Program #0201 for Thursday, December 15, 2011: Tim Tebow; Pope going to Cuba, Mexico; Death of Cardinal Foley; Miracles for Sheen, Cope

December 15, 2011

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Susan Abbott

Today’s guest(s): Fr. Roger Landry, executive editor of The Anchor, the newspaper of the Fall River diocese; and Gregory Tracy, managing editor of The Pilot, the newspaper of the Boston archdiocese

Links from today’s show:

  • The Anchor
  • The Pilot
  • Some of the stories discussed on this show will be available on The Pilot’s and The Anchor’s websites on Friday morning. Please check those sites for the latest links.

Today’s topics: Tim Tebow; Pope going to Cuba, Mexico; Death of Cardinal Foley; Miracles for Sheen, Cope

Summary of today’s show: Why do the secularists hate Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow so much? Because his public Christian faith confronts the deeply held knowledge of the existence of God they try to deny, conclude Scot Landry, Susan Abbott, Fr. Roger Landry, and Gregory Tracy, as the consider this question and other news of the week, including Pope Benedict’s announcement of visits to Cuba and Mexico next year; the death of Cardinal John Foley, the “voice of Christmas”; and discussion of miracles attributed to the intercession of Archbishop Fulton Sheen and Blessed Marianne Cope, which could advance their causes of canonization.

1st segment: Scot and Susan discussed how we are in the homestretch to Christmas with the momentum building toward the feast. Susan said there was a workshop at St. Michael, Bedford, on religious education for children with disabilities. They plan to do more workshops on the subject in the spring. They work with the parents to bring the kids into the mainstream of religious education.

Scot and Susan previewed our first story today on Denver Bronco’s quarterback Tim Tebow and his public practice of his Christian faith, including the controversy over it.

2nd segment: Scot it’s fascinating to turn on the secular sports and talk shows and hear that everyone wants to talk about Tim Tebow. Tebow has led the Broncos to a 7-1 record since he took over the team and many of his wins have been “miraculous”. Some people have been turned off by his wearing his faith on his sleeve. Fr. Michael Harrington gave a homily this week in which he asked whether as Christians we’re all supposed to wear our faith on our sleeves. Scot said Tebow doesn’t throw the God or Jesus around cheaply.

Fr. Roger wrote an editorial this week in The Anchor on why secularists despise Tim Tebow. Fr. Roger said secularists are those who live as if God doesn’t exist and they don’t want to be confronted with the reality of faith in their own interactions. This is why there is an effort to eliminate Christmas from mention in favor of Holidays, for example. Tim Tebow isn’t like some athletes who clearly isn’t living a relationship with Jesus, but thanks God at the end of a win. Tebow spends his time off volunteering in hospitals and going on the missions. Tim Tebow is clearly a sign of contradiction, which is why he’s considered a controversial figure. People trying to reject Tebow are rejecting him not as a football player, but as a Christian. Tebow thanks Jesus for vitories and defeats, for his teammates, for his career, and so on.

Scot said NFL Films miked Tim Tebow for last week’s game and last night they aired some of the excerpts. During the game, on the sideline, Tebow is humming Christian hymns under his breath. And when one of his receivers dropped a critical pass, he goes to the receiver and encourages him and tells him he will succeed for the rest of the game. And he did.

Scot asked Susan why people despise him for his Christianity. Susan said it sounds like he is a product of a faith-filled home. Maybe people dislike him because he holds a mirror up to us and makes us feel bad about how we’re living our lives. There have been other athletes, including Mohammed Ali who gave praise to Allah, who were public in their expressions of faith.

Scot noted that Tim Tebow’s mom had been told to abort Tim in the womb because he wouldn’t be healthy. She refused based on her faith, and now he’s known for how tough he plays the position of quarterback. Prior to entering the NFL, he and his mom made a Super Bowl commercial with the pro-life message. Greg said it strikes him that a generation or two ago, this wouldn’t be all that unusual to see a public figure living his faith. He said it confronts people in their lives and decisions. Modern secularists are going against the small spark inside all of us that knows that God exists and Tebow’s example reminds them of that. Greg noted how his wife will be out with their ten children at the supermarket who will start talking to her out of the blue, either to criticize her for family size or making an apology for how many children they had. They have been confronted by that reality.

Scot said Tebow isn’t imposing his Christianity on anybody. It’s not contrived. It’s just who he is. He just exudes his faith. It makes us consider how much we wear our faith publicly. The militant secularists are trying to impose on us to take our faith out of public view and then trying to say that guys like Tim Tebow are trying to impose their faith on the rest of us.

Scot asked Fr. Roger why the war on Christmas is bigger now in 2011 than ever before. Fr. Roger said there’s now some fight back from the religious. The Obama administration and its lack of appreciation for religious freedom is waking a sleeping bear. We’re tired of it and we’re not going to take it any more.

Fr. Roger said when he was in kindergarten, some kids often picked on the smart kids. We’re seeing a similar immaturity in our society, which defines virtues as sins. Many secularists see Christianity as harmful and if Tim Tebow becomes popular it can do damage to that perception. He asked why people are so fascinated by Tebow’s “miraculous” fourth-quarter comebacks. People want to know if God is helping Tim Tebow because he’s a good Christian; If so, what does it mean for me if I’m not a good Christian. People are rooting for him to fail because if he continues to succeed, it lifts up a mirror on their own conscience.

Scot said obviously God is not rooting for the Denver Broncos. He can intervene in anything if it fulfills his divine plan, but it’s not because someone prays for their team to win. Fr. Roger said God responds to prayer like parents respond to kids. Kids may ask for something silly and the parents may say okay if it’s not essential and there’s no reason not to. God could allow Tim Tebow to win, but remember that Christ died on Good Friday. That would have seemed like defeat in human eyes, but it fulfilled God’s plan. It might be God’s plan to let Tim Tebow show through humility and defeat the greater Christian virtue. That said, his faith clearly has an impact on his work on the football field. He never gives up on the field and believes that all things are possible, that you can steal victory from the jaws of defeat. And his character supports and encourages his teammates. Nobody criticizes Derek Jeter for his philandering, but they do criticize Tebow for his virginity.

3rd segment: Scot said Pope Benedict XVI has confirmed he’ll be traveling to Cuba and Mexico at the end of 2012. Greg’s wife comes from Cuba. Scot said he’s sure the Holy Father wants his trip lead to greater freedom like Pope John Paul’s visit a decade ago did. Greg said many Americans don’t know much about Cuba, despite it being 90 miles from the US coast. The poverty of the people is amazing and they have undergone a lot of suffering. In addition, with an official push for atheism, many young Cubans don’t have and have a great yearning for God. The Holy Father will be visiting the national shrine of Our Lady of El Cobre, which is a national symbol of unity for Cubans. The Church has also played a huge role in helping people meet their basic needs, especially through Catholic Charities. The Pope will be there at the end of March.

In Mexico, the Holy Father will go to Leon, northwest of Mexico City, but not Mexico City itself.

Fr. Roger said some speculation is that Vatican officials were afraid of the health impact of the high altitudes in Mexico City on the Holy Father. However, he thinks the Holy Father is trying to go to a place that isn’t typically associated with the practice of the faith to show the message of the Incarnation in this hemisphere. In the heart of a modern city, a secular metropolis, Christ comes to save. It puts into image the message of Pope Benedict. He will be there on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25.

Scot said another story in the Anchor is about the Blackstone Valley Catholic Youth Choir with 19 eight-to-fifteen year olds, who sing traditional hymns mainly at St. Brendan’s in Bellingham, but also at other parishes. Fr. Roger said there is a new movement to help kids recognize that they are heirs to the incredible beauty of traditional Latin chant, which is part of the Church’s liturgy going back for 1,600 years.

Fr. Roger said at a parish in Sugarland, TX, he visited, they had a kindergartener choir singing Gregorian chant and it was amazing how much they enjoyed it and how well they sang it. One child said she loved it because they weren’t just singing it together, but with hundreds of saints who have sung it before them and it made her feel more Catholic. Fr. Roger encouraged parents to read the story and see if they can help their own kids open up to this incredible spiritual treasury. The director of the choir is Michael Olbash. Susan said he is well-respected in this area and nationally as a music director. susan said this is evidence of the product of good catechesis.

Scot asked Fr. Roger’s reaction to Cardinal John Foley’s death, who served for many years in the Vatican as the “voice of Christmas” and the head of the Council for Social Communications. Fr. Roger said he was an incredible Christian and a theologian. Fr. Roger remembered when he was in Rome for his first Christmas at seminary that Cardinal Foley took the time to learn their names and then mention them by name during the broadcast of the Mass. He remembered going out to lunch with the Cardinal by happenstance on Fr. Roger’s birthday and then never forgot that date and would call him every year on his birthday. That’s the kind of Christian gentleman Cardinal Foley was.

Greg said he met the cardinal at the Catholic Press Association a few years ago, where he met with many of the members of the press. He was a great communicator. He had a unique skill set. He was once editor of a diocesan newspaper and addressed the association as a peer, acknowledging the challenges of being a communicator within the Church, sometimes delivering tough news with love.

Scot said it’s a significant loss for the Church when a cardinal dies. In the US we have 17 cardinals, about half of them retired. Susan said the National Association of Catechetical Media Professionals has also marked the passing of Cardinal Foley. She said NBC NEws, the night he died, Brian Williams said NBC has lost a good friend and that Midnight Mass would never be the same. She said Cardinal Foley was visionary for communications in the Church.

4th segment: Scot said the cause for the canonization of Archbishop Fulton Sheen had a major milestone when testimony and evidence in the investigation of a miracle has been sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The miracle involved a woman who had a devotion to Sheen and when her baby was born without a heartbeat, she prayed to Sheen, and 61 minutes later his heart was beating. The investigators look for any medical explanation and if not, that would advance Sheen closer to canonization.

Greg said many people nationally are looking for his canonization. If we’re looking for evidence that God is alive and working in people’s lives, these miracles are clear evidence for it. This child with no heartbeat for an hour had no brain damage and is perfectly healthy and normal. Susan said the miracles point to nothing but the Lord. It’s not because the mother was particularly holy and thus deserved a prayer more than others. It’s because God wanted this particular miracle to happen.

Blessed Marianne Cope’s miracle has been approved. She worked with St. Damien of Molokai in Hawaii. Greg said he was recently in Honolulu for a couple of days, where he learned much more about the work on Molokai with the lepers. This work was a sign of seeing Christ in the other. No one would go near them, but she did this for 30 years out of the love of Christ. The last milestone for canonization is approval by Pope Benedict XVI and setting a date.

Scot said in this week’s Pilot there is an article by Msgr. Deeley, the vicar general, on the blessing of priests for all of us.There is also another article by Joe D’Arrigo, executive director of the clergy funds, which reflect on how we can remember the senior priests who served us well during the Christmas collection.

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