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.

--------------------Start sidebar -------------------------
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.”
--------------------End sidebar ---------------------------

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.

http://www.salvationisfromthejews.com/christversion.html

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.

---------------------Start sidebar -------------------------
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.”
--------------------End sidebar ---------------------------

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.

--------------------Start sidebar -------------------------
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.
--------------------End sidebar ---------------------------

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.

Roy Schoeman and the Return of the Jews


Roy Schoeman and the Return of the Jews
From a Jewish Perspective Within the Catholic Faith


After Roy Schoeman's first book, Salvation is from the Jews, was published in late 2003 by Ignatius Press, the book became one of the press's top sellers. Then another one of their notable authors, Cardinal Ratzinger, became Pope Benedict XVI—at which point the Ratzinger titles started flying off the shelves. Even after being pushed down a few notches in the list by the new wave of interest in Ratzinger titles, Schoeman’s book was still holding its own the last time I checked, just below The Ratzinger Report and the Ignatius Bible.

Another book by Schoeman, Honey from the Rock: Sixteen Jews Find the Sweetness of Christ, was published this past March. I interviewed Roy Schoeman about his books at his home near the Massachusetts coast in late May 2006 and followed up with a phone interview. (See “Roy Schoeman Interview.)

Several years after its initial publication, Schoeman’s first book is still being talked about in many sometimes-unlikely places. I’ve seen Father Joseph Mary Wolfe, MFVE, quoted Schoeman several times in homilies during televised Masses on EWTN. A lay Carmelite named Marylou Roblin told me she gave a copy of Salvation is from the Jews to her Seventh Day Adventist dentist. A Mountain View, CA priest, Father Robert Finnegan frequently brings up one or another of the ideas Schoeman writes about at a monthly prayer group meeting I attend. Obviously, this is not the type of book that makes an initial stir at first release and then sinks into oblivion. The ideas Schoeman presents as the fruit of his studies have ancient roots in Jewish and Christian history and in the Sacred Scriptures and other writings of both traditions, and they bear looking at anew.

I contacted Mark Brumley President of Ignatius Press to ask how they decided to publish Schoeman’s first book, which was submitted as an unsolicited manuscript. Brumley wrote the following about why he, along with a team of editors, including Father Joseph Fessio, the founder and editor-in chief, made the decision. Brumley’s words are not only interesting in themselves but are also a good summary of some of Schoeman’s most important points.

"My initial reaction to it: This is a fascinating, moving and thoughtful story ... with a balanced Catholic theology of the place of Jews and Judaism in salvation history. Roy is not timid about his faith in Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah of Israel and the Catholic Church as having been founded by Jesus. But he also doesn't hold that God's saving purpose for Israel in history has been simply superceded by Jesus Christ and his establishment of the Catholic Church,. . . . His discussion of Judaism and the Holocaust casts light on the current circumstances of Judaism, and his treatment of Nazism's occult origins is riveting. ... I thought publishing the ms. would help further a much-needed discussion of how, while respecting the religious heritage of the Jewish people, the Church can and must carry on her mission to proclaim Jesus as the Savior of all——Jews and Gentiles alike."

The words of the title, Salvation is from the Jews, are the words of Christ to the Samaritan woman in John 4:22. As Brumley’s remarks and the subtitle “The Role of Judaism in Salvation History from Abraham to the Second Coming” clearly indicate, Schoeman’s writings address the question that some Catholic Christians still pose, “Was the role of the Jews finished when Christ came the first time?”

In the conversion stories he includes about prominent Jewish converts in both his books, Schoeman also describes special graces that God is sending to draw many Jews to the Catholic faith. Schoeman wrote in the chapter titled, “The Return of the Jews” that a Jew who becomes a Catholic is not a really a convert, but someone who is coming into the fullness of Judaism. This notion of return, Schoeman writes, is not odd when you realize that “the Catholic Church is simply the continuation and fulfillment of Judaism after the first coming of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah.” The return of the Jews, for Schoeman and for other Jews who have accepted Christ and Catholicism, is a turning away from the rejection of Christ at His First Coming. Also stressed in Schoeman’s work is the basis in Scripture and Tradition for the belief that the return of the Jews is a necessary prerequisite for Christ’s Second Coming.

Schoeman’s own conversion story was added to the end of the first book only at the insistence of Ignatius Press. Father Fessio has been quoted in interviews as saying that the press does not publish conversion stories, so the fact that Schoeman was asked to provide his story is remarkable in itself.

How Schoeman came to know Christ and the Catholic Church is awe-inspiring. Schoeman recounts two major events on the way to his baptism as a Catholic. The first was an experience of what he calls “falling into heaven” during a walk on the beach. Father Joseph Mary quoted this part of Schoeman’s story on EWTN several times because it bears consoling witness to God’s all-embracing love. Schoeman writes, “I saw my life laid out before me, seeing it as if I were reviewing it in the presence of God at the moment of my death.” He saw with great regret “all the time and energy I had wasted worrying about not being loved, when every moment of my existence I was held in the sea of God’s unimaginably great love.” A year later he had a vivid dream vision in which he was granted an audience with the Mother of God. “[W]hen I went to sleep I knew little about, and had no special sympathy for, Christianity in any of its aspects; when I awoke I was hopelessly in love with the Blessed Virgin Mary.” Schoeman writes that he then “knew that the God who had revealed himself to me on the beach had been Christ.”

My first contact with Roy Schoeman occurred while we were both on a pilgrimage to Israel in November 2005 (along with Father Joseph Mary who came along as one of the priest leaders). At the Notre Dame Pilgrimage Center in Jerusalem, Schoeman spoke on the evening of the day on which our group had gone to the Wailing Wall. During my own time at the one remaining wall of the Temple from the time of Christ, I had been moved to pray for those who still wait for the coming of the Messiah. So on that same night when I heard Schoeman speak, I found it especially meaningful that Schoeman asked the group to pray for the conversion of the Jews.

Some Catholics say these days that trying to bring Jews to Catholicism is always and everywhere the wrong thing to do. If you are one of those who think that way, I believe that you will think differently if you read Schoeman’s books.

This attitude some hold about Jewish conversion is vividly illustrated by an article about cloistered Carmelite nuns who live on Mt. Carmel (published in AP online and quoted at http://www.beliefnet.com/story/16/story_1675_1.html). The presence of French Carmelite nuns in Haifa was facilitated in the late 19th century by two Jewish brothers, Augustin and Joseph Lemann, who became priests and canons of the Catholic Church in Rome and close associates of Pope Pius IX. The nuns’ specific raison d’etre in Haifa was to pray for the conversion of the Jews. But after Vatican II a misunderstanding about the unique and essential role of Christ in salvation crept into the some circles in the Church, and like many others, the nuns of Mt. Carmel were not immune. In the above-mentioned article, Mother Angela del Bono, OCD, was quoted as saying that it would be as ridiculous for anyone to pray for the conversion of Jews to Catholicism as it would be for someone to pray for her to be a Muslim. Mother Angela told the reporter that the nuns on Mt. Carmel would never pray any more for Jews to become Catholics, that it is enough for Jews to be good Jews.

On this topic Schoeman writes, “Evangelization efforts aimed at Jews are frequently seen by Jews as a threat to their religion and their people and even compared to the Nazis’ attempts to exterminate them. Yet the words of Jesus and the Scriptures themselves make it abundantly clear that God Himself, and certainly Jesus Himself, very much wish the Jews to come to Him. It was one of His greatest sorrows just before His crucifixion, when He exclaimed, ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem.... How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!’ [Matthew 23:37)” As Schoeman’s quotes from the Lemann brothers and from Christ Himself show, there is no better way for a Jew to be a “good Jew” than to accept Christ and become a Catholic. So, ironically, those who are praying only for Jews to be good Jews may be praying better than they know.

Another aspect of Schoeman’s writings that mesh with my own interests is his description of a post-Holocaust Jewish theology that in many cases has turned to rejection of God Himself. As part of my preparation for the Israel pilgrimage, I re-read some writings of Holocaust author, Elie Wiesel. In response to the horrors of the sufferings of the Jewish people under Hitler, Wiesel blames God. Reading Wiesel raised this question in a new way in my mind: What is the purpose of the Holocaust in the divine plan? As I found out by reading Schoeman’s book, Wiesel is “an example of one who gives up on God’s faithfulness to His covenant with the Jews.” With the rejection of God among many Jews after the Holocaust as one of the many pieces of evidence, Schoeman has a lot to say about the Satanic roots of the Holocaust. Diabolical fury directed against the Jews in the form of pogroms and persecutions is to Schoeman is one strong indication of the continuing importance of the Jews in God’s plan for salvation.

This thread of Schoeman’s thought merits far more space than can be allotted here, but I want to mention how, quoting from many reliable sources, Schoeman shows that the Nazis opened the way into the depths of other types of moral depravity by practicing sexual impurity. Last November, Schoeman appeared on the EWTN TV show “The Carpenter’s Shop” to discuss the topic of the effects of unchastity and how it gives a foothold to Satan in all other areas of our lives.

Another of the benefits I gained from reading the first book is an exposure to passages from Jewish rabbinical writings that most Catholics never hear about, including the Talmud. Schoeman quotes a remarkable passage in the Talmud about a miracle that would occur at the yearly Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) sacrifice at the Temple. The High Priest would “enter the Holy of Holies and offer sacrifice for atonement for the sins of all Israel.” The Talmud and another Jewish work called the Zohar describe a scarlet thread that would turned white on the Day of Atonement “as a sign that God had accepted the sacrifice.” The Talmud recounts “For 40 years before the destruction of the Temple the thread of scarlet never turned white but remained red.” The year that the cord stopped turning white at the yearly sacrifice coincides with the year of Jesus’ crucifixion, so the Talmud inadvertently confirmed that the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross made the Temple sacrifices obsolete.

Schoeman’s ideas seem to be solidly in conformity with the Magisterium. While Pope Benedict XVI was still Cardinal Ratzinger, he wrote the following about Israel (used in the sense of the Jewish people) in his book God and the World, which was published by Ignatius Press in 2002, “Israel still has a mission to accomplish today. We are in fact waiting for the moment when Israel, too, will say Yes to Christ, but we also know that while history still runs its course even this standing at the door fulfills a mission, one that is important for the world.”

Last month, I published an interview with Roy Schoeman at National Catholic Register. This posting was also submitted, to NCRegister, but wasn't published.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Roman Breviary online and Super Flumina Babylonis



I found a valuable site browsing for a translation of Super Flumina (more precisely of "in sallicibus . . . suspendimus organa nostra") this morning. (Don't you do stuff like that at 6 am?)

I am overjoyed to find that the Breviary is online with Latin and English side by side. It is now set to be my default browser page.

This is from the website:
-------------------
The Confraternity of Ss. Peter & Paul was established for the purpose of inviting the Christian faithful throughout the world to give glory to God by uniting themselves with the Catholic clergy in that public prayer and liturgy which is the Divine Office.
--------------------

Oh yes, I did find my translation of the Psalm 136, which begins with the words Super flumina. We sing polyphonic versions of the psalm in The St. Ann Choir. It's below. I cut the end off, since it gets into vengeance against the Babylonians. Blessed be he who strikes the heads of your children against the stones (as you did to ours). That sort of thing.

Psalmus 136. Super flumina

1. Super flúmina Babylónis, illic sédimus et flévimus: * cum recordarémur Sion:
2 In salícibus in médio ejus, * suspéndimus organa nostra.
3 Quia illic interrogavérunt nos, qui captívos duxérunt nos, * verba cantiónum.
4 Et qui abduxérunt nos: * Hymnum cantáte nobis de cánticis Sion.
5 Quómodo cantábimus cánticum Dómini * in terra aliéna?

Psalm 136. Super flumina

By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, * when we remembered thee, O Sion.
2 Upon the willow trees that are therein, * we hanged up our harps.
3 For they that led us away captive, * required of us then a song.
4 And they that carried us away, said : * Sing us one of the songs of Sion.
5 How shall we sing the song of the Lord * in a strange land?

And then there is the reggae version:

Lyrics: Bob Marley - by the rivers of babylon lyrics

By the rivers of Babylon,
where we sat down,
and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.

For the wicked carry us away captivity
Require from us a song.
How can we sing King Alpha song
in a strange land?

So let the words of our mouth
and the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable in thy sight Over Us
--------------

My cousin's wife Dorothy wrote me the following:

"In my Hebrew Bible, it's Psalm 137, and the word [for organa] is "Kinor," which means
harp. "

One might imagine then a pipe organ in the willow trees, but it's more reasonable to see harps in one's mind's eye. They'd have to not be the big ones we use in our orchestras, of course, but small harps, like the harp that David played.


--------------------------------------------------

Also from breviary.net:

ANTE DIVINUM OFFICIUM

PRAYER BEFORE OFFICE

It is considered praiseworthy to say the following prayer, kneeling, in preparation for the Office; for which Pope Pius XI granted an Indulgence of three years.

(By local custom, it may be said either privately, or in unison by the whole Choir, but in a low tone of voice.)

KNEEL

Aperi, Dómine, os meum ad benedicéndum nomen sanctum tuum: munda quoque cor meum ab ómnibus vanis, pervérsis et aliénis cogitatiónibus; intelléctum illúmina, afféctum inflámma, ut digne, atténte ac devóte hoc Offícium recitáre váleam, et exaudíri mérear ante conspéctum divínæ Majestátis tuæ. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. Amen.

Dómine, in unióne illíus divínæ intentiónis, qua ipse in terris laudes Deo persolvísti, has tibi Horas (vel hanc tibi Horam) persólvo.

Open, O Lord, my mouth to bless thy holy Name; cleanse also my heart from all vain, evil, and wandering thoughts; enlighten my understanding and kindle my affections; that I may worthily, attentively, and devoutly say this Office, and so be meet to be heard before the presence of thy divine Majesty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Lord, in union with that divine intention wherewith thou, whilst here on earth, didst render praises unto God, I desire to offer this my Office of prayer unto thee.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

National Catholic Register article: "Sweetness and Light: Roy Schoeman on what drives many Jews to Christ"


Last month, I published an article about Roy Schoeman at National Catholic Register. The text of the article follows. I took the above photo at his home in Gloucester, Mass. when I interviewed him on Memorial Day, 2006. He is wearing a cap he bought in Jerusalem during the same trip on which I met him.

Sweetness and Light

Roy Schoeman on What Drives Some Jews to Christ
BY Roseanne Therese Sullivan
September 30 - October 6, 2007 Issue | Posted 9/25/07 at 11:46 AM

Roy Schoeman was born in a suburb of New York City of Conservative Jewish parents who had fled Nazi Germany.

Educated at MIT and Harvard Business School, Schoeman had a conversion to Christianity midway through a career of teaching and consulting. His first book, Salvation is From the Jews, examined the role of Judaism in salvation history as illumined by the Catholic faith.

He has pursued theological studies at several seminaries, helped produce and host a Catholic television talk show and edited and written for several Catholic books and reviews.

In March, Ignatius Press published Honey From the Rock: Sixteen Jews Find the Sweetness of Christ. Register correspondent Roseanne Therese Sullivan spoke with him.

Honey from the Rock was released in March. What were some of the more surprising things you learned while compiling it?

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 seekingGod, 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 opened.”

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.

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 protégé 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 was looking at a painting of Jesus that became alive.

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?

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.

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

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.

Talk about your experience with the Catholic Church.

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.

For people who may not know your first book, talk about the title: Salvation Is From the Jews: The Role of Judaism in Salvation History From Abraham to the Second Coming.

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 to 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.

Roseanne Therese Sullivan writes from San José, California.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Dear Liturgy and Romance Columnist

Dear Liturgy and Romance Columnist,

While I was walking on Drake's Beach in Marin County, CA, with a very attractive devout Catholic of the opposite sex in July, the subject of sacred music naturally (:-)) came up in the conversation. Fresh from the June 2007 Church Music Assocation colloquium, I ventured to articulate enthusiastically some of the ideas that I had been reading and hearing, which I had found very convincing.



For example, I told my friend that Gregorian chant is unique among all forms of music that could be used in the liturgy because it has only been used for worship. Because of its origins within the liturgy of the Church as it developed over the early centuries, chant brings into the ritual no profane associations with external things.

I told him that some say poetically that chant is sung prayer. Chant is not something added to the liturgy like hymns are. Chants (such as the Introit, the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Sanctus, and Communion chants) are an intrinsic part of the liturgy.

I added that in spite of the claims of those who I believe hijacked Vatican II, the council’s first document--on the sacred liturgy--said that Gregorian chant should have pride of place. It also said that polyphony should be allowed, that the organ was the canonical musical instrument because it raises one's mind to higher things.

As a matter of fact, I told him, Latin was not excluded by 2nd Vatican council. The documents actually said that the vernacular should be "allowed" in cases where it would aid understanding, as in the proclamation of the Gospel. It is a far cry from allowing the use of the vernacular to the notion that Latin was to be forbidden from then on.

My friend, who not coincidentally sings the new music happily (including songs by the St. Louis Jesuits, who many traditional-music-lovers abhor) and plays guitar and bass at his church, red-facedly started figuratively pawing in the sand and roaring that those who put these arguments forth just don't like modern music.

His arguments were all ad hominem. According to him, we all use these arguments only because we prefer the old way.

I am disappointed in this fellow, who is otherwise a good conversationalist, well-educated, well-adjusted, devout, and pleasant (not to mention cute). I believe he is doing what he accuses us of doing, arguing from his own preferences.

He, for his part, did not offer any arguments to back up his dislike of the official sacred music of the Church. His only argument was that what I was trying to tell him was hooey.

We somehow fell into the same argument this week again during a phone call, and I reproached him for not giving the points I raised any consideration. The fact that he will not address this topic on an intellectual level lowers him a great deal in my estimation.

What do you do with someone like that? He was born in 1956, and so probably grew up mostly hearing only the new music.