This past Saturday I was lucky enough, along with my wife and a group of friends, to spend the day listening to 3 separate lectures by Dr. Scott Hahn. The event, The New Evangelization: Equipping Yourself to Engage the Culture was put on by David Gilbert of Catholic ChapterHouse. The day also featured Damian Goddard as the Master of Ceremonies, along with Kathleen Dunn as a musical guest.
The day began with the more than 1,000 attendees reciting the Rosary. It’s hard enough to get that many people to sit silent and attentive, to have that many people praying the Rosary together was simply powerful. The last time I had my spine tingle with that many people lifting their hearts up to the Lord in unison was attending High Mass in front of the cathedral in Fatima as thousands waved goodbye to Our Lady with white handkerchiefs. With it starting out this way, I knew the day was going to be special.
We were then treated to the music of Kathleen Dunn. Although contemporary Christian music really isn’t to my taste, Kathleen’s music was just the thing to add to the prayerful setting. On top of it all, anyone who can make such an acoustically unfriendly setting as the Canadian Christian College in Toronto sound that good, must have talent. You can listen for yourself by visiting Kathleen’s website.
Then it was the moment I had been anticipating since I had heard of Dr. Hahn’s visit last July.
Dr. Hahn’s first session was called The Lamb’s Supper after his book of the same title. The talk he gave, however, was more of a blend between The Lamb’s Supper and Rome Sweet Home, something a friend who has heard both talks through Lighthouse Ministry cd’s confirmed for me. Although I had read both of Dr. Hahn’s books, what he did on Saturday was make them come alive. Between his intonation and facial expression, Dr. Hahn opened up his works on a whole new level. Since his recognition of the Mass in the Book of Revelations was key to his own conversion story, the two go naturally together. In his talk, Dr. Hahn is able to reveal how both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Liturgy are intertwined, each dependant on the other and each giving life to the other.
During the lunch break Dr. Hahn was gracious enough to meet with everyone who wanted to meet with him, shake his hand, have their books signed and their photo taken. Those who weren’t lining up to meet Dr. Hahn were all excitedly buzzing about the morning’s talk. Even though most of us knew what we were coming to hear, it was like we had all uncovered a hidden gem at the same time. In many ways we had – the hidden gem was the fire of faith being rekindled in our hearts.
The afternoon started with Dr. Hahn tackling the subject of The Bible, The Eucharist and The New Evangelization. Here Dr. Hahn delved deeper into the mystery of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross and its institution in the Last Supper. Dr. Hahn traced the roots of the Eucharist in the Old Testament and showed us how we need to understand the Eucharist in its entirety, from the Passover meal of the Last Supper, through the sacrifice on the Cross, through the fulfilling grace of the Resurrection. As Dr. Hahn put it, if you look only at the Cross, you see nothing but a bloody and violent Roman execution, but once you put it into the context of the Passover meal and see its fulfillment in the Resurrection, then you can begin to truly grasp the significance of what Christ did for us.
After another brief performance by Kathleen Dunn and a quick break, Dr. Hahn returned to the stage for his final talk of the day, Why Scripture Matters. This theme continued along much the same lines as the earlier two, taking an even deeper look into the role of Sacred Scripture in our Catholic faith. Dr. Hahn began this session by telling the story of crossing paths with an old high school acquaintance who, upon learning that Dr. Hahn had converted to Catholicism, offered the same challenge that he himself used to bandy about: Where is the Mass in the Bible? Dr. Hahn’s answer was to show that the Eucharist permeates through the entire Bible, from Old Testament through the New – although there was nowhere near enough time to delve completely into this question, Dr. Hahn left the audience with the conviction that the New Testament exists because of the Eucharist and that the Eucharist can exist because of the New Testament. A symbiotic relationship very similar to the one discussed above regarding Sacred Scripture and Sacred Liturgy.
Here I have to make a confession. Throughout this blog my fingers have continually wanted to type Dr. Haha instead of Dr. Hahn, but in many ways, this could be a very apt name for Dr. Hahn. His sense of humour and ability to laugh at himself kept his talks flowing with a certain panache, transforming what could be a somewhat dry subject and turning it into an entertaining and thought provoking day. My head is still spinning from everything I learned, but here are a few of my favourite Dr. Scott Hahn sayings (paraphrased, of course):
Turn down Pride and you’ll find Mercy.
I need to remember I am merely the donkey that carries Christ.
All those who reject God are nothing but Ashes. (Quoting Peter Kreeft)
Another amazing aspect of the day was the amount of people I knew or knew of in the room. There were friends I had once worked with, friends who had moved out of our parish and other parishioners I didn’t know were going to be there. My wife and I had fun at lunch comparing notes on who we had bumped into in the line for the elevator to the washrooms. One major highlight in this regard was meeting up with fellow blogger and pro-life advocate, Joe Sales. If you haven’t read his blog Being Joseph Michael before, I suggest you do (as well as following him on Twitter).
|With Joe Sales|
The day drew to a close with the announcement that Catholic Chapter House will be bringing Peter Kreeft to Toronto on May 25, 2013. We’re already making plans in my parish to organize a group. We can’t wait to go back.
Thank you Catholic Chapter House for making this possible and for rekindling the fire of faith in so many hearts.