Monday, October 29, 2007

Roy Schoeman Interview - The Complete Version

Q: For people who may not know your first book, please explain the title: Salvation is From the Jews: The Role of Judaism In Salvation History From Abraham to the Second Coming.

A: The book examines the role of Judaism in salvation history as illumined by the Catholic faith. If the second person of the Most Holy Trinity was to incarnate, it would be among a particular people at a particular point in time, even in the womb of a particular virgin, and that people would have to be prepared. They would have be separated out from all the pagan peoples around them, taught about the one true God, the creation of Man, the fall, the seriousness of sin, the need for redemption, the need for a redeemer—the Messiah who was to come. They would have to be taught how to serve and worship the one true God, be taught to follow a reasonably high level of morality, and given enough theological revelation to recognize the Messiah when he came, and to spread the Gospel throughout the world afterwards. That is the role the Jews were chosen for, and in which they succeeded—else there could hardly be 2 billion Christians in the world today.

Less straightforward is the role they might have to play between the first and second coming.

Q: Some Catholics feel that the role of Jews is past and that maybe bringing Jesus into the world was it.

A: That would be enough, bringing salvation to the whole world.

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Schoeman’s phrase “That would be enough” alludes to a Jewish Passover song called “Dayenu,” which means “It would have been enough.” Each verse sings of one of God’s saving acts and is followed by the chorus “If God had only done the act just mentioned, it would have been enough.”
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I think that in a kind of symmetry and poetry that God has plans for them to have a special role in the Second Coming, too.

[Schoeman quoted from St. Paul's letter to the Romans, Chapter 11, from Jesus in the Gospels, and from the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 674 (“The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel") in support of the idea that the Second Coming will be preceded by wide-scale conversion of the Jews. Schoeman believes that the mere fact of their persistence as a separate identifiable people through two thousand years, as well as the almost continual persecution and hatred with which they were met, indicate that they still have a role to play in salvation history.]

Q: Your first book is dedicated “to the Jewish mother who brought me to her Son, to the Blessed Virgin Mary.” You say that in a dream vision you were granted an audience with Our Lady and that she was the most beautiful young woman you could possibly imagine. Can you describe what she looked like?

A: Not in any way that does her justice. ... She looked recognizably like many of the images of her only indescribably more beautiful.

I remember characteristics of her beauty, how much of her hair was showing, a sense of the flowingness and modesty of what she was wearing. Delicate triangular face. Narrow somewhat pointed chin, small mouth. I don’t know what the meaningfulness was of what I saw. She didn’t look Middle Eastern.

I can tell you this. The first time I went to Lourdes I was walking around. Most of the storefronts in Lourdes are religious souvenir shops with racks of postcards out front. One postcard caught the corner of my eye. I kept walking. And I couldn’t get it out of my head. I had to go back and find that particular store—which then took me about 20 minutes because they all look alike. That post card had a fairly corny, you know sentimental, almost cartoonish image of the Blessed Virgin Mary on it, but it looked more like the image from my dream than any other. I initially dismissed it because it was not an artistically worthy representation. But I had to go back and find it. It does actually looked more like she did in the dream than any other image I’d seen. And that image is up at my website.

Q: When I told a relative your story, she said, “Don’t let him get near a psychiatrist.” What would you say to people, and I’m sure there are many of them, who think that the kind of visions you describe either just cannot be true, or are a delusion?

A: I would have been inclined to think the same way a few years earlier. I think it’s a very reasonable way to think. First of all, if one doesn’t believe in God, or religion or the supernatural, one has no choice but to believe that way.

If one is a believing Catholic, then one knows from the faith and from the lives of the Saints as well as from all the Church-approval supernatural phenomenon that these things do happen. It’s just a question whether they legitimately happened to me or not.

Before these experiences happened I was essentially an atheist or agnostic Jew. I have now spent the last almost twenty years of my life as a very fervent Catholic.

Every thing about my life every orientation of my life the purpose of my life has changed and remained absolutely consistent over those 20 years. I think if it were a psychopathology, that certainly isn’t a typical pattern.

When I was on “Journey Home” Alice von Hildebrand called in with that question.

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The following is excerpted from a transcription of the show that Schoeman referred to: “Journey Home: Convert from Judaism Roy Schoeman” 1/10/2005.” In his introduction, host Marcus Grodi called Salvation is From the Jews “A wonderful book.”

Philosopher Dr. Alice von Hildebrand called in and said in her heavily-accented English: “Thank you for Your superb presentation which is deeply moving. I read your book with special interest.

“But having spent my life with atheists and secularists, if they watched this show they would put the following question to you:

“Here is this brilliant young man who has fallen prey to a hallucination. And his dream about a beautiful woman is sending a call for psychoanalysis! I know that people who have some spiritual experience know that Catholic masters have known to distinguish between sick apparitions and true ones. Could you kindly enlighten your viewers on this?”

Schoeman’s reply to von Hildebrand:
“I can’t sit here and say that I’m not a delusional paranoiac hallucinating. But I can say that this happened 18 years ago now. And I have certainly behaved more responsibly than I have ever before in my life. . . . If this is a form of insanity this is pretty untypical.

“Usually one does not maintain the illusion of being productive and responsible for that long after going crazy.”
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Q: Let’s talk about your second book Honey from the Rock: Sixteen Jews Find the Sweetness of Christ [released March 2007]. What were some of the more surprising things you learned while compiling your new book?

A: I think the stories I have compiled in Honey from the Rock are compelling in a lot of ways. I was fascinated to see how consistently it was through supernatural intervention that Jews are brought into the Church.

They were experiences like mine, essentially theophanies, direct breakthroughs of the supernatural into the material world in order to answer the questions that the Jews had been wrestling with. “Is there a God? And what is the real truth?”

One case was David Moss, a middle manager, who was sitting in his office agonizing over the meaning of life when he was literally brought up to heaven. From his office at IBM!

Most of the cases in the book were simply Jews who were earnestly seeking even if they were not aware of it they were seeking God seeking the truth. At which point God in His sovereign exercise of His majesty reached out to them.
Stories like that show how dear the Jewish people are to God’s heart and how eager He is to bring them to the truth and to the fullness of relationship with Him in the Catholic Church if only they would ask like the Gospel says, “Seek and ye shall find. Knock and the door shall be open.”

The Scriptures say Greeks seek wisdom and Jews seek signs. There may be something to them being so stubborn and hard hearted that it takes a miracle to get them to accept how wrong they’ve been.

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1 Corinthians 1-22.
22 For Jews ask for signs, Greeks seek after wisdom,

23 but we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Greeks,

24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
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Hermann Cohen happened to be in a Church during Eucharistic adoration when the host was elevated and received an instantaneous conversion. [Cohen was a pianist and protégée of Franz Liszt who after his conversion became a Carmelite friar, Father Augustin Marie of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and spent the rest of his life preaching the faith and championing Eucharistic adoration.]

Alphonse Ratisbonne was very anti-Christian and received an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was wearing a Miraculous Medal and saying the Memorare every day on a dare. And he saw the Blessed Virgin Mary as she appeared on the Miraculous Medal. [Ratisbonne also became a priest and with his brother founded the Sisters of Sion, to pray for the Jews.]

And author Ronda Chervin [who also was on the pilgrimage to Israel where we met] was looking at a painting of Jesus that became alive.

Q: In your experience that you described in both books of “falling into heaven” when you were walking the beach, you said to God, "Let me know your name so I know what religion to follow so I can worship and serve you properly. I don’t mind if you are Apollo and I have to become a Roman pagan. I don’t mind if you are Buddha and I have become Buddhist. I don’t mind if you are Krishna and I have to become Hindu as long as you are not Christ.” How is it that you didn’t recognize God as the God you had worshipped as a devout Jew in your youth?

A: The God who revealed himself to me was all love, and I would say that I thought of the God of the Old Testament as far more distant and implacable and severe.

Q: What do you think is intriguing people about what you have written?

A: When I wrote the first book, I thought that it would appeal to a very small section of Catholics who for some reason had a similar interest in Jews and Judaism. And I was very surprised it became somewhat of a best seller and hit such a responsive chord among a wide range of Catholics.

One reason for it I think is that Judaism and the Catholic faith are not two different faith systems. They are exactly the same religion, separated in time by the fact of the coming of the Messiah.

And therefore, looking at the relationship between the two resonates very deeply and richly and makes somehow more concrete and more compelling for Catholic readers their own Catholic faith.

I think there is another dimension too. I think that we are living in the times that St. Paul alluded to in the Letter of the Romans when the number of the Gentiles is close to complete, when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, the veil will be lifted from the eyes of the Jews and there will be a wave of Jewish entry into the Church, and that will be the final completion of the Church to precede the Second Coming.

I think because that supernaturally it is that time, on some level therefore God is inspiring this interest.

Q: Talk about your experience with the Catholic Church.

A: I came into the Catholic Church essentially totally convinced of its correctness of its truthfulness of its direct link to God.

So I would say the only thing that really surprised me later about the Catholic Church is the fact that a fair number of Catholics don’t realize the truth in their own faith. That many people are Catholic because their parents are Catholic and they were born into it.

And so they’ve never really come into it on their own. They don’t actually see the unique relationship to the Truth and to God that’s represented by the Catholic faith. And that was really my only surprise that people can be Catholic and not know what a treasure they have.


A shorter version of this interview was published at National Catholic Register in Sept., and you can read a copy of the article here

Find out more about Roy Schoeman at his website.
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