Archive | March, 2016

Did these 10 prayers really change the world?

March 28, 2016

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Ten Prayers coverThroughout the centuries believers of every faith tradition have appealed to God or gods for help when human means fail.

But is there such a thing as divine intervention in response to prayer?

Author Jean-Pierre Isbouts isn’t naive enough not to see that prayer has not stopped evil and suffering from happening throughout human history. He asks if, given the deaths of 40 million people during the world wars of the last century and the violent extremists of ISIS and Boko Haran who delight in beheading people for the glory of Allah, it is still possible to believe in a merciful God?

His response to that question is “Ten Prayers that Changed the World: Extraordinary Stories of Faith That Shaped the Course of History.”

Quoting Plato, Isbouts writes that there is “a spark of the divine” in every person,  and it is “a beacon through which God can speak to us and we can speak to him. . . . “All that we need to figure out is the right bandwidth by which to reach him. Some call that spirituality; others call it prayer.

He adds, “I think of it as whispers of God — whispers that have and incredible power to stir our mind, urge us to action, and make us do things we didn’t think we were capable of.”

From Abraham’s prayer to spare his son, Isaac, to Jesus’ prayer that has become the “Our Father,” on to Constantine and the granting of religious freedom to Joan of Arc, Martin Luther, George Washington, and more, the stories are as much history lessons as affirmation that prayer has had an impact on world events.

Catholics in particular will find a worthwhile summary of Luther’s story.

And did you know that the well-loved “Prayer of St. Francis” wasn’t written during the lifetime of the 13th-century saint but in 1912?

Outside of Abraham, only Ganhdi breaks into what is otherwise an all-Christian line-up of the 10 prayers. And frankly, the prayer for fair weather that Gen. George Patton’s chaplains composed so the Allied Army could relieve the troops surrounded by Nazi German forces at Bastogne during World War II’s Battle of the Bulge — as good a story as it is — seems to pale in comparison to the impact the other nine have had on human history.

 

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Sprouting Green Plants Symbols of Easter and the Resurrection

March 23, 2016

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RisenChristStainedGlassGreen Plant Imagery.  A sprouting or fresh new green plant is a symbol of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Scriptural Basis for the Spiritual Symbolism.  The death of Jesus is not the last word, the final end.  After Jesus spent three days in the tomb, God the Father raised him from the dead (Acts 2:32a; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 13:30,34,37).  His death on the Cross resulted in new life, and because an emerging green plant is new plant life, it is a symbol of the Resurrection.  Jesus suggested this imagery when he said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (Jn 12:24).

The Seed Metaphor.  The seed represents Jesus.  The planting of the seed in the ground represents the burial of Jesus in the earth in a tomb.  The seed’s germination period represents the time that Jesus spent in the tomb.  The sprout breaking through the ground, finally visible in the daylight, represents Jesus breaking past the stone that covered the entrance of his tomb, his resurrected body seen clearly at daybreak in the rays of dawning sunlight on Easter Sunday morning. The plant arrayed in beauty represents Jesus’ glorified body.  The emergent green plant represents Jesus’ victory over death and his triumphant new life.

Plant Locations.  The most common location for a green plant that represents the Resurrection is at the foot of the Cross.  Some of the droplets of blood that Jesus shed fell to the ground immediately beneath him, and the blood that flowed forth as he died is the seed of new life (see Jn 19:34), not only for Jesus himself, but for all believers, not only new spiritual life and grace on earth but also eternal life in heaven with God in glory forever (see Jn 6:54).  The other common location for new green plants is along the ground at the entrance to his empty tomb.

Plant Varieties.  A wide variety of green plants are used symbolically for this purpose:  a tuft of sprouting new green grass, a new green shoot off of a vine, unfolding green foliage on the stem of a fresh flower, or budding green leaves on a shrub or tree.

Easter Art and Decorations.  Fresh greenery is widely used decoratively on Easter and throughout the Easter Season.  Green plants and flowers frequently are positioned around the base of an Easter Cross, prominently displayed either inside the church or outdoors.  Greenery is also commonly displayed in front of the altar or the pulpit, around the Easter Candle, or elsewhere in the sanctuary, as well as in other locations throughout the church building such as entrances, gathering places, meeting halls, and office reception areas.

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Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord A Dual Feast

March 17, 2016

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The Dual Nature of the Feast.  Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord.  It is a dual feast.  It has traditionally been known as Palm Sunday because the Mass begins with a gospel text that recounts how palm branches were used to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem, and because palm branches are blessed at the beginning of Mass and carried in procession as part of the Entrance Rite.  It has also traditionally been known as Passion Sunday because the Passion Narrative is proclaimed during the Liturgy of the Word.

A Unique Aspect of the Palm-Passion Liturgy.  This is the only Sunday of the entire liturgical year in which two separate gospel passages are read at the same Mass.  The liturgy begins with a special opening rite with the gospel proclamation of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem as the crowd waved palms and cried out, “Hosanna!” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Year A, Mt 21:1-11; Year B, Mk 11:1-10 or Jn 12:12-16; Year C, Lk 19:28-40). At the regular gospel time the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ is proclaimed in its entirety (Year A, Mt 26:14-27:66; Year B, Mk 14:1-15:47; Year C, Lk 22:14-23:56).

One Mass with Two Distinct Moods.  The Mass has two very different sentiments or feeling tones, jubilation, then lamentation.  The opening scene is festive.  As Jesus mounted the donkey the excitement rose to a fever pitch.  The crowd swelled.  Full of joy, the people waved their palm branches with gladness, laid their cloaks on the roadway with reverence, marched next to Jesus in happiness, and raised their voices with exuberance as they confidently proclaimed Jesus as the “Son of David” (Mt 21:9), “the prophet” (Mt 21:11), and their King.  As the Mass begins with the procession with palms, we honor Christ as our King and sovereign Lord, and the procession with palms into or around the church is intended to recapture the energy and enthusiasm of Jesus’ regal cortege from Bethpage down the Mount of Olives and through the gates of the Holy City, Jerusalem.

An Abrupt Change.  Only moments later there is a jarring mood shift.  The former exhilaration comes to an abrupt halt.  The tone suddenly becomes dark and dreary with the proclamation of four somber readings.  The first reading is the third Suffering Servant Canticle of Isaiah (Is 50:4-7) with the sad words, “I gave my back to those who beat me” (Is 50:6a);  the Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 22, the first portion which foretells a chilling aspect of the passion of the Messiah, “They have pierced my hands and my feet” (Ps 22:17b); and the second reading is the Christ Hymn with the grim statement that Jesus became “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8b).  The culmination of the Liturgy of the Word is the proclamation of the Passion, the painful account of how Jesus was scourged, crowned with thorns, nailed, crucified, and killed.  This bitter account causes our hearts to ache with sorrow.

The Paschal Mystery.  Holy Week begins with mourning, weeping, and lamentation.  The Cross is the most ignominious of all deaths, yet it is through the Cross that Jesus ultimately triumphed as our King and Savior.  This solemn week is filled with anguish and grief, but it ends with an ever greater mood shift, the joy and exaltation of the Resurrection and Easter.

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Turkey broadhead should prove deadly

March 17, 2016

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Ever since I started bow hunting in the fall of 2011, I have focused my efforts on trying to execute pass-through shots on deer in the heart-lung vital area.

To that end, I landed on a mechanical broadhead manufactured by New Archery Products called the Killzone. The two blades open up to 2 inches, and I have gotten pass-throughs on two of the three deer I have shot at with these heads.

This spring, I will be armed with another NAP product, this time for turkey hunting. But, I will not be aiming for a pass-through. In fact, the product is designed not to pass through a turkey.

That’s right: it is NOT built for pass-throughs.

How can this be? Well, I have done lots of reading up on this head, called a Spitfire Gobbler Getter. From what I can tell, it has been around for about 10 years, and it has most of the features of the conventional Spitfire — three folding blades, with the ends pointing forward and hugging the ferrule.

The Gobbler Getter features a blunt, rounded head versus a sharp, pointed head that the conventional Spitfire employs. The idea is that the blunt point will result in more energy being released into the bird. So, in addition to the blades slicing the bird, you’ll also have blunt-force trauma. This is designed to help keep the bird close to the point of impact.

That’s a huge advantage for the bow hunter. One of the common problems with bow hunting for turkeys is having the birds run or fly off after being hit. They can travel more than 100 yards, and often there is little to no blood trail. Add to that their tendency to crawl into thick cover and you have instances where the bird is never recovered — or at least requires a huge effort to recover.

Thus, the designers of this head tried to come up with a product that can hit a bird hard and anchor it near the point of impact. The research I have done online suggests that hunters have been achieving this effect.

The conventional three-blade Spitfire has been a highly successful design that creates a big wound channel, plus it has a history of consistently opening on contact with a deer and getting lots of pass-throughs. The reviews have been great on this head, and it is a personal favorite of Chris from NAP, whom I talked to about NAP broadheads recently. He and I had a lengthy conversation, and I got a chance to pick his brain about broadheads for both deer and turkey hunting.

I decided to get my hands on a set of Gobbler Getters, and I am planning on using them on future archery hunts, with my crossbow in Wisconsin, where they are legal for all hunters, and in Minnesota with my compound bow. Chris from NAP said they should work just fine with my crossbow.

One thing to be careful of with mechanical heads is the danger of having them open in flight because of the higher speed of crossbows. But, Chris said I shouldn’t have to worry about this for two reasons: 1. My particular crossbow, the Parker Enforcer, is relatively slow, shooting at 285 feet per second (some compounds with 70-pound draw weights can approach or match this speed), and, 2. the Spitfires are held closed with tension springs versus o-rings or rubber bands, so they are less likely to open in flight.

Bottom line: I am not going to worry about using the Gobbler Getters with my crossbow. I eventually hope to try them with my compound bow, too. I thought about it this year for Minnesota, which now allows turkey hunters with an archery tag to hunt throughout the entire spring season, rather than just one seven-day period.

But, I applied for the first time period for firearms and got picked, so I plan to hunt the first season with my shotgun (though I might bring my crossbow and try it out if a bird comes in really close). Had I not gotten picked, I would have bought the archery tag. I likely will keep applying for first season, and there probably will be years when I don’t get picked. So, that’s when I might buy the archery tag and hunt with my compound bow. But, at age 54, I am only six years away from being able to use a crossbow for archery hunting in Minnesota.

I really think NAP has a winner with the Spitfire Gobbler Getter. Having these heads also makes me want to try to conventional Spitfires for deer. Chris said that the three-blade design consistently produces nice blood trails. He said it’s very rare that you get a poor blood trail on a deer shot with a Spitfire.

He believes that you can get great results with a two-blade head, which I have, but if the cut is more horizontal than vertical, you can get a lot less blood coming out of a deer.

I see his point. That exact thing happened three years ago on a deer I shot with a Rage two-blade mechanical. A doe came walking down a trail near my stand, and I took a 25-yard shot at her (I had measured the distance from the trail to my stand, so I knew it was 25 yards).

Because I had a lighted nock, I saw the arrow hit the doe right behind the front leg and in the vital area. I watched her run off with the arrow sticking out of her. I couldn’t tell how much penetration I got, but it looked like the arrow at least hit the right spot.

Unfortunately, I found a small blood trail that eventually dried up. To this day, I am convinced that I hit the deer where I was aiming and that it eventually died.

But, in that instance, I may have had the trouble Chris described. The good news is I have had some great blood trails since then, and I am confident in the Killzones I have in my quiver. I have six of them, three brand new and three with replacement blades. Plus, I also have three Killzone crossbow heads. I now see that, based in my conversation with Chris, I may not have needed to buy the Killzone crossbow heads. But, that’s OK. I killed a deer with one of them, and I am massively confident in them.

I would like to deer hunt with Spitfires someday, but to be honest, I am so sold on Killzones that I am reluctant to switch. I first tried them on a recommendation from the guys at A1 Archery in Hudson. These guy are serious hunters, and nearly all of them use Killzones and love them. They have always steered me right, so I easily chose to buy Killzones. Plus, one of the guys at A1 installed replacement blades on three of my heads when I bought the blades there. That’s customer service you can’t beat!

So, with all due respect to Chris, I probably will be taking my Killzones back into the woods this fall for deer. Now, if he wants to send me a set of Spitfires to try, I would be happy to do so. I’m sure they would perform admirably.

On the other hand, I’m not looking to fix something that isn’t broke. I have shot at three deer with Killzones and killed them all. One of them I did not recover until the next day, which was too late because the coyotes got to it first. That’s on me for not the greatest shot placement (a little far back that resulted in the deer jumping up and running when I went to track it).

So, if I just make sure to execute proper shot placement, I think my Killzones will do a great job. But, it sure is nice to know there are other great options, too. But, whatever NAP mechanical broadhead you choose to use, Chris wants to offer one CRUCIAL tip: Replace the blade after every animal you harvest with it, NO MATTER WHAT. Chris was emphatic on this point, and NAP offers replacement blades for both the Spitfire and the Killzone. They’re about $15 for a pack of three, and worth the money. To me, it’s like sharpening your hook after every fish you catch.

My Spitfire Gobbler Getters arrived in the mail recently. I’m excited to use them!

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St. Edward fish fry raises funds for youth group trip

March 17, 2016

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St. Edward’s youth served up a plate of two piping hot deep-fried fish portions, together with crinkle cut fries, a simple salad, cole slaw, and dessert and a beverage. Creamy Mac and Cheese was available as a sub for the non-fishmongers among us, but better yet, they brought out the malt vinegar, a staple for the fish and chips purists among us. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Catholic Hotdish offers another review from Fish Daddy, who visits some of the hot spots in the Twin Cities for Lenten fish fries. He’s looking at more than the fish — it’s the fellowship, the friendliness and faith that makes this Catholic Lenten tradition shine.

Nestled in a quiet neighborhood in Bloomington is St. Edward’s. They don’t pull out the deep fryers every week in Lent like some of the previous parishes Fish Daddy visited. In fact, if you’re looking for a recommendation to visit St. Edward’s Fish Fry, you’ll actually have to wait until next year. But the event raised awareness and funds for a unique summer experience for the active St. Edward’s youth group.

Fish

St. Edward’s youth served up a plate of two piping hot deep-fried fish portions, together with crinkle cut fries, a simple salad, cole slaw, and dessert and a beverage. Creamy Mac and Cheese was available as a sub for the non-fishmongers among us, but better yet, they brought out the malt vinegar, a staple for the fish and chips purists among us. (2 fish)

Service

A hearty welcome at the entrance table, along with plenty of table service here, from the coffee and beverage refillers to the plate clearers. And St. Ed’s also had a nice guitar accompaniment with dinner, compliments of the youth group. And if you feel the need to sneak back for that second cookie or delicious slice of cake at the dessert table, you weren’t the only one. (3 fish)

Fishers of people

There are plenty of Lenten offerings at the church of St. Edward’s, from the post-food Stations of the Cross, to rosaries on Monday evenings and Potluck and Palm Braiding on Wednesday March 16. Visit their website to find out what’s going on for Holy Week, too.

The St. Edward’s youth group was well on their way to raising funds for their trip to Heifer Ranch in Perrysville, Arkansas. There, they will learn about sustainable solutions for hunger, poverty, and the environment. (3 fish)

Value

$35/family; $12 per person. Under 7 free. The family rate has put the smallest dent in Fish Daddy’s family wallet this Fish Fry Lent, but a repeat performance here won’t come until 2017. Be sure to check the listings at http://www.thcatholicspirit.com early in Lent to make sure you don’t miss out on that once-a-Lent fish fry. (3 fish)

St. Edward’s 9401 Nesbitt Ave S., Bloomington 952-835-7101. http://stedwardschurch.org

Want Fish Daddy to visit your parish? E-mail CatholicSpirit@archspm.org.

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Casting perfect in Chan’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’

March 14, 2016

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Muscle-bound Aleks Knezevich as Gaston isn't impressing Belle (Ruthanne Heyward), the beauty in Chanhassen's "Disney's Beauty and the Beast." Photos by Heidi Bohnenkamp, 2016

Muscle-bound Aleks Knezevich as Gaston isn’t impressing Belle (Ruthanne Heyward), the beauty in Chanhassen’s “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.” Photos by Heidi Bohnenkamp, 2016

I didn’t walk out of the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres humming a memorable tune after seeing “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.” What kept coming to mind, though, was, one, how spot-on each of the actors was cast for their roles, and, two, how perfectly the actors played their characters.

Yes, of course their are terrific voices, and yes, the full-cast song-and-dance numbers — what the Chan does best — were top-shelf. But the actors were exactly right for each and every role to the point that I wondered if anyone could have played a single one any better than the folks on the Chan’s stage.

Ruthanne Heyward is lovely and talented as the beauty Belle, and Robert O. Berdahl has all the right moves and hits all the right notes as the beast. Yet it was the other players who fit their roles to an even greater extent.

Aleks Knezevich was perfection as the muscle-bound egotist Gaston, who chases after Belle. If you created an animated cartoon character for the part you would use Knezevich for the model. Not only did he look and play the part to comic perfection, his voice is superb.

Scott Blackburn is Cogsworth the clock and Mark King Lumiere the candlestick, both perfectly cast in "Beauty and the Beast" at the Chan.

Scott Blackburn is Cogsworth the clock and Mark King Lumiere the candlestick, both perfectly cast in “Beauty and the Beast” at the Chan.

The smaller (but not small) parts of Cogsworth the clock (Scott Blackburn), Lumiere the candlestick (Mark King) and Mrs. Potts the teapot (Susan Hofflander) were right up there with Gaston, perfectly cast and played so well it was as if they were born for the parts.

Costume designer Rich Hamson pulled out all the stops to create amazing looks for  the various household-item roles, with Laura Rudolph’s two-tiered serving tray perhaps the most creative.

A tip of the hat to director Michael Brindisi for pulling off another winner, scheduled to run through this autumn, and to Brindisi and choreographer Tamara Kangas Erickson for great casting, with assistance from Andrew Cooke, music director.

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ADULTERY: Sex crime headline misses the point

March 11, 2016

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UnknownWhen it comes to the headlines in Jn 8:1-11, the woman caught in adultery is the lead story.  It is a sex crime.  It is salacious.  It is dirty laundry.  It was the talk of the town.

The mercy, compassion, and forgiveness of Jesus is the main point of this gospel.  Yet, because sexual offenses get so little attention in the gospels, and because the Sixth Commandment, “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex 20:14), is commandment that deals with sexual sin, and because other sexual sins fall in this category, when it comes to this gospel it is common to fixate on the woman’s sexual sin, and by extrapolation, our own sexual sins.

Jesus and the woman may be on center stage, but who are the worst sinners in the story?  Who should be in the headlines?  Who are the real bad guys?

The scribes and the Pharisees caught a woman in the act of adultery.  They were the town snoops, voyeurs.  They violated her privacy.  They were the self-appointment morality police.

The scribes and the Pharisees brought the woman out into the town square and accused her.  They made a spectacle of her and were glad to shame her in public.  They humiliated and embarrassed her, and it did not bother them at all.  They made her private sin known in public, and it would always be held against her.  They ruined her reputation.

The scribes and the Pharisees were legalists; they knew the letter of the law and insisted that it be applied fully.  They wanted to throw the book at her.  The law says that she should be stoned, and they were ready and willing to execute judgment.  They were without compassion or mercy.  Instead, they were harsh, heavy-handed, and cruel.

The scribes and the Pharisees tried to entrap Jesus.  They hoped Jesus would answer wrongly.  Their goal was to get some dirt on Jesus so they could accuse, convict, and kill him.  Jesus was honing in on their territory, and it was their sinister plot to eliminate the competition.

The scribes and the Pharisees used the woman as a pawn in their evil scheme.  They had no regard for the woman, whatsoever.  If they could use her to accomplish their goal, even if it caused grave harm to her, it did not matter.  They were callous, indeed.

The scribes and the Pharisees were “guilty as sin.”  To them Jesus wisely said, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (Jn 8:7).  And remarkably, one by one, the scribes and the Pharisees went away.

When it comes to the mercy of Jesus, his compassion for the adulterous woman gets the most attention, but it misses a critical point.  While Jesus did not condemn the woman (Jn 8:11), it is imperative to note that he did not condemn the scribes and the Pharisees either.  There was no reprimand, no punishment.  They got off free.  The mercy of Jesus is incredible, beyond our comprehension.  It extends to every sinner, even scribes and Pharisees.

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St. Albert the Great the ‘State Fair’ of fish fries

March 8, 2016

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St. Albert the Great serves locally farmed tilapia (rumored to be the fish St. Peter sought), baked or fried, along with a helping of meatless spaghetti, cole slaw, delicious parslied mashed potatoes with garlic butter and a fluffy roll. Courtesy Fish Daddy

St. Albert the Great serves locally farmed tilapia (rumored to be the fish St. Peter sought), baked or fried, along with a helping of meatless spaghetti, cole slaw, delicious parslied mashed potatoes with garlic butter and a fluffy roll. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Catholic Hotdish offers another review from Fish Daddy, who visits some of the hot spots in the Twin Cities for Lenten fish fries. He’s looking at more than the fish — it’s the fellowship, the friendliness and faith that makes this Catholic Lenten tradition shine.

St. Albert the Great

If you like your Fish Fries like your State Fairs, you’ll find a home at St. Albert the Great. Father Joe Gillespie is Pastor and chief MC during Fridays in Lent at St. Albert the Great, and if he’s not calling your 50-50 number or giving a local TV interview, he’ll be telling you the story of the parish’s namesake saint. Fish Daddy arrived close to start time, and as I wound up the stairs, through the church, and into the Social Hall, before seeing a line, I quickly realized the hungrier you are, the earlier you need arrive. They seat thousands each week (one volunteer recounted 1600 one Friday evening last year with food still going at 8 p.m., and a packed coverall bingo game down the hall in the gym). With balloons on every table, and volunteers with top-hats or Mardi Gras crowns, these are clearly your street dance-visiting neighbors.

Fish

St. Albert the Great's hall festively decorated for the well-sought Friday fish fry. Courtesy Fish Daddy

St. Albert the Great’s hall festively decorated for the well-sought Friday fish fry. Courtesy Fish Daddy

St. Albert the Great serves locally farmed tilapia (rumored to be the fish St. Peter sought), baked or fried, along with a helping of meatless spaghetti, cole slaw, delicious parslied mashed potatoes with garlic butter and a fluffy roll. A nice touch was a small ramekin of tomato basil soup or potato lobster chowder. Save room for the dessert tables, where you can choose the rich brownie bombs, or palate-clearing watermelon cubes. Or both. Pies, bars, cookies, and cakes made for some tough decisions. (3 fish)

Service

Aproned volunteers were chatty as they cleared a plate, sold you a 50-50 ticket, or just hollered and clapped a neighbor on the back. There were plenty of Risen Christ students about as well, helping with beverages, plates, or being gophers for whatever occasion. If it all seems too lively, you can make your way back to the church, where latecomers are serenaded with music, and wait for their “group letters” to be called for seating. (3 fish)

Fishers of men

Stations precede the festivities on Fridays 3:15-3:45, but be sure to make it back on Sunday night for a Lenten movie series and discussion starting at 6:30 p.m. Sunday March 11 and 20. And while you missed Dr. Art Zannoni’s Friday lectures earlier in Lent, you can make reparations by bringing a pair of new socks for the homeless to St. Albert the Great’s Potluck on Holy Thursday at 5:30 p.m., followed by the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper at 7 p.m., with an optional foot-washing. (3 fish).

Value

$11 adults, 65+ $10, youth 5-12, $5, and under 5 free. St. Albert the Great parishioners know how to put the fun in fundraise, so be ready! From Bingo to Silent Auction to 50-50, to drawings for goods and support for the youth group’s trip to Ecuador, it’s not hard to let a few dollars slip out of your pocket and serve others. (4 fish).

St. Albert the Great 2836 33rd Ave S., Minneapolis 612-724-3643. http://www.saintalbertthegreat.org/

Want Fish Daddy to visit your parish? E-mail CatholicSpirit@archspm.org.

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Laetare Sunday: The Fourth Sunday of Lent

March 4, 2016

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UnknownA Joyful Term.  Laetare is a Latin term for joy, rejoicing, or gladness.  The Entrance Antiphon sets the mood.  It begins, “Rejoice [i.e., Laetare], Jerusalem, and all who love her.  Be joyful, all you who were mourning; exalt” (see Is 66:10).

A Joyful Break.  Lent is a somber, penitential season.  It is unpleasant to spend forty days concentrating on our sinfulness.  As we examine our consciences, it is sad and humbling when we count up the sins that we have committed.  The whole process can be downright demoralizing.  Laetare Sunday is supposed to be a bright and happy occasion, a one-day breather, not dwelling so much upon our sinfulness but upon the joyful promise of God’s mercy.

Joyful Progress.  Laetare Sunday is the Fourth Sunday of Lent, roughly the midpoint of the season.  Three and a half weeks are completed and only three weeks remain.  This means that our Lenten disciplines, the fasting, abstinence, self-denial, and other rigors are over half completed, and that the end of our self-mortification is within sight.

A Joyful Outlook.  It is uplifting to know that Easter Sunday is only three weeks from today.

A Joyful Exception.  “During Lent, it is not permitted to decorate the altar with flowers” (Roman Missal, 70), but on Laetare Sunday “the altar may be decorated with flowers” (Roman Missal, 106); the liturgical color is violet, but the color rose may be used; and the music typically is more subdued, but the use of instruments and more upbeat melodies is appropriate.

Joyful Orations.  The Collect begins with the joyful news that the human race is reconciled to God, and it mentions the “solemn celebrations to come,” the joyous celebration of the Triduum, the Institution of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, salvation and redemption on Good Friday, and the Resurrection on Easter, all reasons for joy.  The Prayer over the Offerings states, “We place before you with joy these offerings which bring about an eternal remedy,” everlasting life in heaven with God.  The Communion Antiphon repeats the joyful line, “You must rejoice, my son, for your brother was dead and has come to life” (Lk 15:32).  The Prayer after Communion makes the joyful observation that God enlightens everyone who comes into this world.

Joyful Scripture Readings.  The first reading from Joshua (5:9a,10-12) recounts a joyful moment in the history of Israel, the grand and glorious entrance into the Promised Land and the end of the forty year journey through the desert.  The Responsorial Psalm says, “Look to him that you may be radiant with joy” (Ps 34:6a), and explains multiple reasons for joy:  God listens to our prayers, delivers us from our fears, and saves us from distress.  In the second reading St. Paul makes mention of two joyful realities, how through Christ we have been made into a new creation (2 Cor 5:17) and our trespasses are no longer counted against us (2 Cor 5:19).

A Joyful Gospel.  The Parable of the Forgiving Father is a joyful description of the mercy of God.  It should bring us great joy to know that as the father welcomed the sinful son, so God welcomes us when we go to him, and the way that the father embraced the son is the way that God embraces us, even after we have failed (Lk 15:20).  It is reason for celebration and rejoicing when the dead sinner comes to life again (Lk 15:32).

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Tasty fish an ‘Epiphany’ at Coon Rapids parish

March 2, 2016

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“It wasn’t long before the throwback silly putty-colored tray was laden with a hearty supper,” writes Fish Daddy of his Feb. 26 fish fry dinner at Epiphany in Coon Rapids. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Catholic Hotdish offers another review from Fish Daddy, who visits some of the hot spots in the Twin Cities for Lenten fish fries. He’s looking at more than the fish — it’s the fellowship, the friendliness and faith that makes this Catholic Lenten tradition shine.

From the minute Fish Daddy approached the church hall door, and later took the tray from the PTO volunteer, whiffs of both tasty fish and parochial school upbringing hung in the air. It wasn’t long before the throwback silly putty-colored tray was laden with a hearty supper. Pink lemonade in a Styrofoam cup and a side of applesauce had me captivated. But that wasn’t all. With the size of the tray, it was unlikely anyone would need seconds.

Fish

Epiphany served up two Guinness-battered fish and the craic to go with it. The optional baked fish or non-Guinness-battered was also excellent, so I heard, as well as the choice of tater tots, straight-up cabbagey slaw, breadstick or roll, dessert tray selection and beverage. Fish Daddy’s guests found the potato a bit underdone. Epiphany’s cooks fire up a curveball, too. Cheese pizza is on the menu, specially for the 10 and under crowd. (2 fish)

Service

Students' artwork welcomed guests to Epiphany's fish fry Feb. 26. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Students’ artwork welcomed guests to Epiphany’s fish fry Feb. 26. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Two lines made the hungry dinner crowd at ease, and plenty of PTO help from serving to cleaning to offering refills on coffee, water, or lemonade made the meal go down smoothly. Pleasant young ladies and gents came by several times. Sixteen half cafeteria-length tables with two overflow rooms made for ample comfort, with well over a hundred guests seated during my stay. (3 fish)

Fishers of men

Epiphany’s Stations of the Cross were scheduled following dinner at 7 p.m., and their adoration chapel is advertised as 24/7. There were several Lenten devotion notices well placed either in the church hall or on the website. The 3-day Parish Mission with Fr. Mike Schmitz is scheduled for March 7-9, and the Easter Cantata is on 7 p.m. March 18 and 1 p.m. March 19. And that’s just Lent. Father Thomas Dufner and his parish team offer plenty of opportunities for you to get involved and spiritually nourished (4 fish).

Value

A thrifty $10 gets you in the door, with youth and seniors paying $6, and under 5 free (3 fish).

Epiphany parishioners are clearly proud of their youth. From the many pictures on the website to pint-sized helpers to young artists who created many personalized colored placemats with fish themes, this parish rings out with parochial spirit.

And if you didn’t hear the national buzz around the snow altar built on the Pennsylvania Turnpike with the help of some of the young adults of Epiphany, then check out the Jan. 23 Catholic Spirit article. Now that’s a catch!

Epiphany 1900 111th Ave NW, Coon Rapids. http://www.epiphanymn.org. 763-755-1020.

Want Fish Daddy to visit your parish? Email CatholicSpirit@archspm.org.

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