This weekend people far and wide, from all over the state, will be dressed the same “liturgical” color. They will be celebrating a wonderful event with watching, waiting, and hopeful anticipation! Yes, I am talking about the Minnesota Deer hunting opener! And, the color they will be wearing is blaze orange of course!
Over the years, many families have developed long-standing traditions of preparation, gathering with family and friends and then celebrating as a deer hunting party. Maybe you are one of them. They will share past stories, renew old bonds, make new acquaintances, and then they will head out to the deer stand in order to watch and wait for that short, fleeting moment, that singular opportunity to bag “the Big Buck.” Yes, Deer Hunting Opener is quite an event as roughly ½ million people within our state, the DNR says, will be going out in the field this weekend for the opener. As a priest, sometimes I think the Church should make the official liturgical color this weekend blaze orange instead of the usual green. Now that’s what I call “enculturation,” connecting with the people!
All kidding aside, when you think about it, deer hunting has many of the same “liturgical,” traditional, and scriptural qualities that make our own Catholic Church so rich and beautiful and appealing as well. Our Catholic Church, too has a long standing tradition of gospel stories, spiritual readings, and lives of the Saints. We have our own special seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary time, each with their own liturgical colors to highlight these seasons as well. We have our own traditional gatherings with family and friends as we celebrate things like Christmas, Easter, Weddings, Funerals, 1st Communions and Confirmations. These are all special events! Finally, this time of year as we come to the conclusion of Ordinary Time, celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, and then enter into Advent, all our readings emphasize our need to be watchful and to wait in great anticipation for that singular, most important moment, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! “Be prepared! For you never know when the Son of Man will come!” as Jesus says. That sounds a lot like what we do on the deer stand to me!
Wouldn’t it be great if ½ million people in our state were just as excited and waited with the same amount of hope and anticipation for Jesus to come as they do for that buck or doe to pass by their stand. It’s something to think about this time of year. In the meantime, here’s to happy and safe hunting! May our own rich experience, excitement, and anticipation on deer opener remind us of the excitement we need for Jesus as well! Peace and good luck!