Roy Schoeman is here for two talks today. This is part of a cool series at Immaculate Heart of Mary in New Mehle, MO, in preparation for the upcoming “Year of St. Paul” in the universal church. His site is Salvation is from the Jews.
Originally from NYC, both parents German-Jewish Holocaust refugees. His dad’s family got out before the killing began, his Mom’s family was sent to a concentration camp but escaped.
Both parents met in the US, but their observance slid down a notch from Orthodox to Conservative. Having said that, his entire identity was wrapped up in being Jewish.
During college he became a disciple of a Hasidic rabbi, almost took up religious life but ended up at MIT.
During the MIT years he lost his faith, probably for two reasons. First, he fell down the science vs. faith psuedo-scientific worldview … a complete trap, second because he fell into serious sin.
It was really the second that caused him to fall away, because it kills the state of grace … whether you believe or not.
Rightly or wrongly, those who believe in miracles believe in them on the basis of evidence, and rightly or wrongly, those who disbelieve in miracles disbelieve on the basis of faith. – G.K. Chesterton.
Ended up teaching at the Harvard Business school at the age of 29, but was completely atheistic at that point.
As a kid he had a real relationship with God, with an expectation that he would understand the mystery after his Bar-Mitzvah. When that didn’t happen he was really down, then looked to each subsequent big event to reveal the meaning and purpose of life.
Never happened, despite enormous worldly success.
One of his friends at Harvard (also Jewish), told him about nearly quitting the day after he got tenure, because there was still no meaning and purpose and life.
Same with Roy, which led to despair. Deep despair.
One day he had a vision while walking through nature. He was very consciously in the presence of God and understood a number Two greatest regrets- 1) seeking love when he was held in an ocean of love and 2) every hour that he’d wasted doing nothing of value in the eyes of heaven.
Every moment had the possibility to make a moral choice with eternal meaning, he saw that at every moment. God cared about each and every moment of his life.
No reason to every be anxious about anything, because everything was the best possible. Especially suffering, there’s eternal meaning and value in suffering.
One of the reasons that he likes to do these talks is to help cradle Catholics be aware of the enormous gifts that we’ve been given uniquely as Catholics.
So at the end of the value he knew that the meaning and purpose of his life was to know and serve this God, but just did not know who He was … what religion to follow and so on.
So he prayed to let him know God’s name and what religion to follow, as long as he didn’t have to become Christian.
What Happened Next
He went back to Cambridge happy, for the first time ever. He knew that God really was there, loved him, and knew him by name.
He then did two things – one dumb and one great. First he went to see a mystic (this was bad!). Although Roy was exposed to the Miracle of Fatima at this “mystic’s” house.
His first reaction was anger and indignation, because he’d spent his life looking for evidence that God still cared and would intervene in history, and this was it.
The evidence required for proof of a miracle is extremely rigorous, more rigorous than any science.
If Catholics realized what we had, they couldn’t help but evangelize.
So he left this friend’s house with terrible new age stuff, but did have stuff about Fatima.
On the other hand, each night he prayed to know the name of that God.
One year to the day he was awakened and taken to a room with the most beautiful woman possible, and he knew it was the Blessed Virgin Mary. She offered to answer any questions.
He was overwhelmed by two things- 1) to be in the presence of the love that flowed from her and 2) overwhelmed by her majesty, glory, dignity.
She taught him “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee”.
“I am the beloved Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, Spouse of the Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit is the look of love that passes between the Father and the Son. – St. Thomas Aquinas.
How can it be that you’re so glorious, so magnificent, ….
Oh know you don’t understand, I am nothing, I am a creature, a created thing. He’s everything..
The next morning when he woke up he knew that he had to become Christian.
After the Second Vision
Started at a Protestant church, but left because they didn’t honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was spending time at Marian shrines.
Sometimes he would stumble upon a Mass, where he would be filled with a tremendous desire to receive the Eucharist.
Roy went and found a Jewish convert who was prior of a Trappist monastery. He acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit, but told Roy he needed to be catechized and integrated into parish life.
Roy’s whole life was one of misery because of a longing for God that could not possibly be met outside of Christianity, and in particular can not be met outside of the sacramental system of the Catholic church.
That’s true of all outside the Church … lives of quiet despair.
For example, look at any Woody Allen movie. A system of humor based on existential despair.
The answer is truth that we’ve been given, in its fullness, in the Catholic church.
Imagine a tribesman from the bush who comes to America for the first time, the awe at the gifts of daily life that we take for granted. That is what it is like for a non-Christian who comes into the Church, even to a certain extent when non-Catholics come into the Church.
How can we not spend our life preaching this truth, this good news, this hope?
It is not possible for someone who does not love Jesus Christ to be happy. Herman Coen (a convert in the 1800s whose story was given in Honey from the Rock).
A Little Q&A
Q: How long was the vision?
A: The initial vision was around two hours or so, then a lesser phase lasted for up to a week.
Q: Any advice for parents whose kids are drawn to the sciences?
A: Take him to see Expelled, support him in his vocation, feed him with material from faithful (particularly Catholic) scientists, such as Fr. Stanley Jaki, who is a physicist at Seton Hall.
Q: How did the family react?
A: Initially really unhappy, eventual resignation.