Friday, June 24, 2011

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist (six months before the nativity of Our Lord of course)

 “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David. Through his prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant. This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hand of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace." (Lk 1:67-79)

The icon of the Nativity of St. John the forerunner.
A prayer we pray often, the canticle of Zechariah, father of the Prophet John the baptist. The very first thing the great man was able to say after being struck dumb for his lack of faith in the humbling presence of the Angel of the Lord who had told him of the coming of his son.  I always say that if the Lord strikes you dumb the first thing out of your mouth when he rights you again had better be good, and Zechariah did not disappoint did he? How difficult it must have been to have gone through his wife's pregnancy so late in both of their lives and to do so without being able to speak at all. To have the Blessed Virgin, the ark of the new covenant, already with Child herself come to visit and to serve Elizabeth during the sixth month and last trimester of Elizabeth's pregnancy and not even to be able to welcome the Mother of our Lord into your humble abode with your own mouth. To go through the ups and downs of the 9 long months before the birth of your first child with your wife, only able to communicate your love and affection for your bride with nonverbal gestures and communication. This was the great suffering Zechariah endured for his lack of faith, an instant of doubt that I myself, I am sure would have embraced. How many men would have heard the words of the Angel and believed immediately? The message he heard was such a blessing and he doubted, a man so imminently familiar with the scripture as he was and he could not, initially, believe.  It is a very striking story, far too relatable and close to home for me honestly. How many times has the Lord called upon me and my response was to look for any way I could to doubt, to run, or to cower? Like so many of those called by the Lord, Zechariah does not have the spirit to accept sight unseen the message and calling the Lord had placed upon him. The Lord calls us all and makes demands of us all and how often do we look for anything else to do? I am so blessed, we all are, that the Lord is so patient with us, willing to let us find Him, or even better still to 'strike us dumb' when we most need it. I am sure that Zechariah spent so much of his silent time in prayer to our Lord, God the Most High. As a new father myself I know I couldn't have gotten through the birth of my son and all the months of his gestation without prayer, deep meaningful prayer, intimate time with the Lord. Funny enough one of the prayers I prayed very often was the Canticle of Zechariah(used frequently in the daily prayers of the Church), one of the three great canticles offered at the beginning of Luke's account of the Gospel. I can't imagine what I would feel or what I would do if an Angel of the Lord brought me a message, especially not one so profound as Zechariah received. I can only speculate how greatly I would tremble and how riveted my faith life would be. I would like to think that I would come around like Zechariah, but of course some people never do, despite all of the Lord's patient pleadings and callings. I pray regularly that I will answer the Lord as He calls to me and regardless of the content of the message that  He needs me to hear that I have the grace and the faith to come to the call. 

Then again, if anyone ever hears of me going months without a peep, we will all know the Lord is giving me the time to reconsider faith in His Goodness and Truth.

Friday, June 17, 2011

World's Greatest 5 inch fish:

Last night I established this blog and the ease with which I did so was quite astounding so I thought tonight while I burn away the evening with a Ramon Allones Specially Selected and a small glass of Laphroaig 10yr single malt I would try to increase the difficulty on myself by posting this entry from the Blogger App on my Android.  * Edit to Add: this went about as poorly as I had expected, won't be doing that again.*

The topic I will write about first tonight has changed quite dramatically since this morning when I had bounced a few ideas around in my head about writing a short piece on the power of intercessory prayer and on the communion of the Saints.  As it happens though Brian my good friend,brother in law, and most frequent and trusted fishing guide/comrade sent me a few of the pictures of the trip we just took to the Great Smoky Mountains to give my new fly rod her first real taste of action. These pictures are very important because they are the only material evidence I have, other than a smelly creel pocket, documenting my first catch on an honest to goodness big boy fly-fishing setup.

The fish I caught was no monster steelhead, no 20 inch brown, not even the legendary mountain brook, it was a 6 inch(max) rainbow just big enough to stretch across the palm of my quaking hand but you couldn't have told me that when I hooked and landed him. I don't know who was more shocked when I hooked the fish the trout or me and when I landed him I don't know who was more shocked and more excited Brian or me, but after a mad dash to get back to common ground to get a few pictures before releasing the little guy we were both pretty breathless. My first real fly rod trout, heretofore referred to as the world's greatest 5 inch fish, was an amazing experience to catch and as I mentioned before a real surprise.

The trip we made to catch that fish hadn't gone nearly to plan as a few setbacks and delays had set our camping/fishing trip departure way behind schedule. The plan was to get there around noon and fish until time to come back cook some grub with our ladyfolk and then catch the evening feeding in the streams once again. The outlook was bleak, the half day of fishing we had planned for was shrunk to a couple of hours at best. When we set out for the stream all of our expectations were down, due to the volume of fishermen and hooligans in the water near elkmont for memorial day weekend. We found a spot about a 1/4-1/2 mile beyond the trail head that looked promising and while Brian helped his son,my nephew, Matthew get setup I started working a picturesque hole. My primary intent was to A. not catch a tree or plant life and b. Practice putting the fly down cleanly and in a spot where I wanted it. I instantly felt at home with the relatively short distances I would need to cast and really liked where I was putting the fly(a yellow 'never sink' sally/caddis from LRO.) I worked my way across the hole without a bite and with one unsubstantial early fall(I fall A LOT)  and got to the edge of the pool which featured a small quick moving seam generated by a little overhang of rocks above I was attempting to cast into the swifter portion of the seam and let my fly coast through naturally and on the second good pass the rainbow grabbed hold and I was on cloud 9. I even made a clean switch from line to reel, I kept the rod tip up and the pressure on long enough to see the little guy in safely. I yelled across the 50 or so yards separating Brian with Matthew and I and we set about connecting for some photographic celebration. That's right first hole, first fish, and to beat it all a few minutes later, still pumped from my own success Brian pulled a nice little brown out of the hole he had been working with Matthew on Matthew's spinner bait. I told him we'd have to work hard to top that success. Two holes two fish, it was the start of a very good trip...*More on the rest of that trip to come soon*

As a very gracious older lady(and one slick fly fisherman herself) had said in conversation on a fishing trail near Abrams creek "In the smokies, you have to be content being wet all day without even a bite sometimes, and love it enough to come back and try again the next day." Truer words have never been spoken, Brian and I have had plenty of days exactly like that and being so new to fly fishing I was expecting about a years worth of days like that before I even got a subtle whiff of success. These fish are hard to catch, and that's a lot of the appeal. The guys down at Little River Outfitters, our favorite fly shop in the smokies, say that "if you can catch trout here, you can catch them anywhere" and while I don't know if that's the gospel truth I'll say it isn't far from it. Before the trip out with the fly rod I had caught loads of trout on spinners and "wait-bait", a few of the quite good size and even one of those difficult smokies stream trout but none compared to the palm sized super fish I hauled in near elkmont.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

CTBJ, First Entry:

June 15th:

Today I realized that there could be a happy resolution to my rather baseless desire to journal about my interests regarding the struggle within to put pen to paper on one hand, and on the other the desire to be able to realistically read what I have written at some later date. My penmanship has been stuck in elementary school since the early 90's and I see don't handwriting classes in my future, but I do not enjoy the tap-tapping of keys nearly so well as the stroke of the pen so a word document wasn't nearly satisfying enough to hold my interest. Then, while smoking a cigar and unwinding from a day far more stressful than it would have appeared from the outside, it came to me. I could start another blog.  Who amoungst us has been on the internet extensively over the rise of the "social era" and hasn't had a blog or two that they've left to collect "net dust" after an eager early attempt at "connecting with a cyber audience" about topics they obsess over? Well I for one have, and lets hope this attempt at a digital outlet will fare much better than my blog about homebrewing. As much as I would LOVE to have a leather bound journal full of rich handmade paper just ready for me to pour out fine ink on, I believe that creating a personal Blog about as many topics as I find interesting will be more useful overall to a fellow with my shortcomings and perhaps more fruitful.

I intend to fill these pages, well digital pages, with my thoughts and commentary on any variety of topics which are of interest to me. Hopefully I can regularly use pictures as well as words to more fully express the topics on hand. A few things that may come up along the way include, religion and fishing of course, hence the blog title, as well as my family, good food and cooking, beverages, cigars, politics(rarely I hope), firearms, finance and economics, technology, and Lord knows what else. In the coming days I have lots of spring and early summer happenings that I intend to get published, I can't wait to go ahead and record them while the memories are still fresh in my mind.

I don't expect anyone to actually visit this page and read what it is I have written, but if they do I hope that they will be pleased with what they find.  I don't want to blog to an audience, but I especially don't want a blog that generates uproar just for the lurid fact of creating uproar. I hope that anyone who reads my blog will read it for what it is, one man looking for an outlet that he can use to express himself and call upon later to recollect the things he took the time to record. With God's Mighty Blessing and the intercession of the Saints, may this be a fruitful endeavor for His Greater Glory and may I do His will in this and all of my activities.

Yours in JMJ,

Catholic Trout Bum