Fullness of Truth focuses on evangelization
By Enedelia J. Obregón
It was standing room only at Santa Cruz Parish in Buda as the Fullness of Truth Catholic Evangelization Ministries brought speakers, books, CDs and DVDs to promote “The New Evangelization: The Bible, the Eucharist and the Family of God” to Central Texas.
The conference featured Scott Hahn, one of the best known converts to Catholicism, who is president and board chairman of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and an author and teacher. Other speakers were Michael Barber, author and senior fellow for the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and a professor of theology, Scripture and Catholic thought at John Paul the Great University; and John Bergsma, author and associate professor of theology at the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, also a convert to Catholicism.
The event also offered the rosary, the sacrament of reconciliation, the chaplet of Divine Mercy and a vigil Mass.
Christian Peña, a parishioner at St. Ignatius Martyr Parish in Austin, said she attended to strengthen her faith after returning to the church three years ago. Peña, 27, became inactive following her confirmation as a teenager.
“I felt something was missing,” she said about returning to Catholicism. “So I’m buying a lot of books because I want to learn more about my faith.”
Windra Sugiaman of St. Lawrence Parish in Sugarland, drove from the Houston suburb with her three daughters because she had always wanted to see Hahn.
Sugiaman, who grew up Buddhist, attended Catholic school in her native Indonesia and converted in middle school. While her parents were unhappy at first, they eventually converted to Catholicism.
“My mother-in-law told me about Scott Hahn and she gave me CDs and books,” she said. “I like him.”
Bergsma was the first speaker of the two-day conference in July with the topic “Mass Conversion: How I Discovered the Eucharist in the Church.” He recounted his journey from becoming a Protestant minister to his conversion in 2001 after attending Notre Dame University to pursue his doctorate in theology.
Bergsma said he questioned the Protestant beliefs of sola fide –– faith alone is all that’s needed for salvation –– and sola scriptura –– that the Bible is all that is necessary for faith and practice and since it is it is a direct revelation from God has divine and final authority.
As an example, he used his experience as a preacher in a small community where a woman moved in with her boyfriend. He told her it was wrong. She replied, “I am saved by faith alone. It doesn’t matter what I do. Jesus will look at my faith alone.”
“We know when we knowingly do something wrong it’s a mortal sin,” Bergsma said.
In an inner-city neighborhood, he noticed many small, cash-starved denominations proselytizing and doing the same work.
Wouldn’t it be something, he wondered, if we could all be on the same page and we had one church and then we’d have enough money to do what was needed?
He realized that couldn’t happen because Protestant denominations each had their own interpretation of the Bible.
“The Bible alone could never be the source of Christian unity because each one of us had our own interpretation of the Bible. There was no core, no authority or arbiter or judge who could make correct interpretations,” he said.
Sola scriptura, he said, “makes everybody into their own pope, every believer decides what scripture means. This is religious relativism.”
It was at Notre Dame that he met the type of Catholic he never thought existed: a highly-intelligent person filled with the Holy Spirit who knew Scripture.”
“I thought ‘I’m going to convert him or he’s going to convert me,’” said Bergsma, who was confirmed and entered the Catholic faith on Feb. 24, 2001, at St. Matthew Co-Cathedral in South Bend, Ind.
Barber talked about “The Bible and the Rosary: How to Hear the Word of God in Prayer.”
Too many Catholics, he said, don’t know how to pray other than prayers learned by rote. We forget that prayer is a conversation that involves talking and listening. That leads to building a strong relationship. Too often, people pray to ask for something but forget the second part, which is listening. It also requires time.
“In order to have a good relationship with someone you have to talk to them,” he said. “It’s the same with the Lord. You also need to be in constant communication.”
When you love someone, Barber said, you talk to them more than an hour a week. He likened prayer to a couple falling in love, spending time together, talking and getting to know one another.
If we don’t communicate often, that relationship falls apart. The same happens with prayer.
The definition of a disciple is student, or someone who studies. Catholics cannot be full disciples of Jesus if they have not studied Scripture, he said.
Knowledge of Scripture also is necessary for evangelization, he said.
“All the learning is for nothing if we don’t pray,” he said. “The new evangelization begins with us. It’s easiest to hate the sins of other people rather than our own. But ours are the ones we can do something about.”
For information on upcoming conferences, go to www.fullnessoftruth.org or call 877-21-TRUTH.