Archive | April, 2018

The Effects of the Gift of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation

April 27, 2018


Confirmation imparts the gift of the Holy Spirit. The person who receives this sacrament has already received the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism, and the Holy Spirit abides with a person always. The Holy Spirit comes when a person prays or reads Scripture, or when a person asks the Holy Spirit for guidance, inspiration, or courage. Confirmation is not the new arrival of the Holy Spirit, but rather an intensification of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit enlightens the mind and impassions the heart. It gives increased knowledge and understanding of Jesus, his gospel, and the mysteries of the faith. It also moves a person to love Jesus more dearly and strengthens the desire to please and obey him.

The gift of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation completes the Sacraments of Initiation and equips a person to live one’s faith as an adult. A Christian child has the support of parents and family, but when it is time to leave home and live independently, the Holy Spirit gives the interior strength to make good decisions and to live a holy and virtuous life.

Confirmation serves as the foundation of the Sacraments of Commitment, marriage and Holy Orders. The Holy Spirit often points a person toward a lifelong Christian vocation, to live the faith as a wife or husband, and as a mother or father, or as a priest. The Holy Spirit may also guide a person in other directions, such as the consecrated life as a religious sister or brother, or as a dedicated single person. The Holy Spirit also directs a person toward a profession that is of service to others and improves society.

The Holy Spirit emboldens a person’s words and deeds. The special graces of Confirmation enliven a person to speak more often, more openly, and with greater clarity and conviction, about their faith and beliefs; to be an evangelizer, ready and willing to spread the good news of Jesus and his gospel; and to be better prepared and more determined to testify to the truth.

The Holy Spirit stirs a person to give bolder public witness to their faith, to give outstanding example through love, joyfulness, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and service. The Holy Spirit empowers a person to do mighty deeds, to perform good works that do much good, actions that are visible, make a strong statement, and are persuasive to others.

The gift of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation draws a person into a stronger bond with the Body of Christ, the Church. It encourages a person to receive the sacraments and pray with the community regularly, to make friends at church who are fellow pilgrims on journey of faith, to have partners on larger tasks and service projects, to pass on the gift of faith to others, particularly children and those searching for God, and to give collective or corporate witness.

The Holy Spirit prepares a person for battle. The Spirit gives a person the firm resolve and fierce determination to reject temptation, stand up against evil, refute errors, defend the faith, and withstand attacks. The Spirit also gives the strength and stamina to persevere in the battle, to remain true to Christ, unwavering in belief, and constant in goodness.

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Turkey season features odd beginning

April 25, 2018


I was all set to open the spring turkey season last week in southeastern Minnesota. I got drawn for the A Season, and planned to hunt a property with lots of birds on it.

I had taken birds from the property the last two years, both A Seasons. I knew right where I was going to set up my blind. I did so the week before the season, and the area was loaded with turkey tracks.

I was pumped. Then, it all changed with the weekend blizzard that threw a huge wrench into my plans. Unfortunately, my blind was out there in the elements, and I was worried that the snow and wind would destroy it.

I also became apprehensive about hunting the A Season at all. My time was limited, and there were other hunters on the property, including a guy who was going to hunt the weekend and wanted to set up his blind on Friday at the spot I was going to hunt.

What to do? I went down Tuesday afternoon and went to my blind. Fortunately, it was still intact. The only problem was snow on the roof that pushed it down. I didn’t see many tracks in the area, and I decided not to hunt the A Season. In Minnesota, you can buy a license over the counter for the last four seasons (E-F), and you are not required to hunt a season that you are picked in the lottery to hunt. If you want to change, you simply refrain from buying the license for the lottery season, then pick one of the last four seasons and buy a license over the counter.

I chose to do that, and asked the landowner on my way out if I could come back out for Season E. He said yes immediately, and I asked him if many hunters come out during that season. He said no, and that could give me the run of the property. Only problem is, the property gets hit pretty hard by hunters all spring, and the birds are pressured and educated by mid May.

After taking my blind down, I texted the other hunter and let him know I wasn’t hunting, so he could hunt my spot whenever he wanted. I just asked him to let me know how he did.

I got a text from him the afternoon of the second day. He had put up his blind exactly where mine had been, and decided to hunt a little Thursday afternoon. He made some hen sounds one time on a box call, and two toms came walking out into the field. With a few more soft calls from his slate call, the two birds came right in, and he shot one of them.

Too bad for me. Oh well. I really didn’t want to hunt in snow and cold anyway. That’s not turkey hunting to me. I like warm spring days when the grass is green and the leaves are out. So, I will hunt Season E.

I have a couple of friends who own property about an hour north of the Twin Cities. They both have seen birds on their property this fall, and one of them shot a bird on the opening day of Season B. I loaned him a jake decoy, and he took a video of three toms who walked around the jake decoy — after his shot!

I asked permission to hunt his land, and he is open to talking about it. His son may hunt, and he may want to take his son-in-law out and introduce him to the sport. He asked if I would be willing to help his son-in-law, and I said yes. I am hopeful for a chance to hunt there, but the other property sounds good, too. He has seen turkeys there in the fall while deer hunting, but hasn’t hunted there in the spring. In fact, I would be the first hunter on his property all spring.

There’s nothing like unpressured birds, especially late in the spring when hens are sitting on their nests incubating their eggs. They spend most of the day doing that, which means they disappear and the toms are suddenly lonely for the first time all spring.

I have had some quick hunts under these conditions. But, I will need to scout his property to find out if there are birds using it this spring. My friend who owns the land wants to try turkey hunting for the first time, and I said I would take him out.

So, that would be another chance to help a beginner. After more than three decades chasing these birds, I have built up skill and experience that I can share with others. Plus, I like the idea of guiding people and helping them get birds, especially their first one.

But first, I will hunt Season D in Wisconsin. With the late spring, the toms shouldn’t be fading in terms of their interest in breeding. In fact, I have found that late springs usually mean good hunting during the later seasons.

That’s what I am hoping for. Some of the properties have pressured birds, and I might start there to take on the challenge. But, if need be, I have other properties to hunt that have had less pressure.

So, I have lots of options, and spring is finally here!

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St. Anselm, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

April 20, 2018


St. Anselm

St. Anselm was born in 1033 in Aosta in Piedmont, Italy. His father strictly controlled the family home. When Anselm was fifteen he wanted to join the Benedictine monastery in Aosta, but his father refused to allow it, so when Anselm turned twenty-three he left home, traveled across the Alps, and went to Burgundy, France, where he went to study.

In 1059 he became a friend of Lanfranc, the prior of the Benedictine abbey in Bec, Normandy, and he became a Benedictine monk there in 1060. Anselm made rapid progress in the spiritual life, and he taught theology to his fellow students. Three years later Lanfranc was elected abbot of another abbey and Anselm replaced him as prior. Anselm developed a reputation as an excellent preacher, he did much to reform monastic life, and he was greatly loved by his fellow monks. He was consecrated abbot of the Bec Abbey in 1078, and he maintained close contact with his mentor Lanfranc who had become Archbishop of Canterbury.

Lanfranc died in 1089, and in 1092 the English clergy, who had come to know Anselm because of his visits to England to care for Benedictine property there, elected Anselm as his successor. Anselm insisted on the spiritual independence of the diocese and would not tolerate government interference, and as a result King William II refused to confirm his election.

Anselm moved to Canterbury in 1093, and the conflict with King William II escalated. The king demanded a large payment for his nomination as bishop, which he refused to pay, and would not allow him to convene synods. King William demanded that Pope Urban I remove Anselm, and he threatened to confiscate church property if he did not do so. Anselm was exiled in 1097. He went to Cluny, Lyons, and then to Rome, where he tendered his resignation. Pope Urban I reaffirmed his confidence in Anselm, ordered King William to permit his return, and insisted that all confiscated monies and properties be given back. Before Anselm’s return to England, Urban asked Anselm to attend the Council of Bari (1098) where he effectively defended Filioque, the Church’s doctrine of the double procession of the Holy Spirit from both the Father and the Son.

Anselm returned to England in 1100. King Henry I had assumed the throne after William’s death, and another round of disputes began. Henry insisted on the lay investiture of bishops and abbots. Anselm refused. Henry threatened further confiscation of church revenue and property, and sent Anselm into exile in 1103. Again, he returned to Rome. The new Pope, Paschal II, fully backed Anselm and refused to accede to Henry’s demands. When Anselm did return, the archbishop and the king reached a concordat: the king would no longer seek to invest bishops and the church would pay tribute to the king in the temporal realm.

Anselm is remembered as a brilliant theologian and philosopher, and he is regarded as the Father of Scholasticism. He is responsible for the definition of theology, “fides quaerens intellectum,” “faith seeking understanding.” He is the author of a number of major works: Monologium, metaphysical proofs on the existence of God; Proslogion, “Allocution,” on the attributes of God; Cur Deus Homo, “Why God Became Man,” a reflection on the Incarnation; as well as De fide Trinitatis, De conceptu virginali, De veritate, and Liber apologeticus pro insipiente.

St. Anselm died on April 21, 1109, in Canterbury, England, and was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1734. His symbol is a ship sailing over open water which represents spiritual independence from government interference.

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The Last Jedi and the Renewal of an Institution (Spoilers)

April 18, 2018


by Christopher Menzhuber

Christopher Menzhuber

The tension between authentically renewing institutions and destroying them has been around as long as institutions have been with us. Many people would agree the Church -as an institution- should be in a constant state of renewal yet few would agree on what that means. The root of such disagreement lies in our understanding of what Jesus came to do: establish a Church or destroy religious institutions altogether?

For those who believe Jesus came to destroy institutions, “Christ … appears as the revolutionary of love, who pits himself against the enslaving power of institutions and dies in combat against them (especially against the priesthood),” writes Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) describing this view while criticizing it in his book Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today. From this perspective, organized religion is seen as an obstacle that must be removed before faith can freely animate a community of prophetic individuals to follow their individual consciences and fully realize the power of love in the world. In short, it is thought that if the kingdom of God is to prevail, the institutional Church must end.

In the most recent installment of the Star Wars saga, “The Last Jedi” released December 2017 and grossing over a billion dollars worldwide, Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) echoes this sentiment about his own Jedi religion. “I only know one truth: It’s time for the Jedi to end.” By creating tension between a would-be reformer and the Jedi as a religious institution, director Rian Johnson may be depicting a galaxy not-so-far away as he explores the dynamic of renewal in the Star Wars universe.

Master Skywalker embodies the perspective that organized religion suppresses faith. Reflecting on their legacy of mistakes, Luke has come to see the Jedi as proud usurpers of the Force, which does not rely on the Jedi to exist. “To say that if the Jedi die the light dies is vanity,” he tells Rey. In another important scene, Skywalker attempts to destroy the sacred Jedi relics exclaiming “I’m ending all of this,” an action that would erase all memory of the Jedi and liberate the Force from the Jedi’s confining traditions.

Over and against this perspective is the young protagonist Rey (Daisy Ridley), who has been inspired by the legends of the Jedi, and maintains the hope that by being formed in the tradition of the Force she can bring light to the galaxy and find some inner illumination. “The galaxy may need a legend.” she says. “I need to know my place in all of this.”

Does the film espouse one view over the other? The moral character of both perspectives gives us some more insight. Luke, embittered by personal failure, is moving toward self-destruction. Moreover, we also learn he has closed himself off from the Force, and has actually never even read his own Jedi Bible. Drawing a real life analogy to the Church one can see in him the Christian archetype who has grown cynical, who has abandoned the life of prayer, and who despite significant education remains ignorant of his own tradition. Under the pretext of reform this person undermines the very things that give Catholicism its distinctiveness like the sacramental priesthood, moral teaching, and authority of the magisterium, the result of which is tantamount to destroying the memory of the Church.

Rey appears in sharp contrast to Luke: idealistic and energetic; perhaps a little naïve and proud; she wants to be a part of the venerable Jedi tradition. Her scant knowledge of the Jedi is accurate but woefully incomplete. When challenged about what she really knows of the force she stammers only bits and pieces: “Lifting rocks and getting people to do what you want.” Think here of people who grew up without any real religious formation but hear God calling them in a world incapable of providing meaningful answers. They long for the adventure that comes from accepting a truth which places demands upon them and calls forth acts of courage. Far from viewing the Institutional Church as confining, they embrace the ancient but ever-growing Catholic Tradition because it connects them to the greatest story ever told.

While the movie appears to relish the conflict between perspectives, it also seems to tilt in favor of preserving institutions when we catch a glimpse of the salvaged Jedi texts suggesting the Jedi tradition will continue. Rey is acknowledged as a Jedi and her rudimentary grasp of the force turns out to be exactly what the rebellion needs. Luke rediscovers his faith and it sets him on a path seeking forgiveness which “is the heart of all true reform,” writes Benedict.

Overall, “The Last Jedi” takes a more thoughtful departure from its predecessors as it embarks on its own journey of renewal. Whether you can see in it a comparison to what’s happening in the Church or perhaps read it as a metaphor for the renewal of the franchise itself, you may find “The Last Jedi” has an interesting portrayal of the tension between authentically reforming an institution versus destroying it. And if you find those themes to be interesting, you will probably enjoy the book “Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today,” by Catholicism’s own Jedi Master, Benedict XVI.

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Emmaus Prayer

April 13, 2018


Road to EmmausLord, as we walk down the journey of life,
we ask that you would be our constant companion,
particularly on those days when we are disheartened
or when we have strayed off of your path.

When we are downcast,
we ask that you lift our spirits.
When we are confused,
we ask that you enlighten our minds.
When we are disappointed,
we ask that you give us hope.

You, Lord, have blessed us with your gospel.
Open our minds and hearts to receive your word,
and send your Holy Spirit to give us understanding.
May your teaching take root in our lives
and guide us in your ways.

While we have faith in you, Lord,
we also have our moments of doubt.
We ask that you would deepen our faith,
so that rededicated to you,
we would give bolder witness,
and freely and gladly give generous service.

You gently ask us to invite you into our hearts and homes.
With a spirit of welcome and humility,
we invite you to dwell with us always.
We offer our praise and thanks for the many ways that you feed us
and provide for our many needs.

Keep us closely connected to our brothers and sisters in faith.
Help us to see others with the eyes of love.
Fill us with your compassion.
May we work tirelessly to foster relationships in our community
built on the foundations of truth, mutual respect, cooperation, and trust.

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The Easter Season

April 6, 2018


Resurrection of JesusFifty Holy Days. The Easter Season is the Great Fifty Days from Easter to Pentecost. It is a week of weeks, seven sevens, 49 days, plus a fiftieth. The first forty days commemorate the time between the Resurrection and the Ascension (see Acts 1:3), and the last ten days commemorate the time from the Ascension to the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles on the first Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).

Jewish Roots. Passover and Pentecost are two of the three great Jewish pilgrimage feasts, and the time between them is a Festival of Weeks, 49 days, with the fiftieth, the feast of Pentecost.

Easter Week. The first week after Easter is called the Octave of Easter. It is the eight-day period from Easter Sunday to the Second Sunday of Easter. The Resurrection is the single greatest Christian feast, and our entire faith hinges on this mystery as St. Paul so eloquently explained: “If Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching; empty, too, your faith” (1 Cor 15:14). But Jesus has been raised! This makes Easter our preeminent time of jubilant exultation, so tremendous that it cannot be adequately observed in a single day. The Octave is a time of intense rejoicing, followed by six more weeks of continuing festivity.

Signs of Easter. The Easter, Paschal, or Christ candle is moved to a prominent place in the church for the entire Easter season, usually somewhere in the sanctuary, as a sign of the risen Christ. The vestments are white, sometimes accented with gold trim, symbols of victory and joy. The Gloria or Glory to God and the gospel Alleluia which were suspended during Lent are restored. The Creed may be replaced with the renewal of baptismal promises. There may be a Sprinkling Rite to recall the sacrament of Baptism. A double Alleluia is added to the dismissal.

Easter Sacraments. Baptism and Eucharist are the featured sacraments of the Easter Season. Infant baptisms are encouraged within the Sunday Masses of the Easter Season. It is also the preferred time to celebrate First Holy Communion. Parishes that have movable or portable baptismal fonts may transfer the font to a more conspicuous location.

Easter Scripture Texts. The first reading for every Sunday and weekday Mass throughout the Easter season is taken from the Acts of the Apostles, a forceful statement that Jesus, raised and ascended to heaven, continues to be present and is powerfully active within the community of believers. The second reading on Easter Sundays is taken from the New Testament, in Year A from the First Letter of Peter, in Year B from the First Letter of John, and in Year C from the Book of Revelation. All of the gospel texts for the Easter Season are taken from John except for the Third Sunday of Years A and B, and the Ascension.

Ways to Prolong the Easter Celebration. The Lenten fast is over, so rejoice with special meals or treats. The purple or violet of Lent is replaced by the white and gold of Easter, so wear brightly colored clothing to show your joyful spirit, and decorate with lilies and other flowers. The somber readings of Lent that dwell on penance and the Passion are over, so rejoice by reading the scriptural accounts of the Resurrection and post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, as well as the founding of the early Christian community in the Acts of the Apostles. Those who were candidates for the Easter sacraments have been welcomed into the Church, so maintain contact with them and help them strengthen their bond with the parish community. As Jesus demonstrated in his post-resurrection appearances at Emmaus (Lk 24:30) and along the Sea of Galilee (Jn 21:9,13), he is present in the breaking of the bread, so in order to experience the risen Christ we should attend Mass each Sunday, and if possible, some weekdays, too, to receive our risen Lord in the Eucharist.

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Easter Alleluias from the Mouths of Babes

April 1, 2018


When I wrote about my Triduum reflection five years ago, I spoke about Easter Vigil and the unexpected death of my Father -in -law. This year we missed the Easter Vigil and went instead to an early morning Easter Mass.

The Vigil is filled with mystery and light and darkness and new Catholics coming into the church. It is a beautiful experience and if you have never attended a Vigil – you should!  The Easter Morning Mass however seemed to bring a different sense of hope.

As we drove to Mass both my husband and I reflected on the five years without his Dad and the upcoming one year anniversary of his Mother’s passing.

The Easter Sequence brought me words to ponder about life and death as the choir sang:

Death and life fought bitterly for this wonderous victory.

The Lord of Life now reigns on high. Alleluia!

But the greatest sign of love, life and hope that I heard at Mass was not from the priest or the Choir.  The parish was full of families with children dressed in their Easter best. A baby in front of me cooed and as if on cue a child from across the sanctuary babbled.  Soon it seemed to be a choir of babies cooing, babbling and singing from all corners of the church (and not a one of them crying).

Really, it was like one babe calling out to another and they were singing praises to God!

O LORD, our Lord,

how awesome is your name through all the earth!

I will sing of your majesty above the heavens

with the mouths of babes and infants.

Psalm 8:2-3


The only time I did not hear these children was when the choir sang the Hallelujah chorus  from Handel’s Messiah.  I am not sure which was more beautiful.

The sounds of these children made me smile and helped me remember that Easter is about new life no matter our age and we get to be born into the newness every Easter and every day.

That is the Easter story and we are Easter people!

Alleluia! Alleluia!

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