Archive | October, 2012

Baby Fiona: A Fighter!

October 30, 2012


In October our church concentrates on Respect Life issues. It is also a month designated to Down syndrome awareness. I wanted to share  story with you about a lovely couple who became a mommy and daddy recently. Their tale encapsulates both themes for this month beautifully.

Dealing with infertility

Stephanie and Joe Palewicz of Vadnais Heights tried for four years to conceive a child. Stephanie said, “Ask anyone that has had trouble getting pregnant and they will tell you how stressful it can be. There were times that I thought I would never get to be a mom. There were also times I thought if one more person tells me, ‘once you stop worrying about it, it will happen’ I was going to scream. I know they meant well, but I’m confident that I speak for pretty much everyone dealing with infertility in recommending that people not say that.”

Which is good advice for us all.

A blessing

Fiona Grace Palewicz

On October 20 Stephanie wrote: “5 years ago I married my amazing husband Joe Palewicz. Today, exactly 5 years later, our lives have forever changed as we welcomed our baby girl into our world. Fiona Grace Palewicz, 7lbs, 7oz, born just after 7 this morning. I am the mommy to the most beautiful, sweet baby girl in this entire world. She is strong and she is a fighter. Fight Baby Fiona, fight. You are amazing!”

Why does this newborn have to fight?

Little Miss Fiona Grace has Down syndrome with a congenital heart defect plus some unexpected complications.

A prenatal diagnosis

When Stephanie was 18 weeks into her pregnancy she went through routine testing. The results for Trisomy 21 came back with a probability of 1:10. “I remember that exact moment, feeling like my heart had just hit the floor 1,000 feet down. The doctor explained that means that 90% of the time everything is fine and that sometimes these tests give false positives. We just needed to do a Level 2 ultrasound. No big deal. Oh, and genetic counseling (whatever the hell that is, I thought).” After their level 2 ultrasound the doctor told them that their baby had a heart defect.

Stephanie recalls in her blog called Life Unexpected, Love Unimaginable:

“I know she said other words following those, but they are blurry in my mind. I remember feeling the instant tears burning in my eyes as I thought of my poor little baby girl. She talked about the defect, that the middle part of her heart didn’t form, she called it an AV Canal defect. She talked about the baby needing surgery after birth. I cried harder. My poor little baby girl on an operating table?… I thought it couldn’t get any worse. Then she told me that this defect was one that was very common in children with Down syndrome. My heart had now dropped so low, it was digging itself a hole in the floor. I asked how this defect increased my chances, she said significantly.”

Stephanie explains very honestly:

“She said they wouldn’t terminate the pregnancy without an amniocentesis. Holy crap, ‘Terminate’? How did we just go there??? Okay, rewind. No way! I tried to clear my mind and breathe. When I received Fiona’s diagnosis of Down Syndrome, I was hardly halfway through my pregnancy. I remember when the doctor used the word ‘termination’ with us at that time and I remember how the thought of it took my breath away. Fortunately for us, although it was spoken of, we were never pressured to terminate and were offered a lot of positive and hopeful information immediately from our doctors and genetic counselor.”

Lifesite News stated that last year a Time magazine article reported statistics pulled from a 2009 edition of the Archives of Disease in Childhood. As a result of more sophisticated prenatal screening, and with nine out of ten babies aborted following the prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, the birth rate for these children has been dropping for decades, decreasing by 15% between 1989 and 2005.

The Palewiczs’ friend and real estate agent, Angela Hames, told me, “They never thought twice about choices, and were shocked at other people’s assumption that they would have done anything differently.”

Feeling hopeful again

less than 3 weeks after the adverse diagnosis the Palewiczs were feeling anticipation again. Stephanie stated, “Thinking positive about our future and letting go of hopeless feelings helps. We are more energized about this pregnancy and our family’s future.”

Something that helped them climb out of despair and uncertainty is that they learned more about having a child with Down syndrome. They did this by connecting with a lot of new people through friends, parent support groups, online forums and communities. These people enriched their lives and brought great comfort and hope for the future.

Baby showers with friends and family helped the expectant couple to share in their joy. Notes of encouragement helped them to sustain that anticipation. Here is a lovely Face Book post from Stephanie’s father:

A Dream Come True, A Second Time

Words cannot describe the emotions I’m experiencing right now. I remember how overwhelmed and thrilled Mom and I were when we welcomed you, our only daughter, into our lives. Now it’s your turn to have a dream come true, to experience the overwhelming joy of Fiona’s birth and to share that joy with Joe, and with family and friends. You can be sure that our first granddaughter will be cherished, and of course spoiled, just like her cousins, Jake, Josh, Joseph. That IS a grandparent’s primary function. Love you and hope the final part of you journey is bearable.

Baby Fiona’s first days have been rough…that’s why she’s fighting

The new mother wrote: “Fiona is truly a gift from God and a gift that was meant especially for us.  On her 2nd day of life, she became very ill with necrotizing enterocolitis and a blood infection. On her 4th day of life, she had emergency surgery to repair 2 bowel perforations, but instead she had 4 sections of bowel removed and now has 4 ostomies. We are currently in the NICU at Children’s Hospital Minneapolis. When I watch this happen, I am in terrible physical pain myself. I feel so horrible for her. I wish I could take her pain away and give it to me.”

Father O’Gara from Assumption Church in St. Paul came to the hospital to perform Fiona Grace’s baptism. As I wrote this story at noon on October 30, the wee child was recovering from surgery to place a central line. It went well! I would like to echo what her mother said on the day she was born: “Fight Baby Fiona, fight! You are amazing!” (Please pray for the family.)

(Some suggested websites: (National Down Syndrome Society) An advocate for people with Down syndrome and Baby Fiona’s Caring Bridge site:


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Fast for Freedom promotes prayer for nation’s future

October 29, 2012

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Fasters include, left to right: Jeremy Berfanger, Katarina Hemstad, Meghan Mueller, Anne Crouch, Lauren Bickford, Dain Finney, Peter Murphy and Andrew Nistler.

With Election Day nearing, many Catholics are still mulling over a host of issues as they prepare to vote Nov. 6. To help them get ready, a college junior from Coon Rapids is working with a group of fellow students to promote prayer and fasting as a way to unify Catholics and so that voters and leaders may receive the grace to make morally sound decisions.

“Our country’s morality no longer is based on objective right or wrong, but a sliding scale of how good something feels for the most people,” said Meghan Mueller, a nursing major at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., who previously attended St. Paul in Ham Lake. “In many cases, it seems as if truth has been completely taken out of the picture. From this stems many of the major issues our country is facing: the sanctity of life, the sacredness of marriage, and the right to religious freedom.”

The Fast for Freedom initiative — which asks people to abstain from meat or something else as an alternative until Election Day — began earlier this month among a few friends and others on campus. Since then, the effort has “spread like wildfire,” mostly by word of mouth, and includes students from St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul as well as family and friends in the Twin Cities area, Mueller said.

“As of now, we have it documented that about 800 people are partaking in the Fast for Freedom with us,” she said Oct. 26. “From recent reports, however, we have heard that many classrooms, schools and families have joined as well, so we project that participation is higher than we thought.”

In addition to fasting, participants are encouraged to pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 p.m. on Fridays for the elections and the future of the country.

One election issue of particular concern to Mueller, a nursing major, is religious liberty, especially in light of the federal Department of Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate.

The mandate requires all employers, including most Catholic and other religious employers, to provide coverage in their health care plans for contraceptives — including some that can cause abortions — and sterilizations despite moral objections they might have.

If the mandate remains in place, “we will be forced to go against our conscience and provide ‘services’ . . . that we believe are intrinsically evil and have been scientifically proven as harmful,” Mueller said.

“This issue most definitely affects my life in a very real way,” she said. “If our religious freedom is taken away, working as a Catholic nurse will be like walking through a health care minefield.”

Anyone who wants to let the students know they are joining the fast, or who has questions, can email them at

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Anne, Thomas and a Marriage Story

October 26, 2012


I happened to catch the movie, “The Other Boleyn Girl” the other day. It is the story of Anne Boleyn and it could be said that her story is the other side of St. Thomas More’s story. I am not a historian and I am sure that it can be said that this movie may not be fully historical fact, but it does portray a story that is pertinent for today. It is a story about marriage and the redefinition of it.

If you are unfamiliar with the story of King Henry VIII and his six wives here is the short of it. King Henry wants a new wife and the Pope won’t give him an annulment. He defines himself as head of the church so that he can divorce his wife and marry the woman he is lusting for ~ Anne Boleyn. Anne manipulates her own sexuality to ultimately become queen of England. In the process she becomes the object [or cause] of the fall of the Catholic Church in England and the beginning of the Church of England. Again, I am not an expert on history, but this is the simplistic version of what I know.  You can find more of St. Thomas More’s life at:

Ultimately this historic story is about the defense of marriage. St. Thomas More as Lord Chancellor of England lost his life defending the Church and marriage. Anne, fueled by competitive drive, or possibly in this time of few rights for women – a sense of survival – succumbed to her own desires while fulfilling the desires of the King.

It is sometimes best for me to learn from a poor example rather than a good one. As I watched this film and the portrait of Anne – it struck me that it was her ambition that was her downfall. Her drive to be in control, her manipulation of the truth, her need to succeed that ultimately did her in. She wasn’t alone in this – King Henry’s needs seemed simpler or at least more direct – that of lust and perhaps to sire a son. Which I guess breaks down into sex and power. St. Thomas More was motivated by his knowlege of the truth. What do I want to be motivating me?

How much is our defense of marriage today like that of St. Thomas More’s dilemma?

To stand as the church teaches is not popular –while it may not cost you your life, it may cost you your friends. The acceptance of Anne Boleyn as Queen – redefined Marriage in England and King Henry created his own church so he could define the church to fit his needs. Today we have many who want to redefine marriage to suit their needs. It may be driven by power, lust or a type of manipulation – all under the guise of wanting to profess equality.

Ultimately Anne got what she wanted, but eventually lost her head and St. Thomas More also ultimately died defending marriage by not conceding to Anne as queen. It took courage. St. Thomas More showed us this courage in a few ways. First he lived his marriage rightly by loving his wife until widowed and strongly loved his family. Second, he stood strong on the teachings of the church -even though it cost him his life. He didn’t recognize the marriage of King Henry to Anne Boleyn because he knew that no one could redefine what was defined by God  – not even the king.

I am left wondering how I might behave in St. Thomas More’s shoes. Or maybe I am in them. How will I defend marriage? Our defence of our beliefs on marriage today deals with the same sex marriage issue, but much can be learned from Anne and Thomas.
If you struggle with the “Church” getting involved in matters of marriage or think there is no place for it. The story of Anne and Sir Thomas may give us some historical perspective on what happens when the “state” takes into its hands – redefining marriage. You may want to pick up “The Other Boleyn Girl” and “A Man for All Seasons” and see who you want to stand with? Will you defending the truth or choose to bend with the crowd or follow selfish motives?
A St. Thomas More Prayer for Religious Freedom and more information can be found on the website Unique for a Reason.

O God our Creator,
from your provident hand we have received
our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us
the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God,
and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

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God is found where these three elements meet

October 26, 2012


Only in beauty is truth good, and goodness true. Photo/Temari 09 Licensed under Creative Commons

Truth, Goodness and Beauty.

If this were the title of an HBO miniseries I’m not sure it would be a hit. I wonder if many people would watch more than one episode of a show without crime, sex, lying or death.

Unfortunately, living in this Culture of Death we’re not attuned to fully recognize and appreciate truth, goodness and beauty, which are among the chief attributes of God. In fact, God can be found where these three qualities meet.

Called “God’s three great prophets in the human soul” by philosopher  Peter Kreeft, truth, goodness and beauty go way back in history to Judaism, Christian and Greek philosophy and pagan myth-makers. Dr. Kreeft writes:

 Beauty is known by the imagination; goodness, by conscience; and truth, by reason (in the large, ancient sense of wisdom, not just cleverness; understanding, not just calculation; reason, not just reasoning).

Closer to God

The more we seek truth, goodness and beauty in the Lord, the godlier we become. All that’s true, beautiful and good will grow if it is conformed to God, Pope Leo XIII wrote.

The three attributes have a lot to do with each other, as the Catechism points out:

 The practice of goodness is accompanied by spontaneous spiritual joy and moral beauty. Likewise, truth carries with it the joy and splendor of spiritual beauty. Truth is beautiful in itself. (CCC2500)

According to speaker and author Christopher West, beauty can lead us to goodness and truth:

 As Pope Benedict XVI says, when we allow beauty to pierce our hearts, it awakens in us our deepest desires, our desire for the Infinite.  Beauty has the ability to seize our hearts and transform us from within.

That’s what West had in mind when he and others began developing Fill These Hearts: God, Sex and the Universal Longing, a performance revealing–through the beauty of art–truth and goodness about human sexuality as found in Bl. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

Revealing Theology of the Body through Beauty

West, indie-folk band Mike Mangione and the Union and sand artist David Leiberg are bringing Fill These Hearts in spoken word, music and art to the University of St. Thomas’s O’Shaunessy Education Center auditorium in St. Paul, Minn., this Saturday night, Oct. 27.

The idea for the event, which is more theater than lecture, came out of Pope John Paul’s Letter to Artists and a desire to make Theology of the Body themes “contemplatively present in color, shape, and sound.” It is produced by the Cor Project, a team dedicated to sharing TOB.

Art can open us to beauty, which can “seize our hearts and transform us from within,” West said. “That’s our hope for this event in a nutshell, to lead people along the way of beauty.”

Beauty, truth and goodness are essentially Love in its full cosmic and personal meaning–which is the Glory of God, according to theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar.  Only in beauty is truth good, and goodness true, he writes.

If you’re looking for something true, good and beautiful this Saturday night, HBO probably isn’t your best bet—there’s a boxing match on. But you’ll find in the unique sensory experience of  Fill These Hearts, the Lord in His truth, goodness and beauty.

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Marriage = Biology (NOT Bigotry)

October 25, 2012


This well-done video came my way from a high school friend. Please pass it on.

Let’s think about what’s best for children & society, and  NOT redefine marriage!

YouTube Preview Image


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Deer stands are up… bring on the rut!

October 22, 2012


I almost got a deer yesterday evening the way no one wants to – with my car. Coming back from a fruitful day of stand preparation, the buck jumped out of the ditch as my brother Paul and son Andy and I were headed home from the Red Wing area.

There was no time to react, so I braced myself for impact. I got a good look at the deer as I zipped by it, then heard a thump as it made impact with the back end of my van. Fortunately, both deer and van made out OK. In fact, there was not a scratch on the vehicle.

I thanked God for that, and for the enjoyable day in the woods. We visited two farms where we had permission to hunt, then put up a stand for each of them. I think they all are in good spots, and I think we should have some action on opening day. The other member of our party, Bernie Schwab, got his stands ready the day before. So, we’re set for the firearms deer opener Nov. 3.

Tips for hunting success

For those still in the process of putting up their stands – especially those who haven’t picked a spot yet – I offer four tips for where to put your stands, how to access them and how to hunt them on the opener and throughout the season. When I follow these rules, my success goes up.

1. Hunt funnels. If you don’t know what a funnel is, now’s the time to learn. Deer movement picks up dramatically during the breeding season (known as the rut), and the best place to be is where they travel. Specifically, you want to be in areas where bucks are cruising as they look for does, or are chasing does that aren’t quite ready to be bred.

The good news is, funnels are not hard to find. You can look on satellite images (think Google Earth) and see areas where wooded areas get narrow. That’s a great place to start. Another is where deer cross steep ravines. We found a dandy funnel yesterday that we couldn’t see on a map. It’s only about 25 yards wide and the deer trails already were there, not to mention a buck antler rub and a ground scrape. Andy will be positioned there waiting for deer to come through.

By the way, last year I shot a beautiful 8-point buck while positioned in a classic funnel. He chased a doe right in front of my stand, and I shot him at only about 20 yards.

2. Play the wind. This is far more important than many hunters realize. Observe a deer catching your scent even once, and you’ll know exactly what I mean. If deer see or hear you, they will pause and try to check you out. They may even get fidgety and nervous. But, if they smell you, they’re gone. Right now. No questions asked. That happened to me two years ago. I saw a doe’s head pop up in a cornfield, then she moved from left to right. After only a few steps, she was straight downwind of me, about 25-30 yards away. I looked down at my gun and slowly lifted it up for the shot. But, when I put my scope up where the doe had been, she was gone. Then, I saw her running nearly full speed to my left in an adjacent field. That was the end of that.

So, try to place your stand upwind of where you think the deer will travel. Better yet, have some obstacle like a cliff or pond behind you so that they have to go upwind of you. Also, don’t forget about scent as you go to your stand. If your scent drifts into the woods where the deer are, they may never come your way. In other words, you could end up spooking deer that you never knew were nearby. I think that happens a lot more often than hunters think, and could be a reason some hunters don’t see a deer all day.

3 Stay put. I know it’s tempting to climb down out of your stand to take a break for lunch. But, if you’re serious about shooting a deer, don’t do it. Deer move around a surprising amount throughout the day, and climbing down out of your stand takes away the chance to capitalize on this activity. Remember, it’s the rut and bucks can’t stand to sit still for more than about four or five hours at a time. They get antsy, then get up to keep on chasing does. The nice buck I shot last fall crossed in front of me at 2:55 p.m. Things had been quiet for a while, but I knew I was on a funnel, so I waited. The reward was worth it. Besides, the weather was so nice that it was not hard at all to stay in the stand.

4. Sight in your gun. Lots of hunters fail to do this. Some of them believe that it will shoot the same as last year. Maybe so, but not always. It takes so little time to go to a range and fire a few shots to make sure. Then, not only will your gun be accurate in the woods, but your confidence will go up as well. We were able to get our shotguns sighted in yesterday, and that was the last part of our trip down yesterday.

I’m getting excited. Next week, I will try to get out in my bow hunting stand once or twice, then it’s on to the firearms season.

I can’t wait!


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New saint on October 21, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

October 20, 2012


Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha will be raised to sainthood by Pope Benedict VXI on October 21.  She is affectionately known as the “Lily of the Mohawks,” the first Native American to be canonized a saint.  While this is a great moment for the Church across North America, it is particularly significant for Native American Catholics who number approximately 600,000 from 300 tribes in the United States and Canada.

Kateri’s path to sainthood has gone through a number of steps and a lengthy process.  She died in 1680.  Over the next two and a half centuries devotion to her has steadily increased and many miracles have been attributed to her intercession.  Her cause for canonization was opened in 1932; she was declared venerable by Pope Pius XII in 1943; beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 22, 1980; approved for canonization by Pope Benedict XVI in December, 2011; and 332 years after her death, she will be formally canonized a saint on October 21, 2012.

Kateri was born in 1656 in Auriesville (Osserneon), New York, on the south bank of the Mohawk River.  Her mother was a Christian Algonquin.  She was orphaned at the age of four when her mother, father, and baby brother all died in a smallpox epidemic.  Kateri also contracted smallpox, survived, but was severely weakened, partially blinded, and face disfigured.

Kateri was then raised by her uncle who hosted three Jesuit missionaries.  They instructed her in the faith and she was baptized on Easter, 1676, at the age of 20.  The Mohawks bitterly opposed her conversion.  They tried to force her to marry, but she refused.  She would not work on Sunday and was branded as lazy.  She prayed the rosary and was taunted as crazy.  She was mocked mercilessly and ostracized by family and neighbors.  When her life was threatened, she fled to Caughnawaga, a small town near Montreal, Canada.

Kateri lived in a cabin where she could practice her faith freely.  She prayed long hours, attended daily Mass, taught children their prayers, visited the sick and elderly, made crosses that she placed throughout the woods, and made a perpetual vow of virginity in1679 at the age of 23.  She suffered recurrent headaches, fevers, stomach aches, and weight loss, much due to her severe self-inflicted penitential practices.  She died on April 17, 1680.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha is the patron saint of Native Americans, the environment, those who are persecuted for their faith, orphans, and World Youth Day.  Her feast day is July 14.

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Marriage Prayer

October 15, 2012


I was upset to read in the St. Paul Pioneer Press  this morning that a priest in northern Minnesota  contributed $1000 to the “vote no” campaign. Last week I attended a church (not my parish) at which the priest gave a very wishy-washy homily on why he will not speak out in support of marriage being between one man and one woman. Why are these two men of the cloth not speaking as representatives of the  Magisterium? No wonder some Catholics are confused!

Bishop Paul Sirba of the Duluth Diocese has been asking Catholics in his area to uphold the Church’s teaching. “We have also taken this cultural moment as a ‘teachable moment’ to reinvigorate our catechesis on the fullness of Catholic belief about marriage and the myriad threats to it stemming from a culture that increasingly embraces divorce, contraception and cohabitation.” (SPPP)

What are some of these threats? Minnesota for Marriage has this to say:

“When marriage ceases to have its historic meaning and understanding, over time fewer and fewer people will marry. We will have an inevitable increase in children born out of wedlock, an increase in fatherlessness, a resulting increase if female and child poverty, and a higher incidence of all the documented social ills associated with children being raised in a home without their married biological parents.

Ultimately, we as a society all suffer when we fail to nourish a true, thriving marriage culture founded on the truth experienced by virtually every civilization in every nation since the dawn of time – marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”

The Archdiocesan prayer below helps to guide us during this time of elections. Perhaps you have seen it in bookmark-form in the back of your church. Please recite often and pass it on. And remember to vote YES on November 6!

Heavenly Father,

Through the powerful intercession of the Holy Family, grant to

this local Church the many graces we need to foster, strengthen,

and support faith-filled, holy marriages and holy families.

May the vocation of married life, a true calling to share in your

own divine and creative life, be recognized by all believers as a

source of blessing and joy, and a revelation of your own divine


Grant to us all the gift of courage to proclaim and defend your

plan for marriage, which is the union of one man and one woman

in a lifelong, exclusive relationship of loving trust, compassion,

and generosity, open to the conception of children.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ, who is Lord forever

and ever.


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Paul Ryan, Hugo Chavez and the Church’s view on right-sizing government

October 11, 2012


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Photo/www_ukberri_net.

Recently re-elected for a fourth term, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ran his campaign the way he runs the country: from the top down. He seldom met would-be supporters in Venezuelan cities and towns; instead he filled all the country’s TV channels, which he controls, with his own campaign propaganda. To be fair, he has had health issues.

In a freer country, citizens on his campaign trail might have complained that governmental control over basically everything was resulting in the nation’s slow disintegration through problems such as widespread shortages, increasing violence and rolling blackouts.

But he won anyway, which I think indicates that Venezuela isn’t a “freer country.”

Though Chavez was once an altar boy, his manner of running his country shows that he is not now practicing an important principle of Catholic social teaching called “subsidiarity.”

On the other hand, U.S. Rep. and Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan says he does try to follow the principle in his role in Congress, though some have criticized his methods. So what exactly is subsidiarity? Derived from the Latin word subsidium, which means “support, help or assistance,” the Catechism describes it as:

 A community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good. (CCC1883)

Essentially, we and the organizations closest to us, acting according to our dignity and responsibility, should be able to meet many of our community’s needs better than a huge national government that tries to cover everything. Under subsidiarity there is a positive role for national government–it should support community and local government efforts.  However, unchecked it could overextend itself and harm the family and economic system.

For subsidiarity to work, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church offers a list of requirements: respect for individuals and families; appreciation for local organizations whose work can’t be duplicated; encouragement of private initiative that enables social entities to serve the common good; pluralism and safeguarding of human rights; bureaucratic and administrative decentralization; a balance between public and private sectors and ways to encourage citizens to be more responsible politically and socially.

That’s quite a list and yet the Church has advanced this principle since the 19th century. A lot of popes have had something to say about it along the way. Pope Pius XI wrote:

 Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do.

If a family in need can’t find help from their friends, neighbors or community organizations, they can seek it from the government but it would be a “great and pernicious error” for civil government to have intimate control over the family, wrote Pope Leo XIII.

Likewise the State and other agencies of public law shouldn’t seek control beyond the clear limits of what the common good requires, wrote Bl. Pope John XXXIII.  “Otherwise,” he wrote, “private ownership could be reduced beyond measure, or, even worse, completely destroyed.”

The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism, according to the Catechism, “It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies.” (CCC1885)

Subsidiarity recognizes private initiative and how it benefits the public, as well as personal responsibility, Bl. Pope John Paul II wrote.

It calls for citizens to find solidarity with others by serving them, which is part of their dignity.  Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “Subsidiarity respects personal dignity by recognizing in the person a subject who is always capable of giving something to others.”

Another reason subsidiarity is a good idea is because, as Venezuelans know, the government just can’t do everything well. According to Pope Pius XI: “The State has been overwhelmed and crushed by almost infinite tasks and duties.”

For as much as has been written about subsidiarity, to Paul Ryan’s defense and in hope for Mr. Chavez, there isn’t a manual on how to implement it.

People of good will, including Catholics who are trying to follow Catholic social teaching, may sometimes disagree on legislation or a course of government action, according to Christopher Kaczor writing on the CatholicCulture website.


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4 Little reasons why our marriage works

October 8, 2012


Eric and Kathy Schneeman in Chile

1.  We love each other

Duh, right? This is the #1 ingredient for making a good marriage.

My father-in-law told us about love when we were engaged, “Do a lot of nice little things for each other.” St. Therese of Lisieux, “The Little Flower,” became a saint by doing for others what my father-in-law suggested. Her “Little Way” teaches us to do the ordinary things in life with extraordinary love. Eric and I apply this to married life. As husband and wife, we not only practice our faith together, but we are also asked to bring each other closer to God. We can do this by expressing our love in small, selfless ways: getting the coffee & tea ready (when we’d rather sleep in), mixing a whiskey sour just right (when we’d like to dive into our own glass of Cabernet), changing the baby (when we could pretend to be asleep), driving the teenagers to school in our PJs (when we could be answering emails), giving a back rub (when we’d rather read our novel). The smallest action, done with love, is more important than great deeds done for personal glory or gratification. Such is the power and presence of grace, and this grace strengthens marriages.

2.  We complement each other

Yes, we compliment each other, too: “Honey, you look hot in that dress!” or, “Wow, your muscles look bigger than yesterday!” and “You grilled that steak just right!” (Everyone likes to have his or her feathers ruffled.) But now on to complementing  each other without getting into anatomy 101 too much…

It’s obvious that man and woman were made for each other. For instance, “… He created male and female in His image so that they might become one body and might be fertile and multiply…” (See Genesis chapters 1 and 2). This Biblical passage goes hand in hand with the Natural Law. It just makes sense that we complement each other because the marriage bond is procreative. Human sexuality is sacred. Within marriage, it fulfills its purpose as an expression of deep, faithful and exclusive love that is open to new life ( Family arises from marriage, which in turn, forms the “Domestic Church.” Marriage between one man and one woman is the building block of society.

With nine kids whom we are raising to be good, Catholic leaders, I feel like my husband and I are doing our share in creating a hopeful future, and so are a lot of our friends and family. Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, says, “The long-term success and economic prosperity of societies depends upon the health of intact families.” The findings of the social sciences confirm that the best environment for raising children is a stable home provided by the marriage of their parents. (Please read my blog Six reasons kids do best when raised by married parents)

3.  We keep the romance alive

This is the fun part, but it ain’t easy. As you know, couples who are happily married work at it. And they work at it VERY HARD! My husband and I stay faithful to our vows. Eric travels a lot for work and when he is in difficult situations (like when someone he knows goes to a strip club) he leaves temptation behind. We have a friend who is a celebrity and has women who flirt with him. He told us, “I just flash my wedding band.” Exclusivity is paramount to a successful marriage.

To keep our hearts pitter-patting my husband and I make time for each other. Eric calls me a lot throughout his day. We travel. We run together. We pray together. We have mini dates in the pub area which we built in our basement–and we tell the children, “This is Mommy and Daddy time so…scram!” (They usually get a smile on their faces and then exit quickly–they’re glad their parents want to spend time together.)

Which brings me to…

4.  We witness our vocation to others

Oftentimes when Eric and I are sipping on cheap wine down in this “pub” (It’s cheap because we have to pay for college and Catholic high schools–not necessarily because my husband is cheap), our kids’ friends come over for a visit. Many of these children come from single-parent homes. They appreciate seeing a married couple enjoying each other’s company, and we are more than happy to let them know about the many blessings of a faithful, loving marriage. Our kids tell us that their friends have commented on this subject and remind them about how lucky they are to be raised in a stable home. Our sons who have left the nest (and who now appreciate their parents), will actually say to us, “Thanks for giving us a ‘normal’ home, and for being good role models.”

And we often say to them (after we get over our shock), “Remember, it’s the little things that make marriage work.”






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