Archive | July, 2013

Looking at the Church’s immigration teaching through a personal lens

July 26, 2013

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Photo/ scazon. Licensed under Creative Commons

Photo/ scazon. Licensed under Creative Commons

It seems like Catholics are all over the map when it comes to their views on  immigration reform. Attitudes and laws regarding the undocumented can vary considerably by state but the Church takes a pretty clear position.  Personal experience with immigration also affects how we look at it.

I know how it feels to be an immigrant because I spent almost two years as an undocumented worker in a European country. I wasn’t compelled to leave my own country for economic or political reasons, as are many who come to the U.S., but I have in common with them the fact that I was seeking something I couldn’t find at home.

Like many who come to America, I didn’t have too much trouble finding work – in a job that most of its citizens weren’t qualified to do. I was paid pretty well though not as well as I would have been if I’d had papers. Not all migrants in the United States are so fortunate; some have to deal with very low wages and substandard living and working conditions.

The Church’s view

Personal anecdotes and media spin aside, what does our universal Church say about a global phenomenon that’s garnered so much national attention lately?

Are undocumented workers wrong to come to countries that restrict their participation in the official economy and civic affairs?

According to the Catechism, governments have two responsibilities in regard to immigration: to welcome the foreigner and to secure their borders. It doesn’t say much about how to integrate those responsibilities, however, which might be one reason  for the divergence in public opinion.

In his 1996 Message for World Migration Day, Bl. Pope John Paul II affirmed undocumented migrants’ right both to emigrate and to immigrate:

The Church acts in continuity with Christ’s mission. In particular, she asks herself how to meet the needs, while respecting the law of those persons who are not allowed to remain in a national territory. She also asks what the right to emigrate is worth without the corresponding right to immigrate.

How to treat immigrants

The Catechism also gives guidance on how we should treat immigrants, especially those who come to escape poverty or suffering in their own country:

The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his own country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him. (CCC2241)

That doesn’t mean governments shouldn’t restrict immigration. It also doesn’t exempt those coming to a country from obeying its laws, the Catechism continues:

“Public authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.” (CCC2241)

The U.S. Bishops and immigration reform

The U.S. bishops have had quite a bit to say about immigration reform. In a 2011 statement they supported earned legalization with a path to citizenship, a future worker program, family based immigration reform, restoration of due process rights, addressing the root causes of migration and the legitimate role of the government in enforcing security.

For the undocumented who are already working here, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church stresses that immigration must be regulated according to “criteria of equity and balance.”

Institutions in host countries must keep careful watch to prevent the spread of the temptation to exploit foreign laborers, denying them the same rights enjoyed by nationals, rights that are to be guaranteed to all without discrimination.

Along with not exploiting workers, countries should respect and promote the right of family reunification, the Compendium states. But it also emphasizes that they should help foster increased work opportunities in immigrants’ country of origin.

I eventually returned to my native country and so do many immigrants who come to the United States. While immigrants are here though, the Church makes it clear both that they should receive fair treatment and that they should follow our laws.

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How to become a sidewalk counselor

July 23, 2013

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unborn-babyDo you want to do more in order to promote life? Perhaps you are being called to counsel people who are abortion-minded. Many babies have been saved because of kind words uttered by a counselor when their parents were entering an abortuary. Kalley Yanta–a sidewalk counselor–says, “A woman entering an abortion clinic is on the verge of falling overboard with her baby. This is life or death. It’s an emergency. What we do is crucial.”  People are lined up at places like Planned Parenthood as if they’re at a fast food drive-thru; and those little ones need more help.

The 2013 National Sidewalk Counseling Symposium is being held July 25-27. This event is sponsored by Pro-Life Action Ministries (PLAM). Here is what their website states:

This symposium is open to any pro-lifer interested in sidewalk counseling! Presenters include Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life; Shawn Carney of 40 Days for Life; Joe, Ann, and Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League; Rev. Walter Hoye of Issues4Life Foundation, and other sidewalk counseling leaders. The symposium will begin on Thursday evening, continue all day Friday, and conclude before noon on Saturday at the Best Western Premier Nicollet Inn at 14201 Nicollet Ave. S., Burnsville, MN . The fee is $50 (there may be some scholarships available for those unable to afford this fee). Please call 651-771-1500 to register.

Since 1981 there have been 2863 babies saved through the efforts of Pro-Life Action Ministries. Just this year 53 lives have been spared so far, but we need more help on the frontlines! Please view this informative video below and then visit Plam’s website for more information.

Thanks for all you do to embrace life!

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(Please read my earlier blogs about a baby being saved and my thank you to Pro-Life Action Ministries)

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First a turkey, then a ring

July 23, 2013

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Most turkey hunters I know are single-minded when it comes to chasing gobblers.

Lee Zeman is cut from that zealous cloth. But, he got very distracted during a turkey hunt this past spring. On his birthday, April 17, he took his girlfriend Ali out to try and get her a bird. He captured the hunt on video, which ended with her pulling the trigger on a nice 1-year-old bird, called a jake.

But, it’s what came after the gun shot that caught my eye – and captured my heart. As the two were admiring her bird, he turned to her and got serious. Very serious. He pulled a box out of his pocket and popped the question.

How’s a woman going to say no to the man who helped her get a bird? She freaked out more than a little, but finally gave Lee the answer he was hoping for. The wedding is set for June 21 of 2014.

I found the whole story heartwarming. I met Lee while at the headquarters of Zeman construction. Lee works there as a project manager, and I was there to photograph his uncle, Chris Zeman, who is one of this year’s Leading With Faith winners. Shortly after I got there, Chris said I had to meet his nephew Lee.

I’m glad I did. Turns out, he is every bit as passionate about the outdoors as I am. He is also enormously talented and highly energetic. At this time of year, he is chasing muskies, which he does up north on Lake Vermillion. Turns out, it’s a fabulous muskie lake. He has caught fish longer than 50 inches, including a giant that he caught several years ago that measured 56 inches.

Like most muskie maniacs, he puts in hours on the water in search of these giant predators. He admitted that Ali doesn’t join him on the water. Most likely, she would just fall asleep in the boat, he said.

I wouldn’t be surprised if their honeymoon involved some fishing. Congratulations Lee and Ali. May God give you both many happy years together!

Note: to see more about Lee’s hunting and fishing exploits, visit his website at True Calling Outdoors

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Don’t miss 2013 Rediscover: big event

July 19, 2013

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2013 Rediscover: Catholic Celebration with Archbishop Nienstedt, Matthew Kelly, Father Robert Barron, and George Weigel — Saturday, Oct. 12 at St. Paul River Centre

 

TextJoin with fellow Catholics from across the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis as we celebrate the depth and beauty of our Catholic faith. We’ll come together as a local Church for Mass. We’ll be inspired by internationally-known speakers and great music.  We’ll get a chance to learn about exciting faith formation, worship and service opportunities throughout the Archdiocese and beyond in the Rediscover exhibit hall. The 2013 Rediscover: Catholic Celebration is for all Catholics who want to find new ways to live out their faith more fully. Programming is planned for Spanish speakers and children & youth. Don’t miss this engaging, faith-filled day for the whole family!

Event programming: 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Building opens at 7:00 a.m. and remains open after the event program to allow for extra time to visit exhibitors.

Ticket prices:

  • Adult: $15.00
  • Youth, grades 7-10: $7.00
  • Children, grades K-6: $5.00

Emceed by Jeff Cavins

Overview of the day: 

Mass begins at 8:30 a.m., followed by morning and afternoon speaker sessions. The day ends with a closing session led by Bishop Lee Piché. Children grades K-6 and youth in grades 7-10 will remain with their parents for the opening Mass, before going to their own morning and afternoon sessions with age specific programming. Children and youth will return to their parents at lunch and again at the closing session. After morning Mass, Spanish speakers are invited to attend morning and afternoon breakout sessions in Spanish, and return to the closing session.

Parking and transportation:

  • Parking is limited and event parking rates may apply. There is parking connected via skyway in the RiverCentre ramp, as well as parking options in other downtown lots near the RiverCentre.
  • Busing organized by parishes or other groups is highly recommended.
  • Groups/parishes are responsible for arranging their own buses. Contact your parish to ask if busing is being planned.
  • Parishes:
    • For a list of recommended bus companies, please contact Barb Spurlin in the Office of Parish Services at 651-290-1616.
    • There is a bus drop-off lane on Kellogg Boulevard in front of the main street-level entrance to Saint Paul RiverCentre.
    • The RiverCenter offers a suggested location for bus parking.

Do you have questions? Please contact Rediscover@archspm.org or call the Rediscover: Program Support Helpline at 651-291-4411.

Register online today!

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Separating human-made law from natural law

July 11, 2013

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There's a reason behind every law--even ones governing ducks on the head. Not all laws have reason on their side, however. Photo/keepon. Licensed under Creative Commons.

There’s a reason behind every law–even ones governing ducks on the head. Not all laws have reason on their side, however. Photo/keepon. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Cross the Minnesota border with a duck on your head and you may face legal consequences. Tap your foot to the music in a New Hampshire tavern and you’ve violated the law. Throw pickle juice at a Rhode Island trolley (if you can find one) and you could receive a citation.

These old laws must have made sense when they were enacted but now we just wonder what legislators were thinking.

Those studying our laws 100 years from now might also scratch their heads at some of our statutes—and they may already feel the effect of some of our human-enacted laws that diverge from God’s natural law.

All human-made statutory laws are considered positive law. What exactly is positive law? What’s the difference between positive law and natural law? Do they have anything to do with each other? And what happens if positive law doesn’t align with natural law?

The term “positive law” was first used by the philosopher Thomas Hobbes in his 1651 work “Leviathan:”

Positive, are those which have not been for Eternity; but have been made Lawes by the Will of those that have had the Soveraign Power over others; and are either written, or made known to men, by some other argument of the Will of their Legislator.

Positive law also refers to the establishment of specific rights for an individual or group.

According to one legal definition:

Positive laws may be promulgated, passed, adopted, or otherwise “posited” by an official or entity vested with authority by the government to prescribe the rules and regulations for a particular community. In the United States, positive laws come in a variety of forms at both the state and federal levels, including legislative enactments, judicial orders, executive decrees, and administrative regulations. In short, a positive law is any express written command of the government.

Positive law can also be divine. Canon law and other Church laws are humanly instituted but inspired by God’s revelation. Natural law, on the other hand, refers to God’s laws governing the nature of things. Positive divine law can’t contradict natural law, instead it confirms and further defines it.

Separable or inseparable from our nature?

Natural law is proclaimed to us by the natural light of reason and is inseparable from our nature, whereas positive law is made known by outward signs—word of mouth or writing and is not inseparable from our nature.

Natural law is the foundation and root of the obligation of all positive laws. We can’t violate the natural moral law and the positive laws that are rooted in it without opposing God’s will.

Human-enacted positive laws can be amended or rescinded. Natural law, however, comes from the unchanging God and can’t be revised or avoided. When a positive law violates natural law, as sure as the former is temporal and the latter is immutable, there will be consequences.

A law governing pickle juice and trolleys doesn’t challenge the natural law, although maybe someone was spared inconvenience or even injury because of it.

Defying natural laws

But positive laws that disregard natural law are still subject to it, much the way someone who exercises a legal right to “fly” from a 15-story building will quickly become acquainted with the more established law of gravity.

In the case of some of our newer laws, especially those dealing with sexual morality, it just might take a little longer to hit the ground.

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Author Vince Flynn left behind much more than his books

July 8, 2013

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Vince and Lysa Flynn

Vince and Lysa Flynn

Author’s note: This article was written for The Catholic Spirit.

In mourning the loss of a loved one, it’s tempting to just crawl under the covers and stay there. But those who are left behind need to trudge forward, and that’s what the family of Vince Flynn is doing right now. I believe he’s watching them with pride pumping his fists into the air and cheering in that big, bellowing voice of his.

The day after her 47-year-old husband was laid to rest, his wife Lysa was delivering bouquets to people who had helped their family during the past week — like the woman who had watched their dog when Vince was in the hospital.

Since their father’s death, Dane, 17 has continued to work at his summer custodial job at St. Thomas Academy. Some of his friends came and “kidnapped” him the other night and took him out for ice cream. His daughters Ingrid, 12, and Ana, 10, have been to dance practice and saw “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. Of course, there are times when they crumple over in tears, but Lysa said that it’s the kindness of others and the grace of God that helps them with this new chapter of their lives.

Yep, Vinnie is proud.

 

His last chapter

In November of 2010, Vince was diagnosed with stage III metastatic prostate cancer. He passed away at 2 a.m. on June 19 surrounded by about 35 family members and friends. My husband and I were honored to be there. His wife had been a patient “Nurse Nightingale” by his side for the last two and a half years, and until he took his last breath. He fought tenaciously for survival, just like the CIA operatives do in the stories he created.

As a friend of Vinnie’s, it was hard to watch him losing this battle. This man who was bigger than life used to wrestle with gusto with our toddling twins. Eventually, those tussles became gentler and the therapeutic hormones Mr. Flynn was taking would make him drip with sweat. As the months went on, it became more painful for him to move, and he would just sit in the red chair by our fireplace and watch the twins play. And then, as of April, it was too difficult for him to get out of bed. He’d ask us to bring the identical pair to his home, where he’d enjoy passively watching them chase his dog around.

For the last four months or so of Vince’s life, someone needed to be with him at all times. His brother Tim and some friends took turns sitting with him and taking him to his myriad appointments. A barf bag was always at arm’s length.

 

‘Keep the faith’

Last week, outside the Cathedral of Saint Paul, Vince’s friends and admirers formed a line stretching for two blocks. Each one had a story about the author, and many were impressed by the depth of his faith. Steve Polski, who played football with Vince at the University of St. Thomas, said, “Vinnie was one of those rare guys who became more religious as he became famous. That doesn’t happen too often with celebrities.” Vince truly lived by his favorite motto: “Keep the faith.”

In his homily, Father Peter Laird, who also went to college with Vince, said that toward the end, there were always two things in Vinnie’s hands: his phone and his ring rosary. “One was used to communicate with people on Earth, and one was used to communicate with God in Heaven.”

Asked about Vince’s faith, Lysa said, “Prayer was his life boat. It helped him keep his head above the waves. It wasn’t just a thing he checked off his list; he prayed all day long.” She went on to say that when he was first diagnosed with cancer, his sister’s boss sent him a card with a prayer to St. Jude. “It stayed on our nightstand and he said it every day,” she added. Another item that remained nearby was a copy of the “Magnificat.”

As his friends, we often witnessed his Catholic devotion, but noted that it was limited by his Type-A personality. He became anxious if Masses ran too long. And during his illness, the Flynns often stood in the back of church, as we did. As sick as he was, Vince would try to help us chase around our toddling twins or just hold them in order to give us a break. That’s the kind of guy he was.

He demonstrated that faith was a priority by giving generously of his time and talent to the church and Catholic schools. He publically expressed this priority in 2012 when he wrote in the acknowledgments of “Kill Shot”:

 “To Ed Kocourek, my unofficial spiritual mentor. Thank you for pushing me when I needed it. The Adoration Chapel and St. Joseph’s has become a place of great beauty and serenity in my life. To Father John Malone, Father Peter Laird, and Archbishop Emeritus Harry Flynn for your prayers and guidance. I am a God-fearing soul and always have been. I choose to believe, and to all of you who have sent your prayers and well-wishes, thank you.”

 

His Legacy

Following a reception at the University of St. Thomas, Vince was laid to rest in Resurrection Cemetery.

Atria Books publicist, David Brown, sent this note: “It was such a beautiful service; sad but celebratory. The long line of people waiting to greet the family was reminiscent of one of Vince’s book signings which I thought was very fitting. It was a wonderful tribute for a great man who I was so lucky to have been able to work with and get to know for the past eight years. I love my job much less now that he is gone. He leaves a hole for everyone.”

His godchild, Owen Tracy, 16, is feeling the hole, too. “When it came time to pick a confirmation sponsor, the first name that came into my head was Vince. I was more than heartbroken when I lost him. He meant so much to me. I hope to be half the man he was. I loved him so much and always will,” he said.

Vince also meant a lot to John Steveken, a St. Thomas Academy classmate. He credits Vinnie with saving his life. After his own late diagnosis, Vince encouraged all of his loved ones to get tested for cancer. Thanks to his urging, Steveken’s prostate cancer was discovered early. He had surgery and is doing well.

Last Tuesday as Lysa was delivering the bouquets, she talked about all the cards and letters of condolence she had received. “Vince left us many books, but what I’m reading in these notes is that he gave us much more than just his stories; these letters are about him as a person, and how much he gave to people.” She smiled and then added, “That’s his legacy.”

 

(to view a blog about Vince Flynn and abortion click here–To read about Vince’s faith and death click here and hereSchneeman is the author of the blog, Embracing Life on CatholicHotdish.com. She and her husband Eric are the parents of nine children and are members of St. Joseph parish in West St. Paul.)

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The animated Pope Francis

July 1, 2013

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Something cool from the folks over at Catholic Link.

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