By Tanya Connor
Voting and running for office.
Evangelizing lapsed Catholics.
Handling life’s “paper cuts.”
These were among topics Patrick Coffin addressed at the kick-off for Emmanuel Radio’s second radiothon, to be held from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Oct. 17-19. The host of Catholic Answers Live spoke at Anna Maria College Sept. 27. His radio show is on the EWTN Radio Network, which Emmanuel Radio (WNEB 1230) broadcasts.
Mr. Coffin promoted Emmanuel Radio, taught about apologetics and took questions.
He spoke of the wireless radio as the most revolutionary invention in human communication; it enabled a single sender to reach multiple people regardless of location. It formed the foundation for later communication methods.
“The content is there, inches from your hand,” he said. It’s free. But by providing material support for it, listeners can change lives.
“I might … meet the person in heaven who got there by Emmanuel Radio,” he said.
He told of a Greek Orthodox priest who, after questioning a priest on Catholic Answers Live, said, “You just answered my last objection; I have to become Catholic.” And a man who drove over a bridge twice did not jump because of something on Catholic Answers Live, he said.
“What the Lord needs is worms for his fishing hook,” he said, urging listeners to support Emmanual Radio.
Asked how to use the social media, Mr. Coffin advocated embracing all media that get the message out.
“I like the old-fashioned shoulder tap,” he said in response to a question about bringing people back to the Church. One might invite them to Mass or to listen to a radio show or refer them to Catholic sports heroes they admire.
Responding to a grandmother lamenting family not attending church, Mr. Coffin said, “I’m very sorry, because I know it’s very painful. … Your witness, in season and out, is the best homily you can deliver.”
As to their support for abortion, he said the answer to abortion isn’t better birth control, which involves risky sex; it’s no birth control. The concept of an unwanted pregnancy is about 30 years old, he said. Couples practicing natural family planning “never have unwanted pregnancies; they have unplanned ones,” he said.
Asked his prediction for “the frozen chosen” in the northeast, M. Coffin envisioned smaller numbers – unless lay people take their baptism more seriously.
“Catholics need to start voting like Catholics,” he said. He spoke of abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research.
“Catholics cannot vote for these things,” he said. “That’s why they’re called non-negotiables.” And Catholic politicians cannot support them.
He decried John F. Kennedy promising Protestants he would not be a good Catholic if he was elected president. Mr. Coffin said Jesus never forbade Catholics from holding office, and popes recommended they run.
“But do it like a real Catholic,” he said. “It’s about being a Catholic on purpose.”
He told The Catholic Free Press: “Catholic politicians should be providing leadership. Politicians are politicians temporarily, but they will never stop being Catholic. Their salvation is in peril if they support things that are intrinsically evil.”
Mr. Coffin urged listeners facing the election to focus on the likelihood of the next president appointing Supreme Court justices.
Asked about the separation of church and state he said, “I would like to see a little bit of separation of state from church.”
Mr. Coffin applied a statement of Gen. Chesty Puller to “the remnant” of Catholics defending the faith: “I’m in Marine heaven; everywhere I shoot, I hit the enemy.”
“The world has heard a lot of arguments,” Mr. Coffin said. “It hasn’t heard the one irrefutable argument – personal holiness. Unless you love God more than you love you,” you can’t go to heaven; only saints go there.
“Worse than nuclear war is a mortal sin,” he said. He spoke of being holy in dealing with irritating little “paper cuts” of life. It’s easy for him to be Catholic on the air, but not in traffic, he said.
He told of Chiara Badano, who died at age 18 in 1990 and was beatified in 2010. In her suffering she said, “I just try to love Jesus as much as I can. If he wants it, I want it.”
He told of Father Felix Leseur, who ridiculed his Catholic wife when she was alive, but later learned more of her commitment to him.
Asked his advice for Catholic youth ridiculed for their faith, Mr. Coffin said, “The … ridicule is a feather in your cap. … This shouldn’t really be a surprise. … For people who follow Jesus and want to be faithful to his way – it doesn’t connect with people.” He advocated worshipping and socializing with like-minded Catholics.
He spoke of the inconsistency of people trying to silence those they label intolerant. The Church has had it easy for a long time; persecution can wake people up, he said.
A father asked how to reconcile religion and science for his young son.
Mr. Coffin suggested asking where scientists and the world come from. Science gets at the what and how, but can’t get at the why, he said.
“More than a scientific answer, your being a great dad is going to have a lot more milage,” he said.
“Faith no more destroys reason than a telescope” hurts the eye, he said.
Only 35 percent of Catholics in the United States attend Mass, and 50 percent of adult converts who enter the Church at Easter are not going to Mass by the next Easter, Mr. Coffin said. He said he thinks this is because of lack of knowledge.
“It’s so important to know just the ABCs,” he said. Hence the usefulness of apologetics.
“I thought apologetics meant you felt really sorry you were Catholic,” Mr. Coffin said. But the word apologetics comes from a Greek word that means defense, he said.
He likened spreading the message that “God is crazy in love with you” to the offense in sports.
“That’s evangelization,” he said. “Apologetics is the followup: How is Jesus Lord? … What obedience do I owe the Church?”
He used I Pt 3:15-16 as a call for apologetics: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.”
Mr. Coffin spoke of Catholics defending specifically Catholic teachings such as the existence of purgatory and the role of the Blessed Mother.
“But they all come second to Thing One: How did God reveal himself?” he said.
He said Catholics agree with Protestants that the Bible is God’s inspired, inerrant word. But the Bible never identifies itself as God’s word or limits God’s word to itself, he said.
He said it would be funny if “the word of God” was taken to mean the Bible in Acts 12:24: “The word of God grew and multiplied.”
“Jesus is God’s Word-made-flesh,” Mr. Coffin said, referring to Jn 1. “Jesus never commanded, ‘Write this,’ but he did command, ‘Do this in memory of me.’” The early Church did not write, but made the Eucharist present, he said. The Church had Mass and confession for 400 years before there was a settled canon of Scripture, he said.
Protestants say Jesus came to abolish man-made traditions, and Catholics too reject traditions that nullify God’s word, Mr. Coffin said. But that’s not referring to Tradition with a capital T, he said, referring to the command in 2 Thes 2:15 to hold fast to traditions.
The Protestant Reformation is based on the divorce of Christ from the Church, Mr. Coffin said. But in Lk 10:16, Jesus identifies his teaching with that of the apostles: “Whoever listens to you listens to me.”
Asked for advice on allowing a homosexual relative to bring his partner to a Catholic wedding, Mr. Coffin said that would be a prudential judgement; his answer wasn’t Church teaching.
“I would be very uncomfortable…if it may provoke questions from children at the wedding,” he said.
The Church says everyone deserves freedom from unjust discrimination, he said. He said homosexuality is not a permanent condition; there’s no gene for it.
“Same sex attraction is not a sin,” but it’s an inclination to something sinful; the inclination is disordered and God needs to recalibrate it, he said.