Faith Outdoors

14 May 08 | Posted in Spirituality

While researching a news article on The Catholic Spirit, I came across this wonderful blog about “enjoying the outdoors from a Catholic perspective.”

Faith Outdoors is written by Dave Hrbacek, “a lifelong Catholic who has enjoyed the outdoors since I was a toddler.”  Dave writes about a variety of outdoor activities including hunting, fishing, hiking and outdoor photography.

As a person who also enjoys all those activities, I know there is a tremendous spiritual connection between ourselves and the land, and ourselves and other creatures, especially when we hunt. There is a spiritual bond between hunter and animal–a respect, an appreciation and even a tenderness and mourning at its death. There is certainly a connection kneeling next to a being that has given up its life for you, and whose flesh will sustain and feed you; in comparison with picking through packages at a supermarket, where the animals were slaughtered with no thought to them at all, except production efficiencies.

His blog brought to mind St. Hubert, the patron saint of hunters. Hubert (656-727 AD) was a rich nobleman, heir to the powerful Duchy of Aquitaine.

His favorite sport was hunting, and he pursued it obsessively. According to legend, Hubert wouldn’t skip chasing stags for Lent. He even went hunting on Good Friday. Big mistake.

On that holy day, as Hubert and his hounds cornered a giant stag, he raised his spear to slay the beast when it turned around to face him. A huge crucifix appeared between the stag’s antlers, and the animal spoke to him: “Hubert, unless you turn to the Lord and lead a holy life, you shall quickly go down to Hell.”saint-hubert.jpg

Hubert’s wife died not long afterwards, and Hubert eventually renounced his title and wealth and entered a monastery. He became a bishop famed for his courage, his excellent preaching and generosity to the poor.

While St. Hubert isn’t “one of the biggies” as a priest described him, I think he’s a good role model for today’s excessive energy users. Let’s pray for grace from a former pleasure-seeker who was shocked into awareness of the spirituality of the outdoors and our need to honor it.

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