|Not me! This is Ralph Martin!|
I'm one of the bloggers participating in this month to give some attention to excellent Catholic speakers across the USA (and beyond, I suppose, but I note they are English speakers!). Other speakers and their interviews available at Brandon Vogt's The Thin Veil.
I drew Ralph Martin, who is director of Graduate Theology Programs in Evangelization at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, the host of an EWTN Show "The Choices We Face," president of Renewal Ministries, consultor to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, and the author of many books, including The Fulfillment of All Desire: A Guidebook for the Journey to God Basedon the Wisdom of the Saints and his newest, Will Many Be Saved? What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for theNew Evangelization. He and his wife Anne reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
He graciously agreed to answer a few of my emailed questions in spite of going to Rome, like, practically tomorrow. If you want to see him in action, there is a Renewal Ministries channel on Vimeo with a lot of his speaking (another is embedded at the end of this interview). Everyone: enjoy!
IC: I'm a college professor more than a speaker, but I find when I talk Catholic theology, I encounter a lot of ignorance and a lot of spiritual thirst, thirst they don't even know they have. What do you encounter?
RM: I seem to encounter two types: those who are open, want to be Catholic and are moving towards deeper commitment; those who are confident they are Catholic but have developed a very deficient view of what Vatican II actually teaches, have drifted far away from a Biblical and truly Catholic world view, and are shocked when they hear the Bible, Vatican II and the Catechism taught with confidence and authority.
IC: You have a new book out on the New Evangelization. Does encouraging and cultivating excellent Catholic speakers (in person, online, podcasts, etc.) have a role in the New Evangelization? If it does, what does that look like?
RM: Every form of speaking truth in love is part of Catholic evangelization, whether it be preaching, teaching, counseling, apologetics, personal conversations, or social media.
IC: I'm going to play devil's advocate here for a moment. Most of the life-changing encounters with God in my own life have occurred in relative silence, or quiet conversation--in prayer. Couldn't someone argue we live in a culture that is noisy enough?
RM: We have to detach from the constant stimulation of the culture in order to have enough silence in our life to hear the voice of God. As the psalm says: Be still and know that I am God.
IC: I'm a supporter of Renewal Ministries and think you all do great work. One reason I support it is that I have a charismatic background and spirituality, and find some sympathy there. Where do you think Catholic Charismatic Renewal is going these days?
RM: Charismatic renewal is doing differently in different countries and in different parts of this country. I think the most significant thing is that the scriptural, theological and spiritual awareness that has been stimulataed by this renewal is now being received in a very real way by the whole Church.
IC: Who is your favorite saint? And is there a saint that could really be called a saint for our time...a patron of the early 2000s?
RM: I like them all and what they all have in common no matter how different their way of life or particular vocation is that they loved God and their neighbor mightily.
IC: It is clear from The Fulfillment of All Desire that you are appreciative of John Paul II, and his call to make parishes "schools of prayer." How can Catholic speakers help do that?
RM: A lot of the practical teaching contained in the wisdom of the Church in her saints and explicated in The Fulfillment of All Desire is virtually unknown by most Catholics today. It needs to be taught – from the pulpit, in adult ed classes, in RCIA, etc.
IC: Finally, most Catholics aren't going to become Catholic speakers at missions, parishes, conferences, on podcasts. But we are called to speak up to the best of our ability as needed for the faith. How do we all become "better speakers for Christ"?
RM: We are all “on mission” whether we know it or not and our mission includes our family, our work environment, our neighborhood and our parish. We all are called to be alert to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and be prepared to “give a reason for the hope within us.”
Thanks so much for the exchange of emails, Ralph, and I encourage people to listen to him speak or read one of his excellent books. Let's go out and speak the truth in love, everyone. --IC