Is there hope for the state of marriage in our culture today? Scott Hahn believes so. “If Catholics would simply live the Sacrament of Matrimony for one generation,” he writes, “we would witness a transformation of society and have a Christian culture.” Despite the prevalence of divorce, infidelity, and a myriad of aberrant ideas of what marriage and family life means, Catholics can indeed change hearts and minds if only they commit to living as they should and reap the fruits of the sacramental life of the Church. Grace, Hahn reminds, is a powerful thing; with God’s help, Catholics can keep to His plan and inspire others to do likewise.
Dr. Scott Hahn has told the story of his conversion to Catholicism countless times, but he is always happy to do it again.
“I never get tired of sharing this story of my journey of faith because even though it’s been more than 30 years it still feels like yesterday,” Hahn said. Nowadays, “I’m not asked to share that story as much as answer questions from people who are experiencing that journey now and have questions, and it’s something I find always exciting.”
Hahn, who holds the Fr. Michael Scanlan Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at the Franciscan University of Steubenville (Ohio), is the author or editor of more than 40 books and remains a popular lecturer and speaker on scripture, theology, and the Catholic faith. Rome Sweet Home, the book he and his wife, Kimberly, wrote about their conversion experiences, has sold millions of copies in more than 30 languages since it was first published in 1993.
The Hahns were Presbyterian students at an evangelical seminary near Boston in the early 1980s when they became convinced that contraception was morally wrong — a position Protestant churches had abandoned in the 1930s. That led Scott on an academic journey in which he came to question the foundational tenets of the Reformation, sola fide (“faith alone”) and sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”), and to embrace the Catholic concept of covenant.
Later, while pastor of a Presbyterian congregation and a seminary teacher, he continued to be drawn increasingly to the truths of the Catholic faith. He presented his theological and biblical arguments to fellow Protestant scholars, hoping they would dissuade him. Some offered unsatisfactory answers. Some wound up converting to Catholicism ahead of him.
It was a gradual, inexorable journey. “I felt like I was knocked off my horse in slow motion over a three-year period,” Hahn said. “By the time I hit the ground I was scared, I was startled, but I was also very excited.”
The process was difficult also for Kimberly, whose father and uncle were Presbyterian ministers. It strained their marriage after Scott, with Kimberly’s consent, entered the Church in 1986. But Kimberly herself would convert four years later and join him as another powerful apologist for the CAtholic faith. Their marriage grew stronger than ever: They have now been wed 38 years and have six children and 15 grandchildren.
Fear: A Bad Investment
Hahn will be a keynoter at the 2018 Legatus Summit to be held January 25-27 in Orlando, Fla. The conference theme, “Be Not Afraid,” is a biblical admonition that was a signature phrase for St. John Paul II.
“I’ve heard recently that that phrase ‘be not afraid’ occurs 365 times in Sacred Scripture, which seems so fitting because you’ve got one for every day of the year,” Hahn noted. “Every single day, when you wake up, you have a new set of challenges that could easily cause you to give in to fear.”
God sends challenges our way, but He always gives us the grace we need to overcome them by living out our faith, he said. “A perfect love casts out all fear,” he added. “So we’ve got to really allow our love to grow and become perfected so that we trust more than we fear.”
Business leaders are not immune to such fear, Hahn said. Everyone has work-related concerns, whether it’s fear of losing to a competitor, losing in investments, or losing a job.
“Fear charges a great deal of interest but pays no dividends,” he said. If we view things from an eternal perspective, however, recognizing God as our Father and heaven as our lasting home, it can help us keep “kind of a loose grip” on earthly things that we are responsible for as stewards.
It also means keeping professional goals in perspective. “If you lose the world but gain your soul, you have gained everything,” said Hahn. “But if you gain the world but lose your soul, then everything is a failure, even all of your apparent successes.”
Evangelizing Through Friendship
Part of our baptismal commitment is to care for other souls through evangelization – a word that can strike fear in our hearts if we don’t know how to go about it or confuse it with soapbox preaching.
Protestants see evangelization as leading others to a personal relationship with Christ. That’s certainly very important, Hahn said, but it’s only the beginning, like a man and woman on a first date. The real purpose of evangelization from a Catholic perspective is to bring people into a covenant relationship, such as develops and continually deepens over time in a marriage commitment.
The “new evangelization” described by recent popes involves reaching those who are baptized but have strayed from the faith, Hahn said. We meet these fallen-away Catholics everywhere, in our workplace and neighborhood — which presents opportunities to evangelize.
“For us as Catholics, the principal form of evangelization is not preaching on the job during the coffee break, but establishing friendship, pursuing excellence in our work, reaching out to coworkers,” he explained. “It’s sharing the joy that we have from knowing our Lord and Our Lady, and the fact that we are in the family of God.”
Such friendships can stimulate conversations about faith that lead coworkers on the path back to the Church, he said. “They’re just looking for answers, looking for a friend who could help them find their way.”
Catholics commonly fear we aren’t capable of answering objections to the Catholic faith or citing Scripture verses to support her teachings. While it’s good to pursue those answers, “to share with others the joy that we have found is more effective than whatever counter-arguments or ‘proof texts’ we can memorize and deploy,” Hahn said. “In that way, evangelization becomes perfectly natural.”
Reclaiming Marriage as Covenant
At the Legatus Summit, Hahn will speak on “The First Society: The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony and The Social Order.” The First Society is also the title of his new book due for a January release by Emmaus Road.
Matrimony, he emphasized, is not a contract, nor is it a human institution. It is a covenant, and it was designed by God at the beginning of creation. Christ elevated marriage to a sacrament, which gives us grace in order to transform us.
“A sacrament is what God does to make up for what we lack, to give us all we need to be faithful to what he calls us to be,” he said. “Being a sacrament doesn’t make matrimony easy, [but] the sacramentality of marriage is what makes lifelong fidelity possible.”
Restoring this understanding of marriage as a covenant, Hahn said, is “an essential part of the new evangelization,” particularly in a time when the institution of marriage is being sullied by rampant divorce, infidelity, contraception and same-sex relationships.
The answer, he said, lies in “reclaiming the sacramentality of marriage,” and entrusting to God “the task of rebuilding us, our lives, our marriages, our families and our society.”
Societal change “will be the net effect of enough Catholics allowing God to really transform us,” said Hahn. “I think that once He awakens the sleeping giant of faithful American Catholics and makes us more truly faithful, then the side effect will be a transformed society.”
GERALD KORSON is a Legatus Magazine staff writer
Why not Father Scott Hahn?
A 1980 pastoral provision established by Pope John Paul II makes it possible for married former Episcopal and Anglican priests who convert to Catholicism to seek ordination as Catholic priests. For married clergy of other Christian denominations who “swim the Tiber,” there is a separate potential pathway by which a diocesan bishop may petition Rome on the minister’s behalf for a dispensation from the celibacy requirement. In either instance, additional theological formation and certain limitations apply.
Today there are some 120 married priests serving in the Roman Catholic Church who once were clergy in the Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, or Presbyterian communions. Occasionally people ask why Dr. Scott Hahn, the popular Catholic apologist and theologian who was once a Presbyterian minister, is not among them.
“It was something I did consider, and I talked it over with Kimberly when she came into the Church as well,” Hahn said. He also has had conversations in more recent years with various bishops and priests. To date, however, “I have not felt such a calling.”
Hahn explained that for the past 27 years he has been a supernumerary of Opus Dei, a personal prelature of the Catholic Church that provides spiritual formation to lay men and women to help them seek personal holiness and do apostolic work in the midst of ordinary life.
“The thing I enjoy most about being a Catholic is my life as a lay person,” he said. “I have the sacrament of Baptism, Confirmation, and Marriage, and these give to me a really clear sense of apostolate. I don’t have to be numbered among the clergy to do apostolic work.”
He noted how some colleagues who have become married Catholic priests “describe their lives as sort of committing bigamy, where you have one wife and family but your congregation is like another wife and bigger family.” It’s a kind of “tug of war” that he felt even in his own days as a Presbyterian clergyman.
While Hahn looks back on his years of clerical ministry with gratitude, he sees “the gift of celibacy and the celibate priesthood as an even greater gift.”
So does his family, apparently: two of his sons are presently in the seminary preparing for the priesthood.
Matthew Leonard, Scott Hahn
Run time: 5 hours
Available now on DVD
Lighthouse Catholic Media
While Catholics know Mary is important, many never fully grasp how essential she really is. This new five-DVD set, based on Scott Hahn’s bestselling book Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God, is a real treasure for anyone who wants to understand Our Lady’s role in salvation history — and the role she plays in the Church today.
Produced by Lannette Turicchi, a member of Legatus’ Ventura/LA North Chapter, the series unveils the mystery of Our Lady woven into the fabric of Sacred Scripture. Turicchi’s Falling Upwards Productions teamed with Hahn’s St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology to develop the 12-part catechetical series, which was mainly filmed at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif.
Speaker and author Matthew Leonard is the host and executive director of the set, which is part of the St. Paul Center’s Journey Through Scripture study series. A convert to Catholicism and former missionary to Latin America, Leonard is a frequent guest on radio and television programs and hosts a podcast on iTunes titled The Art of Catholic.
The Bible and the Virgin Mary discusses the scriptural roots of the Church’s teachings about Our Lady, an examination of the 10 Vatican-approved Marian apparitions, and stunning videography — shot almost entirely in and around TAC’s Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. Lessons explore everything from Mary’s Immaculate Conception to her Assumption and coronation as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
The publisher offers various packages for individual and parish study, including workbooks and the Scott Hahn book that inspired the video series. Designed to help ordinary Catholics gain greater insight into God’s word and deepen other aspects of their faith, these videos might just be tailor-made to help Legatus members take their faith to a whole new level.
PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.
SCOTT HAHN’s latest is a perfect read for Advent or a great stocking stuffer . . .
The Christmas story is both familiar and utterly extraordinary. The cast of characters includes shepherds, magicians, an emperor and a despot, angels, and a baby who is Almighty God. In his new book subtitled How Christ’s Coming Changed Everything (and Still Does), Hahn examines the characters and the story in light of the biblical and historical context.
He brings evidence to light, dispelling some of the mystery of the story. Yet Christmas is made familiar all over again by showing it to be a family story — the story of a father, a mother, and a child.
Legate Derry Connolly leads a university bringing Christ to the world of entertainment . . .
People of faith often complain that Hollywood runs roughshod over Christians. For some, the answer is to avoid mainstream entertainment altogether. But John Paul the Great Catholic University — aka JP Catholic — has a different solution.
Students at the country’s only Catholic film and business school are taught to impact Hollywood by transforming themselves through Jesus Christ — and by excelling at making quality movies and entertainment.
Derry Connolly, founder and president of the San Diego-based university — and member of Legatus’ San Diego Chapter — says he never set out to found a university.
In 2000, he visited Franciscan University of Steubenville with his daughter. At the time, Connolly was teaching entrepreneurship at the University of California San Diego. Steubenville’s dynamic spirituality caught him by surprise. During the next three years, Connolly felt God calling him to found a university with Steubenville’s spirituality — but focused on the media.
“I spent three years telling God, ‘No,’ but He put it in my heart and it kept coming back,” said Connolly. “I couldn’t get rid of it.”
With the help of generous donors and a team of Christians working in Hollywood, JP Catholic opened its doors in 2006 in San Diego’s Mira Mesa neighborhood. In the fall of 2013, JP Catholic moved to a new campus in Escondido, 30 miles north of San Diego. The new campus has more building space and is only five minutes away from a train station that takes students directly to Los Angeles.
The budding university offers two Bachelor of Science degrees: one in communications media and another in business. Within the communications media degree, students can specialize in directing films, producing, screenwriting, acting, animation, video game production and the New Evangelization. The school also offers two master’s degrees: one in business administration and another in biblical theology. The university’s MBA is specifically focused on film production.
JP Catholic’s 170 students live on campus, with 90 other students taking its online theology degree.
“The theology department is led by Dr. Michael Barber, who studied under Scott Hahn,” said Tiffany Hall, a senior at JP Catholic. “He’s been really great. We do a scripture class that takes us through all the covenants in the Bible.”
The Catholic faith permeates every aspect of the school. All professors sign an agreement that they will not teach anything contrary to the Catholic faith, and every theology professor has a mandatum — an acknowledgement by the local bishop that the professor is teaching in full communion with the Church.
Dorms are housed in apartment complexes with a strict no-visiting policy between male and female students.
“In our common room, we pray a rosary every night at 9 p.m.,” said Hall. “I love that! We have daily Mass and our chapel is always open for daily Confession.”
“Responding to the crisis in the world of Catholic higher education, JP Catholic is part of a group of faithful universities founded over the past several years,” said Adam Wilson, communications director for the Cardinal Newman Society. “It was created with the renewed conviction that a Catholic university must be founded on the Church’s authentic vision for Catholic education.”
Chris Riley, a Protestant, heads the screenwriting department at JP Catholic. Before coming to the university, he worked for 14 years at Warner Brothers as the head of the script processing department. He is considered an authoritative figure in Hollywood when it comes to screenplays.
“There is a certain amount of theory for screenplay writing,” said Riley. “There is some science, a ton of art, and then wrestling with the story. The hardest thing to overcome is the discipline of writing.”
Students interested in screenwriting first take a class on theory. Then they take a class where they write an episode for a TV series. Finally, they take a feature-film writing class.
“Ultimately, screenwriting students must write a feature-length film,” said Riley. “By the time they graduate, they will have multiple scripts.”
One of JP Catholic’s strengths, he said, is the strong link between the faculty and the film industry.
“Students have gotten great internships,” said Riley. “We have great networking possibilities. Our faculty really understands the business.”
In terms of making it in Hollywood as a Christian, Connolly says things are changing for the better. “The Christian network in Hollywood is getting stronger,” he said.
“I haven’t experienced a ton of hostility to the faith,” he said. “Most people I work with want to do good work and are not specifically hostile to Christians.”
JP Catholic students made a full-length feature film last year called Redline, starring Nicole Gale Anderson. It’s available on DVD and streaming on Netflix. They’re working on a second feature film called Leap.
“Students who major in film produce their own short films,” Riley explained. “They raise the money themselves, create a schedule, get the equipment and crew, and shoot the film. Donations come from family and friends and crowd-funding sources.”
JP Catholic’s gaming and animation program is also growing in popularity. The program focuses on design, art and storytelling.
“I want to create my own video games, like interactive puzzles, adventure games and solving mysteries,” said Hall. “I want to start my own studio — called Guardian Studios — using Old Testament stories as a basis, so people can learn the faith and virtues.”
Students like Hall, however, are aware of gaming’s pitfalls, especially for younger players.
“What bothers me about violent video games is that sometimes you’re rewarded for violent behavior,” she said. “You need to be rewarded for right behavior. Children need limits with any kind of ‘screen time.’ I love the digital world, but it will never be God’s world.”
Connolly sees a bright future for JP Catholic, with a peak enrollment down the road of 1,200 students. The school is planning to launch an undergraduate degree in fashion design, as well as theology, in two or three years.
But the university’s mission is above and beyond fame and fortune.
“What I hope for all my students,” Riley said, “is that they are individually impacted and transformed by Christ. Some will go into mainstream Hollywood. Some will get married and have children. I want them all to bring the flavor of Jesus wherever they go.”
SABRINA ARENA FERRISI is Legatus magazine’s senior staff writer.
Scott Hahn’s mission manual for the New Evangelization is perfect for Legates . . .
In his latest, subtitled A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization, Scott Hahn says you can’t keep the faith unless you give it away. That jives squarely with Legatus’ mission to learn, live and spread the faith. Hahn writes that to be a Christian is to be an evangelizer. The New Evangelization is simply a reminder of what has always been true.
The good news is that you can evangelize — and Hahn shows us how. In this practical “mission manual,” he equips readers with a guide to understanding the New Evangelization, a road map that leads to where it all happens, and a simple way to share it.
Scott Hahn equips readers with a guide to understanding the New Evangelization . . .
Hahn’s latest book, subtitled A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization, is a remarkable tool for Legates to learn, live and spread their faith. He asserts that to be a Christian is to be an evangelizer.
Hahn equips readers with a guide to understanding what the New Evangelization is, who it’s really for, a roadmap to where it all happens, and a simple, beautiful message to share. Evangelization, for Catholics, is simply friendship raised up to the highest level. Enter a deeper friendship with Christ, and you’ll want to share his companionship with a wider circle of friends.
Scott Hahn delivers a powerful guide for evangelization and sharing the Good News . . .
In his new book, subtitled The New Testament and The Eucharist in the Early Church, Hahn examines some of Christianity’s most basic terms to discover what they meant to the sacred authors, the apostolic preachers and their first hearers.
Moreover, at a time when the Church is embarking on a New Evangelization, he draws lessons for Christians today to help solidify their understanding of why Catholic do what they do. This book is a powerful guide as we take our place in the great and challenging work of sharing the Good News.
From Genesis to Jesus, Scott Hahn leads his readers in a deeper Lenten experience . . .
Renowned scripture scholar Scott Hahn mines the treasures of his 1998 book From A Father Who Keeps His Promise for this new offering. From Genesis to Jesus, his reflections highlight biblical characters who lead us to Christ and his sacrifice for us.
Delving into the history of God’s covenant with us, each day’s reading gives the reader much to reflect on throughout Lent, culminating with Easter and ending with Divine Mercy Sunday. In addition to the reflection, there is a daily Scripture verse, a prayer, and a relevant question.
Filled with insights that will change how you live your life and celebrate your faith . . .
Hahn’s new effort is a comprehensive guide to the biblical doctrines and historical traditions that underlie Catholic beliefs and practices. He illuminates the roots and significance of all things Catholic, including the sign of the cross, the Mass, the sacraments, praying with the saints, guardian angels, sacred images, relics and the celebration of Easter, Christmas and other holidays.