Toronto, Canada (Tuesday, 05-05-2015, Gaudium Press) On the 2nd May 2015, Serviam Ministries, organized a conference ‘Mercy and The Kingdom’. The speakers were Dr. Scott Hahn ( Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at Franciscan University of Steubenville and professor at Mundelein Seminary) and Patrick Sullivan (Catholic lay evangelist and author). The conference began with the holy rosary and was followed by the opening talk by Patrick Sullivan.
Patrick Sullivan reflected on St. John’s gospel 20:28 ‘Thomas answered Him ‘My Lord and My God’. The speaker asked the audience where do they find Jesus in their lives? In our times, people ask ‘Where is God?’; but in ancient times the question was ‘Who is God’. The speaker reflected that through the response of the Apostle Thomas, we see that Jesus Christ is God and that we, like the apostle, must have a personal relationship with Christ, thus the use of the pronoun ‘My’. Mr. Sullivan recommended visits to the Blessed Sacrament and humble prayer so as to establish this personal relationship with Christ.
Dr. Hahn’s first talk was on the ‘Our Father’. He expounded that the ‘Our Father’ is the most perfect prayer. One of the reasons for this perfection is because this prayer follows a proper sequence putting first things first in a logical way. The 7 petitions in the Our Father, were explained in detail by Dr. Hahn. The first petition is that God is Our Father, which in turn means that we are His adopted children. His name is Holy and we as His children must strive towards holiness. The second and third petition, (thy kingdom come and will be done…..), indicate to us that this world is not our home and the Kingdom is. Thus we must strive to conform ourselves to be more like Christ who obeyed the will of the Father at all times. Fourth petition (give us this day our daily bread): Dr . Hahn, citing the greek said that a more proper term is super-substantial bread, namely, the Holy Eucharist. Dr Hahn explained the connections between the manna given by God to the Israelites in the dessert during the 40 years and the Bread of Life (Eucharist) that He gives us at Mass. Fifth Petition (forgive us our sins as we forgive others): As children of God, we must hate Sin as much as He does. We must hate our own sins more than those who sin against us. Dr Hahn went on to explain that God’s law is an extension of his love and not merely punishment. Sixth Petition (lead us not into temptation): God tests us to teach us humility and make us rely on Him as a Father who is actively involved in our lives. Seventh Petition (deliver us from Evil): Dr. Hahn explained that we are at war in the world between good and the forces of Evil, and in humility we must ask the Father to aid us in this war. Dr. Hahn then explained that the Our Father is said at mass after the Consecration, because it is Christ, The King, who is fully present in the Eucharist and where the King is there is His Kingdom. Dr. Hahn concluded that we ought to meditate and delve deeper into this prayer that was given to us by Our Lord.
‘Lord have Mercy’ was the title of the second talk by Dr. Hahn. The speaker covered his conversion to Catholicism as a launch pad to introduce the audience to the sacrament of Reconciliation. Dr Hahn used biblical evidence from the Old testament (Leviticus 5:6; Numbers 5: 5-7) and New testament (John 20: 20-23; James 5: 14-16). Dr. Hahn said that when Christ healed the paralytic, (Gospel of Mark) He first said ‘Child your sins are forgiven’. However, reading the stubborn hearts of the people, Jesus then healed the man physically, so as to show that He had the authority to both, forgive sins as well as heal physically. As the world is not our final home and our eternal home is heaven, God instituted this sacrament so as to restore the covenant relationship that we break when we commit mortal sin.
Using the domestic setting of a discussion with his christian (but not catholic) brother in law (who studied theology with Dr. Hahn before the speaker’s conversion) Dr. Hahn elucidated on the biblical basis for the 3 doctrines on Our Lady which divide catholics and other christians.
The Immaculate Conception: Dr. Hahn, explained the co-relation between Genesis 1 and 2, and the Gospel of John 1 and 2; between the old Adam and Eve who were without sin but then fell into sin and the New Adam (Christ) and the New Eve (Our Lady) who were without sin. In 7 days God created the world and made man and a helper for man, a bride, Eve (Genesis 1 and 2). In John 1 and 2 over 7 days the same pattern is repeated but now with Christ as the new Adam (without sin) and ending on the 7 day at the wedding of Cana, where no one is named (not the bride or groom at the wedding) the only name is that of Mary. Christ refers to her as the Woman, which is the same way as Eve is referred to in Genesis 2:23.
Mother Of God: Dr Hahn showed us how Mary is the mother of God. In the old testament, the Ark of the Covenant, carried the Mosaic Law and Manna(Exodus). The presence of God overshadowed the Ark of Covenant (Exodus 40:34). When King David went to the hill country of Judah he found the Ark of the Covenant, he stayed with it for 3 months and on finding it he danced for joy (2 Samuel 6). We see all of this for Mary in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:26 onwards). The Holy Spirit overshadows her and she bears the Law, as well as the Bread of Life, in the Person of the God incarnate Christ. Mary then goes to the hill county in the city of Judah and visits Elizabeth and John the Baptist leaps in his mothers womb while being in the presence of the new Ark of the Covenant namely Mary.
Citing the 1 Kings 1 and 2, Solomon bowed to his mother and had a throne for his mother, she being the queen mother. Dr. Hahn showed us that this practice of the queen mother was present in all the Davidic dynasty. He then elucidated in Revelation 11:19 and 12:1 which speak about the Ark of the covenant in heaven (Mary) and a Lady clothed with the sun , the moon at her feet and a crown of 12 stars on her head. The 12 stars represent the 12 tribes of Israel, and a crown is the worn by a queen. Additionally, since the Lady is not there in spirit, but she is clothed thereby indicating she has a body. Feet and head are also clearly mentioned in the afore mentioned passage and this explains the catholic doctrine of the Assumption of Mary.
Prior to the above explanations, Dr Hahn, said that we Honour Mary because she is the model disciple and we imitate Her so as to become model disciples of Christ. He also said that rather than focus on our differences with our Christian brethren who do not honour Our lady, we must focus on the common ground that we share namely scriptures on our lady both in the New Testament and prefigured in the Old Testament.
The day concluded with Patrick Sullivan urging the audience to never cease praying no matter how hopeless a situation may be. The audience was held rapt by the talks at the conference and look forward to similar events organized by Serviam Ministries.
By Brett Sequeira