WICHITA, Kan. (CNS) — Scott Hahn told a packed convention hall in Wichita that Carmelite Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the Fatima visionaries, had once predicted the “decisive battle” between the Lord and Satan would be regarding marriage and family.
And that battle is being fought today, said Hahn, who gave three talks during the Catholic Family Conference Aug. 4-6.
One of the most popular Catholic speakers in the country, Hahn, who is a professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, told of how Italian Cardinal Carlo Caffarra had received the visionary’s prediction after writing her asking for prayers.
The battle is not a modern one, Hahn said, adding that the battle was initiated at the dawn of history when Satan tempted Adam and Eve. “We need to recognize the importance of this,” he said.
Hahn, whose talks centered on Mary and St. Joseph, said he first heard about Our Lady of Fatima on his fifth wedding anniversary. On the day they were planning a dinner celebration, Hahn said his wife, Kimberly, went into labor and instead of going to a five-star restaurant, they drove to a Grove City, Pennsylvania, hospital.
To pass the time he turned on the television and heard the distinctive voice of Ricardo Montalban narrating a documentary about Our Lady of Fatima. “I was transfixed, but Kimberly was having contractions and said. ‘Would you help me and quit watching TV!'”
In the documentary, Montalban talked about the miracles of Fatima and how they were witnessed by thousands, Hahn said. “I had never heard of any of it.” It was published in the Lisbon newspaper. “Nobody could deny the miracle of the sun!”
That turn of events led Hahn, a former Presbyterian, and later his wife, to become Catholics.
After he became a Catholic in 1986, which he discusses in his book “Rome Sweet Home,” Hahn said he began thinking about ways to build bridges to the church for “our separated brothers and sisters.” Mary was one of the challenges.
But, she was the perfect follower of Jesus, Hahn said, she is the perfect model, adding that the faithful should follow Mary as she follows Jesus.
“When we behold the Blessed Virgin, we behold the masterpiece of Jesus,” he said. “Jesus is the light of the world, but she is the perfect prism‚ she is Jesus’ most perfect work.”
Mary was the last impediment to him becoming Catholic, Hahn said, taking years of study and struggle to overcome. And today the rosary is his favorite prayer. “I studied the Bible but I didn’t really know it until I read it through her eyes.”
In another presentation, Hahn talked about the Holy Family, how Jesus is common in the earthly trinity with Mary and Joseph, and the eternal Trinity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. “Jesus is the earthly image of God the Father,” he said.
“God takes his place in the (earthly) holy family and invites each of us to find our place in it as well,” Hahn said.
When Jesus cried out on the cross to his Father, he said, he gave us the spirit of son-ship so that we, too, can cry out ‘Abba!’, he said.
“Nobody looked in the mirror this morning and said, ‘Finally, I’m holy!’ he said. “On earth all of us are saints in the making.”
In fact, Hahn added, we are on “probation,” working to stay in a state of grace and using the sacrament of confession to return us to that state of grace when we sin.
“Heaven is not another denomination,” he said. “There aren’t two churches. … The angels and the saints above are united to us.
“This is why we’re here, this is the reason we were made. Heaven right now is thriving, it’s not some kind of retirement community. They’re asking us to look up to them.”
The love that our friends and family have in heaven is what God has perfected, he said. “They understand in ways that we can’t. They have moved on, moved up, and moved in. Talk about having friends in high places!”
Hahn said we on earth are the “church militant” because we are in a battle. Those in heaven, “you might say, are the high command.”
“The church on earth is not a nursery, it’s more like a boot camp, like a field hospital,” he said. “The saints are simply those who graduated from the school of suffering. Those in hell are those who chose to drop out.”
“We are members of one body,” Hahn said, “they are members of the same body.”
“God loves us more than we can possibly imagine. He’s given us families to give us a foretaste of what it will be.”
Riggs is editor of the Catholic Advance, newspaper of the Diocese of Wichita.