Scott Hahn

Scott Hahn

May 18, 2015
DEBORAH GYAPONG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS

Before Scott Hahn became a Catholic he was familiar with ways to bring people to Christ, but now he sees conversion as a lifelong process.

As a Presbyterian, Hahn said he knew methods to bring people to Christ and to invite them to pray the Sinner's Prayer. They would ask Christ's forgiveness and for Jesus to come and live in their hearts.

He could invite people to become Christians this way while on a plane or even an elevator.

"A personal relationship with Christ is a great place to start," he said, comparing it to the first steps on a lifelong journey. "It's a not a sprint, but a marathon."

Hahn, a theology professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, is the author of bestselling books such as Rome Sweet Home and Supper of the Lamb. He spoke at the New Evangelization Summit in Ottawa April 24.

In his study of the early Church, Hahn noticed the conversion process would begin with the proclamation of the Word of God and the acceptance of the Gospel.

The person would then become a catechumen who would go deeper into the faith, learning the Creed and so on. They had been evangelized, but now they need to be catechized, he said.

This catechesis was an even deeper entering into the mystery of the faith in preparation for the sacraments – of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion. The conversion "doesn't stop with a personal relationship with Jesus," he said.

"It is not enough to just date Jesus and have a personal relationship," he said. "When catechizing in the ancient Church, the Good News gets better and deeper."

The entire Christian life bears the marks of the marriage covenant between Christ and his Church, Hahn said.

Hahn stressed the importance of re-evangelizing the sacraments, especially the sacrament of marriage, because many married Catholics find themselves "estranged, lonely and miserable."

"Marriage offers intimacy, but also a level of pain and estrangement," he said.

Hahn said his 35 years of marriage have had their ups and downs. When he became Catholic, his wife Kimberly did not understand why, which led to some coldness and bad habits in communication creeping into their relationship.

They overcame the difficulties with counselling that helped their marriage become even better than their initial feeling of being in love. His wife became Catholic four years after he did.

LIVE THE SACRAMENT

Political arguments about marriage will not change anything, he said. "If Catholic couples would simply live the sacrament of marriage for 40 years, they would transform society."

The Eucharist is the supper of the lamb, and marriage is a model of that, he said. It provides an analogy for the new evangelization of "what has to take place in our homes and in our marriages."

APOLOGIZE QUICKLY

One thing married partners have to learn is "how to apologize more quickly and sincerely," he said. That is not "I'm sorry if you took things the wrong way," but acknowledging that "what I did hurt you and I'm sorry."

"Your marriages, your lives, may be the only homily people ever hear."

Hahn suggested telling people around the water cooler about the movie you saw with your wife over the weekend. "No one is likely to say 'Who are you to impose your theatrical tastes on us?"

Or, if you try out a new restaurant and "had a great time," share that, he said. No one is likely to say, "Who are you to impose your culinary tastes on us?"

Friendship is the way we preach the Gospel, he said.

HIGH SCHOOL FRIEND

He recounted an unexpected meeting at an airport with an old high school friend. The friend announced he had left the Catholic Church and was now a Bible-believing Christian.

Hahn said he told him, "I'm now a Bible-believing Catholic."

He sent his friend a little package of various books he had written and did not hear from him for a while.

The next time he heard from him, his friend called when he was on his way back "from his first Confession in 30 years" and was expecting to receive "the body, blood, soul and divinity" of Jesus Christ the next day.

"Now he's leading people back into the Catholic Church," Hahn said.