April 21, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Today on my podcast I had the great pleasure of speaking with Dr. Scott Hahn about his newest book, “Hope to Die: The Christian Meaning of Death and the Resurrection of the Body.” It’s an amazing exploration of what the Catholic faith teaches on the meaning of death and on our eventual resurrection.
Dr. Hahn is known all over the world for his penetrating lectures, 40+ books, and his influential evangelizing efforts. He told me today that the release of “Hope to Die” was “divine timing” given the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I called the printer and said, ‘stop the presses! I need to rewrite that last chapter!’ So…I basically rewrote the last chapter in light of this crisis that we're all kind of living through.”
“You know, it’s strangely blessed and eerie for us,” he remarked. “For me and for my family, it was the lengthiest Lent I have ever known — a strangely blessed and eerie time.”
“But now that we're on the other side of Easter, I am really chomping at the bit to see the Mystical Body of Christ come out of this tomb, come out of this crisis, and to rediscover the glory of the Gospel.”
I asked Dr. Hahn what his thoughts were on the coronavirus’ impact on our churches closing and on laity not being able to access the sacraments.
“We were all caught off guard [by this virus] and we don't want to jeopardize the lives of our priests or our bishops,” he explained. “And so we ought to avoid any kind of congregating that would put people at risk.”
“At the same time,” he added, “I’m a father and I long to not only provide for my kids, but to feed them, to protect them, but to make sure that they're fed. And so for me to not have the Holy Eucharist through most of Lent and now through the beginning of Easter is not an easy thing.”
“I do wish that our spiritual fathers, our priests, could be more creative in imagining ways to dispense the sacraments instead of simply shutting the doors. I'm not in a position to judge them, you know. That is not my role. That's way beyond my pay grade. But, at the same time, as a son of God and as a brother in God's family, I can ask our Father in heaven to give to our shepherds a greater energy to creatively imagine ways to feed the sheep in spite of everything.”
Dr. Hahn has two sons in the seminary studying to be priests for the Diocese of Steubenville. He said that he hopes this crisis is not only a “wakeup call to see what all of us have at times taken for granted” but that Catholics will “seize the opportunity and re-appropriate the sacred mysteries.”
“It's forcing us to recognize not only the inevitability of our suffering and death, but there is also a sense in which we can recognize what God wants to do with it,” he said.
“We have such an inordinate fear of suffering and dying. And that's understandable. But at the same time…there's another life that is not merely human and natural, but divine and supernatural. And that isn't less valuable, but infinitely more valuable.”
Dr. Hahn and I also discussed whether or not COVID-19 is a sort of punishment from God.
“Well, you know, when people ask, ‘Is this a divine punishment?’…that’s a loaded question. It's also a complicated question. You know, I would say, ‘Is God getting even with us? Is God getting back at us?’ No. God is trying to get us back to Himself. That's the purpose of punishment. So is this a punishment? Well, yeah. And why? Because we have sinned.”
“We've got to see that God is a loving father. But, I tried to be that, too, with my six kids. And so when I punished my six kids…I didn't punish the neighbor's kids — even when it was more their fault. I punished my kids, but I didn't punish them because I stopped loving them or I started loving them less and less. No, I punished my kids because they're my kids and because I love them.”
“So does God punish us? Yes, but it's restorative. It's redemptive. It purifies us…God’s mercy is when God gives us what we need. Whether it's a virus, an epidemic, an earthquake or a volcano, or a cop pulling us over and giving us a DUI when we are finally forced to accept responsibility for all of our misused freedom. That is not wrath. That is mercy. That is love. And it usually comes wrapped in what feels like a punishment.”
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