Archive | April, 2016

St. James the Lesser, Apostle and Martyr

April 29, 2016

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StJamesLesserApostolic Identity.  There are two St. James among the original twelve apostles:  St. James the Greater whose feast is on July 25, and St. James the Less, the Lesser, or the Minor, whose feast is on May 3 and shared with St. Philip.  He is the second James on the New Testament lists of apostles (Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:15; Acts 1:13).  There are several explanations for why he is called “less.”  The most widely accepted reason is that he was younger than the other James who was greater in years.  Some believe that it was because of his short stature, that he was lesser in height, or because he was called at a later time than James the Greater.

Family Relationship.  St. James was the son of Alphaeus and Mary (Mt 27:56; Mk 15:40).  His brother was Joseph or Joses. He is also known as the brother or cousin of the Lord.  The people of Nazareth asked of Jesus, “[Are not] his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?” (Mt 13:55; see Mt 12:46), or “James and Joses and Judas and Simon” (Mk 6:3).

Special Encounter.  Jesus appeared to James after he rose from the dead (1 Cor 15:7).

Apostolic Ministry.  James was the head of the early Christian church in Jerusalem and is regarded as its first bishop. When Peter was released from prison, he asked that word be sent to James (Acts 12:17).  James presided over the Council of Jerusalem in 51 AD, and with great wisdom and compassion, argued that Gentile converts not be obligated to follow the Jewish dietary laws (Acts 15:13-21), and because of his fairness, he is also known as James the Just.  Paul met with James in Jerusalem at least twice, once in 37 AD after he had spent fifteen days with Peter (Gal 1:18-19), and again in 56 AD when he conferred with James and the other presbyters (Acts 21:18).  Paul called James a “pillar” of the community, along with Peter and John (Gal 2:9), and acknowledged that he had a role in commissioning Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles.  The Letter of James is attributed to him (Jas 1:1).

A Martyr’s Death.  James preached the gospel with exceptional zeal in Jerusalem for over thirty years, and he inspired many people to become believers in Jesus.  His successes were met with fierce opposition by the leaders of the Jews who wanted to kill him.  In 62 AD a group of furious scribes and Pharisees demanded that James renounce Jesus, and when he flatly refused, they apprehended him, stormed to the pinnacle of the Temple and hurled him down to an angry mob below.  Still alive, the mob began to stone him, and as he prayed for their forgiveness, he was bludgeoned to death with clubs.

Symbols.  In religious art, St. James is represented by a bat or a fuller’s club as well as one or more stones, the instruments of his martyrdom, or an image of the Temple because he was thrown from it.  He is also sometimes depicted with a book or a scroll because he preached the gospel, with a pastoral staff or a walking stick because he was the shepherd of the church of Jerusalem, or a green branch or palm because he was a martyr.  There is another not widely accepted tradition that he was cut in half, so he is sometimes represented by a saw.

Patronage.  Along with St. Joseph, he is the patron saint of the dying.  He is also the patron saint of fullers, those who clean, shrink, and thicken cloth; hatters; and druggists.

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Wild turkey feast feeds 16

April 25, 2016

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The payoff of my turkey hunt April 13 came on Saturday, when I prepared my favorite recipe: wild turkey/wild rice casserole.

This would be the largest group I would feed with this dish — 16 people, including my wife Julie and daughter Claire. The other 13 guests were college students or recent college grads.

Some of them had never tasted wild turkey before, while three of them actually had gone turkey hunting before and taken birds. To make sure I had enough for everyone to eat, I added some venison cheeseburger on a stick to the feast.

I needn’t have worried about food quantity. Not only was there enough casserole to feed everyone, but there was plenty left over. That meant I was able to take some in my lunch today.

I never tire of eating the casserole. It tastes great every time and is very hard to screw up, which is one thing I like about it. For those who are interested, here is the recipe. Note that you can use store-bought turkey or chicken as a substitute for wild turkey.

Wild turkey/wild rice casserole

Ingredients

6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound wild turkey breast, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 medium carrot, sliced (1/2 cup)
1 medium stalk celery, sliced (1/2 cup)
2 cans (14 ounces each) ready-to-serve chicken broth
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) cream of chicken soup
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 1/4 cup uncooked wild rice, rinsed and drained

1. Cook bacon in skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Stir in turkey. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until turkey is brown. Stir in onion, carrots and celery. Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally; drain (Note: I don’t drain because I like to have the bacon grease go into the casserole to give it more flavor).

2. Beat 1 can of the broth and the soup in crockpot, using wire whisk, until smooth. Stir in remaining can of broth, the marjoram and pepper. Stir in turkey mixture and wild rice.

3. Cover and cook on high heat setting 30 minutes.

4. Reduce heat to low setting. Cook 6 to 7 hours or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed (Note: In my crockpot, it only takes 2 or 3 hours to get it fully cooked, so you’ll have to experiment).

5. After everything is cooked, add cream for extra flavor, about 1/2 or 1 cup, and cook for another 1/2 hour or so.

Enjoy!

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St. Adalbert of Prague, Bishop and Martyr

April 22, 2016

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StAdalbertSt. Adalbert of Prague was born in 956 in Bohemia into the Christian upper class Slavnik family.  His baptismal name is variously reported as Wojciech, Voytiekh, and Voytech.  He went to Magdeburg, Germany, and was educated by its archbishop, St. Adalbert of Magdeburg, who changed his name to Adalbert when he received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

When the older St. Adalbert died in 981, the younger Adalbert returned to Bohemia, and a year later, in 982, at the age of 26, was elected the bishop of Prague.  He entered the city barefoot, intent on bringing Christianity to the Czechs.

As bishop, he worked tirelessly to inspire Christians to live holier lives, to bring the gospel to non-believers in Hungary and Bohemia, and to reform the clergy. It was a bitter struggle.  He was resisted by stubborn clergy and political opponents.  His missionary work had achieved modest success.  Deeply disappointed, he was forced to leave Prague in 990 and fled to Rome.

Upon his arrival in Rome, Bishop Adalbert went to the Benedictine Abbey of Saints Boniface and Alexis where he became a monk.  Meanwhile, in 992 Duke Boleslaus of Poland petitioned the Pope that Bishop Adalbert be sent back to Prague, and subsequently Pope John XV reassigned Adalbert to his former post.

Bishop Adalbert had a tumultuous return.  A noblewoman had been convicted of adultery.  The crowd wanted her punished, but because she was repentant and the mob unruly, as an act of compassion the bishop gave her safe haven in the church.  The mob attacked, stormed the church, and killed her, by some reports, at the altar, by other reports, in the street.  In punishment for their evildoing, Bishop Adalbert excommunicated all those who participated in her execution.  The throng considered the penalty excessive and shifted their rage toward the bishop and his family.  Some of his relatives were murdered.  He was rejected, and fled to Rome a second time.

Again, there was a papal intervention.  The new pope, Gregory V, ordered Bishop Adalbert to return, but not to Prague.  Instead, the Pope allowed Adalbert to be a missionary.  Initially, he went to Poland, and then to the Prussians in Pomerania along the southern coast of the Baltic Sea.  While he went to preach the gospel, the local residents thought he was a Polish spy and executed him with his two companions, Benedict and Gaudentius, near Gdansk (Danzig) on April 23, 997, and was buried in Gniezno, the first capital of Poland.  His relics were transferred to Prague in 1039.

St. Adalbert of Prague was held in great esteem as a courageous martyr, outstanding missionary, and a monastic, and his popularity spread rapidly throughout Poland, eastern Russia, Germany, Hungary, and Bohemia, and his heroic witness served to inspire further missionary efforts in central and eastern Europe.  He is the patron saint of Poland, Bohemia, the Czech Republic, and Prussia.

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Turkey hunt goes smoothly

April 22, 2016

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I always say that turkey hunting is NEVER easy. Sure, I have had hunts where the birds did what I was hoping they would do. And, hunts that ended quickly, like less than an hour.

But, so much work goes into making a hunt successful that I refuse to ever use the word easy to describe any of my hunts — even the best ones.

That is why a hunt like I had last week in Minnesota will be described as going smoothly rather than easily. I did my homework prior to opening day of Season A, which was April 13. I talked to the landowner of a farm near Red Wing, and he noted that he had been seeing a large flock of birds using a picked corn field regularly.

So, I set up my blind in the far corner of that field, with help from the landowner’s cousin. When we got to the spot, we looked out the window of his pickup truck and saw a flock of 25-30 birds feeding in the picked corn field. There were several adult toms strutting for more than a dozen hens. Needless to say, I was excited.

At the far end of the field where I set up was a finger of woods that went back in quite a ways. I saw some large oak trees that looked good for roosting, so I was optimistic about opening day.

I climbed into my blind well before dawn, and let things quiet down. Then, as it started getting light, birds began to sound off. There were hens yelping and toms gobbling. There also was the sound of juvenile toms trying to gobble. More than 30 years of turkey hunting have helped me learn and identify the range of sounds made by turkeys. There was at least one first-year tom, called a jake, roosted within about 50 yards of my blind.

The trick to getting close to roosted birds is to come in well before sunrise — like an hour before — to take advantage of their poor night vision. I got there plenty early and was hopeful birds would show up in the field in front of my blind.

It didn’t take long. Two hens sauntered out of the woods to my left and began feeding in the field. I knew more birds, including toms, would soon follow. Actually, it took longer than I expected.

Finally, about a half hour after the hens came out, I heard a gobble in the field to my right just over a small rise in the terrain. I gave some soft calls — clucks and purrs — and got my gun ready.

Eventually, I saw a red head pop up over the rise. A gobbler was coming in! I waited for him to come over the rise so I could see his full body. When he did, I realized he was a jake. In a matter of seconds, three more jakes joined him.

It was a very cool sight, but I wanted to wait for a mature tom with a long beard to come in. So, I passed on the jakes. The hung around for a bit, then turned and went back the way they had come. They continued to gobble, and proved to me that sometimes jakes can gobble like mature toms.

A little while later, a longbeard came out into the field and walked across, but he was too far away. My calls got him to stop, but he did not alter his travel route. Eventually, he got to the other side and disappeared into the woods.

Maybe a half hour later, a fifth jake appeared and walked out into the field and toward my decoy spread. I could have shot him, but I let him walk. With this much bird activity, I figured it was just a matter of time before a longbeard came within range.

Things got quiet for a while, then my phone buzzed. It was my brother Pat from Colorado, and I decided to take the call. He could hear me whisper, so we talked for about 10 minutes.

As I was hanging up, I heard a loud racket to right of my blind and behind me slightly. I recognized a sound I don’t hear very often — fighting purrs. Males does this throughout the breeding season when they are fighting for dominance in the flock — and breeding rights.

I grabbed my gun quickly and peeked out the right side of the blind. A longbeard stepped into a small shooting lane I had made in the brush and stood there looking toward my decoys. I had a jake decoy with a real tail fan, plus two hens.

The longbeard seemed hesitant, then turned to his right and headed back into some brush. I got nervous about missing my chance, but then another bird stepped into the same shooting lane. I saw a red head and knew he was a male, and I assumed he was a longbeard like the first one.

I lined up my fiber optic sights on the bird and fired. He dropped where he stood, and the other birds scattered.

When I walked up to the bird, I was surprised to discover that he was a jake. The telltale short, stumpy beard greeted me when I turned the bird over.

I was a tad disappointed, as I like to shoot a longbeard when I can. But, that’s the way it goes. I have shot plenty of birds over the years, both adult toms and jakes, so I’m happy with whatever I am able to get. I always make sure to thank the Lord for whatever I am able to harvest.

One benefit of a young bird is the meat is more tender. Older birds can be tough, which won’t be a problem in this case.

And, I have big plans for this bird. I am going to make wild turkey/wild rice casserole for a group of college students tomorrow night, along with venison cheeseburger on a stick. We are gathering for a special Saturday night tradition called Lord’s Day. It features praise and worship, special prayers and dinner.

Some of the students have had wild game. In fact, two of them have shot wild turkeys. For some, this will be their first meal of wild game.

I am super excited to prepare this feast!

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World Day of Prayer for Vocations

April 15, 2016

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GoodShepherd1Good Shepherd Sunday is the annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations.  This custom began in 1963.  It is a day set aside to pray for vocations to the priesthood and the permanent diaconate, as well as to the consecrated life, the vocation of priest, brother, or sister within a religious order that observes the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Sheep without shepherds.  Jesus was distraught over the dismal quality of spiritual leadership during his time.  When he looked out over the people, “his heart was moved for pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt 9:36).  So Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send laborers for his harvest” (Mt 9:37; see Lk 10:2).

The laborers are few.  The number of priests and religious has declined, there is a shortage, and there is a great need.  Bishops are anxious because there are not enough priests to staff the parishes in their dioceses.  Parishioners are anxious because parishes with multiple priests have been reduced, small parishes have been combined, and some parishes have gone without a priest.  Priests are anxious because more duties have fallen on their shoulders.

Ask the master.  Jesus told his disciples to pray for vocations, “Ask and it will be given to you” (Mt 7:7), and he reassured them, “For everyone who asks, receives” (Mt 7:8), and, “Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive” (Mt 21:22).

Pray for vocations.  Prayer should be offered by the Church at its liturgies, and this can be easily done with a petition in the General Intercessions or a special prayer offered by the congregation after Holy Communion.  A prayer for vocations can be offered before council, staff, faculty, and committee meetings.  Vocation prayer cards can be placed on the inside cover of hymnals, in the pews, on tables at the entrances, and in the Eucharistic Adoration chapel.

Family prayer.  It is also extremely important for families to pray at home together for vocations.  Parents who pray for vocations encourage their own children to consider such a calling, and children who are reminded regularly about service to the Church are more likely to keep an open mind, be better able to hear the call, and be more inclined to respond favorably.

Priests, deacons, and religious, and prayer.  It may seem obvious, but those who have accepted a religious vocation should pray for vocations.  It is a sad phenomenon that some priests and religious have grown disenchanted with their own vocations, their religious superiors, their diocese or religious institute, or the Church, and do not pray for vocations and do not invite others to consider one.  Statistically, over eighty percent of newly ordained priests report that a major element of their call was the personal invitation of a priest, but surveys of priests reveal that only thirty percent offer invitations.  Parishioners should pray that their priests and religious would be more positively disposed and actively engaged in vocation promotion.

Once is not enough.  The World Day of Prayer is a single day, and while it is important to prayer for vocations on Good Shepherd Sunday, it is important to prayer for vocations on other Sundays and weekdays, too.  It is tremendously important to pray for vocations regularly.

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What makes Jesus, The Good Shepherd, good?

April 15, 2016

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GoodShepherd2Good vs. Bad.  The Fourth Sunday of Easter is Good Shepherd Sunday.  It is important to know the difference between a good and bad shepherd, and both Jesus in the Good Shepherd Discourse (Jn 10:1-21) and God through the prophet Ezekiel (Ez 34:1-10) highlight the differences.

Bad shepherds work for money.  Bad shepherds put in their time to get paid, but they really do not care about the sheep.  It is all about the money and not about the sheep.

Bad shepherds do not pay attention or listen.  Bad shepherds do not spend quality time with their sheep.  They do not learn the names of their sheep, nor do they get to know their individual problems or concerns, nor do they offer personalized help and advice.  Then, when it comes time to lead, the sheep do not listen or follow because there is no relationship or trust.

Bad shepherds put themselves ahead of their sheep.  Bad shepherds are more interested in their own pursuits than in the needs of their sheep.  In times of crisis when the sheep are under attack, whether it is from the outside, such as wild predatory animals or thieves, or from the inside, such as a corrupt or evil shepherd, a bad shepherd is not willing to sacrifice or suffer on behalf of the sheep, and instead of battling the evil threat, the bad shepherd sits by idly and does nothing, withdraws, resigns, or flees.

Bad shepherds take advantage of their sheep.  The sheep produce the wool; the bad shepherds wear fancy clothes.  The sheep produce mutton; the bad shepherds dine in elegance.  The goats produce milk; the bad shepherds drink fine wines.  The affluence of bad shepherds is at the expense of their own flock.

Bad shepherds are controlling and harsh.  Bad shepherds are authoritarian.  Their rule is top-down.  They do not take advice.  They are unconcerned about the input, opinions or feelings of others.  They are heavy-handed and mean-spirited.

Bad shepherds do not put in extra effort.  Every flock has sheep that need special care.  Some are weak, others are sick, and a few wander off.  Bad shepherds are unwilling to put in extra time or go the extra mile.  Sheep in distress are left to fend for themselves, and vulnerable and defenseless, their plight often goes from bad to worse, and bad shepherds do not care.

The Good Shepherd.  Jesus is good, and there are many factors that make him good.  His primary concern always is his sheep.  For Jesus, it is never about him, the money, a high lifestyle, an influential position, or power.  He has a special concern for each and every sheep, particularly those who are troubled.  He is present.  He listens.  He is strong, yet humble and gentle.  He upholds the truth, yet he is kind and compassionate.  He lived simply. He came to serve.  He emptied himself.  He was willing to suffer and lay down his life for his sheep.

Good Shepherd Ministry.  Parents are shepherds for their children, teachers for their students, coaches for their athletes, managers for their workers, civil officials for their citizens, and priests for their parishioners.  Anyone in a position of leadership should avoid the pitfalls of the bad shepherds and pattern themselves on Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

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Will turkey scouting pay off?

April 11, 2016

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We all hear about the importance of scouting in preparing for a hunt. I learned firsthand during a trip down to two adjoining properties I will turkey hunt near Red Wing when Season A opens on Wednesday.

I had planned to hunt a spot where I had called in two toms for my daughter Claire last spring, also on the opening day of the A Season. Without hesitation, I parked my car and headed to a back corner to set up the blind. It’s a spot where a narrow strip of pasture and a picked soybean field meet. Last year, the crop field was picked corn, and the birds were using it before the season. I got that report from the landowner, which is the most valuable source of information there is.

This year, I set up the blind without talking to the landowner first. I couldn’t find him, so I just relied on last year’s results. Then, after I set up the blind and walked back to my car, I spotted him in a field working. Another guy was with him. Turned out to be his cousin.

I approached him and asked where he had been seeing birds. He pointed to a field to the south and said he had just seen a flock of 30 or more birds the previous evening. He had seen them on other days, too.

Thinking this to be a sign from the Lord, I asked his cousin if he would be willing to drive his pickup back to where I had set up the blind, pick it up and give me a ride to the field where the birds have been hanging out.

He quickly agreed, and off we went. After picking up the blind, we drove a long way back to the far end of the picked corn field, and when we stopped the truck, we looked and saw a large flock of turkeys feeding. There were several toms strutting for a large group of hens.

X marks the spot. I set up the blind, and that’s where I will hunt on Wednesday. The nice thing was, the birds didn’t spook at the sight of the truck. I think they’re used to vehicles driving in the fields. They paid us no mind and went about their business while we set up the blind.

I went back yesterday morning to listen for gobbling. I did not, however, walk back to where the blind was, as I didn’t want to spook any birds.

I plan to be in the blind well before daylight on Wednesday. The weather looks good, which will make it comfortable inside the blind. I plan to be there as long as it takes, all day if necessary. Lots of hunters leave the woods later in the morning to take a break and/or eat lunch.

Not me. I stay in the woods. I have killed plenty of birds between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., including a bird I shot last year. Even if things are quiet,  toms can fire up at anytime. Sometimes, the hens leave to attend to their nests, or the toms just get tired of strutting for hens that aren’t ready to breed yet. So, they go l0oking for different hens.

I want to be the one that a lonely longbeard finds!

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University of MN college students to participate in Alaska mission trip

April 7, 2016

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Our whole group at the Matanuska Glacier

Our whole group at the Matanuska Glacier

It is astounding to note how one week can play such a crucial part in your life and be so impactful. For most of us, we are bustling around day to day from our jobs, classes, or other obligations that take up so much of our attention and time. As students at the University of Minnesota, this is even more evident as we try to balance a variety of activities in our already packed schedules. With spring break passing, many students took the week to go down south and relax without the worries of school and left their responsibilities in Minnesota.  Instead of scurrying to the warmth, however, 16 students along with 3 mission leaders from Saint Paul’s Outreach (SPO) ventured off to Anchorage, Alaska to serve on a mission trip.

Upon entering Anchorage and being astounded by the beauty every day, you couldn’t help but notice the immense peace that was radiating from every angle of the city. However, starkly contrasting to this beauty was the overwhelming amount of people who were out on the streets, without homes, and sometimes without knowledge of where they would find their next meal.  It was an eye-opening experience to witness such beauty and tragedy juxtaposed in such an overpowering way. Though difficult to witness these hardships, I was encouraged to know that we were helping to alleviate some of these problems throughout our week in Anchorage. While on our trip, we had the opportunity to work with three different places, with the help of Catholic Social Services. These included Claire House, Brother Francis Shelter, and Beans Café.

Half of our group with the director of bean's cafe kitchen... Bean's is essentially a soup kitchen that serves both breakfast and lunch everyday.

Half of our group with the director of bean’s cafe kitchen… Bean’s is essentially a soup kitchen that serves both breakfast and lunch everyday.

While at Claire House, a home providing shelter and meals for homeless mothers and their children, we were able to spend a few hours each day with the children.  Though the ages ranged among the children, we were all able to match up with a few of them to create relationships, giving us the opportunity to make them feel loved and comforted. No words can describe the feeling of seeing these tiny little faces light up when we walked in the door. Though they were shy at first, by the end of the week, it was truly heartbreaking having to walk out of these children’s lives.

Another organization that we had the chance to work at a few times was Brother Francis Shelter. Though we mainly were in charge of helping in their spring-cleaning efforts (picking up garbage around the facility and cleaning some of the rooms) we were also privileged with the opportunity to speak to many of the people who were in and out of the shelter. Some of these people were frequent visitors, while others had just been struggling for a few weeks. It was incredible to hear the stories they had to share, as they often didn’t have the opportunity to voice their thoughts. A big take away for me was to understand how many different backgrounds these individuals had, and all the many different circumstances they came from. As Andrew reiterated to us throughout the trip, these people were all like us, they were our brothers and sisters, yet somehow they ended up in these circumstances while we were fortunate enough to not. It’s easy for us to look at these people, but it’s something more altogether to really see and appreciate them, something that is not often accomplished.

The last organization we served at was Bean’s Café, which serves breakfast and lunch to those who need meals. On a regular basis, this place is able to feed anywhere from 150 to 350 people. Because Brother Francis Shelter is only able to provide dinner to its residents, Bean’s Café is an opportunity for these individuals to get their other two meals taken care of. Thanks to the large donations from other organizations and people, Beans Café is able to provide these nutritious meals, largely due to their great staff and helpers. It was an amazing experience being able to put these meals together and to provide some positive faces for the homeless individuals, especially because they were all going through so much. Although they shared their thanks, it was truly us who were impacted, catching a glimpse of the people who need our help and who it is our duty to serve.

Our whole group making cookies with homeless children at Catholic Service's Clare House for homeless mothers and their children

Our whole group making cookies with homeless children at Catholic Service’s Clare House for homeless mothers and their children

In spite of working with these great organizations, the service opportunity that perhaps was the most impactful and stood out throughout this trip was our encounter with the homeless on the streets. Packing our lunches for the day, we split up into groups of three and brought two extra lunches with us. We went out into the streets of the city, each group walking around and encountering Christ in His people as we listened to the stories told and shared our food with our brothers and sisters.  Each encounter that we had was both unique and humbling, as we were able to see them for who they were, instead of ignoring them or avoiding them like most of the surrounding community did. Moreover, this experience challenged each of us, since this was something we could easily do back home in Minnesota where a comparably large community of homeless people live on the streets looking for hospitality.

Along with the service we accomplished, there was a tremendous emphasis on our prayer and spiritual life while in Alaska. As many know, entering a huge college campus can be difficult while trying to maintain your faith and stay true to our values. By surrounding ourselves in a community that shared our faith, and by prioritizing the holy sacraments throughout the week, we were able to grow in our relationship with the Lord in a deeper and more meaningful context. Much of this was due to our rigorous routine, which consisted of going to morning mass every day, followed by adoration. The rest of the day was filled with various quiet times to pray, along with group discussions in which we explored topics such as abortion and Theology of the Body, as we tried to relate these scrutinized topics into our daily college lives.

By surrounding one another in this open community filled with discussion, prayer, and silent adoration, we were able to refocus our lives and reevaluate our relationship with Christ. This was further made possible by our frequent encounter with the beauty that surrounded us each day. Just by waking up to the wondrous view of the mountains, we were in awe of the creation that the Lord blessed us with. Through our various excursions to Flat Top Mountain, the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center, and Matanuska Glacier, we were truly astounded by the tangible encounter of God’s grace through His creation. By the end of the week, we all had been fully engaging in our faith in a way that set a foundation for ourselves for the upcoming weeks.

Half our group working at Br. Francis Shelter. We went around and did some "spring cleaning" outside, since a lot of garbage accumulates outside of it on account of the homeless.

Half our group working at Br. Francis Shelter. We went around and did some “spring cleaning” outside, since a lot of garbage accumulates outside of it on account of the homeless.

Finally, in addition to the service and prayer throughout the week in Alaska, what truly made this experience so satisfying and fulfilling was the community that formed throughout the trip. Coming into the trip, we were for the most part strangers to each other. Though some of us may have known one or two people, it was a trip into an unknown environment surrounded by unfamiliar people. That being said, we were the furthest thing from strangers when leaving this beautiful place.

It is incredible how fast we all came together as one. Now some of this was due to our close-knit quarters, but it was mostly a result of delving into our mission trip full throttle and taking advantage of the time we all had together. By entering into prayer together, by participating in service together, and by intentionally spending meals and other free time together we were able to develop meaningful relationships. A highlight of this time together was our daily family style dinners and going through the high points, low points, and our “God” moments, which were moments where we truly experienced or appreciated God’s presence. Through this sharing of food and memories, we were able to come together in a deeper community. Having this strong community built upon our shared faith helped make the transition back into our campus life that much easier, as we knew that we were still surrounded by such a great Catholic outlet. It was evident that these were people we could continue to count on even if we were not seeing each other every minute of every day from here on out.

So while we may have spent our spring break in an atypical destination, I can confidently say that the experience we all had on this mission trip truly helped mold and change us for the better. We were offered the chance to experience service, to engage more fully in our faith, and to create a solid Catholic community, all of which will continue to be helpful to us back in our every day lives at the University of Minnesota. We were blessed with amazing views, amazing people, and amazing opportunities to grow closer to God and to find out each of our individual vocations.

Bernadette Prickel is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota

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The Acts of the Apostles – Scripture for the Easter Season

April 6, 2016

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StLukeEaster Prominence.  The Acts of the Apostles is used at Mass during the Easter Season more than any other book of the Bible.  Excerpts from Acts serve as the first reading for every Sunday Mass from Easter Sunday to Pentecost, as well as for the first reading for every daily Mass for all seven weeks of the Easter Season.

One of a Kind.  The Acts of the Apostles is unique.  There is no other book like it in the rest of Sacred Scripture.  It is not a gospel or a letter, the two other main genres of the New Testament.  Acts is in a class by itself, and it records the history of the beginnings of the early Church.

The Ascension Dilemma.  The first generation of Christians was faced with a serious question:  now that Jesus has ascended to heaven and is no longer present on earth in physical or bodily form, where is the risen Christ to be found?  According to St. Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, one of the primary and favored ways that the risen Christ continues to be alive, well, and present is in the community that Jesus formed, the Body of Christ, the Church.

The Risen Christ’s Fourfold Presence.  The first Christians “devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers” (Acts 2:42).  The apostles taught about all that Jesus said and did, and the risen Christ is present when he is remembered and his story is told.  The communal life is the fellowship shared among believers, personal relationships based upon shared beliefs and values, work done jointly, and the companionship of fellow travelers on the spiritual pilgrimage through life; and the risen Jesus is present when his followers are together.  Christians assembled for the breaking of the bread, the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist; and the risen Christ is present in his Body and Blood.  Christians also devoted themselves to common prayer.  It may have been two or three individuals, or a family, or a group of families, and whenever Christians pray together, the risen Jesus is present in each other and in their prayer.

Witness and Miracles.  “Many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (Acts 2:43; see Acts 5:12).  The apostles gave heroic witness, and the risen Christ was present in their excellent example.  The apostles also worked great miracles, such as when Peter cured a lame beggar (Acts 3:1-10), healed a paralytic (Acts 9:32-34), and raised Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:36-42); and the risen Christ was present in every mighty deed that they performed.

Mutual Concern, Generosity, and Unity.  Furthermore, “All who believed … had all things in common” (Acts 2:44; see also Acts 4:32).  Christians were attentive to each other and shared with each other so that no one among them would be needy; and the risen Christ was present in their mutual concern and in their generosity.  Finally, “the community of believers was of one heart and one mind” (Acts 4:32).  Unity is a distinguishing characteristic of Christians.  Oneness of mind is a common way of thinking and shared set of core beliefs, and oneness of heart is a common love and passion for Jesus and his gospel, God and neighbor.  When the Christian community exemplifies this sort of unity, the risen Christ is present.

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Double Helping: all-you-can-eat fish or the whole enchilada

April 1, 2016

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St. Matthew’s

stm

Courtesy Fish Daddy

St. Matthew’s in St. Paul has been serving fish on Lenten Fridays for years. And a little bit of digging in ecclesiastical history finds St. Matt’s as one of the original daughter churches of the oldest church in St. Paul (Assumption), and one that predates the elevation of the diocese of St. Paul to an archdiocese by two years. With a short trip south of downtown St. Paul, you can see why they’ve been bringing in and returning happy guests. A sign on Hall Avenue sends you nearly to the door, where the courtyard captures the scent of fried goodness coming from the Social Hall.

Fish

St. Matthew’s features an all-you-can-eat banquet. And although you can serve yourself a heaping bowl of cole slaw, roll and butter from the central service table, your fish, fresh crisp green beans, and baked potato is brought to you at your table, not cafeteria-style handout. Baked or fried, it’s all good. (3 fish)

Service

As the only fish fry Fish Daddy visited with plated service, St. Matt’s volunteers were on top of all the comings and goings at the tables, asking customers for baked or fried fish (rumor had it there was a non-fish option, but after the heavenly courtyard aroma, it wasn’t in the cards). Once served, you could avail yourself of water coffee, or milk, or for a small amount, a glass of beer or wine at the bar. Small frys were about, clearing plates and tables, and a server wasn’t far away, returning with seconds for those who requested it. And while our tablemates had the inside scoop on an alternate dessert, a refreshing cup of vanilla ice cream was a unique and tasty finish to the meal. (4 fish)

Fishers of People

St. Matthew’s pastor, Fr. James Adams, was visiting with parishioners and guests at every table. Not only did our tablemates strike up a conversation about St. Matt’s, Fr. James encouraged us to return for Holy Week services as well. Their website (don’t forget the hyphen) was a tad out of date, but it didn’t take long to find the bulletin, and discover that St. Matthew’s is a clustered parish with nearby Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Michael. Holy Week events cross all three locations, with Fr. Adams and Fr. Brinkman serving the faithful. (2 fish)

Value

$11 per person, 65+, $10, 5-12, $6, under 5 free. And they are also serving on Good Friday. But there’s more to value when your sister parish is right down the road, and plattering endless enchiladas with rice and beans.  And Fish Daddy had a hungry halibut at home. Shall we begin again? (3 fish)


 

Our Lady of Guadalupe

olg

Courtesy Fish Daddy

If you’re looking for conventional, leave your fish breath and baked potato at the door. Our Lady of Guadalupe feasts on an enchilada dinner on Lenten Fridays, and from the looks of the social hall, they have a dedicated following.

Fish

Nope. Enchilada Dinner!

Our Lady of Guadalupe serves Lenten enchilada dinner every Friday in Lent, including Good Friday. Whether you’re choosing the large dinner three cheese and onion enchiladas with rice, beans, drink and dessert, or the small one-enchilada offering, you’ll find a full plate of zesty goodness. (3 enchiladas)

Service

Courtesy Fish Daddy

Courtesy Fish Daddy

Although I didn’t opt for a second seated meal, An OLG volunteer quickly served my takeout meal with a smile. I peeked in the kitchen before leaving, and saw a small cadre of cooks and an enormous tray of steaming enchiladas ready to be served. Feeding a hungry crew? You can take out a dozen for $20. (3 enchiladas)

Fishers of People

You won’t go far at OLG without seeing a statue or picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe, from the fervent rosary in progress at the OLG altar, to the social hall, to the parish office hallways. They offer bilingual Masses, as well as faith formation. (3 enchiladas)

Value

Margaritas con mis enchiladas? Es posible? Si. And if there hadn’t been three austere Lenten crosses gracing the parquet middle of the social hall, you can be sure there would have been dancing, too. (3 enchiladas) Large dinner (3 enchiladas, rice, beans, and dessert) $10; Small (1 enchilada, rice, beans, and dessert) $6.  And they take credit cards ! (4 enchiladas)

St. Matthew’s 490 Hall Ave., St. Paul 952-835-7101. st-matts.org

Our Lady of Guadalupe 401 Concord St., St. Paul 651-228-0506 olgspchurch.com

St. Michael’s 331 Hurley St. E, West St. Paul 651-457-2334 stmichaelwsp.org


If you’ve enjoyed the Lenten Fish Fry reviews be sure to like Catholic Hotdish on Facebook. And advertise your fish fry event in the Catholic Spirit in 2017. Have a Spirit-filled Holy Week and a Blessed Easter!

Keep in touch at CatholicSpirit@archspm.org

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