Archive | November, 2016

Thanksgiving: Time to Count Blessings and Thank God for Gifts

November 23, 2016

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thanksgiving

The holiday season moves into full swing at the end of November with our annual celebration of Thanksgiving.  It is marvelous when we are able to have an attitude of gratitude.  God is our provider, the giver of every good gift, so when it comes to giving thanks, our first expression of gratitude should be directed to almighty God.  Jesus stressed the importance of thanking God when he asked the Samaritan leper who had been healed, “Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” (Lk 17:18).

Following the lead of Jesus, his Master, St. Paul exhorts us to be grateful to God.  Paul instructed new Christians to “Be thankful” (Col 3:15).   He also said that believers should be “singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Col 3:16).  He also taught that we should “Give thanks to God the Father through him [Jesus]” (Col 3:17).

This point is emphasized at every Mass when the priest says, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,” and the congregation responds, “It is right and just.”

At Thanksgiving, even though it is a civic holiday, it is an extremely beneficial spiritual exercise to set aside a few moments to count one’s blessings. Make a list.  Consider life and health, family and friends, talents and abilities, opportunities and accomplishments, financial and material blessings.

While the world focuses on material blessings, please do not forget to count your spiritual blessings:  the Father and creation; Jesus and his gospel, the Eucharist, his saving death on the Cross, and our salvation and redemption; the Holy Spirit, inspiration and guidance, faith and grace, energy and power, courage and conviction, contrition and forgiveness.  Apart from God, we would have nothing.  God has blessed us with everything that we have.

As we become increasingly aware of our countless blessings, it should lead us to give God greater praise and thanks, and one of the best ways to express our gratitude is in prayer.  The Greek word eucharistos means “thankful,” and as Catholics we believe that the best way to thank God is at the Eucharist, our prayerful celebration of the Mass.

St. Paul also recommends hymns and psalms, sung at Mass, or anywhere, anytime.  It also is an excellent spiritual practice to thank God in our personal private prayer each and every day.

Please consider making prayer a central part of your celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday.  The ideal way would be to attend Mass.  Also, before sitting down to the Thanksgiving dinner, take a moment as a group to offer thanks with your meal prayers.

On Thanksgiving Day, take some time between rising and retiring to go off by yourself to a private place, be quiet, reflect, list your blessings, and offer God your personal prayer of thanks.

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Nothing’s easy in deer hunting

November 18, 2016

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What does a Jesuit priest have to do with deer hunting? Plenty, I think.

I recently started reading a book by Father Walter Ciszek called, “He Leadeth Me.” Starting at the end of World War II, he spent 23 years in Russian prisons and hard labor camps. It all started with a burning desire to do missionary work in Russia. But, the experience was far from the glory he had envisioned when he boarded a train and crossed the border into Russia.

I am at the part when he first realizes the horrible conditions that exist in the camps, and the extreme fear of persecution that leads the people there to not even want to mention God. Not encountering any openness, and not wanting to put anyone at risk — including himself — he starts off his time in the camps by going out into the woods after dark with another priest to celebrate Mass. The only person to hear each of their homilies was the other.

He writes about how disillusioned he was, and how he questioned his decision to go in the first place. He goes on to say that kind of questioning is what we all do — and that it’s a big mistake. God actually ordains such circumstances, and the best thing we can do is work to find God in them rather than wishing they were different.

I pondered this as I reflected back on a few recent unsuccessful deer hunts. Three times in the last couple of weeks, I had deer in range of my crossbow, and ended up spooking the deer all three times. Then, I had two chances with my shotgun during the gun season and missed both. In fact, I found no evidence that I even hit either deer.

I have felt bummed and humbled by my failures, and wish I could have done things differently to achieve success. But, that would change the learning process that deer hunting is. After reading the most recent few pages in the book, I realize that I shouldn’t be cursing my failures, but embracing them, enjoying them and learning from them.

For one thing, all of the failures make the successes all the sweeter. For another, they give me an important chance to grow in humility. If we’re honest with ourselves, we would admit that this kind of lesson is not something we really want to learn. In other words, we want to be humble without being humbled.

It doesn’t work that way. That is why it is important for me to say, after yet another failure: “I blew it.” Or, as my dad likes to say, it’s another case of what he calls “pilot error.”

The good news is, there are always more opportunities ahead. A friend of mine, who is an elite bow hunter and made a critical mistake just the other day that cost him a big buck, likes to say that bow hunting is mostly about avoiding mistakes.

Bottom line: I’ve got plenty of mistakes I need to avoid. And, more pages in the book I need to read.

 

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Jesus – King in the line of David

November 18, 2016

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Jesus Christ is King of kings, the greatest of all kings, and he is in the line of King David, the greatest king in the history of Israel.  When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus, Gabriel explained that “the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father” (Lk 1:32).  The announcement fulfilled the promise God made to David before he died through his messenger, the prophet Nathan:  “I will raise up your offspring after you … I will establish his royal throne forever.  I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me … your throne shall be firmly established forever” (2 Sm 7:12,14,16).  While Jesus was given the throne of David, their kingships could not be more different.

christthekingDavid was a shepherd boy; Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

David was anointed king by the prophet Samuel;
Jesus’ kingship was conferred by his heavenly Father.

David became widely known because he killed Goliath with a stone;
Jesus became widely known because he healed the sick and raised the dead.

David armed himself with the sword of Goliath; Jesus armed himself with the Word of God.

David was a great soldier, mighty and valiant, and he slew many Philistines;
Jesus taught love of enemy and he practiced what he preached.

David was a warrior king, the commander who led his soldiers into battle;
Jesus leads his followers in the battle against Satan, temptation, and sin.

David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem;
Jesus established the New Covenant with the blood he shed on the Cross.

David has multiple wives, Ahinoam, Abigail, Eglah, Bathsheba, and concubines, too;
Jesus has a chaste love for everyone.

David had many sons; to Jesus all people are his children.

David sinned grievously when he committed adultery and murder;
Jesus was tempted like everyone, but never sinned.

David’s kingdom encompassed a large geographic region from Dan to Beersheba;
Jesus’s kingdom encompasses not only the earth, but the entire universe.

David’s throne was in Jerusalem; Jesus’ throne is in heaven.

David’s throne was surrounded by attendants;
Jesus’ throne is surrounded by the angels and saints.

David ruled for forty years; Jesus reigns for all eternity.

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Blessed Lucy of Narnia

November 16, 2016

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Blessed Lucy of NarniaPhoto by Fortunati Giuseppe / CC BY 3.0

A fresco in Narni depicting Blessed Lucy Photo by Fortunati Giuseppe / CC BY 3.0

Apparently there really is a Blessed Lucy of Narnia whose feast day is today!

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St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr

November 16, 2016

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stcecilia

St. Cecilia, also known as Cecily, lived during the Third Century.  The exact dates of her birth and death remain unknown, but her story is legendary.

Cecilia was born in Rome when Christianity was illegal.  She was raised in a Christian family and was a devout girl.  In fact, she wore a hair shirt as an undergarment, fasted several days a week, and intended to consecrate herself totally to God by living as a virgin.

Meanwhile, her father arranged that Cecilia be married to a young pagan nobleman named Valerian.  Because the marriage went against her wishes, Cecilia did not join in the singing and dancing at the wedding feast but rather went off by herself to sing to God and pray for help.

Later that night when Valerian and Cecilia were alone, she explained that she had reserved herself to God, that she intended to remain a virgin, that an angel was watching over her, and that if he were to touch her, the angel would become angry and he would suffer.  Valerian was so moved by Cecilia’s faith that he decided to respect her wishes.  Not only that, Valerian went off, found Pope Urban, and was baptized.  Upon his return, Cecilia and Valerian sat side-by-side and an angel appeared and placed a crown of roses and lilies upon each of their heads.

Valerian’s brother Tiburtius, also a pagan, then appeared, and Cecilia shared the story of Jesus with him.  He was convinced by her testimony, converted, and was baptized.  For a brief time the two brothers cared for the poor and buried martyrs.  This became known to government officials and they were arrested and placed on trial before Almachius, the Roman prefect.  The brothers refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods and remained steadfast in their new Christian faith.  They infuriated the prefect when they mocked the pagan god Jupiter.  They were scourged and then condemned to death and beheaded on the outskirts of Rome.  Cecilia buried them.

Shortly thereafter, officials went to Cecilia’s home to force her to renounce her Christian faith and to sacrifice to pagan gods.  Not only did she refuse, she convinced the officials and a crowd of about four hundred spectators to convert, and Pope Urban came to baptize them.  At this Almachius placed Cecilia on trial.  Resolute, the prefect condemned her to a gruesome death, to be placed in a bathtub filled with scalding water and then be suffocated, but she survived unharmed.  Then she was sentenced to beheading, but the executioner failed to dispatch her immediately with his three blows to her head.  Cecilia languished for three days and expired.

The Church of St. Cecilia in Trastevere in Rome is dedicated to her.  She was named the patron saint of sacred music in 1584 at the time when the Accademia della Musica was founded in Rome.  She is also the patroness of musicians, composers, poets, singers, choirs, choir directors, pianists, organists, those who play musical instruments and those who make them.

St. Cecilia has a variety of symbols in religious art:  a palm branch which represents martyrdom; a crown of roses, the crown of martyrdom; a white flower which represents purity, chastity, or virginity; and a harp, harpsicord, piano, organ, flute, horn, violin, or another musical instrument, all which represent her patronage of musicians.

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A doctor’s experience: the evil of abortion

November 8, 2016

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In this election season, in an attempt to help us vote informed by Catholic principles, I emailed a video YouTube link from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that defends religious freedom to friends and family (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpPh6ymIhjg). In follow-up responses, the topic of abortion came up for discussion. The word “abortion” wasn’t mentioned in the video, but it was implied by references to the Little Sisters of the Poor, who are being forced by the U.S. government’s Health and Human Services mandate to provide insurance coverage for abortion and contraceptives in their health care plan. The Little Sisters do not want to be forced to support the abortion industry.

By way of introduction, I have been a practicing Minneapolis physician now for 28 years. Here is my medical background and experience with abortion.

I have always been driven to get at the root of things. In medical school I was intrigued and driven to find out and see with my own eyes exactly when human life begins. I wanted to see cells and molecules divide … and molecules combine. I was amazed by what we are able to see with current technology! One great day in medical school, I witnessed human conception taking place on the big screen: egg meeting sperm — the tremor — exquisite combination of maternal and paternal DNA — tremor — and the subsequent division of a brand new one-celled organism into two, then four, then eight, 16, 32, 64, 128, … into a morula, blastocyst, and on and on until a human heart is beating only 18 days after conception. Yes! Life is defined as consisting of both growth and cell division. Fact: Human life begins at conception. All scientists now agree with this truth.

Another truth I learned later: Abortion is a grave evil. This surgical (or chemical) procedure intentionally destroys a human life. Of the many factors leading to the escalating violence in the United States, I firmly believe the current violence is directly linked to abortion on demand—legal in the United States until baby is full term or the mother is 40 weeks pregnant. Abortion is a grotesque killing of a baby and a silent killing of families. Abortion kills a vulnerable human life growing inside the protective womb of the mother. The surgical procedure is the most evil technique I have ever seen. Yet, the U.S. Supreme Court thinks women should have access to it for all nine months of pregnancy.

I think we can do better for women and for families. We are doing much better at Abria Pregnancy Resources where I am now medical director. I review daily prenatal ultrasounds from the Abria clinic office (across from Planned Parenthood on University Avenue). Women are counseled, supported, cared for and loved at Abria instead of being rushed into killing their child at the mega Planned Parenthood right across the street.

As a pathologist at St. Paul Regions Hospital, I would work alongside surgeons and guide their surgeries while patients were anesthetized nearby in the operating room. Depending on what I determined from microscope/imaging/staining techniques from tissue surgeons submitted to me during procedures, surgery would proceed in the proper direction. During surgery, we (surgeon and pathologist) consulted. I would describe tissue: malignant or benign, cholesterol plaques, absence of stones, ischemic bowel, etc. I also received various other tissues after surgeries.

One of the most common surgical procedures was abortion. My job then was to carefully reassemble the baby body parts to make sure nothing was left behind in the woman’s body by the aborting surgeon. Most babies were seven to eight weeks old and it was easy to identify body parts. I literally had to put the baby body back together to see if all baby pieces were there. There were also many much larger babies (12 to 28+ weeks). If I couldn’t account for all body parts, the surgeon would have to go back in and recover them in order to try to prevent life threatening infection in the mother. Baby parts were left behind routinely. I had to notify the surgeon the same day when pieces were missing. This was an eye-opening, sad experience. I was unable to prevent the killing already done as tissues came to the lab. I was 25 at the time — assembling dead baby parts will always be part of my experience. It is a grisly business and our tax dollars pay Planned Parenthood millions of dollars annually to fund this ongoing horror. You must know abortion is a grave evil. I have had to work up close to abortion in the industry, using my medical gifts to minimize the harm to women resulting from abortion. Imagine touching dead babies for weeks on end. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 voted to legalize abortion. It was the worst legal decision our country has ever made — the worst decision ever for women, for sure.

Later, as a private medical practitioner, I saw thousands of women who suffered latent effects of the abortions they had. I’d treat them for severe depression or anxiety, asthma, diabetes, back pain, or abdominal pain for weeks. I diagnosed and treated thousands of cases of herpes, warts, and chlamydia also.

When trust was developed, women often could open up and tell me they still felt great regret, anger, or anxiety and suffered sleepless nights over one or two or three abortions from their past. They were miserable. I also had thousands of young women in to see me telling me their boyfriends, families, or husbands were forcing them to have abortions. They were afraid from the pressure and were often rushed through the abortion without being informed of other options. Most of my patients were also on contraceptives of some sort that failed. Many were on the pill, and many were using the IUD or Norplant. I’d see them every year for a Pap smear, and also three or four times a year for either a bladder infection or depression flare-up.

The common theme I heard from them is that they felt depressed and used by boyfriends in their life. Since they were deemed “chemically infertile” by contraception, there was no fear of pregnancy among their male partners who would often take advantage of them. Women were too weak and/or afraid to say “no” to sex. This was extremely common in women college students. They felt “used” instead of loved — yet, they still wanted their prescription for the pill … . Contraceptives lead to abortion as casual sex is encouraged by doctors, schools, media, culture. Contraception hurts women by enslaving them to lives of sex without love. The more contraceptives prescribed to women, the more sexually-transmitted infections, false relationships, failed classes, anxiety and abortions. Guys get what they want in college and high school and dump the women off at Planned Parenthood for morning-after pills, RU486 or whatever.

We do have an amazing, beautiful alternative to contraception: Natural Family Planning (NFP). It is equally effective to the pill in postponing conception (99.4 percent) and respects the beautiful dignity of a woman’s body without the artificial steroid hormonal side effects of the pill, increased risk of cervical cancers, breast cancer, hypertension, migraine, stroke, etc.  I taught NFP in my previous medical practice and now my daughter Callie teaches it with her husband Tim Doran.

Blessed Pope Paul VI wrote a beautiful, short encyclical in 1968 (15 pages) titled “Humanae Vitae.” In it he predicted with 100 percent accuracy what would befall women should contraception become widespread. Every prophecy has come true. Look it up online. It’s an easy read.

One prophecy: “Man may lose respect for the woman and may consider her a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment and no longer his respected and beloved companion.” Another: “Conjugal infidelity” would increase; divorces would increase. Another: General lowering of morality. Another: Governments may force women to use contraception. There are more, and all have come true today!

My medical experience has led me to believe that contraception is one of the worst things to force on women. Why are so many Planned Parenthood clinics in black neighborhoods?  Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger called our black brothers and sisters “human weeds.” Yet the contraceptive philosophy continues to enslave women and keep them depressed and sick. It has enslaved women in other countries, too. Vulnerable women use contraception and are routinely used and abused. Contraception has taken away women’s freedom, not supplied it. Ask any women in college. I have seen it in my dear patients. When I have taught them NFP for marriage preparation, it’s amazing how happy they look during follow-up clinic visits. Confidence is returned. Shoulders back up. Dignity restored.

We must be willing to be politically incorrect, labeled self-righteous, etc., to protect those who have no voice. We need women like Helen Alvaré—a beautiful woman, lawyer, teacher and mother who is morally courageous.

I have found that the most vocal proponents of abortion have either had or paid for abortions themselves. These victims of abortion need our compassion, love, understanding, and support, not cold judgment.

In the meantime, we must fight this grave evil without resting, until our growing love supplies every need and reaches to embrace every vulnerable unborn child.

The basic building block of society is the family. Once the family is destroyed, the rest of society will be destroyed. My beloved father Tom Olson told me this and the reality never left me. He was a strong opponent of abortion not only for the baby, but for the damage in the couples he was counseling for marital difficulties. He and my mother left the Democratic Party because of its abortion platform. Interestingly, in the United States, rates of depression have risen dramatically in the last 50 years. (See “American Journal of Psychiatry” and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) That’s the same time the pill has been around — 50 years. Women are much more likely to have a mood disorder (depression/anxiety) than men; however, men suffer from this disease at epidemic rates as well. One of my dear male patients is on hospice care now for major depression/suicide risk.

Let us be courageous and stand up with real strength. Let us take on the courage of St. Thomas More, King Henry VIII’s foe, who died for the sake of truth and moral courage in defending God’s plan for marriage and family.

We need to talk truths in this election — as hard as they are. I need you all to know how gravely evil abortion is. I am an eye witness. On the scale of evils, abortion ranks right at the top. As current medical director of hospice in Rochester, Minnesota, I have learned much. For example, my/our time on this earth is very short.  I now live like this is my last year.  When I go before our heavenly Father, I don’t want to tell Him that I never spoke up for His most vulnerable.

Dr. Nancy T. Miller, a parishioner of Holy Family in St. Louis Park, serves as medical director of hospice in Rochester, Minnesota, and as medical director at Abria Pregnancy Resources in St. Paul. She is a wife, mother and grandmother. You can reach her at doctor@Mantlehealth.com.

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Nice buck down in Wisconsin

November 7, 2016

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img_0793I really like it when the calendar flips to November. That means it’s time for the annual whitetail rut.

I was filled with optimism and excitement when I took to the woods last week. I had heard reports of good deer movement, and I was going to find out firsthand on a trip to one of my hunting spots in Wisconsin. Crossbows are legal in this state, and I was heading out with my Parker Bushwacker.

My bolts were tipped with a broadhead I was trying for the first time, the Spitfire Maxx. It’s a wicked three-blade broadhead with a cutting diameter of 1 3/4 inches, and made by New Archery Products (NAP). I was hoping to get a chance to see how these broadheads would do in the field.

Though it has been unseasonably warm throughout the fall, last Wednesday morning was supposed to be cool. If temps are 45 degrees or below, deer movement usually is good. Warmer weather, however, hampers activity level.

It was supposed to be in the low 40s for about the first two hours of shooting light, so I figured I might see some action right away in the morning. I decided to hunt a small piece of property near Prescott that I first hunted two years ago. I tagged a doe that year, and then last year was slow due to warmer weather. I saw fewer deer, and none of them presented a shot.

I was hoping to get back on the board on this property. The wind was very light, almost nonexistent, when I climbed up into my stand. I had a very good feeling about the morning.

The chase is on

It was confirmed right around the start of legal shooting hours when I heard commotion about 50-60 yards away, following by the unmistakable sound of a buck grunting. I knew that meant a buck was chasing does.

I was hoping the deer would come my way, but the noise died down and faded. Soon, all was quiet again.

No matter. The deer were moving, and I figured something would come my way eventually. I was sitting on a nice spot, which was a funnel along the bluff overlooking the St. Croix River. Three plateaus stairstep from the top, and I had put up my ladder stand where the first one drops down to the second. If a deer traveled on either one, it would give me a shot.

Little did I know how close I would come to three deer. I turned and leaned hard to my left to get a better look at the plateau below me, then sat back straight again. No sooner did I turn slightly to my right than a doe whizzed past me at only 10 yards.

At first, I thought she was running because I had spooked her. But she never turned her head toward me and never flagged her tail.

It was then that I realized she was being chased by a buck. I waited for him to show, but nothing happened. Then, about 25-30 yards at the field edge, I saw a doe being chased by a buck. Again, I heard the grunting sound, and I figured it was the same deer I had heard earlier.

Then, not even a minute later, the doe and buck ran by my stand, also at 10 yards. That was three deer in one minute, and I did not fire a shot. I don’t believe in taking shots at running deer with archery equipment, whether it be a bow or a crossbow. Plus, it happened so fast that I didn’t have time to raise my crossbow.

I was a little bummed to not get off a shot, but felt confident that a deer would walk past my stand at some point and give me a good shot. It was still early, and the deer obviously were moving.

Shot opportunity comes

Around 9 a.m., I heard a twig snap down along the lower plateau. Instantly, I concluded it was a deer. Sure enough, not long after, I caught movement through the tree branches. A deer! My heart started pumping, and I got my crossbow ready.

The deer was walking slowly and stopping intermittently. It was headed right down the trail I had found when I put up the stand. The nice thing is there is a big fallen tree that the deer have to go around. And, when they do, they have to quarter slightly away, which gives me the shot I want as the angle takes the front shoulder out of play.

This deer was moving according to the script. I had ranged a tree at 20 yards, and this deer was walking like he was going to brush up against it. His head was down and he looked completely relaxed. He never even looked up in my direction. As he strolled along, I caught sight of antlers.

As he came fully into view, I raised the crossbow and put him in my scope. I slipped off the safety and got ready to shoot. I made a grunting noise and he stopped. I hit the trigger and released the bolt, hitting him right above his front legs. The lungs actually go forward of the leg, so when I saw and heard it smack right above the front leg, I was sure I had hit the lungs.

He jumped and ran in the direction he was going, then circled back and eventually disappeared as he began to go downhill. He was noticeably hobbling as he went, and his head was down. I felt good about the shot, although the bolt was sticking out of his body, indicating that it had not passed all the way through.

I heard some shuffling, and I wanted to climb down and look for him right away. But, I waited an hour. Just as I was going to climb down, the other hunter on the property came up to my stand. I had called the landowner, and the landowner called him.

I was grateful to have his help. Turns out we didn’t have to go very far. I walked down to where I had last seen him, and he was laying at the bottom of the next plateau down, the third one. There was a massive blood trail, and a gaping hole on each side of the deer. Turns out the bolt did punch through the opposite side of the deer, it just didn’t make a complete exit. The Spitfire Maxx had done its job!

img_0722The real work begins

But, the bad news was the job ahead.. Getting him up the steep hills going up from each plateau would not be fun. In the end, we couldn’t pull him out. Fortunately, the landowner recalled that one of his neighbors owns a tractor and some long cables.

That ended up being the ticket. He connected two sections of cable, then I ran one of them down to the deer. I wrapped it around his hind end twice, and the neighbor drove his tractor away from the edge of the woods, pulling the deer up in the process.

The deer came all the way up with ease. I was thrilled. Then, I had to get him to the meat market right away. It had gotten warm, so we loaded it into the truck and took him into Prescott to a place called Ptacek’s.

I have had deer processed there before, and we got there within minutes. It was almost 6:30, nearly nine hours after I had shot the buck. When I told the guy at Ptacek’s how long the deer had been dead, he offered to skin and quarter it right there, and then put the pieces right into the refrigerator.

That was the greatest ending to this hunt I could have asked for. That’s two deer I have at Ptacek’s, which is more than enough for me and my family. My hunts going forward are strictly to try and get deer for other hunters I know. I tried and failed on the opening day of the firearms season, taking a shot through thick brush at a doe about 30-40 yards away. It ran off unscathed, but the season goes through this weekend.

With two gun tags left, plus archery tags for Wisconsin and Minnesota, I’ll be back out in the woods again this week. I just hope it gets cold!

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Is God a Cubs fan?

November 1, 2016

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gabe-a-wrigley-field

My son after the game at Wrigley some 14 years ago.

I write this post as the Chicago Cubs are finishing up a 6th game win in the 2016 World Series. They are poised to make history. Well, in actuality they already have made history regardless of the outcome of game 7.

I wouldn’t call myself a great baseball fan. In fact, most of the time throughout the summer I rarely catch a game and if I do, it would be a Minnesota Twins game.

So what has made this fair weather fan a Cubs fan?

Underdogs? Breaking the curse? Diehard fans? Sure, but I keep thinking of a story.

My husband and I traveled to Chicago for the first time about 14 years ago. Our children were 9 and 10 years old. We had hopes of seeing a game at Wrigley field mostly for the novelty of it, but this small town Minnesota girl and her family didn’t know their way around.

We headed out early to the game in hopes of buying tickets from the scalpers. Neither my husband nor I had ever done this before.

On the way to the stadium, we were stuck in freeway traffic and unsure of even which exit to take.  Sometimes when cars are sitting on the freeway like a parking lot, passenger windows and drivers windows of the neighboring cars line up.

I looked over to my right and saw the neighboring driver wearing a Cubs hat. “Do you think they are going to the game?” I asked my husband “Should. I ask them what exit to take?”

Taking our chances, I rolled down the window to ask. Now you have to remember that we are small town Minnesota people and had only heard horror stories about gangs and shootings in Chicago.

Sure enough he was going to the game and on closer inspection he had his wife in the car and a baby in the back seat. All of them were decked out in Cubs attire. From head to toe!

“Follow me” he said and we took the next exit and he lead us to a small parking space in the back of a gas station. He motioned for us to park.

I was beginning to wonder if it was such a good idea to follow a perfect stranger into a secluded place in a city that we did not know.

“It’s ok” he told us, “I know the owner.” We piled out of the car and stood there like tourists looking in all directions not even knowing what direction the stadium was.

Our new friend and his family started walking so we followed them. Or should I say, stalking them. After a block or so, they dropped back to us and asked if we had tickets. We told them we did not and we started a conversation. He showed us his Cubs designed socks and began to tell us that they belonged to his grandfather. His grandfather had season tickets most of his life, then his Dad, and now he was carrying on the tradition. His Grandfather had never seen a World Series Championship from the Cubs, but he hoped that he and his son would someday.

As we wandered closer to the stadium, he brushed off the scalpers until right outside of the stadium. When someone else approached us with tickets to sell, my husband looked to him for approval. Our new friend gave us a slight nod and we bought the tickets.

We thanked them and gave them a hug. As they walked into the stadium, he looked back at us just to see if we were ok. We waved.  I wish I knew their name.

What a beautiful exchange. They could have pointed to the exit off the freeway and left us with that, but the kindness that was showed to us is etched in my memory.

I think how that interaction has shaped my beliefs about the Cubs and their fans.

I wonder how I might come off to others and if I could lead them to something bigger than Wrigley field.

Do I wear my Catholic fandom in the same way this Cubs fan wore his pride? Even more importantly, do I interact with others when I am asked about my faith by accompanying others or do I just point to an exit and want to be left alone?

This new friend showed me a better way to evangelize. “Follow me,” he said and we did.

During this series, I have been wondering about this man and his family. I smile thinking about that baby who must now be a teenager. I am sure they are cheering this team in the series and wearing great-grandfathers socks for luck.

So is God a Cubs fan? I think so. I hope so!

On to game 7! Go Cubs!

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