Catholic Answers Focus - Faith and Works Are Necessary for Salvation (Part 1)

February 20, 2019

How are people saved? Does salvation take cooperation? Who will be saved? Where is the scriptural evidence for faith and works? Why do Catholics believe what they do?


Have you struggled to answer these questions when sharing your faith?”

Listen in to learn how Tim Staples approaches having a discussion about salvation.


Catholic Answers Focus - Signs of Hope

February 15, 2019

Cy Kellett discusses with chaplain and Norbertine priest, Fr. Hugh Barbour, and Chris Check, president of Catholic Answers, the encouraging and significant realities of the hope of Christ in the world today. 


Cy Kellett: They're hard to see, but there are signs of hope in the modern world. Let's discuss them with Father Hugh Barbour and Chris Check.

Cy: Hello and welcome again to Catholic Answers Focus. I am Cy Kellett, your host. We're always happy when you're here with us. Any lazy mind can find all the evidence of evil in the world today. It's as easy as turning on the television, but it takes men of great heart, and soul, and mind to find the signs of hope in these times. So, we invited two of them here to be with us today. That was pretty good, huh? You like that? That help ya? Father Hugh Barbour.

Chris Check: Are you saying Father- he's the sign of hope?

Cy: Well, he is a sign of hope.

Chris: He is, he's a sign of contradiction.

Cy: But what I was explicitly saying was he is a man of great heart and mind. He's now ...

Fr. Hugh Barbour: Expect to be crucified, I suppose.

Cy: Yeah. Father is our chaplain, he's a Norbertine priest, former prior of Saint Michael's Abbey, hi Father.

Fr. Hugh: Hey there.

Cy: And, the other man of great heart and mind, but of slender build, because he's been slimming down, apparently for the cruise, I'm guessing for the cruise, I don't know. Our president, Chris Check. Hi Chris.

Chris: How are you Cy?

Cy: I am very well. Envious of your ...

Chris: I broke the 170 barrier.

Cy: Yeah, you got below 170.

Fr. Hugh: Just by one pound.

Chris: 169.

Fr. Hugh: So, don't start crowing, okay? The rest of us fatties around here.

Chris: No crow... Check back with me in two weeks.

Fr. Hugh: I guess my job is to encourage you, so just fine. You'll be 160 [crosstalk 00:01:30] ...

Chris: That's my sign of hope by the way, can I be excused?

Fr. Hugh: But you have a cruise next week with Catholic Answers.

Chris: It's going to be fine. They have healthy food on those cruises.

Cy: Do you have a fighting weight? What's your fighting weight?

Chris: I think if I could get down to 160, I'd be happy.

Fr. Hugh: Oh no.

Chris: But it's not just how I'm careful about my intake, if you take ... So, I did dry January. I think I'm going to try to take it through Lent. I got inspired by those ...

Cy: P90 Exodus people?

Chris: Yeah P90 Exodus right, yeah.

Chris: I'm not doing all the other things like taking cold showers, and stuff like that. But I think I'm gonna try to drive this through Lent.

Cy:  Alright.

Chris: So, we'll see.

Fr. Hugh: You'll just waste away. Even on the cruise?

Chris: Yeah, I think so.

Fr. Hugh: Don't say that just yet, because you're not on the cruise yet. Don't make that public.

Chris: But we actually do have-

Fr. Hugh: You can go back on your word if you need to.

Chris: We have a big sign of hope, the three of us.

Fr. Hugh: Here we are.

Chris: It's the Catholic Answers pilgrimage to Rome in November.

Cy: Oh man, he turned this into an ad.

Fr. Hugh: Well, that's okay.

Cy: That is smooth.

Chris: I think 10 slots are gone already or something.

Cy: Yeah. And, how many times we've announced it? One. We've made one announcement, and already-

Chris: We're only taking 50. November 2019. See Rome with Father Hugh Barbour, Cy Kellett, and Chris Check, and be prepared to walk.

Cy: But the thing about it is, there's a reason we can only take 50. Like, people need to know the reason we can only take 50. It's not a gimmick or something. We decided we wanted to stay put in a hotel in the heart of the city.

Chris: In the historic center.

Fr. Hugh: Right.

Cy: We're not staying in the suburbs, we're not riding buses into the town.

Fr. Hugh: We're not being bused in, being bused in is a nightmare.

Cy: You're gonna wake up in the heart of Rome every day, and that meant we could only get, I don't know, how many is it? Thirty rooms? Twenty couples and 10 singles. Whatever that is. Twenty couples and 10 singles and then we're full, and we're going to Rome.

Chris: Lovely hotel in a great location. Colona Palace.

Cy: Colona Palace Hotel, look it up.

Chris: Named for one of the heroes of Lepanto, Mark Antonio Colona.

Fr. Hugh:  And Chris and I know Rome like the back of our hands.

Chris:  I know.

Cy: We're gonna see some things that you wouldn't see otherwise.

Fr. Hugh:  Absolutely.

Chris: Right.

Fr. Hugh:  No one ever gets to see Rome. They get carted around and they do little things here and there, but we'll do a better job.

Cy: We're gonna live Rome. We're gonna live Rome. And, do you feel like I feel about this, Chris? Like, I think most people would just sign up to go with Father Hugh Barbour. Like, can you imagine? A week in Rome with Father Hugh Barbour.

Fr. Hugh:  No, you could drop me in and they'd still go with Chris.

Chris: So I have known Father Hugh for now, a couple of decades. So, anywhere he-

Fr. Hugh:  Back when you were 160 without any effort.

Chris: But anywhere he would go, I would tag along. And my goodness, we had him on the Danube, and he knew somebody in every city.

Cy: I know. That's what's gonna happen. Gonna be over there.

Chris: He's arranging these masses at the Basilica in Budapest.

Cy: Yep, right.

Chris: Oh yeah, this is my friend from, you know-

Cy: Enough advertising. You can find out all about it by going to Sometimes Chris says, "" but it's not. It's And that's gonna fill up quick, so we just want to get it out there. Alright.

Cy: Look, there's a lot of bad things in the world. The world is in crisis on multiple levels. And so, we need some signs of hope. I would even go so far as to say look, the crisis in the world is a crisis in the Church as well. We have not been excluded from it. Whatever the thing is that's cleaving the world is also cleaving the Church. So, we're in desperate needs of signs of hope. Would you agree with that assessment?

Chris: I do. We need reasons for hope. Of course.

Cy: But I mean, that the church itself has not been in any way immune from the modern crisis?

Fr. Hugh:  Absolutely not.

Chris: Some historians, or pretend historians like yours truly here, have compared this crisis ... or contrasted ... said it's worse than the Protestant Reformation.

Cy: Yeah, I think you're right. I think you're right about that.

Chris: It could be true. It's worth unpacking.

Fr. Hugh: Well, culturally, the problem here ... We're working on signs of hope here and not all the problems. But, let's just say, the cultural forms that united Catholics and Protestants were stronger then than they are now. But there are other things which are signs of great hope about which we can speak in this.

Cy: God bless you, Father, for getting us back to signs of hope.

Cy: Alright, so I'm gonna share one sign of hope and see what y'all think about it. The lay movements in the Church. Now, this is not a mixed sign of hope. But there are wonderful lay movements in the Church, and I think that a lot of young Catholics today don't know that it was not always thus. That you had so many of these very forceful movements that are really assisting people in holiness and really assisting them to be charitable.

Chris: I want to tell a story, Cy. Four years ago, after I took the helm of Catholic Answers, I went to a meeting at Steubenville. The Catholic Leaders Annual Conference. And, I realized, looking around that room, how many apostolates there are. There were numbers that I was unaware of.

Cy: Yeah.

Chris: But I realized something else and in some ways a direct and in many ways an indirect way, these apostolates are part of the legacy of Karl Keating. Because, when he stepped out 35 years ago-

Fr. Hugh:  Founder of Catholic Answers.

Chris: Yeah, that's right, the founder of Catholic Answers. When he stepped out 35 years ago with his tract defending the Catholic faith against the fundamentalists, and then started adding tracts and started eventually, the radio show, the magazine, The world of the lay movement, as you describe it, didn't really exist. He was operating in a catechetical wasteland.

Chris: So, I think that Karl was among the pioneers of responding genuinely to that call of John Paul II for a new evangelization.

Cy: I think that's right-

Chris: Laity evangelizing the laity.

Cy: Right.

Chris: And I mean, we could take the balance of our time listing the countless apostolates. So, agree with you. That is a great sign of hope. And the number of laity who are educated and articulate and informed about their faith. Again, that kind of thing used to be confined to Catholic Answers, bu there are all kinds of apologists now doing very good work online and on their podcasts.

Fr. Hugh: When we run into them, we find out that so many of them came to their recognition of the faith because they first used Catholic Answers as a resource.

Chris: They often say this. And this is why I say, directly or indirectly, this is Karl's legacy.

Cy: And it is a tremendous legacy. One that all of us here are debtors to. We weren't the founders.

Fr. Hugh: But, apropos of lay movements: Their real purpose, in the end, and some of them wouldn't like me to say this but I would say is--granted, they always say they get a lot of vocations to the priesthood and religious life--but their real vocations of lay movements is to promote Catholic marriages and numerous families. And, they do do that. They do do that. But that should be, in my opinion, as a sign of hope, that should be something they promote more explicitly.

Cy: Okay. Yeah.

Fr. Hugh: In their work. Because it's not chic nowadays to promote large families, and it's difficult. But, you see the results. Because they finally do, you know, at least have two, three, four kids, you know. That's now regarded as a tribe. But I really do think that that's part of the picture, is that they realize that ... that's happening more in Europe, some of these lay movements in Europe are more explicitly interested in the increase in the number of the followers of Christ, which only comes about through holy matrimony and procreation.

Chris: Amen. Whenever I see a couple with four kids at Mass, and it's not often, as Father Hugh says. I mean, statistically, a family with four children, mom and dad still married, what is that? One or 2 percent of the population? Something like that.

Cy: Is it really?

Fr. Hugh: Yeah. 

Chris: It's quite small. But four or more, I always go up, especially to the mom, and I say, "God bless you. You have a beautiful family. I wish you many more."

Cy: So I went to Boston College in the 1980s. Why are you laughing at me for going to Boston College?

Fr. Hugh: That's fine but it's the '80s, the '80s part that made me laugh.

Cy: Anyway, not as bad as the '70s. I feel like--but this is just a feeling, it's anecdotal, so I could be completely off on this--I feel like more young people today grasp the Church's teaching on marriage and family, and are at least willing to give it a hearing, than felt that way in the '80s. I feel like that we're doing better.

Chris: I think, generally, when you speak of young people, compared to when I was in college. At the same time, I was at Rice in the middle of the '80s.

Cy: Oh sorry, Father, I thought we were laughing at people now.

Chris: We had a Catholic student center. Wonder of wonders: A couple of years ago, I was invited back to my alma mater--not by the university officially but by the Catholic student center--to give a talk at Rice, and that Catholic student center, a Newman Center I guess they call it now, at Rice is considerably more vibrant. The liturgy is better, and the community life. They get together on Sunday evenings, they were doing some kind of social justice work, or how should I say, works of mercy within the Houston community. We weren't doing any of that. We were sort of rolling out of bed and stumbling to Mass.

Cy: Rolling out of bed and stumbling to Mass is a lot better than what we were doing at Boston College. [crosstalk 00:11:26] It was. Okay, so a sign of hope, then-

Chris: So, generally, I think in young people-

Cy: Green shoots, as far as the Catholic family.

Fr. Hugh: Yep.

Cy: Would you say that's a sign of hope?

Fr. Hugh:  And then also, just with the movements is one thing, but the movements are by nature, historically transitory. You know, they serve a purpose and they end. But, the permanent aspect is the sacrament of matrimony and its eradiation. Because matrimony, by nature, as a sacrament, tends to create a Christian society, because it creates the connections between persons that are practically physical, as well as supernatural.

Fr. Hugh: But then, there's also the witness of religious life. In particular, the traditional forms of religious life that emphasize common life together and worship together, and common witness, all of those things that are presented in the Acts of the Apostles. And those things quietly continue to increase and to strengthen themselves over time. And there are many examples. You look at the Benedictines in Clear Creek in Oklahoma, my own community of St. Michael's in Orange.

Chris: Cy, I've mentioned my favorite number of times, the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles-

Fr. Hugh: Sisters, right, exactly.

Chris: In Gower, Missouri, just north of Kansas City. And my dear friend and fellow Rice grad, though she was there many years after I was, is now Mother Abbess Cecilia, the first ... I think when she was, what's the canonical expression, Father? But, when she was made-

Fr. Hugh: She was blessed as an Abbess.

Chris: Yeah, that was the first time that was done in the old rites in the United States.

Cy: Oh really?

Fr. Hugh: Well, there's a whole history to that, but that's another show.

Chris: Well, they're building a beautiful church there on the Kansas plain.

Fr. Hugh: Right. The reconstruction of religious life on the deepest roots of religious life. Not to say anything against the more recent orders, like those founded in the 13th Century, but-

Cy: I think that's great. These children, the Dominicans and the Franciscans.

Fr. Hugh: But the canons and the monks are rooting themselves both in here and in Europe and in other places with a certain consistency and with an attractiveness that hadn't been recognized before. Because before it was like, oh, they're religious orders, it doesn't matter what. But then people began to notice the difference between the stable, permanent worshiping community, and just kind of being founded for particular works or activities. And all those things are good, but I think that the renewal of religious life which is quietly occurring ...

Fr. Hugh: We have sisters, founded by our abbey, we have both active and contemplative sisters, and we have in Tehachapi, a priory of Canonesses cloistered, you know behind the grill, the whole thing. There are 45 of them now.

Cy: That's a sign of hope.

Fr. Hugh: Forty-five. And they're from everywhere.

Chris: The Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles are sending out a foundation. They're out of space in Missouri.

Fr. Hugh: That's what we're going to have to do. They rise as midnight for matins, and they practice perpetual abstinence. It's a whole tradition of the order there.

Chris: You might explain, Father, what a foundation is. With respect to religious community.

Fr. Hugh: In the ancient communities, a community that had stability--that is, you make your vows to the community there, so that you're not going to go anywhere else--they can still found another community where they send out six, 12, however many religious to found a community, which would then become its own stable community. And that's, of course, the history of Europe, practically. If you look at the map of Europe, it's all the [inaudible 00:15:18] of religious communities. It starts with St. Benedict, but it goes to Cluny, and then to the monasteries of Clairvaux, Premontre, everywhere. The map of Europe is just completely inundated with these communities that are stable.

Fr. Hugh: That's what the world hates, and so, if you wanna know what gives us the most hope for the Church: Support the things that the world hates the most.

Cy: That's a very good strategy.

Fr. Hugh:  People living together and praying, and doing nothing else useful for society. That might be a little way to kind of give them a little dig.

Chris: Except that their prayers are the most useful thing they can do... 'Cause they're holding back the gates of hell.

Cy: And then husbands and wives being fertile, the world also hates that. 

Fr. Hugh:  And hastening the coming of the Kingdom. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us in her commentaries on St. Paul's epistles, that there's an objection that comes up. God says, "Increase and multiply and subdue the earth and fill it." And then he says also that it's better not to be married. These two things seem to be contradictory. But St. Thomas says, "No, they're not contradictory." Because those who practice celibacy forsake the Kingdom of heaven, they hasten the Kingdom of God by practicing celibacy. But those who are in legitimate marriage, they hasten the Kingdom of God by filling up the number of the elect. That is, they produce new children.

Fr. Hugh:  And so, both are fulfilling the same end. One by fast track, the other by careful labor. But, if you consider that the definition of marriage in St. Thomas is that marriage, the sacrament of matrimony is for the procreation and education children for the worship of God, according to the rite of the religion established by Christ.

Fr. Hugh: Now, what do these monks and canons and nuns do except worship God continually, every day, all hours of the day, according to the rite of the religion established by Christ? And your children, if you can raise them so they can assist at liturgy intelligently and devoutly and receive the gifts that are given there, then you've fulfilled your purpose.

Chris: And if you want a glimpse of this, come and visit 2020 Gillespie here at Catholic Answers, and pray Lauds and Vespers with the staff, led by Father Hugh and his beautiful voice.

Chris: Cy, can I give another sign of hope?

Cy: Yeah, please.

Chris: And, I'm not an expert on this but I met a couple of guys from the Diocese of Wichita, who live in the Diocese of Wichita.

Fr. Hugh: Great Diocese, by the way.

Chris: Not too long ago. And that, actually, is a Diocese where they are opening parishes and opening schools. And there may be several reasons for this. I mean, they've sent Bishops out, Coakley is from Wichita, our dear friend Bishop Conley is from Wichita. But for several generations now, they have had a unique, as far as I understand, scheme--scheme may be the wrong word--method of funding the parochial schools. So, if you tithe, as a member of the faithful in the Diocese of Wichita, your kids go to school for free.

Cy: God bless them.

Chris: And that includes high school. And this has been very successful, and this is going to encourage two things. It's gonna encourage the marriages that Father Hugh was describing and the subsequent children, and it's going to encourage vocations. And both those things are happening. You want to see where the church is growing? It's in middle America, in Wichita.

Cy: Well, alright. It strikes me how important Bishops are in that. One imagines that part of the success in Wichita is that it's not New York, it's not Chicago. That, these Bishops who have millions in their flock really have a task that is inhuman.

Chris: Those diocese are too big. You think of Los Angeles. Los Angeles should be divided into like 20 different Dioceses.

Cy: If course it should.

Fr. Hugh:  Right, exactly. THey're laden with an institution which, obviously, they can't take it on. They have to be prudent and manage the things that they have.

Cy: They're doing the best that they can. Event the greatest Bishop in the world, though, that is not right. To have a Diocese of millions.

Chris: A scale-

Fr. Hugh: No, your typical LA parish, like in the city, with 2,500 families, is easily the size of a Diocese in any normal Diocese in Italy or France or anywhere else, in the age of the faith. It's ridiculous.

Chris: Right.

Fr. Hugh:  And yet, you have a Diocese made up of millions of people? An ordinary parish priest, they should just ordain you a Bishop and take care of those people. That's part of my opinion.

Cy: This is another way in which the Church has been confronted by a new reality in the modern world, megacities, and it has not yet formulated its response. It just hasn't.

Fr. Hugh:  Well, we have a system based upon the Roman provincial system, and it hasn't changed. And there's something charming about it. It's a little bit like the House of Lords.

Cy: Except the millions of people who are losing their faith because there's no Bishop there to serve them.

Fr. Hugh:  Well, yeah, but priests and Bishops are identical in their possession of the sacrament of the priesthood. See, one of the problems after Vatican II is that people started to pretend that the episcopacy and the priesthood were different sacraments, but they're the same sacrament.

Fr. Hugh:  There are only two aspects of orders: There's ministry, and that's a diaconate, and all the minor orders that flow from the diaconate, and then there is priesthood. And there is the ordinary function of the priesthood, which is the episcopacy, where you have the full power and you govern a community. And then there are the priests that are delegated from that person who has full power, and those are called ordinary priests or presbyters.

Fr. Hugh:  But, the fact is, Bishops are the same as priests.

Cy: Okay.

Fr. Hugh:  Alright, and therefore, it's not that hard for a priest to take a certain ... that's why they have jurisdiction. That's why they can confirm, most of the time in the Roman Church now, at least adults, and I think that we need to move more and more in the direction of recognizing that the local church needs to be redimensioned to something a lot smaller and local, where the pastors know their flock.

Chris: Yeah, I'm with ya.

Fr. Hugh:  But that means, the materialities there, that's the problem is, how do you figure that out.

Cy: But I think this is a sign of hope as well. It comes out of all the crises that have just smashed us in the face for the last 20 years. A growing sense of a willingness to talk about genuine, deep and meaningful reform. Not just another committee from the USCCB or another document. But real reform, in the way the Church is organized and led. And reform that is not an innovation, but is a return to the normal.

Fr. Hugh: The apostolic norm.

Cy: The apostolic norm, right.

Fr. Hugh: Like Gregory VII. [inaudible 00:22:18] And the other reforms of the Church. Hildebrand. That's what we need. Not conventions in Rome like we're having this next week.

Chris: Well, and as Father Hugh pointed out, the reform needs to begin in the seminary formation. In the selection of seminarians and in the formation of seminarians. [crosstalk 00:22:36]

Cy: Well it has been there-

Fr. Hugh:  In the selection of Bishops. And then selection of seminarians.

Chris: Sure.

Cy: Well, that's the way I feel about-

Fr. Hugh:  You have to have Bishops who want to take care of their seminarians. Not Bishops who are waiting for the next See that raises them to a higher level and whatnot. Not careerists.

Cy: But I see that as a sign of hope that people are talking about the fact that a Bishop should be ordained for a Diocese and never leave that Diocese.

Fr. Hugh:  That's the Council at Nicaea, first [inaudible 00:23:00] Council of the Church. [crosstalk 00:23:00]

Cy: Back to the normal way of doing things.

Fr. Hugh:  That's what Cardinal Gantin, the African Cardinal from Benin, who was head of the Congregation of Bishops for years. In an interview, once he had retired, of course, with the magazine 30 Giorni, Thirty Days. He said that the biggest movement for reform in the Church would be if we returned to the norm of Nicaea, and when a Bishop is appointed to a particular Diocese at the beginning of his career, he will never leave that Diocese.

Chris: Right. So smaller Dioceses, Bishops who stay in their Dioceses-

Fr. Hugh:  Right, they have to wed themselves to their church [crosstalk 00:23:39] and they realize their lot is cast with these people.

Cy: I see that as a sign of hope. I'm not saying that as a sign of critique. It's a sign of hope that we're finally talking about the reforms that the modern Church needs.

Fr. Hugh:  Well, so if there are any future Bishops listening out there, if they ask you to be a Bishop, say, "Fine, but I ask you to tell me that I'll never be asked to leave this Diocese. I need to stay here."

Cy: Right. Can you say no?

Fr. Hugh:  Oh, they say no all the time nowadays, that's the problem. People say no constantly to the Holy See about becoming Bishops.

Cy: But what about moving?

Fr. Hugh:  About moving? I don't know. But I mean, the point is, is that they do have a problem with people that just don't want it because it's too much hassle. It's all this forensic stuff.

Chris: I won't say his name, but I was in a conversation with a Bishop one time and he said, "Chris, only a masochist would want to be a Bishop."

Cy: Or a servant. A real, genuine servant.

Cy: So, you had another sign of hope you wanted to share with us, Chris.

Fr. Hugh: Yes, please. More signs of hope.

Chris: Tyler, Texas. Bishop Strickland. I don't know him, I'm looking forward to getting to know him and I know he has set up a little apostolate there that our friend Stacy Trasancos has taken the helm of. And we're gonna try to something with him in the fall. But he is turning out to be an outspoken and articulate beacon in the current--I hate to use this expression--culture war. I want something better. In the current war to defend the faith.

Fr. Hugh: It's a struggle for the salvation of souls.

Chris: There we go, that's much better.

Cy: Amen.

Chris: I don't like that-

Fr. Hugh: It's not about culture.

Chris: I don't like that expression, culture war either.

Fr. Hugh: It's not about culture.

Chris: But Bishop Strickland, very impressed by him.

Cy: Well, you could be struggling for the salvation of the souls in the context of an ongoing war over the culture. Doesn't make you a culture war.

Fr. Hugh:  Right, right, we have to ... yeah.

Cy: But you're right [crosstalk 00:25:28]

Chris: As I said to the staff a little while ago, I prefer to talk about spiritual combat.

Cy: Amen.

Fr. Hugh: That's good.

Chris: And not culture war. [crosstalk 00:25:35]

Cy: Alright. Any other signs of hope?

Fr. Hugh:  I think the fact that people nowadays, they have away of taking the faith for granted that they didn't before. That is that because things are so confused and outraged in our society now, if someone asks you a question about the faith, and I've had this experience many times recently on the street or, you know, people come up to you and whatnot. You give 'em the Church's straight answer and they go, "Oh, okay. That's what I heard but I wasn't quite sure."

Cy: Yeah.

Fr. Hugh:  And see, the problem is is that our enemies in the press, in the media, and elsewhere, they so drum into people that our doctrines are unreasonable and harsh and whatever, that when you actually give them a straight answer, they're kind of prepared for a bracing answer. And when they get it, they look slightly relived, like, oh, okay. I get that.

Chris: Oh, the Church is a community of love and it's reasonable.

Fr. Hugh:  But they're not surprised that we're holding fast.

Cy: Oh, that's great news.

Fr. Hugh: Because what the media don't recognize is that they produce an affect of like, "These people are kind of tough and hard-bitten and whatever," and then when you give them a sweet answer and give them the straight answer about everything, then they kind of go well, "Yeah, I guess that's right." You know? And I've had that regarding questions with the virtue of chastity, but also with, for example, with the doctrine of the Eucharist, in my recent experience. And people have all these objections they've heard from everyone and then when you give them the Church's straight teaching, they respond with a certain amount of relief. Like, "Oh, that's kind of what I expected, I thought you were gonna say that." But they don't seem angry about it, they seem relieved.

Cy: Isn't that wonderful?

Fr. Hugh: Yeah, because I think our enemies are actually doing us a favor, in the end. By just presenting us as being so relentless and clueless. And then when they come and talk to us, they realize ... because people, they want certainty, they want clarity, they want the truths of the faith. And they know, on some level, that these people they've listened to--their high school teachers, their college professors, and then the media--hate our religion. And they're too weak socially to stand up to that. But when they come to one of us about it, and we give them a straight answer, they seem like they kind of sigh with relief, like "Oh yeah, that's true, we really do believe that."

Cy: Oh, that's wonderful.

Fr. Hugh: It's kind of almost paradoxical. But I think it's true.

Cy: Well, it's like the paradox of the more pornographic the culture gets, the more the Church's teaching on chastity appeals on a certain level to everyone. Of like, I need order, I can't live like this. This is a monstrous society.

Fr. Hugh:  Look at like in LA, they had, for four months this last year, an exhibit at the Getty Museum on Renaissance Nude. Almost completely Catholic art, it's all Catholic art.

Cy: Uh-huh.

Fr. Hugh:  And you have the whole city going there to look at this exhibit in this culture, which is highly sexualized and pornographic and obscene, but this exhibit with elegant displays, with careful theological explanations, and people are gawking at it. And of course, this is a certain segment of the population, but it's still popular. I mean, I was there the last day of the exhibit, the place was mobbed. And you saw this very serene presentation of the human body, its significance, its relation to the mysteries of the faith, to pagan mythology, to everything. I mean it was all there. There's still people in this world that are able to put it all together.

Cy: Yeah.

Fr. Hugh:  But, maybe it's a niche type thing. But it's still amazing. Then people are gawking at it, looking at it. And I was there in my habit and so, people coming up and saying, "Father, I can't believe you're here. It's such a beautiful exhibit." And they wanted to take picture of me, like next to some beautiful Renaissance Nude you know.

Cy: Well, we have to leave Renaissance Nudes as our last sign of hope.

Fr. Hugh: I mean the point is, people get it.

Chris: I'll give you two very quickly, Cy. I think a growing number of young people, we mentioned them at the beginning of the session, are trying to set themselves free from the technocratic paradigm.

Fr. Hugh: Absolutely.

Cy: Praise God.

Chris: They are leaving behind their 'facefriend' and all that, not texting as much, and catching it in time that they're being overtaken by their devices.

Fr. Hugh: Yeah, if you want to use your digits, use your rosary.

Chris: Yeah, exactly.

Fr. Hugh:  Instead of being typing all the time.

Chris: And so, anybody listening who hasn't tried setting aside his device for a while, let me recommend it.

Chris: The other thing, Cy, practically speaking, if you want a sign of hope--I've said this before--go find a parish where they say the extraordinary form. And you're not going to find a lot of old ladies clinging to some nostalgia, right? You're gonna see a ton of young families, such as Father Hugh was describing, young married couples, lots of children, beautiful music, beautiful liturgy. And, probably, a priest hearing confessions.

Cy: Before the Mass.

Chris: Sometimes even during. At St. Anne's down here, they'll stop during the consecration.

Fr. Hugh: Or even our parishes in LA and Costa Mesa, where they have the ordinary form but with confessions all Sunday.

Cy: Alright, we'll have to leave it there. There's more signs of hope.

Chris: Of course there are.

Cy: I feel like there's about 10 we didn't even get to that I have on the ... they're all striking me now, but we gotta leave it there. [crosstalk 00:31:13] What's that?

Fr. Hugh: Can you list them now quickly?

Cy: My 10? Well, one of them is more of the ordinary form [inaudible 00:31:20]

Fr. Hugh: Yep, that's always good.

Cy: The whole Diocese of Lincoln.

Chris: Is that what they're doing? I gotta go to Lincoln, I gotta see that. That's impressive.

Cy: It seems like a basic, obvious thing. I know it's very emotional for people. It's a basic, obvious thing though, if you just get down to it. It's basic, obvious. We'll get there eventually as a Church. Hey, Bishops, jump on board. Allow your pastors to make that decision.

Fr. Hugh: Go East.

Cy: We gotta go. Go East, young man. But there's a million more signs of hope. Praise God who gives us hope. And as Pope Benedict reminded us in his great encyclical Spe Salvi, "He's on a horizon, beyond the horizon of this world."

Fr. Hugh: Right.

Cy: And it is an endless and beautiful horizon. Thank you, Father.

Fr. Hugh:  Let's turn to the Blessed Mother for that. She's our hope.

Cy: Praise God.

Chris: Amen.

Cy: And thank you, Chris.

Chris:  Always a pleasure, Cy.

Cy: Thank you, all of you, for listening to Catholic Answers Focus. We do this every week, so if you want to share this with your friends, send them over to, where they can sign up to be members of Radio Club and get alerts whenever there's a new Catholic Answers Focus out. We'll see you next time, God willing on Catholic Answers Focus. [crosstalk 00:32:28]

Fr. Hugh: God bless.

Cy: Signs of hope in the Church and in the world, this time, on Catholic Answers Focus.


Catholic Answers Focus - Signs of the Demonic

February 6, 2019

The president and chaplain of Catholic Answers join Cy for a conversation about demonic influences in the modern world.


Catholic Answers Focus - Do People Really Go To Hell?

January 30, 2019

Modern Catholics have experienced a “creeping universalism,” with many now convinced that few people, if any, go to hell. Ralph Martin defends traditional Church teaching on hell, and explains why it is not going away.

Cy Kellett: Does anyone actually go to hell? Ralph Martin is here. Lets find out.

Cy Kellett: Hello, and welcome again to Catholic Answers Focus. Delighted to have you here with us. Thank you for joining us. I am Cy Kellett, your host. This week, we tackle the question of salvation. Not what it is, but to how many will it be, in the end, extended. Our guest is Ralph Martin, who is the president of Renewal Ministries. He's a doctorate in theology, and he teaches the new evangelization at Sacred Heart Seminary in the archdiocese of New York. He was named-

Ralph Martin: Detroit.

Kellett: Excuse me, Detroit. I beg your pardon. You were named by Pope Benedict as a consultor to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization.

Martin: Yes.

Kellett: And you are also a peritus ... I've never met a peritus before. This is my first time.

Martin: Yeah, they're harmless.

Kellett: Are they? Okay.

Martin: Yeah, they're okay.

Kellett: ... To the Synod on the New Evangelization, in 2012. You wrote a book, actually, Will Many Be Saved? Bishop Robert Barron, who at the time was Father Barron, familiar to probably almost everybody in the Catholic world ... wrote a review of that book. You wrote a reply, and the two of you carried on a conversation about salvation.

Martin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kellett: What was your concern in writing the book, Will Many Be Saved?

Martin: Yeah. I would say that over the last 50 or 60 years or so, there's been a remarkable change of mentality and worldview amongst Catholics, that hasn't really been paid too much attention to. I would say that the way many of our fellow Catholics look at the world today, would describe it like this: Broad and wide is the way that leads to Heaven. Almost everybody's going there. Narrow is the door that leads to hell. Hardly anybody's going there. Now, you might say, like, "What's wrong with this picture?"

Kellett: I think I can hear the resonances of someone else, who used similar terminology.

Martin: Yes, yes. It's exactly the opposite of what Jesus Himself said. In Matthew, chapter seven, he says, "Broad and wide is the way that's leading to destruction. Many are traveling that way. Narrow is the door that leads to life, difficult is the road, and few there are who are finding it." Now, Jesus didn't say this because he was happy about the situation. He didn't say it because this is how it has to be. But when you look out on the world as it is, many, many people are not honoring God. They're not believing in Jesus. They're not living righteous lives.

Kellett: Right.

Martin: And so, what Jesus is kind of trying to wake us up to is saying, "Hey. This isn't a game. You know? If you don't hold on to the bread of life, if you don't really hold on to the one that the Father has sent to bring us to Heaven, you're not gonna go there." You know?

Kellett: Yeah. Right.

Martin: It's just really, really serious, and this isn't an isolated text. Like Luke, chapter 13. Imagine, people asked Jesus, "Will there be few in number who are saved?" Now, that's a pretty interesting question, isn't it?

Kellett: Yes.

Martin: And his answer isn't like giving numbers, but then again, it's not saying, "Oh, I'm sorry I upset you. I was just using Jewish hyperbole. Don't you know about literary form? I mean, you know. Come on, guys. Chill." You know? He didn't say that.

Kellett: Right.

Martin: He said, "Try very hard to enter by the narrow door, because many will try to enter, but will not be able to." And then it goes on to say ... Well, people say, "Hey, wait a second, Jesus. We came to your preaching. We ate and drank with you in the streets. What do you mean?" He says, "I don't know you. Depart from me." So, people heard about Jesus. They knew about Jesus. They enjoyed his preaching. Maybe they even got healed. But they didn't respond with faith and repentance, and change their lives. They didn't become disciples. They didn't enter into a relationship with Him, and pay attention to the instructions He's trying to give us about how to end up in Heaven, rather than hell. That's why I wrote the book.

Kellett: I think anybody who is familiar with the history of the church would say what you're describing there is the standard belief of Christians down through the centuries. But here's what I think many people would say. "Look. The Second Vatican Council cleared that up for us."

Martin: Yeah. No. Yeah, people say it. They say, "Ralph, haven't you heard that Vatican Two changed all that? I know we used to believe that, but haven't you heard that that's all been changed now, and it's all about mercy and compassion, and all that kind of stuff?"

Kellett: Right.

Martin: I actually did my doctoral dissertation to study what exactly the Catholic Church is officially teaching in Vatican Two. The main text is, in the Constitution of the Church, chapter 16, where it says, "It is possible, under certain circumstances, for people who haven't heard the Gospels to be saved." And then it lists what the conditions are. People who are inculpably ignorant of the Gospel. People who are nevertheless trying to know who God is, because God reveals something of Himself to the whole human race, through the creation. People who are trying to live according to the light of conscience, because God gives everybody's conscience a sense of right and wrong. And then it says, assisted by grace, it's possible for these people to be saved.

Martin: So people hear that, and ... You know, I say the same thing. I say, "I'm really glad to hear that God's gonna give a chance to everybody, even if through no fault of their own, they don't hear the Gospel."

Kellett: Right.

Martin: But then, the last three sentences are almost completely ignored. Some of the most famous theologians in the Catholic Church who write on this issue kind of talk about salvation optimism. That's a little bit what Father Barron was kind of talking about, too, based on von Balthasar. But, the last three sentences say, "However, very often, deceived by the evil one, human beings actually exchange the truth of God for a lie, and worship the creature rather than the Creator."

Martin: Therefore, it's really urgent that we preach the Gospel, because people aren't naturally responding to God automatically. We hope they're given the chance to, but hey, the world of the flesh and the devil are really powerful, and it's really easy for people to give into disordered desires of original sin. It's really easy for people to be brainwashed by the culture, but give themselves to the brainwashing, because it confirms them in their disordered desires. And it's really easy to be deceived by the deception that the devil is sowing in people's lives, and in the culture at large.

Martin: So, it's really important that we preach the Gospel. And I don't think the whole emphasis on new evangelization is going to last very long, unless people know that something's really at stake. It's just gonna be another passing kind of craze, another buzzword for a while. The only thing that's really motivated people to persevere in preaching the Gospel is knowing that the eternal salvation of their souls are at stake.

Kellett: Certainly, we have seen that. I think most of the popes ... I can remember Benedict the 16th, I think in an interview. One of those book linked interviews that he did talked about a dampening, a consequence of this kind of modern idea that the way is wide, and that's the way. I've seen a dampening of enthusiasm for evangelization, and that's very hard to overcome.

Martin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kellett: Now, so Bishop Barron, in his response then ... Or his review, really, of the book.

Martin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kellett: He does talk about Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar, and I think you both would agree, they were the two major 20th century proponents of this wide ... What'd you call it? Salvation optimism?

Martin: Yeah, salvation optimism is what Karl Rahner described Vatican Two of bringing into the church.

Kellett: It doesn't seem to me now that as many people are, that Rahner is invoked as much as von Balthasar.

Martin: Yeah.

Kellett: Maybe because his reputation hasn't ... I don't know, but ...

Martin: Yeah.

Kellett: So we can look at these theologians, and say that this optimism comes from them. And in his review, Bishop Barron says that ... I think what he's attempting to do is say, "Look, Pope Benedict the 16th is among these," and he wants to say you're dismissing the teaching of Pope Benedict the 16th in spaceality. Now, I know you responded to that-

Martin: Yeah.

Kellett: But, what is your response to that?

Martin: Well, there's a certain phrase in Benedict's encyclical spaceality where he says something like this. He says, "One may suppose that most people end up in purgatory." You know?

Kellett: Yes. It's a very striking turn of phrase, for an encyclical letter.

Martin: Yeah, yeah. So, he's not like teaching authoritatively. He's sort of like speculating, or supposing, or something like that.

Kellett: Yeah.

Martin: But actually, in the footnote he refers people to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, where it talks about the reality of hell and purgatory and Heaven, so he's acknowledging the traditional teaching of the church. But he's sort of like speculating, saying, "Gee. You know, one may suppose that most people end up in purgatory." So, I said I felt like that was a misleading formulation, that could lead people to really think it's actually a teaching of the church. That most people are gonna be saved, you know?

Kellett: Yes.

Martin: We just don't know. So Bishop Barron accused me of being a dissenter, because of raising that as a question. Which, anyway.

Kellett: But it's hard to dissent from a supposition.

Martin: Exactly. But also, in my response I pointed out a document that the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith published, about how to interpret Magisterial statements. And depending on how they're formulated, depending about whether they're repeated, depending on whether they're given in a sort of formal, definitive way, there's lots of room for development and for discussion and for dialogue, and for that type of thing.

Kellett: Maybe upon further reflection, Bishop Barron would agree. You're not a dissenter. You're not dissenting.

Martin: Well, I would hope that that would be his position, yeah.

Kellett: But he does ... He argues that ... He doesn't flesh out the argument, but he does conclude by saying he actually thinks it's a better tool of evangelization to have this idea of a more broad salvation.

Martin: I actually don't think it is. I was just talking to the founder of Saint Paul Street Evangelization, Steve Dawson. What they do is they go out in the street and they hand out miraculous medals, and try to get into conversations with people. And my friend was just asking, "Have you ever seen anybody actually convert through that street evangelization?" And Steve said the only time he's ever seen it happen, he's seen it happen a number of times now, is when they talk about the final judgment, and the eternal consequences about not really surrendering your life to Jesus, and the reality of hell. And they said that's the only thing that's ever been effective in actually helping people right there on the spot, really turn to the Lord. There's a reason why Jesus gave all those warnings. I mean-

Kellett: Yeah, he seemed to agree with that.

Martin: Yeah. In fact, he even said, "Don't fear those who can kill the body, but fear the death of the soul." So Jesus is saying, "Hey, it's okay to be afraid of going to hell. In fact, you're pretty smart if you're afraid of going to hell." It doesn't end there. It grows in a relationship of love and honor and reverence. But, being afraid of going to hell is really helpful for people. It's kept a lot of people out of hell.

Kellett: Right. Your position, however, is not that the vast majority of people are going to hell.

Martin: No, no. I don't think we know the numbers. I mean, only God knows numbers, and probably the numbers are still to be decided by the decisions that people are gonna be making or not making.

Kellett: Right.

Martin: Jesus is giving us the indication that you don't just drift into Heaven, that you gotta make some decisions. He says the Kingdom of God suffers violence, and the violent bear it away. You don't just kind of hear Jesus saying nice things, and go on with your merry life. He says, "Let he who hears these things heed them."

Kellett: Yeah.

Martin: You know. Don't let these words fall on you, and not bear fruit in your life. So, repentance and conversion and faithfully following Jesus is absolutely essential. I mean, the Father has sent Jesus because eternal life is in Jesus, and if you want eternal life, get with Jesus. I mean, that's where it is.

Kellett: Amen. Right.

Martin: You know? I mean, that's where it is. It's in Jesus. It's in the church. It's in Jesus's sacraments. That's where eternal life is. And if you want eternal life, come on. Get with it.

Kellett: Yeah, and as an evangelizer ... We're all meant to be evangelizers. I mean, I can't imagine anything more motivating than the thought that this person can be damned, this person can be saved. There are two utterly distinct possibilities for this life.

Martin: There's only two final destinations, and life isn't a game. It's a time to kind of get redeemed, or not to get redeemed. And Our Lady of Fatima, all her warnings. She showed the children a vision of hell, and it changed their life forever. They became so concerned about the salvation of the souls. You know, little Saint Jacinta, a day didn't go by where she said, "Have you made any sacrifices today?" She said, "It's so terrible that souls go to hell." And Mary said, "Pray very much, because so many souls are going to hell because so few people are praying and offering sacrifice for them."

Martin: So, my goodness. There's never been a Marian apparition more highly accepted by the church. You know, Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe. And here we have the church saying, "This is a reliable prophetic warning from God, sent through His own mother." You know, listen to what she's saying.

Kellett: And again about the real possibility of damnation, how do I get to Heaven, then?

Martin: You get to Heaven by putting your faith in Jesus Christ, and doing what he says. Becoming part of His body of the church, eating His body, drinking His blood, obeying His word, and living the life that He's gonna give us the power to live. First Corinthians, chapter six, Galatians five, Ephesians five, it says, "If you keep on committing serious sin, you will be excluded from the Kingdom of God." We need to repent. We need to ask God to help us overcome our sins, and begin to live a life of holiness in the church.

Kellett: Ralph Martin, thank you very, very much.

Martin: Thank you, Cy.


Catholic Answers Focus - The Sacraments Work!

January 23, 2019

Do the sacraments do what they claim to do? Msgr. Eugene Morris defends their efficacy in a world that mostly fails to see them for what they are. Msgr. Morris is a sacramental theologian and a priest of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. He is a popular speaker, retreat leader, and radio guest and host.


Catholic Answers Focus - Arguments in Favor of Relativism (Part 3)

January 16, 2019

Our in-house-philosopher, Karlo Broussard, author of Prepare the Way: Overcoming obstacles to God, the Gospel and the Church, joins us for a three part conversation about relativism. Why are conversations about right and wrong so often labeled “hate speech?


Catholic Answers Focus - Arguments in Favor of Relativism (Part 2)

January 9, 2019

Our in-house-philosopher, Karlo Broussard, author of Prepare the Way: Overcoming obstacles to God, the Gospel and the Church, joins us for a three part conversation about relativism. What gives you the right to interfere in other people’s moral choices?


Catholic Answers Focus - Arguments in Favor of Relativism (Part 1)

January 2, 2019

Our in-house-philosopher, Karlo Broussard, author of Prepare the Way: Overcoming obstacles to God, the Gospel and the Church, joins us for a three part conversation about relativism. What are the arguments in its favor, and are they convincing?


Catholic Answers Focus - The Nativity in the Bible (Part 2)

December 26, 2018

Cy and Jimmy continue their discussion of Baby Jesus as his birth and infancy are relayed to us by Matthew and Luke.


Catholic Answers Focus - The Nativity in the Bible (Part 1)

December 19, 2018

Do you skip the lists of begets and begottens when you read the Bible? Cy and Jimmy discuss the genealogies of the Lord and find some amazing things.


Catholic Answers Focus - Professionalism and Faith

December 12, 2018

Is there a place for faith in the workplace? Professional baseball pitcher Trevor Williams stops by to talk about pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates and living as a Catholic.


Catholic Answers Focus - Made for More

December 5, 2018

The founder of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students updates us on the state of young souls and the work of sharing Christ on campus.


Catholic Answers Focus - Smoke of Satan

November 29, 2018

Philip Lawler, editor of Catholic World News, outlines how corrupt bishops betrayed the Church and shares ideas on what can be done about it.


Catholic Answers Focus - Why Philosophy Matters (Part 2)

November 21, 2018

Our guest is the editor-in-chief of the International Philosophical Quarterly, Father Joseph W. Koterski, S.J., and our guest interviewer is our chaplain, Father Hugh Barbour, O. Praem.


Catholic Answers Focus - Why Philosophy Matters (Part 1)

November 14, 2018

Philosophy is not just for the pros. Daily life is impossible without it, and the better we are at it, the better equipped for life we become. Our guest is the Editor-in-Chief of the International Philosophical Quarterly, Father Joseph W. Koterski, S.J., and our guest interviewer is Karlo Broussard.


Catholic Answers Focus - A Musical Conversion (Part 2)

November 9, 2018

Once a modernist, composer Frank La Rocca has written a Mass of the Americas that will premier at San Francisco's Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption on December 8. We talk music, conversion, and the meaning of beauty.


Catholic Answers Focus - A Musical Conversion (Part 1)

November 5, 2018

Once a modernist, Composer Frank La Rocca’s brand new Mass of the Americas will premier at San Francisco's Cathedral of Saint Mary of The Assumption On Dec. 8. We talk music, conversion, and the meaning of beauty.


Catholic Answers Live - The Evangelizing Parish

August 28, 2018

Questions Covered:

  • 17:16 - What can I do to make the religious education experience better?
  • 22:13 - I am afraid that there are sodomites and heretics in my diocese. What can I do as a laymen?
  • 35:04 - How can I better evangelize when it is really difficult to bring people into the community?
  • 44:45 - How can we grow our parishes?
  • 49:10 - Do we have to participate in parish activities that we don’t enjoy?
  • 52:10 - Who is this book directed at? Is it useful for a laymen?

Resources Mentioned:


#149 On the Road for a Culture of Life - Martha Nolan

June 15, 2018

Each summer, Crossroads sends young people on pro-life pilgrimages across the United States. Martha Nolan, vice president of Crossroads, joins us from the road to tell us how lives are being changed as the walkers make their way to Washington, D.C.


Catholic Answers Focus - The Fragility of Order with George Weigel - April 26, 2018

April 30, 2018

George Weigel's newest book, The Fragility of Order: Catholic Reflections on Turbulent Times, offers a diagnosis of how the world, and the Church, got into the situation of disorder we face today. Join us, as Weigel discusses the book, the world, and his chats with Pope Francis.