Author and renowned speaker Dr. Scott Hahn speaks to large crowd at Notre Dame
Doctor Scott Hahn—author and editor of over 40 books and a popular speaker and teacher—delivered two lectures to a packed auditorium in the Jordan Hall of Science on February 28. Hahn has delivered theological lectures both nationally and internationally and is a regular host on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). His talks at Notre Dame were sponsored by the Militia of the Immaculata and Children of Mary.
Hahn captivated the audience, addressing “Evangelizing Catholics: the Bible, the Eucharist, and the New Evangelization” and “Hail Holy Queen: Mary, Star of the New Evangelization.” He challenged students to evangelize the “de-Christianized” in their daily lives through friendship and joy, and to look to Mary as a model.
In his first talk, Hahn traced the history of Catholic evangelization and defined the New Evangelization as “based on the need to re-evangelize people who have been de-Christianized.” He identified personal conversion as an essential aspect of the New Evangelization; this conversion is an “ongoing, ever deepening, lifelong process [that is] constantly threatened by forces around that diminish the ever-living sense of faith.”
Hahn explained that during the mid-to-late 1900s, materialism, secularism, and consumerism de-Christianized the world. Pope Saint John Paul II and his predecessors saw the need for Catholics to evangelize, and the pope said, “No believer in Christ, no institution, can avoid this supreme duty.”
Hahn went on to explain that Cardinal Ratzinger understood the New Evangelization as a marathon, not a sprint, and founded a group dedicated to evangelizing the de-Christianized. In the 1990s, however, the phrase “evangelical Catholic” was considered to be an oxymoron and people were uncomfortable with this association with fundamentalists.
At the start of the New Evangelization, Catholics commonly believed that they should evangelize with the witness of their lives. This idea is captured in the popular sentiment from St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” Hahn noted, however, that there is no evidence St. Francis actually said that.
Hahn questioned the practicality of evangelizing through example: “Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, ‘Is my life really so holy that it will encourage others to convert?’ First, ask your roommate…” This statement elicited chuckles from the audience, and Hahn continued, “[W]e can’t simply convert them, the people out there. We are them. We, too, need to re-evangelize our hearts.”
The ordinary way to evangelize is by being a true friend, Hahn said. The key to evangelization is to communicate the good news through authentic human friendship—not by manipulating conversations, but by sharing a joyful faith that others find infectious.
Hahn hopes that “we can have each and every Catholic … enjoy being Catholic.” People are jaded and “addicted to pleasures that don’t last,” he explained, but “joy is what we all want.” When we find ourselves without joy, Hahn said, “that’s precisely our heavenly father saying that we need to wake up and enjoy the message of the Gospel.”
In his second talk, Hahn held up the Blessed Virgin Mary as a model for us. He noted that Our Lady is the first evangelizer in the New Testament, as she brought the joy of the gospel to others through her relationships. Hahn told the crowd that we should want Mary to allow us to bring us to her son and that we should “be open to loving her as perfectly as He loves her.”
“Hahn’s talks were both elevating and entertaining. His profound knowledge of the scriptures coupled with an authentic zeal for the teachings of the Catholic faith bore excellent witness to the joy of the Gospel message,” Scott Varian, president of Children of Mary, told the Rover.
“[Hahn] has the gift of being able to deliver the truths of the faith in a way that is accessible to a wide audience,” said Andrea Buechler, vice president of both MI and Children of Mary.
“I thought the message of his first talk on evangelizing Catholics was important for Notre Dame students to hear because so many of us know people who are Catholic but lukewarm in their faith,” Buechler told the Rover. “By incorporating what we learned into life on campus, the university community can grow in its love for God and neighbor.”
Michael Rawls, president of MI, spoke with the Rover about the goal of his group. “Evangelization and Our Lady are dear to the heart of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, founder of the Militia of the Immaculata, and we wanted to invite someone who would be able to impart their importance to the Notre Dame family and the difference they can make in one’s life.
“M.I. strives to lead as many souls as possible to Christ through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and [Hahn’s] talks really touched on the importance of this and how one should strive to live this out,” Rawls concluded.
Mary Kate Martinson is a senior marketing student at Notre Dame and co-chair of the 2015 Edith Stein Project. She secretly wishes she majored in theology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.