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Monday, February 19, 2018

Light Amidst Darkness in Parkland School Shooting...

A troubled teen...
Darkness enveloped him.  He suffered from depression and other mental conditions, including autism, attention deficit and hyperactive disorder.

There was a black hole in his heart, having been raised without a father from a very young age, first separated by divorce and later by death, and having lost the one person he was closest to, his mother.  She died unexpectedly from pneumonia last November.

He suffered bouts with anger and rage, including against his own mother, who repeatedly called police to try to keep him in line, getting suspended from school for fighting and later expelled for erratic behavior that included foul language, insulting teachers and other students, disobeying teachers and disrupting classes.

Neighbors said he terrorized the neighborhood, at times shooting animals with a pellet gun, vandalizing, stealing and having a cold eerie look in his eyes.

He was a loner, who according to family friends had few friends, if any, and was excluded and kept at a distance by others.  Classmates described him, after the fact, as "scary" and often joking about one day "bringing a gun to shoot up the school."

He was like a canary in a coalmine engulfed in darkness and flapping his wings without direction or knowing which way to turn, except for violence.  I believe that, in his mind, he was a guinea pig in what was a toxic and cruel world, left to his own devices, like the canary, to see if he could make it out alive.

Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old, accused of murdering 17 innocent people at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, ironically on St. Valentine's Day, was a troubled young man, who had received mental attention at the Henderson Mental Health facility in Broward, had been investigated for numerous incidents of domestic violence by police and the Florida Department of Children and Family Services and reported to the FBI for posting that he wanted to be "A professional school shooter" on YouTube last year.  Yet, he fell through the cracks.

His public defender, Howard Finkelstein, told reporters after his first court hearing, "Every red flag was there and nobody did anything.  When we let one of our children fall off the grid, when they are screaming for help in every way and we fail them, do we have the right to kill them when we could have stopped it?"  Finkelstein pleaded guilty on Cruz's behalf to try to avoid the death penalty.

There is truth to what Finkelstein said.  As uncomfortable as it may sound, we, as a culture, are partially to blame.

It's surprising that we don't have more Nikolas Cruzes or, maybe we do and it's a matter of time.

As a journalist, when the school massacre occurred, I couldn't help but react as I had in the past; Columbine (15 dead), the small Amish school in Pennsylvania (6 dead), Virginia Tech (33 dead), Sandy Hook (28 dead) and Umpqua Community College in Oregon (10 dead) among them.

We go through the motions; reaction, logistics, deployment.  But, this one was closer to home.  What can we confirm?  How fast can we get on the air?  What angles do we cover?  Who do we send where?  It becomes a frenetic race that doesn't allow much time for reflection on the enormity or gravity of what happened.  We just react. 

In the news business, as I'm sure to some extent in society as a whole, we have become desensitized to mass killings in recent years, including Las Vegas (59 dead), Pulse Nightclub in Orlando (50 dead), the Southerland Springs, Texas church shooting (27 dead), San Bernadino (16 dead), and the Aurora theater shooting (12 dead), not to mention the endless reports of international terrorist attacks.

But, after the smoke clears, and the stories get covered, to the best of our abilities, we are left wondering how and why it happened, especially when they hit home.

Some immediately blame gun control, as they do when all mass killings happen, or try to find other answers; mental health, school and public security, a lack of respect for authority, the media attention the killers, who are looking for attention, get, and so on. 

Yet, to me, Cruz's problem, like most problems, begin at home.

We have diminished and reduced the one institution where any civil society stands or falls; the family.

I always go back to a quote by St. John Paul II, which stated, "As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live."

Ironically, the late pontiff was raised under similar circumstances as Cruz.  His mother died when he was young and his father when he was a late teen.  However, he became a saint.  The latter became a killer.

In any case, the family begins with marriage.  Cruz's adoptive parents, the only ones he ever knew as parents, were divorced.

We've made laws so easy for marriages to dissolve with no-fault divorce that we're practically raising a new generation of partially orphaned children.  Kids are growing up usually without a father in the house who, in generations past, represented authority, discipline, and to some extent, God, because, according to studies, as a child sees their father, they usually see God.  Then, to make matters worse, because of economics, the single parent is forced to work long hours to make ends meet, providing little supervision or guidance for their children.

Marriage is the only institution that binds children to their parents and, with nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce, and the rate increases for second and third marriages, we've made marriage strictly about the adults without much concern for the offspring.  It's all about me and not about us.

No mother, no matter how strong can ever replace a father in the home and no father, no matter how nurturing can ever replace a mother.

Moreover, divorce is a vicious cycle.  Children of divorced parents are more likely to get divorced themselves so the problem snowballs and the deterioration continues.

Unfortunately, without parental supervision many complex issues arise.  One being violent and, more and more, realistic video games, where killing is how you score points and the more you kill, the more points you get.  Boys are particularly susceptible to addiction to violent video games.  Psychologists say it may have to do with their natural competitiveness.  The Sandy Hook killer, Adam Lanza, is said to have been addicted to these killing games.

Also, we've made kids addicted to their smartphones.  Sure some may argue that it's not the parents' fault that kids get addicted but when children as young as 8 or 10-years-old have smartphones and are spending more time on their phones than talking to their friends, whose fault is it?  We're stunting their social skills.  Not to mention, the other distractions kids have today; computers and access to the internet, where everything and anything vile in society, including pornography and violence, is at their fingertips.

In his very important and deeply insightful work, Amusing Ourselves to Death, in 1985 (before the internet), Neil Postman wrote about how television was defining reality in the minds and hearts of America, especially children.  The culture's moral, ethical and social standards shown on TV superseded that of their parents.  The problem is even more acute today.

Introversion has become much more common.  Kids are turning inward instead of outward and shutting out the reality around them and, in turn, creating their own fantastical realities, disconnected, at least to some, from the real world.

Then, there's the greatest problem of all, we've taken God out of every aspect of public life; from the classrooms to the public square, making faith a taboo that is relegated to an hour at church on Sundays and kept as a private matter.

People get offended when you talk religion, they say.  We've become a politically correct nation to the point where carrying a Bible to school can get a kid suspended.  The ACLU has made a mission of removing any mention of God from public life.  Yet, it's alright to mock God, faith or morality, especially by Atheist professors teaching our children at most major American universities.

As a consequence, many kids, are growing up in households where God doesn't exist or their belief is lukewarm at best.  Parents are disengaged; so busy with their lives, so frantic, so distracted that, aside from the sense of obligation during Easter and Christmas, their participation in worship, prayer or catechizes is practically non-existent. 

That is why, according to Pew research polls, the number of "nones" (not affiliated to any faith or religion) continues to grow every year. 

In a recent homily referring to the massacre, our parish priest mentioned that where there is a disconnect from God, when we are not grounded in His Truth, spiritual maladies are more likely.

Sin, which is a four-letter word to some, does exist and we see it in the Nikolas Cruzes of the world.  Dostoevsky once wrote, "If there is no God, everything is permissible."

Yet, through the darkness and despair, in the carnage and shortly thereafter, there were rays of hope and light.  A light that shone through many of the victims, survivors and their families.

From the coach who is said to have saved some of his students by shielding them with his body. From students who kept each other calm and tried to help bleeding classmates.  From a student who said, "I hid under my desk and started praying."  And another who said, "I thought I was going to die today.  I began to pray and I don't know what happened, but here I am."   From a father of a survivor who was filled with joy, like never before, "I'm a happy Dad.  I am happy because I have my son with me.  I just thank you, Jesus." And, from the tears of a mother, whose 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa Alhadeff, died that Valentine's Day, "I know Alyssa is in heaven with God and she is safe there."
Churches were packed on Sunday and have been since the Parkland shooting.  People turn to God for answers when the world can't give them any.  It's like that old saying, when we have nowhere else to turn, we turn to God.

Above the altar at my parish, it states in Latin, Ego Sum Lux Mundi,  which translates to I am the light of the world.  And the world needs God's light amidst the darkness...

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Rock and Roll Memories and Singing the Blues...

Blues Image, circa 1970...
On Christmas Day 1973, when I was still convinced Santa was the white-bearded fat guy with the red suit, I woke up to find a collection of LPs under the tree, that included five Rolling Stones albums; Hot Rocks 1964-1971, Beggars Banquet (their "White Album"), Let It Bleed, Goats Head Soap and Get Yer Ya-Yas Out; as well as another from an obscure club band, named Blues Image.

Why Santa brought me the third and final album of the one-hit wonder band, I haven't the faintest. Maybe, the record store salesman was a fan (Remember record stores?) or a teenage elf (who preferred electric guitars and drums to singing, Baby, It's Cold Outside) with some influence on Ole St. Nick.

Regardless, the Rolling Stones everybody knows about and those were, in my opinion, some of their best albums by far.  I'm still partial to their earlier music.

But, the band, whose only song to crack the top 50, Ride Captain Ride (Which reached the U.S. Billboard's #4 in 1970 and, to be honest, wasn't even that good), really intrigued me.

Despite Ride Captain, which didn't appear on the album I got, Red, White & Blues Image, these guys were good.  They were a talented mix of seasoned musicians, who started in Tampa, and by the late 60's were the featured and popular band at a club in North Miami Beach, named Thee Image, in their honor, that hosted many rock legends including Led Zeppelin, The Grateful Dead, The Doors, Cream and many others.  They moved to Los Angeles, were signed by Atco Records in 1969 and recorded three longplay albums.  

I wore out Red, White & Blues!  I wore out all the albums but Blues was different.  The cover of the somber-looking six-member band covered in spider webs (Joe Lala, Manuel Bertematti, Malcolm Jones, Skip Konte, Dennis Correll and Kent Henry, sans Mike Pinera, the band's founder who had joined Iron Butterfly) and photo of a cocaine spoon necklace, which I didn't know was a cocaine spoon until later on in life, fascinated me (Not that a fierce-eyed goat's head in a cauldron full of red steaming soup in the Stone's album didn't but... ).

I loved that Blues' album.  I remember playing it as loud as I could in the background, as I told a friend from school on the phone that it was a band that I played in!  (Don't judge me, I was a kid!)  Yet, I had all but forgotten it when I lost it to my brother, who took my entire vinyl record collection with him to Yale Graduate School of Drama and then moved to NYC, where he left it at an ex-girlfriend's storage cage, never to be seen again!

Blues Image broke up shortly after recording Red, White & Blues and the members went off to play in various bands, including: Iron Butterfly; Three Dog Night; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Alice Cooper; and Steppenwolf.  

In any case, listening to the Sirius XM's Classic Vinyl channel on our ride home from South Carolina, where we went to spend New Year's Eve with friends, I heard the name Blues Image and it brought back memories of my childhood in the first-floor apartment on Williams St. in Port Chester, New York, where I would play Red, White & Blues on our large console record player that took up half the wall in the living room until I scratched it!

In fact, I almost missed our exit because I was daydreaming of those times; riding bike around the neighborhood, learning to play stick-ball and hanging out with friends.

Needles to say, as soon as we got back to Miami, I started looking for the long-ago archived album in the annals of my mind.  And, after a dead-end on I-Tunes and only partial success on You Tube, I found it on Amazon (As part of a 2-album combo with Blues Image's first album, Blues Image) and ordered it.

It arrived in the mail last weekend and I have been playing it nonstop on my car CD player ever since; even remembering the lyrics to Behind Every Man There's a Woman, Gas Lamp and Clay, Good Life and most of the songs, which I haven't heard in probably forty years!  All this to the chagrin of my 10-year-old son who was apparently not impressed, and after listening to a few of the songs stared asking, "Can we put something else on?"

Later, as we rode in the car, he asked me for the CD cover and, after studying it briefly, started counting down the songs, as in, "Great, there's only five more songs left..."  Followed by, "Yay, there's only three more songs left..." And, finally, "Why is the last song song long?," noticing the seven minutes forty-five seconds finale, There Ain't No Rules in California, which is my favorite song on the album.

As Ain't No Rules came on, I tell him, "This is a jam, buddy; an old rock-and-roll jam."

He answered back nonchalantly, "I'm not feeling it!"

I was so bummed.  This is my rock-and-roller.  The kid who is constantly fighting with his sisters to put the classic rock station on the radio when we're in the car.  What happened? Then again, he just got the PlayStation 4 Star Wars Battlefront bundle and hasn't been the same since.

I love reminiscing and the Red, White & Blues Image album certainly brought back memories. But as I thought about the episode in the car with my son, I realized that, as wonderful as memories can be, the most wonderful and important memories are the ones we make today...          

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Tools of Ignorance, Hail Mary and My Son...

Donning the tools of ignorance...
For a catcher, there's probably nothing more gratifying than seeing a fast runner get on base and start taking a lead off first, knowing very well he will soon try to steal second.

The catcher's adrenaline starts pumping, after signaling the next pitch.  He sets up behind the plate on the the balls of his feet spread wide apart and squatting in an upright position so that the thighs are taking the brunt of his weight and he can jump out of his crouch quickly.

Then, when the hurler lifts his leg to throw the pitch and he sees the runner taking off, through the corner of his eye, he leans forward slightly while continuing to focus on the incoming baseball, and pounces towards it as the ball crosses the plate; hopping across home in one fluid motion, as he brings the mitt back towards his ear, grabs the ball and releases it over the pitcher's head.  

Almost simultaneously, the shortstop charges towards second from his usual spot, in the hole between second and third base, to cover the bag and arrives a split second before the ball, catches it and tags the runner as he slides and the umpire raises his arm to signal, "OUT!" 

I loved that feeling from the first time I ever caught in a game at the age of ten.  I threw out two runners in my first game and the thrill continued throughout my playing days until the twilight of my career on a men's baseball team into my early forties, when my prowess for throwing runners out, after a rotator cuff injury, started to wane.

Probably my biggest highlight catching was the day I caught Johnny Cangelosi, who later became a high school teammate and Major League Baseball player, who stole 50 bases his rookie season with the Chicago White Sox, which was a first-year record at the time, trying to steal second when I was about thirteen or fourteen.

I was an average hitter at best but I prided myself on my defense; calling a good game, framing pitches just right to get a called strike, even if the ball was slightly off the plate,  blocking balls in the dirt, blocking home on plays at the plate and of course, the ultimate glory for any catcher, throwing runners out.

Yet, what most average fans don't realize is the hard work it takes to get to the point of being able to catch a runner stealing; the endless throws to second, third and first base during practice, the bone chips (in my case) in the elbow that made every throw an agonizing experience, the leg fatigue after catching ten straight hitters in batting practice and then having to run with the rest of the team, the foul tips to the hands, arms, inner thighs and soft part of the knee, which the shin guards fail to protect, the bats to the head, balls in the dirt that hit "the family jewels," as our high school coach called them, square on, which make a grown man cry, as the Rolling Stones would sing, and the brain jarring collisions at home plate that knock the wind right out of you.  

I remember two such collisions with players who were later teammates in high school vividly.  Both completely laid me flat on my back.  I was able to hang on to the ball with one but dropped the other.  It was probably the only time I recall ever dropping a ball on a play at the plate.    

There's nothing glamorous about catching.  It's a taxing position that not everyone wants to play.  In fact, they call the catcher's gear, "The tools of ignorance," referring to the ignorant who want to play it!  

Johnny Bench blocking the plate... 
The great Johnny Bench, who is probably the best all-around catcher who ever played the game, once said, "A catcher and his body are like the outlaw and his horse.  He's got to ride that nag till it drops."  

Yet, it's a position where you learn more discipline, courage, insight of the game and leadership skills than any other.

I remember a drill in high school that our coach called, "Hail Marys."

Hail Marys were where we assumed the missionary position in full gear, holding our catcher's mitt between our legs with our free hand tightly tucked behind it, our torsos curved in a C-form and our chin firmly pressed against our chest.  

As we sat there in the quiet of our minds, waiting for our coach to throw baseballs as hard as he could against the ground in front of us, which would ricocheted against our tense bodies, we would start to pray the Hail Mary, in anticipation of the incoming round instrument of torture that we heard hissing as it approached.

Sometimes the ball would catch bone, marking the stitches on our forearms immediately. Sometimes it would catch the same spot a couple of times and we would see it swell up right before our eyes.  Occasionally, the coach would miss the ground and the ball would go straight into the soft spot on the knee I just mentioned, or wrist, or thigh.  

It was the most arduous and intimidating drill I ever experienced.  We would do it regularly during pre-season; over and over.  One turn each catcher then repeat.

Our coach was a retired minor league catcher and probably enjoyed watching us squeal and squirm. I'm sure there was a sense pay back for all the times he endured the drill in his playing days.  

It was meant to teach us, not only the fundamentals of getting in front of a ball in the dirt, but possibly more importantly about overcoming fear, overcoming pain, mental fortitude and discipline.  Intentional or not, it was actually very spiritual, fitting for its name, "Hail Marys."

It reminds me of the Super Spartan Race I ran with my wife several years ago.  It was almost 9 miles long and there was a point in the race, where I found myself running in the woods by myself with no other competitor in sight.  All I heard were my feet pounding on the ground.  It was hard and painful, especially after having gone through more than six miles of obstacles and running at that point, but very peaceful.  I began to pray the Rosary (i.e., Hail Marys!) and all the pain and noise subsided.  It became deeply spiritual.    
St. Paul refers to the spirituality of exercise when he writes, "Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.  They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified." 

Throwing to second... 
In a talk I heard recently, Bishop Robert Barron said something that resonated with me and reminded me of my high school coach, "A good coach is not there to make his players feel good.  He's there to make them better players."

Unfortunately, in today's world, we are so obsessed with making people feel good about themselves (i.e. everyone gets a participation trophy or, as in the movie, Parental Guidance, they don't even keep score!) that we're undermining coaches.

It's like my son, who tells me one day after a game, which they won but won ugly and the coach made them run when the game was over, "He's trying to kill us!" 

"No," I said.  "He's trying to make you better!"  

In the military, they break cadets down in boot camp so as to make them soldiers.  Soldiers who are disciplined, stouthearted and willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good.

Let's face it, we are all tempted to take the road of least resistance.  Left to our own devices, we choose the easy way.

But, life, much like playing the position of catcher in baseball, is not about feeling good but about working through it, even when we don't feel good, because it's the right thing to do; and/or because others depend on us to do it.

It's working out our salvation with fear and trembling, as St. Paul states; chugging through it at times but enduring and overcoming and, hopefully, in due time, achieving that wreath we all seek whether perishable in this lifetime or imperishable in the next, which should be our ultimate goal.   

In any case, my 10-year-old son now wants to be a catcher.  We got him a catchers' gear for Christmas and he's starting to work on developing his raw skills.  He has good hands but has a long way to go.

I'll be honest, the reason I wanted him to play baseball in the first place was to learn to be a team player; to work with others closely, to depend on each other, to have that camaraderie that you can only experience from sharing time together, struggling through difficulties and enjoying the thrill of success as a unit; the pain and the glory.  Learning that, for the good of the team, it's not about "me" but "we"; a lesson that has served me well in life and in my career in management and one I want him to fully embrace.  

Now, he's taking a next step.  He will have to learn dedication and resilience, selflessness, bravery in spite of fear at times and leadership; skills that will serve him well as a catcher and, most of all, as a man.  

Maybe one day, he might find himself behind the plate with a fast runner taking a lead off first.  And, if he works hard and is fortunate to be blessed with decent skills, he can pounce out of his crouch when the runner takes off and throw a laser to second base and see the umpire raise his arm to signal, "OUT."  

I tell my son, "Baseball is all about repetition.  It's about doing something over and over until you get it right."  And, the same can be said about almost anything worth doing in life...     

Friday, December 8, 2017

Preserved for the Good of the World...

"We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Ominipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful."

-- Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854...


Is Science the Only Proof of Reality?...

"Some people think science is the only tool we should use to investigate the world and we shouldn't believe anything that can't be proven scientifically.  This attitude is called scientism, and it's self-refuting because there is no scientific experiment that proves the only reliable form of knowledge is science... science can tell us how the world is, but it can't tell us how the world ought to be."  

Trent Horn, Why We're Catholic.  Horn holds a Master's Degree in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville and has quickly risen in the ranks among Catholic circles as an author, public speaker and Catholic apologist (defender of  the faith).  When he's not writing (he's written or contributed to 9 books since 2013), he serves as staff apologist for Catholic Answers.  Among the titles he has written are: Answering Atheism, Persuasive Pro-Life, Hard Sayings: A Catholic Approach to Answering Bible Difficulties and is currently working on The Case for Catholicism...

Monday, December 4, 2017

Truth, Reality and Human Nature...

He who seeks finds...
"Being born in a time or place that is far from the truth doesn't disprove the existence of truth.  When it comes to believing in a religion or any other basic truth about reality (like the shape of the earth), we all think that we're right and that those who disagree with us are wrong.  Even people who ignore religion think they're right that religion should be ignored.  They also think that those people who tell them they should convert are wrong.  This isn't a sign of arrogance; it's a sign of genuine desire to find the truth....  The loving thing to do is not leave someone in ignorance, but to help him find the truth."

Trent Horn, in Why We're Catholic.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The CD and Man Who Set My Faith On Fire...

Dr. Scott Hahn and me in 2013... 
Those that know me know that I am passionate about my faith.  I study it.  I defend it.  I believe it wholeheartedly and I live it to the best of my abilities (Sometimes better than other).

But, one of the pivotal sparks in my fervor for the faith, aside from attending a men's retreat that changed my perspective on life, was listening to a CD I got soon after the retreat of the conversion of a well-respected Protestant Minister, named Dr. Scott Hahn.

Hahn's journey was a painful and humiliating odyssey, where everything he had ever known and believed in from the time he turned his life over to Christ, was pulled out from under him and everything he thought was corrupt and defiled ended up making too much sense to ignore.

He calls it a conversion in stages; from a detective story, to a horror story and finally a love story.

His passion for the Bible, his incessant search for Truth and earnest scholarly approach led him, most unwillingly, into the arms of the Catholic Church; a church that since his days at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary he ardently opposed, to the point of calling it the anti-Christ.

It was at Gordon-Conwell that he first started questioning his Presbyterian convictions.  A highly regarded professor from a well known seminary nearby was teaching that we are not saved by faith alone, one of the pillars of the Protestant Reformation called Sola Fide, in the strict sense that most non-Catholic Christians understand it.  And, because of this teaching, the professor was being forced out of the school.

Hahn delved into the controversy; reading, studying and debating with many professors and fellow students until coming to the unexpected conclusion that the ousted professor was right.  It was a watershed moment for Hahn and he never recovered, no matter how hard he tried to shake it off and how many friends and family, including his wife, tried to dissuade him from coming home to Rome.

Eventually, several years later, questions arose about the second plank upon which the Protestant Reform stands on; scripture alone, or Sola Scriptura, and that's where the paradigm shift, already developing in his mind and heart took hold.  Yet despite this, he continued to resist (mostly out of respect for his wife who was having a difficult time with his conversion, being the daughter of a Protestant Minister, the sister of a Protestant Minister and having married a Protestant Minister!); that is until he stepped foot into a Catholic Church and heard Mass for the first time.  The rest as they say is history.   

I remember the first time I heard of Scott Hahn.  It was on this CD while driving with my wife and kids on a road trip to North Carolina.

His delivery, sincerity and profundity were so captivating and endearing that it stirred within me a burning appetite to learn my faith; even as I realized how little I actually knew!

Shortly afterwards, I began reading some of Dr. Hahn's books; Reasons to BelieveThe Lamb's SupperRome Sweet Home, and my personal favorite, First Comes Love, as well as some of the book recommendations on the CD; most notably, Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating (where I discovered Catholic Answers, an apologetic apostolate that I listen to daily on podcast till this day).

Hahn, is now considered among the best contemporary biblical scholars and theologians in the United States and one of the most coveted Catholic speakers in the country.  He is a professor and scholar, who taught future priests at St. Vincent Seminary in Pennsylvania, where he held the Pope Benedict XVI's Chair of Biblical Theology for years, as well as students at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, where he has been teaching since 1990.  As if that weren't enough, he is the founder of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and author of over twenty books.

The CD, which is considered the most widely distributed Catholic CD ever, and became the precursor to the book on his conversion that he wrote with his wife Kimberly, Rome Sweet Home, has influenced thousands of former Protestants and marginal Catholics, like me, to embrace the Church fully.  It even prompted many of his classmates at Gordon-Conwell, who had themselves become Protestant Ministers, including Marcus Grodi, Steve Woods and his best friend in seminary, Gerry Matatics, who tried to keep Hahn from converting and ended up converting himself, into the Catholic Church.

I've had the privileged to hear Dr. Hahn speak on a couple of occasions, including one at the Archdiocese of Miami Men's Conference at St. Mark's Catholic Church in Southwest Ranches where the picture above was taken.  His wealth, depth and love of the faith always shine through in his talks, which is why he remains so popular.

Although, my desire to learn my faith was also spurned by an old friend who challenged it, and have since broadened my horizons with the works of St. John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Peter Kreeft, Fulton Sheen, Bishop Robert Barron and several others, I will always have an affinity for Dr. Hahn.

I came across "the CD" on You Tube recently and, since this year marks the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, I thought I would share it (Below).  Also, if you want to read more details on his conversion, you can find it here...