memorial Day this year I started to get antsy and grouchy.

But then I picked up Laura’s book at the Stillwater bookstore and a better attitude took flight. Its message has stayed with me for over six months now, just like Zach’s legacy of hope has touched people from around the world. In her memoir, Laura beautifully writes:

“Through the eyes of Zach’s story, [people] were able to see things more clearly and gain perspective on their own lives. What seemed like a problem before hearing Zach’s story wasn’t such a big deal anymore.”

So very true.

Taking Flight

And now the family’s beautiful message of hope will reach the homes of many more. On December 2, Fly a Little Higher hit the shelves at Target as the Holiday, 2014, Club Pick. This edition offers exclusive bonus materials, including an in-depth Q&A with author Laura Sobiech and discussion questions for the reader. The Target website said that Fly a Little Higher is about how God used Zach to do something big.

I’m hoping Santa will do something big and stash bags full of this book into his sleigh before he jets out on Christmas Eve. Everyone on his list would benefit from Zach’s example of how to embrace the precious gift of life.

As Katie Couric stated:

“The fact that his mother, Laura, and entire family were able accompany him on his journey with such strength and courage (not to mention love and laughter) is a powerful lesson, not about dying, but about living.”

Laura told Dave Hrbacek of The Catholic Spirit:

“It’s a powerful thing to witness [death], especially, I think, in a child. I gave birth to that boy. I consider it to be such a privilege to see this child’s whole life, to be there when he entered [the world] and then to be there when he left.”

Hmmm…A vision of Jesus’ mother pops to mind–The Nativity and Pieta.

“We’ll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer”

On Thursday, December 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Mall of America in Minnesota a giant choir will once again perform “Clouds” in conjunction with the annual KS95 for Kids Radiothon. This two-day event benefits the Children’s Cancer Research Fund and Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. It has raised more than $13 million since it was started in 1999. Zach got his first big break during the radiothon two years ago when the studio first aired the song and played it in steady rotation during the whole event. Zach was interviewed live that same year. He told the DJ, “It’s not just about me, it’s about the kids who are lying in a hospital bed right now. Let’s work together to help them.”

The Sobeich family, of Lakeland, Minnesota, started the Zach Sobeich Osteosarcoma Research Fund, using proceeds from the sale of  the “Clouds” song. This fund has swelled to $9000,000 and has ignited four research projects to beat this type of cancer.

Last year, after the KS95 “Clouds” event,  Zach’s father, Rob Sobeich, was interviewed by The St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Mary Divine. He told her that the large crowd that arrived at the MOA for the tribute showed the kind of community we have in Minnesota. “Everybody came together, and it was for Zach, and it was for everyone in the room, and it was for other kids who have cancer,” he said.

Zach’s song and story are also for kids who have lost a parent to cancer. Shortly after the debut of “Clouds,” I was driving a car filled with children, listening to the radio. When Zach’s song played, I asked one of my passengers if the lyrics comforted her. Her daddy, author Vince Flynn, was dying from prostate cancer. She said that it did, so we turned up the dial and let the words soak in. Her dad passed away one month after Zach did, but she takes solace in the fact that Daddy is flying a little higher.

Cancer carried away Zach too soon, but his presence continues to soar; teaching us how to live life abundantly in God’s Grace. Thank you, Sobeich family, for the legacy of hope and joy. (And the “Mommy Attitude Adjustment.”)

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Bow hunting lessons learned

December 3, 2014

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With the archery hunting season nearing the end, I thought now would be a good time to offer some of the important lessons I learned this season. Unfortunately, they come as a result of failures. I always say that bow hunting is a very tough sport that punishes even the smallest mistakes. Hopefully, these lessons will help you avoid the same mistakes I made.

1. Take your time when shooting. My friend Steve Huettl reminded me of this important lesson several times this fall, usually right after I rushed a shot and either missed a deer or hit it in the wrong spot. On the other hand, on two instances, I took the time to settle the pin on the right spot and execute a smooth release, which resulted in two does harvested. I have had a tendency to shoot quickly ever since I started bow hunting, so it’s a hard habit to break. But, it’s important that I do. The two times I was able to do it this fall will help me next year.

2. Dress to stay warm in the stand. Despite a colder-than-normal November, I managed to stay warm in my stands this year. I have developed a system that seems to work very well. Important components are: 1. layering, starting with a base layer of Under Armour cold weather underwear; 2. a muff to keep my hands warm, which is a critical part of bow hunting; 3. hand warmer packets to put inside the muff — they really work; 4. a thin balaclava for my head and neck, and a really warm hat for colder days (I use one called a Mad Bomber, which uses real rabbit fur); 5. warm boots (I use Muck Arctic Pro boots, which are insulated rubber boots); and 6. insulated bibs underneath a heavy, insulated parka. I think I had the ultimate test this year, and held up well. So, I have no worries about keeping warm in November.

3. Be careful when attempting to call. Twice, I decided to use calling to try and lure in a buck. Both times, I did not have a deer in sight when I tried it, and both times, it worked — kind of. I had bucks come to within bow range, but did not take a shot either time. What happened on both occasions is that a small buck came walking in straight at me very cautiously and with its head up. That made it impossible to draw. What was happening, I believe, is that both bucks were looking for the source of the calling and were trying to see the deer that made the sound. In one case, I used a grunt call. In another, I used a doe bleat call. I think the most effective way to use calls is to have a deer decoy set up, so that when a buck comes in, there will be a decoy to draw him in. Plus, if you position the decoy in a certain way, it helps you be able to get the buck in the right position for a shot. That’s something I may try next year.

4. Nothing beats funnels. Steve has continually stressed the importance of this, and one of my does came as a result of setting up on a nice pinch point. Not only was I set up on a narrow strip of woods between two areas of tall, marshy grass, but there was a large fallen tree that funneled deer right past my stand. A doe walked past my stand at about 10 yards, then turned straight away from me just as I was getting ready to draw. Fortunately, that move caused her to be facing the downed tree. Therefore, I knew it was just a matter of time before she had to turn to the right to walk around the tree. That’s exactly what she did, offering a quartering away shot. I put the arrow right where it needed to go, and she went only about 80 to 100 yards before falling.

5. Do scouting when the leaves are down. I believe this is the key to knowing how the woods look in November during the rut. It tells you two things: 1. What kind of shooting lanes you really have; and 2. What are the remaining thicker areas where deer feel secure. In September, it’s thick everywhere because of the foliage, so deer can bed down and hang out just about anywhere and feel safe. Once the leaves are down, the woods are far more open and, sometimes, thicker areas are at a premium. If you can find them, it’s good to hunt them. I like to find trails leading from the thicker areas. The best scenario is that, because of a funnel, there is only one trail the deer are using. That is literally a gold mine. Does like to bed in thicker areas, and bucks like to hang out in them to wait for does or look for them. A friend hunted near an area like this and heard deer moving around in it for the first hour or two of a morning hunt. Then, a doe came busting out of the thicket with a nice 10-point buck trailing her. He shot the buck at almost point-blank range after the doe whisked by his stand.

6. Never be satisfied. Although I had success in the woods this year, I know I can do better next year. It’s that mindset that had me out in the woods scouting over the weekend, and resulted in finding a new spot for next year. I went to an area of the property I hadn’t spent much time in, and found a new spot that looks absolutely dynamite. It features a funnel that comes off of a corn field. The trail the deer were using was absolutely beaten down with tracks. In fact, it was the most deer sign I have ever seen on this property. In addition to tracks, there was fresh deer droppings all over, indicating the deer are spending lots of time here. I plan on being there next fall to greet them.

7. Get out in the woods in the spring. I plan on going back to this new spot in late March or early April, and getting a stand ready. I may even go sooner, especially if it warms up later this month like the weather experts are predicting. Then, I can not only put the stand up, but cut shooting lanes and put trail tacks up so I can find my way to the stand in the dark. Then, the stand will sit there for months, allowing the deer to get used to it. Hopefully, they’ll be relaxed when they walk past it next fall while I’m sitting in it.

I’ve heard some people call bow hunting a year-round endeavor. I always thought that was strange and a bit excessive, but I think I’m slowly becoming part of that crowd (my wife uses the term “obsession” more and more these days). I’m realizing that this kind of effort is what it takes to be consistently successful. I have come to one simple conclusion — bow hunting is VERY hard. For me, it’s huge to get any deer with a bow. My goal now is to be consistently successful. The good news is, I have done a lot of work already, so I’m merely doing a few more things, like setting up a new stand. I have gotten pretty good at stand setup, so this doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, it’s fun, despite the hard work involved.

I’m hoping it will pay dividends next fall. I still don’t consider myself a trophy hunter, but I’m starting to like the idea of trying for at least a nice buck. I shot a buck last fall with a very small 8-point rack, and I would sure like to get something bigger next fall. I think that’s a realistic goal. Who knows? Maybe something really nice will come walking by.

I’ll be waiting.

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An Advent Reflection

December 3, 2014

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I have agreed to be a guest writer on facebook for a new organization -Women In the New Evangelization. The acronym is WINE. To my delight, the first time I write the daily post, the daily readings include one of my favorite passages about food and WINE.
Below is my post. If you would like to follow the daily Advent reflections just like us on facebook!
https://www.facebook.com/WomenIntheNewEvangelization/posts/292443567616033:0
A favorite passage from today’s readings.

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
Isaiah 25:6

A feast of rich food and choice wines! This is what God promises us!

A feast of rich food and choice wines!

A feast of rich food and choice wines!

I don’t know about you but I love a party and I love to host parties. Gathering friends around for special moments is a wonderful part of the Christmas season. Parties take preparation and that is what Advent is about – preparing for the feast.

Preparation includes arraigning for and cooking the food. Planning the drinks decorating and making sure everyone has a place to sit. It may require rearranging a room, polishing the silver or plates from a friend. There are centerpieces to think about and…. the list goes on.

I have a friend who has the spiritual gift of hospitality. No matter what is going on in her life, when you enter her home you always feel welcome. It helps that she is an excellent cook! One day she shared with me a secret of her party prep.

She prays!

She prays for every guest that is coming, she prays for good and enlightening conversation, she prays for all to feel welcomed and loved. Sitting quietly and praying before 6 or 20 people are set to arrive at my house is not something I usually turn to in the frenzy of last minute prep but when I did it, it put my heart in the right place. I focused on my guests and not if my hors d’oeuvres would get a complement or that no one notices the stain in the carpet. Those worries are all wrong because they are focused on me and not on my guests.

This Advent as you prepare for your feasts – add prayer to your party preparation. It is one thing that isn’t mentioned in the Martha Stewart handbook!

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A time for waiting . . . and thanksgiving

December 1, 2014

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Father Michael Becker, rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, poses for a picture with his 10-point buck.

Father Michael Becker, rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, poses for a picture with his 10-point buck.

As we make the transition from Thanksgiving season to Advent, I offer a story that combines both — offering thanks to God and waiting for his blessing. It comes from Father Michael Becker, rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul and avid deer hunter. In his own words:

“The first weekend of deer hunting opener, I was stationed in a stand one hour west of Bemidji. I saw a total of 10 small 1-year-old deer at different moments in the morning and late afternoon.  The party I hunt with abides by the rule that one never shoots a buck with less than eight points on a full rack, so that the young bucks can grow, and one never shoots a yearling unless you want to be made fun of.

About fifteen minutes after sunset, I decided that I would get on my knees and thank God for the beauty of his creation — the sun, the moon and the stars, the vegetation, the snow on the ground, and all these 1-year old small deer frolicking around the tree line.

It was not but thirty seconds after I knelt down and offered my thanks to God that a larger 2-year-old fork buck trotted past my stand. I saw it head toward the woods 40 yards to my east, and watched it elegantly scope out the territory before heading into the woods.

As I am a guest on Jerry and Bitsy Dehmer’s land, I abide by the same rules they follow, which is again not to shoot any bucks with less than full racks, but to let them grow to full stature. Suddenly, the fork buck took off running at high speed away from the woods. I thought, ‘Wow, there must be a bigger buck in that woods claiming the territory and chasing him away.’

So, I lifted my rifle and got in place, ready to shoot. The next sight was stunning. I watched a 200-pound black bear climb a tree on the edge of the forest like a monkey. I was in awe at how fast it ascended and descended, and realized, ‘One trying to escape a black bear by climbing a tree would never make it.’

Then, it climbed a second tree. I’m not sure what it was looking for, as the trees were barren, but the sight left me in awe. I continued to thank God for his small and great gifts of love.

The second day followed a cold storm, which lifted about midnight, leaving a very bright moon to shine on the landscape. As a result, most deer were out feeding in the night, and no one saw deer in the morning’s hunt. At dusk Sunday evening — and, mind you, I had celebrated Mass the evening before with the whole Dehmer clan — we all went out to our stands, and I took the stand on what is called, ‘Machinery Hill,’ as a few old combining pieces rest on the 15-foot hill overlooking a patch of corn and beans.

Jerry Dehmer, the grandfather and owner of the land, instructed me to go to Machinery Hill because there was more food left in that area for the deer to graze. Internally I wondered, ‘Maybe I should go to another stand in which no one has yet sat,’ but this little interior voice told me, ‘Trust Jerry’s advice.’

You see, Jerry has been hunting and trapping since he was 8 years old. For much of his youth he trapped fox and skunk, selling the hides for money. He is an expert huntsman, who has shot many whitetail deer, elk, antelope, etc. So, I trusted Jerry and went to his recommended stand. One other thing about Jerry and his family: No matter how good the hunt, one always gets out of his stand on Sunday to go to church!

Now sunset was judged to be 4:46 p.m. that evening; thus the final minute to shoot would be 5:16 p.m., which is one half hour after sunset. As in the first day, I saw only small yearlings, but this time 13 of them in different packs. They were cute and playful.

About the last 10 minutes of my hunt, because I could not go out on the second weekend, I decided again to simply thank God for all his gifts of love, in creation, in prayer, in the Sacraments, in the Scriptures, in my family and in friends like the Dehmers, in my vocation as a Catholic priest, and in these 13 small deer who scampered around 20 yards from my stand.

As soon as I completed my prayer of thanksgiving, sure enough, this large buck comes strutting out of the woods. It chased some of the yearlings, only to discover they were not ready for mating, then left a large scrape on the ground under a twig, into which it pressed its facial gland, leaving notice to any does in heat.

Sighting the buck in my scope, I recognized the antlers widened beyond the ears, revealing it to be a fully mature male whitetail deer. My first shot was over the buck, highly unusual for me, but the sound the bullet made in the woods behind him confused his judgment, and thus he stood for another second trying to get his bearings. This gave me the opportunity to lower the rifle and put a bullet through the heart. Upon retrieval, I found that it was a 10-point buck with a beautiful, full body. God is good to the grateful man!”

Congratulations go to Father Becker! I’m sure that made quite a story for dozens of seminarians at SJV. We’ll have to see if that buck makes it to the wall of his office. If it does, it will join two other handsome buck mounts already there.

I think my strategy for next year should include asking Father Becker to bless all of my deer hunting gear, especially my bow and my gun!

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The Million-Dollar Babies

December 1, 2014

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Hunter and Kandi Mahan with Baby Zoe

Hunter and Kandi Mahan with Baby Zoe

Pro golfer Hunter Mahan, aged 31, was playing in the PGA Canadian Open on July 27, 2013. He was ahead of the championship by two strokes and more than one million dollars in winnings dangled within his grasp. And then he received one of the most important phone calls of his life.

His wife was in labor.

Mahan packed up everything and rushed to the airport. His first child–a daughter–arrived three weeks early in Dallas, 15 hours after that phone call. She was dubbed, The Million-Dollar Baby. He stated, “It happened when it did and I made it back. And gosh, I got to see it, which was the amazing thing.”

Father Peter John Cameron, O.P., Editor-in-Chief of the Magnificat wrote in the December, 2014 issue:

“It was the announcement of the coming of a baby that moved Mahan, without a second thought, to turn his back on riches, glory, fame. Something better was waiting for him. Someone. And for this stunning, virtuous act it seemed all the world applauded him in awe. For his action symbolized what life is all about–something we easily forget.”

Mahan and his wife Kandi, had prepared for this. If she went into labor during the tournament, Mahan wanted to be there for the delivery. When he heard during that phone call that Kandi’s water had broken, he knew the baby was coming…and soon. At 3:26 a.m., when Zoe Olivia Mahan was born, Daddy was there to hold their precious gift. There was much celebrating.

The word Advent is derived from the Latin advenio, “to come to.” Father Lenny Andrie, parochial vicar at the Church of Saint Joseph in West St. Paul, Minnesota, wrote: “As with anything in life, we must prepare well to celebrate well. Sadly, the season of Advent can get eaten alive by Christmas shopping and preparing for family gatherings.”

Father Andrie goes on to explain that the Father gives us His Son. In return, we give ourselves back to the Father in the Son. We respond to the Gift of Jesus with the gift of ourselves.

Coincidentally, the golfer who eventually won the tournament because of Mahan’s mad dash was Brandt Snedeker, who withdrew from the Honda Open in 2011 to be at the birth of his own firstborn–also a daughter. It is stated that Snedeker bought Zoe a very nice baby gift.

Snedeker agreed with Mahan’s decision. “It was the best decision I ever made. I’m sure Hunter would say the same thing.”

Father Cameron wrote in the Magnificat that when reporters asked Mahan what made him do something so drastic by leaving the championship, he replied, “Success comes and goes. Seeing your daughter every day, having a family–that is stuff that makes you happy to your core.”

How will you prepare for the coming of  Jesus this Advent? What sacrifices are you willing to make so that you are happy to your core on Christmas Day?

Our own Million-Dollar Baby will arrive soon.

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