Archive of August 10, 2013

Doctor feels blessed to be at ringside

Denver, Colo., Aug 10, 2013 (CNA) - With insurance, we never want to use it, but we’re glad to know it’s there. The same can be said by boxers about ringside physicians.

Rather than considering himself a necessary evil, Dr. Joe Estwanik feels privileged to have gotten the opportunities that being present for over ten thousand bouts has brought him.

A North Carolina-based orthopedic surgeon rated highly by U.S. News & World Report, Dr. Estwanik is the author of “Sports Medicine for the Combat Arts” and president of the Association of Ringside Physicians. The doctor for UFC 3, he is still active as a ringside physician, a role he started in 33 years ago.

Although he grew up more than 500 miles from his current location, his career has taken him not only throughout the U.S., but to a number of other countries.

“I grew up in Cleveland and had a Catholic education from grade school to St. Edward in Lakewood, Ohio, and then the University of Dayton, which was also a Catholic school,” he explains. “I had theology classes from grade one to senior in college. Despite myself participating in sports, I felt that I could always seek peace and quiet in the church and would actually use the chapel at many churches even on the road, in Mexico, in the Philippines, because the church is universal. On an island in the Philippines, I went three years ago. In Mexico I attended a historic Mass at church. I had the same warmth at churches in foreign countries.”

He adds that, “The church has extended its arms and welcomed me and given me the same message, even in foreign languages. Even in college, competing in weightlifting, I don’t think I missed a Sunday going to the chapel on the campus. It was my chance to straighten up my mind. Many students stray, but I needed that hour or so of re-setting or of, grounding, and that’s where I see the church and theology helping athletes because it grounds them especially because of the notoriety or fame that they gain. Obviously I see athletes grounded in another sense, by injury, and they need faith, they need support to work their way through the injury. It helps make sure they’re not tempted through their success.”

Speaking of boxing success, told of former #1 heavyweight contender in the world “Baby Joe” Mesi having done an interview for in which he said that despite boxing being a sport where you’re punching your opponent throughout the match, those same people are your friends, Dr. Estwanik is right there with Mesi.

“I agree with him. In the spirit of most competitors you’re simply a participant on the field of play, no different from football, rugby, or soccer where you’re trying to neutralize an opponent. You’re not trying to harm. There’s the same comradeship and sportsmanship after they lose or win after they get past the usual upset or anger after having lost a competition.”

A member of the USOC Sports Medicine Society for the 2008 Quadrennium, Dr. Estwanik looks back on his experiences on other continents and gives some compelling testimony.

“I’ve been involved in world championships. I went to the Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Russia, and other international events. I spent months living in the Olympic training centers and in hotels. Many former roommates eventually ended up competing against each other in the ring.

“As far as brotherhood within this, I’ve been on trips with 20 different countries attending the tournament and still remember the Islamic Republic of Iran and, despite being American, I sat on the same bus with them, and the U.S. athletes would be trading music with them. So, there is fellowship because of sport. They’d come up to my room at night and ask me to check out a couple athletes because they appreciated my help. It creates fellowship, love, and bridges.”

As someone able to recognize the grace within those situations, it’s no surprise that Dr. Estwanik, who has also been a keynote speaker in addition to serving at ringside, realizes that he is being in service to the Lord when he is out in the field with audiences and athletes, using the knowledge and talents God gave him.

“My talent or my pathway that was divinely guided was to be a physician. My mission is to serve athletes and allow them to continue as they best can and most safely can with the skills God has allowed me to develop. I didn’t develop to the extent that they as athletes did. God has given me the mission to allow them to participate more safely.

“On the trips I was allowed to bring one person with me and I would bring a child or my wife and she has extended the same mission overseas. Lonely athletes would come and sit and talk, just to give warmth and a relationship on the road. I think we’re serving a mission.”

Asked if he has a favorite Bible passage, Dr. Estwanik chooses instead to reflect on something that is productive for student-athletes.

“I have a favorite author. Matthew Kelly (wrote) “Rediscovering Catholicism.” I’ve written passage after passage and hint after hint inside (that book) and I find his writing so inspiring and practical. ‘Discipline is the key to freedom’ (is one message Dr. Estwanik liked).

“I know so many coaches that require young fighters to bring their report card. As an authority figure they require them to do that because they want excellence in all facets of that youth’s life.”

Some of those youths may go on to be boxers. Or one of them just might grow up to be a ringside doctor.

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Cardinal's work aims to foster love, devotion to Eucharist

San Diego, Calif., Aug 10, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - In “Divine Love Made Flesh,” Cardinal Raymond Burke presents a commentary on papal writings about the Eucharist showing his “profound love” for the Sacrament, the book's collaborator says.

“The goal was to help people understand – in today's world, with such a waning faith and understanding of the Holy Eucharist – to give some explanation and help break that down for the faithful,” Thomas McKenna, founder of the book's publisher Catholic Action for Faith and Family, told CNA.

The book is a commentary by the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church's highest court, on Blessed John Paul II's 2003 encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia” and Benedict XVI's 2007 apostolic exhortation “Sacramentum Caritatis.”

Cardinal Burke wrote in the book's conclusion that “it is my fervent prayer that the reflections on Ecclesia de Eucharistia and Sacramentum Caritatis contained in these pages will lead the reader to an ever deeper and more ardent knowledge and love of our Eucharistic Lord.”

An interview with Cardinal Burke about his book will air on EWTN on Aug. 14 at 2 p.m. Eastern and on Aug. 16 at 11 p.m.

The book, subtitled “The Holy Eucharist as the Sacrament of Charity,” links the Eucharist to each of the Sacraments and to the daily life of Catholics, showing that it is the center of our whole life.

“Many people today understand the Holy Eucharist as a part of the Mass, and yes it is at Mass, but there's also Holy Hours, devotions, and reflections, in whatever walk of life we're in,” McKenna reflected.

The book is meant for “the person in the pew, the typical Catholic,” in the hopes that it will help expose them to recent Papal teachings on the Eucharist. “When Popes write encyclicals, they write them for the people … it's not just for cardinals or intellectuals.”

Because bishops, including the Pope, write as teachers, “this is an obligation Cardinal Burke felt,” McKenna said, to teach and “help explain (the teaching) to the faithful.”

“He did this as a goal of wanting to be faithful to his mission as a bishop, and now a cardinal, to teach.”

McKenna explained that the book was written at his own request. He approached Cardinal Burke, with whom he is friends, telling him that his writings are “so beautiful, they've been helpful to me and to many others,” and that the cardinal agreed, so as “to help the faithful.”

“Divine Love Made Flesh” grew out of a series of the cardinal's articles, written while he was Archbishop of St. Louis, explaining the different aspects of “Ecclesia de Eucharistia” to his flock when it was released.

“He has a great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament,” McKenna said, “and he thought this would be a very good place to start, to publish, to put it into a book now, and he added to” the original article series.

The book “shows his true, profound love” for the Blessed Sacrament, which is the basis for his “concern for abuses of it.”

“That's what the book shares, is a deep, profound faith in his soul.”

McKenna emphasized that the book is “catechetical” rather than being solely “theological” on the one hand or “devotional” on the other.

By being catechetical, Cardinal Burke is able to relate the link between liturgy and the new evangelization, as well as explain the meaning of “active participation” not as “activity” as is commonly thought, but rather as “a spiritual joining with the priest.”

“Many people have commented to me, even older people who have lived their whole lives as Catholics, that this book has brought out thoughts and points about the faith they had never heard about,” McKenna said.

He added that “teaching clarity is what Cardinal Burke is renowned for; taking the concept and explaining it clearly for people to understand.”

In the book's introduction Cardinal Burke, a proponent of the extraordinary form of the Mass, begins by discussing the importance of the new evangelization, writing that “it is through participation in the Holy Eucharist that we best understand what we must do to carry out the new evangelization, namely pour out our lives in union with Christ.”

“Sharing in the thirst of Christ for souls through the Holy Eucharist,” he continues, the work of the new evangelization … becomes possible for man. The reality of divine love makes it possible.”

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Controversial book's claims about Jesus are 'nothing new'

Denver, Colo., Aug 10, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Although a controversial new book on the “historical Jesus” is topping best-seller lists, claims made by its author are tired when it comes to New Testament scholarship, a Scripture professor says.

“There's basically not a lot new,” Dr. Andre Villeneuve from Denver's St. John Vianney Theological Seminary said of Reza Aslan's recent “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.”

“It kind of re-hashes what's been said in the last – not just 20 or 30 years – but the last 100 or 200 years about the search for 'the historical Jesus,'” he told CNA in an Aug. 6 interview.

“He creates this artificial split between the alleged Jesus of the Gospels and the Jesus of history, as if they would be radically different figures. That again is nothing new, it's been done for decades and even centuries.”

Aslan's book shot to the top of best-seller lists following a roundly criticized July 26 Fox News interview in which his credibility was attacked because of his Muslim religious identity.

“The critique that he's a Muslim is really out of place,” Villeneuve said. “It's not that because you're a Muslim that you can't write a book about Jesus … it's not fair to says he's trying to push the Islamic view of Jesus in the guise of scholarship.”

Villeneuve pointed out that Aslan's positions on Jesus do not always correspond with the Muslim perspective – and that he in fact parts with Islamic belief by acknowledging the crucifixion of Jesus and rejecting the virgin birth.

But in that same Fox News interview, Aslan also claimed to be an expert in religious history, calling himself “a Ph.D. in the history of religions” and “a scholar of religions with a Ph.D. in the subject.”

His doctorate, however, is in sociology, and while he examined the sociology of religions, his expertise – that is, the subject of his dissertation – is the jihadist movement of 20th century Islam.

Aslan is also associate professor of creative writing at University of California-Riverside, based on his master's degree in fiction. He also holds a masters of theological studies, and a bachelor's degree in religions.

“It doesn't seem like New Testament studies would be his specialty,” Villeneuve stated.

Aslan portrays Jesus as the frustrated leader of a rebellion against Roman occupation of Jewish lands, and that he was nothing but a failed revolutionary and zealot.

“That puts Aslan more or less in the liberation theology camp, of seeing Jesus as someone who radically challenged the Roman occupation, and in favor of the poor, the marginalized, the dispossessed – really interested more in social justice than anything else.”

Villeneuve said it's “completely fair” to think that the Romans might have perceived Jesus in such a secular way, but that there is a “big difference between how Jesus saw himself, and how the Romans perceived or understood Jesus.”

“As far as Jesus' point of view goes, it's preposterous to put him in the Zealot camp.”

Villeneuve noted Aslan's contention that Jesus never considered himself to be God, because “that was never heard of in ancient Judaism … he claims the idea of the divinity of the Messiah was completely foreign to Judaism in Jesus' time.”

“This is false,” Villeneuve explained. Among others, Daniel Boyarin, an Orthodox Jewish scholar, has noted that the idea of the Incarnation, “and even of … some plurality in the godhead, were concepts present in Second Temple Judaism.”

Boyarin, he said, points to the book of Daniel and to the apocryphal book of Enoch for the presence of the idea of a divine Messiah being present in the Judaism of Jesus' time, and added that “Aslan does not refer – I'm not sure he's even aware – of these positions.”

“The idea that the divine Messiah was present in Second Temple Judaism would be very important to find out and know, before you start dismissing it and saying 'divine Messiah' was a completely Greek, pagan concept."

While granting that “Zealot” is “thoroughly researched,” Villeneuve said that it seems to have been researched in such a way that “he's influenced by the Jesus seminar school,” which in the 1980s and 90s had proposed Jesus as nothing more than a rabbi, sage and healer.

Aslan's view is dismissive and prejudiced against the very possibility of supernatural occurrences, rejecting the miraculous “because these things just don't happen.”

“Be careful of these anti-supernaturalist prejudices,” Villeneuve advised, “and these revisionists really following the fad of questioning the Christian faith because it's the popular thing to do.”

“There are dozens of good books written about Jesus every year, but whatever will question that will be more readily accepted.”

Villeneuve offered Benedict XVI's books on Jesus of Nazareth as resources that “really answer a lot of these claims” and show that “not only in the Gospel of John, but in the Synoptics, you see a man who is definitely taking on this authority that goes way beyond that of the rabbis and scribes of his day.”

The irony, he said, is that Aslan “proposes Christianity is revisionist,” that the earliest Christian community, as Jews, “were completely willing to go into apostasy” and preach things “contrary to what Jesus actually believed.”

“When we really try to think along those lines of what Aslan's trying to make us believe, it's really somewhat preposterous actually: that all these early martyrs and disciples were willing to die as martyrs for what, according to him, was a colossal lie, or myth.”

“I would submit that Aslan's book is a fad that will pass away, and he's not the first, not the last, but the Gospels will still be around in 20 years, when everyone will have forgotten his book.”

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