Quest for a Culture of Life in America with Steve Koob

Steve Koob, founder and executive director of One More Soul, hosts a weekly program in which he interviews some of the people making a significant contribution to the Culture of Life. The hope and prayer is that Radio Maria listeners will be inspired by these guests, and will find ways that they too can foster a Culture of Life in their community, Church, and family.

May 05, 2015 – Roy Schoeman–Catholic Liturgy’s Roots in Judaism Liturgy

Radio Maria listeners may already be well acquainted with Roy Schoeman who hosts “Salvation is from the Jews”, educating listeners on the many foundational connections between Judaism and Catholicism.  He is a convert from orthodox Judaism to Catholicism.  His fascinating conversion story and information about his book Salvation is from the Jews may be found at
Roy was born in a suburb of New York City of “Conservative” Jewish parents who had fled Nazi Germany.  His Jewish education and formation was received under some of the most prominent Rabbis in contemporary American Jewry, including Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, probably the foremost Conservative Rabbi in the U.S. and his hometown Rabbi growing up. His secular education included a B.Sc. from M.I.T. and an M.B.A. magna cum laude from Harvard Business School. Midway through a career of teaching and consulting (he had been appointed to the faculty of the Harvard Business School) he experienced an unexpected and instantaneous conversion to Christianity which led to a dramatic refocus of his activities. Since then he has pursued theological studies at several seminaries, helped produce and host a Catholic Television talk show, and edited and written for several Catholic books and reviews.  
This week’s program is intended to acquaint us with the Jewish religious beliefs and practices, especially those that form the basis/model for much of what we recognize as Catholic Liturgy and rituals. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) this is very important, “A better knowledge of the Jewish people’s faith and religious life as professed and lived even now can help our better understanding of certain aspects of Christian liturgy”(CCC 1096).*
We will also be talking about From the Kippah to the Cross, A Jew’s Conversion to Catholicism, by  Jean-Marie Elie Setbon, Ignatius Press, 2015, which I found to be exceptionally captivating and educating.  For example, I did not realize:
  • there were so many varieties of Judaism–not unlike Christianity, and even Catholicism with its many Rites;
  • Jews so hated (not too strong a word, it seems) a convert to Catholicism–not unlike the Muslims;
  • God could be so persistent and patient in hunting for one of His lost sheep;
  • there was a Jewish process for finding one’s spouse–somewhere between arranged marriage and speed-dating;
  • “Judaism and Christianity”–the concluding chapter–have so much in common yet are still so far apart.
I highly recommend it, so do your Catholic bookstore a favor and order from them.

This program’s principle purpose is to understand the Jewish roots of the Liturgy–Mass.  Ancient peoples recognized a higher power that needed to be pleased/honored/worshiped/thanked/feared for their well-being.  I presume that the Jewish Liturgy rests on that foundation and is a bridge to the Catholic Liturgy.  

I’ll be asking Roy to teach us:

  • how Jewish Tradition and Torah defined the first Century Catholic Mass;
  • the commonality between Jewish rituals and Mass rituals;
  • what (if anything) has been lost (and gained?) during two Millennia of Liturgical development.
My intense interest in the Liturgy is a recent phenomenon, but precipitated by a comment from friend and Oby/Gyn Dr Lorna Cvetkovitch, a dozen years ago, “If we don’t get the Liturgy right , we will never have a Culture of life”. 
I am very eager to learn what Roy believes is needed to have the Liturgy be “right”?  I pray you are too!

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April 28, 2015 – Human Life International is leading the pro-life/family/marriage. How are they doing?

Fr Shenan Bouquet has been at the helm of Human Life International (HLI) for almost four years.  Why did he get tapped to lead this premier international apostolate by traveling around the world spreading the Gospel of Life as HLI’s president? He was ordained in 1993 and is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Roman Catholic Diocese in Louisiana, his home state, where he served before joining HLI in August 2011.
Fr. Boquet has already traveled nearly 500,000 miles to 26 countries, speaking at numerous international conferences.  He probably has had hundreds of interesting experiences in very diverse cultures that share our common Faith.  I am looking forward to asking him many questions, like:
·         Please give us some examples of the work you and your US staff do to support in-country pro-life efforts.  Please share some good news from the major areas of the world where HLI is making a difference.
·         Our government is promoting contraception, abortion, sterilization, same-sex “marriage” at home and abroad–the complete opposite of the teachings of the Catholic Church and the ministry of HLI.  Can you share some examples of US Government efforts and HLI’s counter efforts?  Who wins in these encounters?
·         Catholics and other Christians are being persecuted in some way in most parts of the world–including the USA.  How does that persecution affect your efforts to promote a Culture of Life?  Are your people at risk in Africa and the Middle East from Islamic terrorists?
·         In his encyclical Ecclesiam suam, Pope Saint Paul VI encouraged dialogue with all peoples including Muslims, granting Islam a comparable stature to Christianity and Judaism.  Popes John Paul II and Francis (and Benedict XVI?) have also reached out to the Muslims.  I suspect that some/many of our listeners are confused by this courting of a religion that is (and throughout history, has been) so often extremely hostile to Christians.  How does HLI deal with this seeming disparity?
·         We have had a series of Guests on this program discussing Liturgy–promoting a reform of the reform that followed VCII.  Msgr Ignacio Barrerio, Executive Director of the HLI Rome Office, made a case for a connection between Liturgical reform and the Defense of Human Life.  Do you find more traditional forms of the Liturgy prevalent in some of the countries you visit?  Do you see a stronger pro-life culture in those countries?  Is Mass celebrated ad orientum common in any country you know of?
·         The Conclusion to Msgr Barrerio’s Sacra Liturgia 2013 paper, “Sacred Liturgy and the Defense of Human Life”, was sooo encouraging in the eventual acceptance of God’s Truth and the consequent demise of the Culture of Death. Give us signs of hope!

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April 21, 2015 – Our Liturgy Series continues

Q.  Why are we having so many Guests on the Liturgy? 
A.  Because the FIRST GREAT COMMANDMENT says,  “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’38“This is the great and foremost commandment. (Matt 22:37-38)
Also, the Church commands us to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass–the Liturgy–on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation.  How we worship our God matters.  Our worship of God should be as perfect as humanly possible.  And so our Quest is for that most perfect Liturgy, and we look to Liturgists (students of Liturgy) for guidance.
Another reason is the oft quoted statement from Vatican Council II, “The Eucharist [Liturgy] is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.'(LG11)”(CCC1324)
Dom Alcuin Reid is one of the foremost experts on the Liturgy in the world today. He is a monk of the Monastère Saint-Benoît in the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France. After studies in Theology and in Education in Melbourne, Australia, he was awarded a PhD from King’s College, University of London, for a thesis on twentieth century liturgical reform (2002), which was subsequently published as ‘The Organic Development of the Liturgy’ with a preface by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Ignatius, 2005; trans. ‘Lo sviluppo organico della Liturgia’, Cantagalli, 2013). 
Dom Alcuin is at the center of the new liturgical movement called for by Cardinal Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), promoting an authentic interpretation of the Second Vatican Council’s call for liturgical reform within a hermeneutic of continuity, a critical assessment of its implementation and of the need for a reform of the reform. 

Dom Alcuin was the principal organizer of Sacra Liturgia 2013, the international conference on the role liturgical formation and celebration in the life and mission of the Church in Rome in June 2013 and edited its proceedings ‘Sacred Liturgy: The Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church’ (Ignatius, 2014).  
He is one of the principal organizers of Sacra Liturgia USA 2015 Conference in NYC, June 1-4 and will be telling us why this event is so important.

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April 14, 2015 – How to spend “Nine Months with Jesus in Mary’s Womb”

Josh Danis is the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Family and Respect Life Office Coordinator for the Northern Area of the diocese. In that position he has authored an exciting new program for helping all Christians appreciate the dignity of each human brother and sister.  His program draws our attention to Jesus the God-fetus during the 9 months He lived within Mary.

This initiative develops over 9 months from the Incarnation to the Nativity– March 25th to December 25th.  The materials are available at the Archdiocesan web site–  and include:
  • A “Dear Jesus of the Womb” prayer card with a depiction of Jesus in the womb on the other side.  How can you recognize the baby as Jesus?  (See PS for the answer.)
  • A monthly reflection on Jesus’ physical development tied to a Biblical story and a current situation where the dignity of human life is not universally accepted.
  • A brief bulletin announcement for each week of the month.
Parishes are encouraged to purchase the prayer cards and distribute them at every opportunity, publish the Monthly Reflection one weekend of the month, and include the bulletin announcement each week.  The primary purpose of this Respect Life Campaign is to foster prayer for a universal appreciation of the dignity of life at all stages and conditions.
Please join Josh and me to learn more about this innovative and non-controversial approach to protecting vulnerable children, women and men.  I am eager to learn what 9 issues are featured in this Prayer Campaign and how well it is being received throughout the Archdiocese of  Cincinnati.  It seems like it is a program that can be easily adapted to other dioceses.

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March 24, 2015 – Fr Joseph Fessio, SJ

Father Fessio  has many significant accomplishments to his credit.  He has gone from Civil Engineering student to study and teach philosophy and theology as a Jesuit priest. He is an igniter and leader having founded Campion College of San Francisco, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, The Catholic World Report and Adoremus: Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy.  He has been a guide for Ave Maria University as Chancellor, Provost and Theologian in Residence.
I want to get his opinion on many controversies in today’s Church and society:

  • The Liturgy–where is it headed?
  • AD of San Francisco teacher contracts–too far or not far enough?
  • Personhood Amendments that focus on natural law rather than judicial overreach–do they have a chance?
  • Pope Francis–innovative, unfocused, dangerous?
  • Pope Emeritus Benedict–how has he changed from when he was your major professor for theology doctorate to reigning and resigning pope?
  • Cardinals: Burke, Kaspar, Pell, and others regarding reception of Holy communion for those in irregular relationships?
  • Catholic press and media–how are Ignatius Press and other publishers doing?

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March 10, 2015 – “Physician Assisted Suicide”–yet another “right” to murder?!

Dana Cody serves as President and Executive Director of California based Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF).  On a daily basis she and her legal staff are embroiled in abortion, ObamaCare, assisted suicide and other threats to life of innocent and helpless human beings of any age, particularly unborn children. LLDF supports their advocates in a variety of our nation’s courtrooms.
Brittany Maynard’s very public assisted suicide in Oregon, and the Canadian Supreme Court’s recent (Feb 9, 2015) strike-down of Canada Law against assisted suicide, has emboldened the activists to introduce “Physician Assisted Suicide Laws” in 14 states–following Oregon, Washington and Vermont.
These laws vary from state to state.  What are the major differences among them?  Have any been tested before the US Supreme Court?  Does the process eventually lead to a national decision on what can be done, under what circumstances, and by whom?
It seems to me that there are fine lines between use of pain prevention medication and intentionally using medications to cause death and thus relieve pain. The ethics and morality of individual cases can be very complex.  I believe that Dana will be able to help us understand these complexities.

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March 03, 2015 – Simon IS my name–I’ll be your Guest on Radio Maria today!

Simon Crosier had a relatively short life—less than three months outside his mother’s womb. He had Trisomy 18 (also known as Edward’s Syndrome). In spite of his short life, Simon’s fame is growing because: a) his short life touched many others, b) his mom and brothers wrote two books about him, c) the State of Missouri Legislature is naming a law after him, and d) he represents all life-limited children

Simon is our Guest today on “The Quest for a Culture of Life in America”.  He will be represented by Sheryl Crosier, his mother, who continues to love him deeply and be his support though her love and concern for the other Simons by serving on the Board of Directors for SOFT—Support Organization for Trisomy 18, 13 and related disorders.

Sheryl authored the book I Am Not A Syndrome-My Name Is Simon which was published in August 2012. She also authored the children’s book, Hello, My Name Is Simon as told by Samuel and Sean Crosier, Simon’s big brothers, published in October 2014.
You can learn more about Sheryl, Simon, her books, and media interviews at
Sheryl will be joined by Anne Schmiesing the author of a recently published One More Soul pamphlet, “Hard Cases Close to Home” that briefly describes how three families in Western Ohio dealt with their Simon-like life experiences.
Please join us today to gain a new appreciation for the gift of life, and learn how Simon—and children like him—change the culture, one life at a time.

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February 24, 2015 – Why does a government agency–FDA–approve poison for its citizens?

Mitchell Kalpakgian, Ph.D. has been teaching at the university level for over fifty years, including 31 years as a professor of English at Simpson College in Iowa.   He still loves to write and teach, now part-time at various schools in New Hampshire. I would say that some of his books indicate a  Philosopher orientation, for example, The Lost Arts of Modern CivilizationModern Manners: The Poetry of Conduct and The Virtue of Civility, and The Virtues We Need Again. He came to my attention as one of the Senior Writers for Human life International’s Truth and Freedom Series, for which he recently penned “Legalized Poisons: The New Organization of Life”–which is the source for this week’s “Quest for a Culture of Life in America” program on Radio Maria.

Is it safe to presume that most adult Americans are taking at least one Food & Drug Administration approved prescription “drug”.  And, is it not also true that every one of these prescriptions is accompanied by a lengthy printout of directions, warnings, and instructions for what to do IF you overdose, or under-dose (miss a prescribed taking of pill), or what ever.  These hand outs also are very likely to state, “as with all medications, Pill XYZ may have side effects that could become serious.  Watch for these rare but possible conditions that may or may not be consequential to taking this medication.  Your physician (or other provider) has determined that the intended benefits of this prescription outweigh their  potential harm”–or other words to the same effect.

Okay, that is fair enough when what is being prescribed has been tested on animals and then humans and found to cure or diminish disease, reduce pain and suffering, and prolong life or improve the quality of life–with relatively minor “side effects”.

But how do “medications” that have the purpose of fostering unhealthy behaviors get into the mix? and with what consequences?Consider Hormonal birth control methods that reduce pregnancy and birth rates by contraception and abortion–both intrinsically evil by the teaching of the Catholic Church and Natural Law. Limiting birth rates is hard to justify as a legitimate health purpose, given that conception/pregnancy/birth are natural consequences of marital intimacy and conform to God’s desire that we by fruitful, multiply and fill the earth.  There are a multitude of health benefits to birthing and nurturing children, and a similar multitude of health risks consequent to the use of birth control.

So, why do we use birth control, and why do government agencies encourage it, and what does our Church have to say about it???

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February 17, 2015 – What Do Bible and Liturgy Have To Do with the Quest?—Part IV

Dr. Leroy Huizenga is Director of the Christian Leadership Center and Head of the Theology Department at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. He received his M.Div from Princeton Seminary in 2001 and his Ph.D. from Duke University in 2006. Dr. Huizenga was reconciled with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil of 2011.

He is first and foremost a Bible Scholar, helping modern Bible students (like all of us) recognize the dynamism/timelessness/personalness of the Bible—a consequence of it being the “inspired Word of God”—much more than the musings of its human writers. Professor Huizenga will help us see how biblical interpretation culminates in liturgy, from the Old Testament to the New, and how we should not be surprised by God providing new insights to the Liturgy, even now almost 2000 years after the “Last” Supper resulted in the First Mass and the First Ordination.  God is continuing to reveal Himself—His wisdom, knowledge, mercy, humility and love.

Dr Leroy will help us see how and why Liturgy matters, how Liturgy/Mass was established by Jesus, and is critical to our faith, life, and destiny.  Why is the Liturgy always going to be a mystery, why should the Liturgy exude beauty, and how are Liturgy and Marriage connected???

It seems like there are always more questions!  But isn’t that the nature of any MYSTERY?

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February 10, 2015 – Dr. Chris Kahlenborn challenges morality of Plan B rape protocol

Dr. Chris Kahlenborn is a Hospitalist at Holy Spirit Hospital in eastern Pennsylvania.  He is also a respected medical researcher in the area of hormonal birth control with published works on the breast cancer risks, documented in One More Soul pamphlets and, Breast Cancer Risk from Abortion and the Birth Control Pill, One More Soul, 2000.  He and colleagues have their research published in The Mayo Clinic Proceedings and Linacre Quarterly.

The quest for effective means for separating the unitive and procreative ends–bonding and babies–of God’s sacred act of sexual intercourse seems to be never-ending. Historians document these efforts from long before the time of Christ and of course continue in modern times with a strong focus on hormone ingestion based methods like the pill, shot, patch, implant and IUD.
Another approach is to find means for preventing conception/pregnancy/birth post-coital.  These methods would give couples who choose not to use birth control before intercourse (“unprotected”) a second opportunity to control the outcome of their intimacy.  The Morning After Pill, Plan B, and RU486 are of this birth control “family” of methods–often referred to as “emergency contraception”, with Plan B having the most popularity.
In fact, Plan B is commonly used to prevent pregnancy for rape victims seeking care in hospital trauma centers–emergency facilities.  The protocols used in most Catholic Hospitals attempt to determine a window of opportunity for Plan B to:

  • interfere with ovulation and thus prevent fertilization/conception, AND
  • NOT interfere with implantation–causing abortion–should fertilization/conception have already occurred.
Dr. Kahlenborn and colleagues  Drs Rebecca Peck and Walter Severs have raised questions about the efficacy of these protocols in preventing an early abortion.  Dr. Chris will help us sort out the associated controversies–moral and clinical.

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February 03, 2015 – Liturgy Part III: There are many Liturgical Rites! Is there a “BEST one?

Our Guest today is Father Thomas Kocik, a diocesan priest for the Diocese of Fall River in Massachusetts.  Father is a proponent (and celebrant) of the traditional Latin Mass who also celebrates the “Novus Ordo” (Ordinary Form) because that is what is used in the vast majority of parishes that he serves. He certainly knows that the “new” Mass has sacramental validity, but he thinks the traditional Mass is superior in many respects. But, doesn’t every Mass have an infinite dimension that makes “good, better and best” ranking of Mass forms impossible?
Father Kucik will be our third Guest on the Liturgy, following Msgr Barrerio and Professor Mike Foley.  We are on a roll that started with my quoting Dr. Lorna Cvetkovich, “We will never have a Culture of Life unless we get the Liturgy right”.
Father Tom was born in 1965 in upstate New York (49 years old) and ordained in 1997 for the Diocese of Fall River Massachusetts. He has written two books on the Liturgy:   The Reform of the Reform? A Liturgical Debate (Ignatius Press, 2003), and Loving and Living the Mass (Zaccheus Press, 2007, 2nd ed. 2011).  He has served as a parish priest, been a hospital chaplain and high school chaplain. Presently, he is helping out at various parishes celebrating both forms of the Mass, and hoping to begin studies at Ave Maria University later this year with a view to earning a doctorate in Theology.
A burning question for me is, “What are the pastoral considerations/ramifications of Mass changes and options?”

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January 27, 2015 – The Liturgy, Part II with Professor of Patristics, Michael Foley

Last week, I participated in the Washington DC March for Life and related activities.  If you have not done this, I recommend adding this annual celebration of life to your “bucket list”!
Michael Foley is a Catholic, husband, father of 6, and Associate Professor of Patristics at Baptist Baylor University.  He and his family attend the Extraordinary Mass in Waco Texas.  He studies and writes about the Liturgy–the Mass.
Here are some questions I want to ask Professor Mike:
  • The most common form of Liturgy in the US today is the Novus Ordo–The Ordinary form.  But there is now available in many communities the Extraordinary form–the Latin Mass or Tridentine Mass–the only form available before VCII.  What do these words Ordinary and Extraordinary mean?  Common vs uncommon, or not special vs special, or normal vs odd???
  • There was a time before VCII when the Mass was said with a mixture of Latin and English.  Is there a goal to find some mix of NO and Extraordinary that will become the “standard”?
  • I think many Catholics would struggle to define the Mass–meal/banquet, sacrifice, memorial, unbloody reenactment of Last Supper and death of Christ?  Can you give us a short complete statement of what the Mass is?
  • The NO Sunday Mass in a typical parish involves many of the laity in the preparation, execution (poor word) and aftermath.  These participants have a sense of involvement–a feeling of being important to the Mass–that enforces their commitment to the parish and the Church at large.  Is that NOT a good thing?
  • You have written extensively about the feminization of the Church, including the Liturgy.  Why do you advocate an “all male liturgical ministry”?  What does the Holy See have to say about including (or excluding) females from ministries of lectore, server, and Eucharistic Minister?
  • The Groom-Bride analogy with Christ-Church presents a rich instruction for Marriage and for Liturgy, particularly with reference to the gender identity of participants and furnishings. Is there a risk in pointing out sexual analogies in the Liturgy?
  • The Sanctuary as womb is quite beautiful.  Please spend some time drawing that out, especially since we are only 8 weeks from the Solemnity of the Annunciation (and Incarnation) of Jesus.

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January 13, 2015 – “Sacred Liturgy and the Defense of Human Life” with Msgr. Barreiro

At least a dozen years ago, my friend Dr. Lorna Cvetkovich, MD, NFP-Only O/G, said this to me, “We will never have a Culture of Life if we don’t get the Liturgy right”.  At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about.  But, now I clearly see what she was saying, which can be stated in a number of ways, for example, “Our success at obeying the Second Great Commandment (which covers the Culture of Life-life, marriage and family issues) depends on our willingness to obey the First Great Commandment (where Liturgy predominates)”.  Liturgy-the Mass-matters. 
  Here’s another way: “The better we love, adore, honor and obey God (as required by the 1st Great Commandment), the easier it will be to love and care for our neighbor (2nd GC)”.
  “Sacred Liturgy and the Defense of Human Life” is the title of Msgr. Ignatio Barreiro’s Sacra Liturgia 2013 lecture, published by Ignatius Press in The Sacred Liturgy, Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.  By education and practical experience, Msgr. Barreiro is superbly qualified to address this potentially touchy subject. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New York in 1987. From the beginning of his priestly ministry, Monsignor Barreiro was involved in the Pro-Life and Traditional Latin Mass apostolates. He received his licentiate and doctorate degree in Systematic Theology from the University of the Holy Cross, in Rome.  Since September 1998, Msgr. Barreiro has been the Executive Director of the Rome office of Human Life International.  Barreiro has published hundreds of articles on theological and life issues, and historical subjects in popular and scholarly publications.
  Here are some questions I hope Msgr Barreiro will answer for us:
  • How are the Sacred Liturgy and the Culture of Life intertwined?
  • In a very real sense, every Mass that is offered correctly is a beautiful Liturgy of infinite value. What are the requirements for great liturgy? And why is that important?
  • And what does “great” mean?  Does it mean reverting to the Traditional Latin Mass?  Or does it mean going part way back to the pre-Vatican Council II Mass?  
  • What conditions of art and architecture are important?  A contemporary problems is that the Blessed Sacrament is no longer reserved in a prominent place in our Churches. What can be done?
  • What can you tell us about the orientation of the celebrant during the celebration of the Mass?
  • Please compare the Novus Ordo Mass (the most common Mass in the US) to the traditional Latin/Tridentine Mass.  Is one better than the other? Pope Benedict took an unusual step in declaring that the Latin Mass must be made available to those who seek it.  Was he indicating his preference for the Latin Mass?
  • Did the VCII Fathers intend for the NO Mass to replace the Tridentine Mass?

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January 06, 2015 – Chinese Forced Abortions–An American Response: Reggie Littlejohn

Reggie Littlejohn has been on a mission to protect Chinese women and their pre-born children from persecution and death. Coming from Yale Law School and experience as a litigator in San Francisco, she founded Women’s Rights without Frontiers in 2008 to confront China’s horrid “one-child policy”.  In only 7 years she has taken her message to governments and media outlets all over the world with amazing results, but far from total victory.
Even though our name is “The Quest for a Culture of Life in AMERICA”, I realize that the Culture of Death must be confronted world-wide, and China is the location Reggie has focused on–praise the Lord.  I’ll ask her how the US culture influences other cultures, including China.  I suspect that the current administration is similar to the UN in promoting a culture of death world-wide–certainly not imposing sanctions or otherwise attempting to protect innocent life.
 As we always do, we’ll learn about her personal life, including her conversion from atheist to Christian and her experiences with Mother Teresa.  She and her husband have recently brought one or two Chinese girls into their family. I’m very interested to know more about that.
I have lots of questions:  Does China care about what other countries think about their human rights reputation?  Or, do other countries care about China’s unjust treatment of couples?  Will there ever be a revolution?  Is the unrest in Singapore likely to spread to mainland China?
My friend and former One More Soul team member, Nicole,  has  spent several weeks in China during the past 3 Summers teaching Theology of the Body.  That freedom and the great interest the Chinese people have in the Catholic faith surprised me.  I don’t read extensively about China, but I have the impression that this officially Communist (and thus atheist) country is both tolerant of Christianity and opposed to it.  Is this dichotomy explainable?     
Reggie played an important role in the rescue of blind Chinese lawyer and activist Chen Guangcheng. I’ll ask her to  recap his story, including the part she played in his escape and flight to the USA and his current situation.

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December 22, 2014 – Meet the other “Dr. Phill” — Dr. Philip Mango, Catholic Psychotherapist

Dr Philip Mango, PhD, and friends started the Saint Michael Institute almost 30 years ago to integrate Catholicism with psychiatry and psychology, and provide mental health services from that perspective.  He provides psychotherapy for depression, anger management, sexual trauma and anxiety at his Staten Island office and by phone and Skype.  He also does seminars on masculinity (“The Male Heart”), femininity (“The Female Heart”) and “Healing Painful Marriages”.
I have many questions for Dr Philip.  Here are a few:
  • What is unique about Catholic Psychotherapy?
  • What male and female characteristics make for stable and joyful marriages?
  • What factors are most common predictors of divorce? 
  • You have given a series of talks on marriage with titles that end with — Science and Faith. How are Science and Faith connected in the mental health field?  In marriage?
  • Please give us examples of sexual dysfunctions that are common in today’s society. Are they treatable?
I would like to hear about some case studies to give us practical examples of successful mental health treatment.
May your Christmas be “Christ-like” and joy-filled.

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December 16, 2014 – “Falling in Love” biology by Vicky Thorn

Vicki Thorn is well known and highly respected for the 1984 start-up of Project Rachael, a ministry to women who have had an abortion. Project Rachael is now an official ministry of the USCCB and has active programs in over 140 of the 195 Catholic dioceses in the USA.

Vicki is also an authority and popular speaker on the Biology of the Theology of the Body–the biology and science of “falling in love” and the differences between men and women. Vicki gives a lot of credit to pheromones–whatever they are–she’ll explain that.

Over 40% of children born today do not have a Dad that is married to their mother. Consequently, most single adult families are headed by mothers. I hope that Vicki can enlighten us to the reasons for this unfortunate situation and teach us about the male hormone system that is somewhat similar to the female system. The male response to pregnancy, birth and subsequent parenting is also very interesting.

And, we want to give approximately equal treatment to the female body’s response system and how hormonal birth control may affect her attraction mechanism. Our last three popes have each had something to say about women. Pope Saint John Paul II even wrote a lengthy APOSTOLIC LETTER, MULIERIS DIGNITATEM, ON THE DIGNITY AND VOCATION OF WOMEN ON THE OCCASION OF THE MARIAN YEAR(1988). What is this “feminine genius” that the pope speaks of?

About a month after the Extraordinary Synod, the Vatican hosted a conference on male-female complimentarity. I hope Vicki can tell us what fruits to expect from it.

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December 09, 2014 – Bishop James Conley on Liturgy, Synods and the Diocese of Lincoln

Two weeks ago, Archbishop of Louisville Joseph Kurtz told us about his Extraordinary Synod on the Family experience. As President of the USCCB, he led the delegation representing US Catholics. Approximately a month earlier, we talked with Jeff and Alice Heinzen, who participated in the Synod as Auditors.   
It is always an honor for us to have the attention of a bishop, and so we are very grateful to have Bishop James Conley of Lincoln Nebraska as our Guest.  Just two years into his position in Lincoln, he is proving to be a courageous shepherd as were his immediate predecessors, Bishop Glennon P. Flavin and Bishop Emeritus Fabian W. Bruskewitz.  On March 25th (Solemnity of the Annunciation and Incarnation of Jesus), Bishop Conley issued his Pastoral Letter, The Language of Love–on contraception.  He freely admits it is a current version of Bishop Flavin’s 1991, IN OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST: A Pastoral Letter To Catholic Couples and Physicians on the Issue of Contraception.  Both bishops are recognizing contraception as the root cause of many (or even most) of the pastoral challenges in the Church and problems in society.
Bishop Conley has also taken a courageous liturgical step by indicating that all Advent Masses in the Cathedral of the Risen Christ will be celebrated ad orientum–with the priest facing Liturgical East–toward the Risen Son.  See the article posted at
I will be asking him about the Diocese of Lincoln, in particular what are the fruits of having very solid shepherds leading the flock.  What are his plans for the future, and how will the Synods impact the Diocese of Lincoln?
Bishop Conley recently became the Episcopal Advisor to the Catholic Medical Assn. What does he expect the future CMA to look like?

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December 02, 2014 – Motherhood–Part II—The certain (almost) path to sainthood

Two weeks ago we interviewed two examples of mothers on the way to sainthood by virtue of their acceptance of all the children God was willing to send them–Darlene (12) and Kimberly (7).  Both of these mothers are married to men who are healthy, hard-working and have good jobs.  The response from a couple listeners suggested that such “supernatural” (or God) planned families were only possible (or responsible) for those couples who had good (secure and at least adequate) finances.
In this week’s program, Joe and Christine tell their life story that begins with the belief,  “that being open to life was healthy and that God would help us feed, clothe and provide for as many children as we received. This agreement/commitment from the beginning of our marriage removed a ton of fear, doubt, over thinking, and stress from our life. Our mission was to grow a healthy family.” 
And grow they did–to 10 children–and still growing with number 11 miraculously en-route to 50 year-old Christine and unemployed, disabled and seriously ill Joe. This is how God treats a family that left a secure and comfortable career in law enforcement to operate and live in a missionary facility committed to feeding and caring for the poor!?
Are they angry with God? Do they wish they had not trusted God?  Should they have been more prudent and “responsible” in planning their family? Did they consider whether there might be serious reasons for resorting to Natural Family Planning? How are they surviving having lost their income, health insurance, food and lodging (both were provided by the mission)?
I hope you will listen to Joe and Christine’s story.  It is truly a Christmas story of tragedy and trust, generosity and faithfulness.  

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November 25, 2014 – Inside the Synod with Archbishop Joseph Kurtz

We are especially honored this week to have as our Guest, Archbishop of Louisville Joseph Kurtz, who is also the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops–USCCB.  In that latter role, he was the principal representative of the USA in the Extraordinary Synod on Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization, which took place in the Vatican last month. 
This Synod was called by Pope Francis to create a forum for discussion of the many problems the Church is experiencing with the family–a very high divorce rate, creating many single parent households, low Mass attendance, and dissent from Church teaching regarding sexual morality and the permanence of marriage.  Specifically, the Working Document published to direct the Synod concluded that  “three main areas are under discussion in the Church:
·         how the Gospel of the Family can be preached in the present-day;
·         how the Church’s pastoral care programme for the family might better respond to the new challenges today;
·         how to assist parents in developing a mentality of openness to life…”
I am hopeful that His Excellency will share with us what the Synodal Fathers had to say about each of these principal concerns of the Synod.
This Synod has introduced new terminology–The Gospel of the Family, the Law of Gradualism, and the Art of Accompaniment. What do these phases mean and how do they fit into our efforts to revive the integrity of the family?
There is considerable agreement that Pope Francis often says things that are interpreted to mean that Church teaching will be changing in the near future.  But, if one reads his homilies and speeches, one receives a message that is quite different.  Is it possible that the Pope is intentionally vague at times to generate controversy, discussion, and interest in the Catholic church?  Maybe he just wants the free advertising generated by these vagaries. 
What are bishops expected to do between now and the Ordinary Synod, next October?  Will the concluding document for this Extraordinary Synod serve as a guide for next year’s Ordinary Synod?  
These Synods are Pope Francis’ most ambitious project so far in his brief papacy.  They have the potential to make dramatic changes in the Church.  As such, it is important for all of us to be as informed as possible about them.

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November 18, 2014 – Motherhood— the certain (almost) path to sainthood, Kimberly (mother of 7) Darlene (mother of 12)

It seems to me that most mothers who truly take their vocation seriously are destined for sainthood.  It isn’t a certainty, but I bet it would be a probability worth gambling on.  A mother is responding to her most primordial instinct, it seems to me.  Motherhood just comes naturally.

Our Guests today are KC (Kimberly) Schnikter, a 47 yo mother of 7 including a newborn, and Darlene Duke, a 50+ mother of 12 and with several grandchildren.  Darlene is married to PhD engineer circuit-board developer Ron, and she is One More Soul’s part-time bookkeeper.  KC is married to Ed who designs, builds and installs novel equipment for the private aircraft industry.  A year ago they moved their family to a farm with animals and hard work.  KC is also the Executive Director for the Family of the Americas Foundation.

In 21st Century America, women seem to want to avoid having a baby when over 40.  What are they afraid of and are their fears realistic?Are there special blessings that come with a child near the end of ones fertility?  God designed women to be fertile for about a third of their lives. Can we trust Him?

KC teaches the Ovulation Method of NFP.  Do NFP using couples ever get so frustrated with abstinence that they resort to sterilization?  Or do they throw caution to the wind and let God decide–Supernatural Family Planning?

Darlene and KC will discuss how pregnant women are a contradiction to the world and are a living testimony to the beauty of motherhood, love, sacrifice and the value of dying to oneself. It seems like pregnancy is making a comeback with Hollywood stars proudly showing their “baby bumps” and the Toledo Blade’s recent article reporting more births in September through December (pending) than last year by 50 to 100%.  They think it may be due to the particularly harsh winter keeping couples at home and snuggling to keep warm.  Is there a rebirth in the desire for children?

I wonder if  “feminism” is losing its appeal.  Is there still the attitude that you can have it all–education, career, marriage, two children, nice car, home, vacations, etc?  Or is that part of the “war on women”?   

I would say that procreation is THE PRIMARY purpose of marriage(in support of getting to Heaven) and the marriage/procreation act.  Yes, I know the “unitive” end is given more or less equal status, but that was not the case until fairly recently.  I claim that, “the essence of the act is its potential for procreating a new life.”  That is its unique character.  

By contrast, there are many activities that are unitive–sharing a meal, being on a sports team, etc.  I think that God added the unitive part–the delight, satisfaction, pleasure–to the procreative part, so couples would actually participate in the act, and not just once, but keep coming back again and again to assure (ideally) many children/siblings and that both parents would be there to raise them.

Surely, KC and Darlene will have some home/child/husband management tricks to make an above average size family more charm than challenge.

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October 21, 2014 – Fr Daniel McCaffrey

The Extraordinary Synod on the Family is now closed. For the past two weeks we have seen a minor media frenzy over the Catholic Church’s Third Synod in modern times. Actually, this one is called “Extraordinary” because it is really preparation for the “Ordinary” Synod to take place in October 2015.

The Working Document to prepare for the Synod just completed had identified three main areas of concern:
How to better preach the Gospel of the Family;
How to pastorally address various situations caused by couples in irregular relationships; and,
How to encourage married couples to be more open to life.

I have not seen commentary on anything but the middle of these three areas of concern, and there has been an abundance of that, with the secular media concluding that cohabitation, same-sex “marriage” and receiving communion by the divorced and remarried were now going to be approved by the Church, or if not approved at least seen as adding something positive to the Catholic community.

In a recent Life Site News interview*, Fr Daniel McCaffrey asked if the Synod Fathers would be dealing with the the virtually universal absence of teaching and preaching on Humanae Vitae–God’s plan for marriage and procreation. For most of his over 50 year priesthood, Father has been preaching and teaching this great encyclical of now Beatified Pope Paul VI. Father McCaffrey has found the laity wonderfully receptive to this teaching, and they often ask, “Why have we not heard this before?”

The Extraordinary Synod is now formally complete, but the dust is anything but settled. What does Father McCaffrey think will be different because of this two week gathering in the Holy City?

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October 14, 2014 – Deacon Jim Russell

I hold sincere admiration for those men who have answered God’s call to ordination as a Catholic Deacon.  The process of discernment, training and education is challenging on many fronts.  Even if you have the service of a deacon in your parish and know about what he does, I’m confident that our Guest on “The Quest for a culture of life in America” will expand your horizons and possibly pique your interest in the Catholic Diaconate.

Deacon (Reverend Mister or Rev Mr) Jim Russell has been a deacon for the Archdiocese of St Louis for 12 years.  He is a lifelong St. Louis resident, “cradle” Catholic, husband, father of eleven, and grandfather of two. He serves the Archdiocese as Family Life Coordinator for the Office of Laity and Family Life. Prior to his current assignment, Deacon Jim worked in full-time parish ministry for  fourteen years. He is an active supporter of Catholic radio and the Catholic blogosphere; his own posts can be found at the “St. Louis Areopagus,” the official blog of the Archdiocese of St. Louis ( Deacon Russell’s theological interests include the sanctity of marriage and the work of Blessed Pope John Paul II, particularly his “Catecheses on Human Love” (Theology of the Body). Follow Deacon Russell on Twitter:  @MarriageSTL.

Here are some of the questions I have for Deacon Jim:
  • How do 21st Century deacons compare to the first Deacons?
  • How did you perceive or receive your call to the vocation of Deacon?
  • What is involved in becoming a Deacon?
  • I imagine that many pastors consider a Deacon to be the better person to lead marriage preparation? In the AD of St Louis, do the pastor and deacon share marriage preparation responsibility?  If so, how?
  • What does the ideal marriage prep program include?
  • Has marriage been “redefined” by the common acceptance of contraception?
  • If you had been invited to present at the Synod on the Family, what would your message be?

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September 30, 2014 – Dr. William (Bill) Brennan

Dr William (Bill) Brennan spoke last week at the Catholic Medical Assn Education Conference in Orlando.  He recently retired as a a distinguished professor of Sociology at St. Louis University.  In his presentation he exposed how advocates of abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage manipulate words to make their causes appear benign, even noble. His book, Dehumanizing the Vulnerable: When Word Games Take Lives, details how word games that Hitler used to stir up hatred toward Jews are used today to devalue key Catholic morals and values.
Dr Brennan has been studying this word manipulation tactic for 30 years and has presented his research at numerous pro-life and pro-family events.  As Culture of Life advocates we need to be able to recognize the common use of language to manipulate and alter our views and understanding of moral issues.
Dr. Brennan also shares ways to more effectively articulate the culture of life message.

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September 23, 2014 – Steve Ray

I’ll confess to not having heard of Steve Ray until last week when he popped up on my radar screen. He is a fascinating person who converted to Catholicism from Evangelical Protestantism–primarily Baptist–twenty years ago–along with his wife Janet and their four children.  He wrote a book to explain to his disappointed dad why he became Catholic.  The book–Crossing the Tiber–was so convincing that Mom and Dad became Catholic,  along with many other family members, as well as total strangers who have read this still popular book.

Crossing . . .  been followed by 6 other books, working on 4 more, annually leading 100 pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Ireland, Marian Shrines and other Catholic sites, and being a frequent guest and commentator on both Catholic and secular radio and TV networks.

You will be amazed by Steve’s dad’s decisions and advice that led to Steve starting and running a multi-million dollar clearing services company that he eventually sold to become a full-time Catholic evangelist.

For most Catholics, evangelization is a new thing.  What are we supposed to do to participate in the “new Evangelization”?  Steve has the answers.

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