Archive | October, 2016

Two-year bow hunting drought finally ends

October 21, 2016

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The last time I drew my compound bow on a deer was November 2014. I did it several times, and was able to tag two does, one in Minnesota and one in Wisconsin. I also killed a third doe in Wisconsin, but the coyotes got to it before I found it the next morning.

Last year, my only archery kill was in Wisconsin with a crossbow. I never even got an opportunity to draw my compound bow back on a deer. I saw deer on a few occasions, but a shot never presented itself.

I had a feeling the drought would end last night. A friend offered me the chance to hunt on a metro property where he has permission. Eagerly, I jumped at the chance.

He had the stand all set up, and hadn’t hunted out of it yet this year. But, he said the deer move through the area regularly, and he felt I would get an opportunity in the last hour or so of shooting light.

Turns out, he was right. About 10 minutes before 6, I heard some noise out in front of me in the brush, then I heard a twig snap. I always know that sound is made by a deer, so I put my senses on full alert. My heart started pounding, so I took some deep breaths to calm myself.

A few minutes later, I heard more rustling in the woods, this time closer. I knew a deer was coming at this point. Not long after that, I saw movement — a deer!

It was slowly walking toward me, feeding as it went. It was heading straight for the shooting lane to my left. Perfect! It only lifted its head to look once, then flicked its tail and kept walking.

Finally, it reached my shooting lane. It was walking very slowly, and I knew I would have time to draw my bow and take a shot. Magically, it stopped in the shooting lane and turned slightly away from me to nibble on some branches. That, in my opinion, is the perfect shot — slightly quartering away with its head turned away from me. That gives me a good angle on the vitals, plus pulls the front shoulder blade away.

In that moment, I became very calm as I drew back and put my pin on the deer. I settled it behind the shoulder and released. It was a much quicker shot than I normally take in practice sessions, but the good habits I have learned from shooting year round kicked in.

I released the arrow, then watched it fly toward the deer. I have lighted nocks so I can follow the arrow. It hit right where I aimed, and the deer jumped and ran. I didn’t see antlers, and it seemed like a nice doe. I heard it run for just a bit, then things went quiet.

I texted my friend, who came over about 15 minutes later. I knew I had made a good hit, plus he’s an expert tracker.

I wasn’t too worried. He reached the stand, then went over and stood where the deer was when I shot. He looked around for a bit, then motioned for me to climb down and come over to where he was.

Turns out, he told me later, he found the deer before my feet hit the ground. It only went about 50 yards and fell. The arrow did not pass through the deer. It went into the vitals, then hit bone on the other side. That made the blood trail smaller, but there was steady blood all the way to the deer.

I was super excited to put my hands on this deer. Two years is a long time to wait. It ended up being an antlerless buck, but decent in body size. I took it to the processer right away, and it got put into a cooler right away.

The meat should be in fine shape. I field dressed it only about an hour after it died, and it was in a cooler about an hour after that.

This should be some fine eating. I hunt strictly for the meat, and nothing is better than a young deer. Of course, everyone likes to shoot a big buck, but I was not about to pass on this deer. My friend thinks another deer would have come through eventually, but this deer offered the perfect shot. Plus, it was to my left, which meant I could shoot while sitting, which is always good.

All in all, it was a fabulous hunt. It more than makes up for the heartache I had two weeks ago, when I shot a buck with my crossbow in Wisconsin in the last few minutes of shooting light and never found it. That is so disappointing, but I was hoping I would get another chance at a deer.

Actually, I was hoping to take a deer with my compound bow this year, so last night’s success is especially sweet. The good news is, I have more tags to fill in Minnesota and Wisconsin, including a fall turkey tag in Minnesota. I plan on going after a bird this weekend. I can’t wait!

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St. Paul: Looking Back, Looking Forward

October 20, 2016

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Dissolution Time.  The year was 67 AD.  St. Paul was in his mid-70s, an old man by First Century standards.  He was in Rome, a bad place for Christians.  The Roman Emperor Nero was waging a large scale persecution against Christians.  Paul was in prison.  Many other Christians had already been put to death, and Paul could see the handwriting on the wall.  When he wrote, “The time of my dissolution is at hand” (2 Tm 4:6), “dissolution” means death.  It was Paul’s way of saying that he knew that the time of his martyrdom was drawing ever nearer.

Paul as a Libation.  Today a libation is an alcoholic beverage, but that is not its original meaning.  Initially a libation was a blood sacrifice (e.g., Ex 24:5-8).  Over time there was a shift away from animal sacrifice and the spilling of blood.  Eventually wine was used as a substitute for blood, and the pouring of wine on the ground was an alternative for sprinkling the blood of an animal.  When Paul wrote, “I am already being poured out like a libation,” it was a metaphorical way to describe how he had poured out his life completely in service of Jesus and the gospel.

The Race to the Finish.  Paul compared his life to a long-distance running race (2 Tm 4:7).  He was born and raised in Tarsus, a city in southeastern Turkey.  He had moved to Jerusalem to become better-educated in the Jewish faith.  As a young man he was zealous and persecuted Christians, but then came his dramatic conversion after Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus.  It had been roughly forty years since his baptism.  His “race” was one long-distance event after another, three missionary journeys in all, to Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Rome, widely over the Middle East and the northern Mediterranean.  He was an elite Christian endurance athlete, the Apostle to the Gentiles, the one who took the gospel of Jesus to the world.

Fighting the Good Fight.  As Paul looked back over his life, he enjoyed a sense of inner peace knowing he had given Jesus his best effort.  Yes, he had regrets about the terrible things that he had done in his early years, but with the grace of God he was able to turn his life around.  Great love, heroic service, and long-suffering for the sake of the gospel cover a multitude of sins.  For whatever Paul may have done wrong in the past, in his final years he was in superb spiritual shape.  Paul had grown close to Jesus and knew that they were on the best of terms.

Looking Ahead.  Paul concluded, “The crown of righteousness awaits me” (2 Tm 4:8).  It was his poetic way to say, “After I die, I am confident that God will reward me with a place in heaven.”  Despite the fact that he was in dreadful anticipation of his execution, spiritually he was totally at peace knowing that he had dug down and given his best.  All would be well in the end.

Now it is Our Turn.  Paul’s race is over, but ours continues.  Paul turned his life around.  No matter what sins we may have committed, we still have time to turn away from sin and rededicate our lives completely to Jesus and the gospel.  The goal is to be able to look back knowing that we have done our best and to look forward to our heavenly reward.

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Sacred Scripture, Wisdom for Salvation

October 14, 2016

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The Word of God.  Sacred Scripture is the writings of the Holy Bible, all of the books in both the Old and New Testaments.  These books are on an approved list called the Canon of Sacred Scripture because they are considered authentic, contain correct teaching, and have been in continuous use throughout the centuries.

The Human Word of Almighty God.  Sacred Scripture is the Word of God and inspired by God.  The words are “human,” the words that people use to express themselves, and the authors are human, real people such as Moses and Isaiah, Matthew and Mark, Peter and Paul.  God did not dictate the words that were to be written, nor did God insert the words into their brains or direct their pens.  Each author wrote freely.

Inspiration.  The composition of Scripture is guided by the Holy Spirit.  It is “revelation,” something about God or the truth that the author could not have known or learned on his own.  Revelation comes in mystical ways such as dreams, messages brought by angels, voices, visions, thoughts, and insights.

Scripture’s Limitations.  Scripture is one way that God communicates with us.  God uses words, yet words in themselves are finite, limited, and cannot say everything.  Words reveal something of God but not everything of God because God is infinite and transcends the limited nature of words.  They cannot convey everything that there is to know about God, but they do reveal a great deal.  Scripture is an act of love by God, God taking the initiative to communicate with us.

Scripture, the Source of Wisdom.  St. Paul wrote that “sacred scriptures which are capable of giving you wisdom” (2 Tm 3:15).  The word “wisdom” is carefully chosen.  He avoided the word “knowledge.”  Scripture is not information, a history book to learn or a theology book to study, matters of the mind to know and understand.  Scripture is a matter of the heart.  It is not only what we know but what we believe.  It is what we love, value, and treasure.  It is our passion.  It is to be devoured by us and become the fabric of our being (see Ez 3:1-4).

Wisdom.  Wisdom is the first gift of the Holy Spirit (Is 11:2).  It is the ability to exercise good judgment.  It distinguishes between right and wrong.  It seeks and upholds truth and justice.  It is oriented toward the common good.  It is the parent of the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love.  It is one with the truth, and the closer we get to the truth, the closer we get to God.

Teaching, Reproof, Correction, and Training.  Scripture is useful for teaching:  it contains the truth about God and serves as the basis for doctrine; for reproof, to reject errors, distortions, deceptions, heresies, and false teaching; for correction, to correct misunderstandings and misapplications, to expose wrong decisions and actions, and to help a person get back on the right track; and for training in righteousness, to help a person to grow in goodness and virtue, and to increase in their desire to obey and please God.

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Give thanks to God!

October 7, 2016

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thanksgiving

One of the greatest miracles that Jesus performed was to cure ten lepers of their disease (Lk 17:11-19), and after having received such a tremendous gift from Jesus, only one of the ten came back to thank him.  In disappointment Jesus asked, “Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” (Lk 17:18).

St. Paul tells us that we should “be thankful” (Col 3:15b).  Every Mass at the Preface Dialogue we say that it is right and just to give thanks to the Lord our God.  Yet Jesus rarely received any thanks.  In fact, when the Samaritan fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him (Lk 17:16), it is the only time in all four gospels that someone thanked him.

There may have been other occasions when someone received something from Jesus and then came back to offer their praise or express their gratitude, but none of the four evangelists records one other instance, and as memorable as such an event would have been, it would have been worthy of inclusion.  It seems that Jesus was rarely thanked, not by his apostles, not by those who were cured, not by those who were forgiven, and not by those who were taught by him.  Jesus’ ministry was a thankless task.  He was grossly underappreciated.

The twelve apostles were among the worst offenders when it came to ingratitude.  When Jesus called them to be his disciples (Lk 6:13), they did not thank him for choosing them.  When Jesus invited them to accompany him (Lk 8:1), they did not thank him for making them his partners.  When Jesus took them aside and gave them private explanations (e.g., Lk 8:9-15), they did not thank his for his extra time and attention.  When Jesus commissioned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases (Lk 9:1), they did not thank him for their special appointments or exceptional powers.

The apostles’ lack of gratitude seems more reprehensible during their final days with Jesus.  No one thanked him for the Eucharist at the Last Supper.  Worse yet, no one thanked Jesus’ for his death on the Cross and his gifts of redemption and salvation.  When Jesus appeared to them after his Resurrection and greeted them with the words “Peace be with you,” no one thanked him for his mercy and forgiveness.  It took until after Jesus had ascended to heaven until the apostles did him homage and praised God (Lk 24:52,53).

The disciples had many reasons to be thankful and so do we.  The process begins with our ability to recognize what we have been given.  For starters, we need to set aside time to reflect and count our blessings.  Next, with our blessings in mind, we should thank God and with our prayers of praise, both personal prayers of gratitude said alone and prayers at Mass said with others.  St. Paul specifically mentions singing as a particularly good way to express our thanks:  “Singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Col 3:16).  Another excellent way to express our gratitude is to put our gifts to good use, to place them at the service of others, and to do so in ways that give glory to God.

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