Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fr. Pablo Straub: How they used to do it.

May the souls of the faithful departed
rest in peace...

Fr. Straub died on October 21, he was 81.
A member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, colloquially known as the Redemptorists, and a priest for 55 years, Father Straub was easily recognized and well loved from the numerous series he hosted and the retreats he gave over the years.

“Father Pablo was a longtime host on EWTN and a friend to many of us here at the network,” noted Michael Warsaw, of the EWTN Global Catholic Network.
Over the years, anyone who heard Father Straub was immediately drawn by his devotion to the faith, his enthusiasm for it and his eagerness to share it with everyone. These traits were his hallmarks, along with the sense of humor he was apt to show.

Warsaw recalled a recent meeting: “I was with Father Pablo just a few weeks ago in St. Louis, and though he was physically slowed by the symptoms of his previous stroke, his voice and his preaching were as powerful as ever. We will miss that voice here with us, but we are confident that God the Father will welcome home this holy and faithful servant.”

In addition to his service as a retreat leader, Father Straub founded two religious congregations, which combine the contemplative and the missionary, one for men becoming priests and one for women religious: Los Consagrados (and Consagradas) del Santisimo Salvador — the Consecrated of the Most Holy Savior. Their convent and seminary at Mount St. Alphonsus is located near the Coyuca Lagoon on the Pacific Coast just north of Acapulco.  - Catholic Register

Why do I say, "How they used to do it"?

The old fashioned Parish Mission, is an excellent reminder that evangelization isn't new - it's kind of the way they used to do it.  Redemptorists, Passionists, and Franciscans were known for giving parish missions - which were held every few years in parishes around the world, and conducted very much in the style of how Fr. Straub did his presentations on EWTN and on video.  Fr. Straub was often shown speaking, holding a crucifix - preaching Christ crucified - just like St. Paul and the missionary saints who followed.

The effects of parish mission were enormous.  The churches were over crowded - generally not because of the speaker - but as a response to a call.  Confessions - reconciliation - happened, in great numbers.  The confessional lines were long, the confessors busy.  Devotion was increased, sometimes vocations resulted, many people would reform their lives, change their lives.  Alcoholics stopped drinking, unfaithful spouses became faithful, little kids wanted to be saints.

The missionaries were sent by their religious order, at the request of the pastor or the local bishop.  It had little to do with name recognition, celebrity status, even clerical status of the missionary - the crucifix he held up echoed the Apostle, "While I was amongst you I preached Christ, and him crucified."  It wasn't an opportunity to advance book sales for the missionary, much less to schedule more speaking engagements.  The missionaries didn't have a lifestyle to support, they weren't evangelizing for profit.  It wasn't a speaking engagement or a pep rally, and as far away from a business deal as you could get.

"The Church is not a shop... the Church’s mandate is to bring Christ and the gospel." - Pope Francis

I read elsewhere how Evangelical Protestant books apparently outsell Catholic authors/books, as if it was a sign something is wrong with Catholics who some how refuse to grow in their faith. 

Traditionally, ordinary lay Catholics read the classics, the writings of the saints, then they'll read guides for the spiritual life and sanctification.  Prayerful reading, Lectio Divina, has a long tradition amongst Catholics.  Francis De Sales did well with his pamphlets and books on the devout life.  Not too long ago there were magazines devoted to evangelization.  My point is, evangelization shouldn't be about book sales, royalties, bookings, ratings, and so on.  I think it is more about seeking out the strayed and the lost.

Just a thought.


  1. I think one of the differences, especially with regard to the classics is that there's no need to run out and buy a copy of the Little Flower's autobiography if you have grandma's copy. Evangelical protestants are printing new books and everybody's running like lemmings to get them. Do they survive more than a couple of printings before the next fad comes along? Classics are classic for a reason. I don't know how to evaluate contemporary Catholic writers so I stick with an obscure German theologian, doctors of the Church and other saints.

  2. Father Pablo was wonderful. His was a vibrant faith and one he communicated so well to those of us who would listen. I really liked him and am sad to know of his passing but happy to know where he is heading.

    Father Pablo, pray for us!
    Pray for the Church you loved so much and will love for all eternity!
    Pray for the Holy Father and for all priests!
    Greet the Virgencita for me!
    Kiss the feet of the Risen Lord for us all!
    Intercede on our behalf for the graces to grown in faith, hope, charity!
    Rest in peace faithful one!

  3. I call up priests I know and tell them they need to get over there right away.

  4. Oops - I commented on the wrong post - I was responding DB and Nan's reference to the Hospital's AA group blocking access to priests comment. What?

  5. I met Fr. Pablo at a conference about 16 years ago in Roseville, Illinois. In spite of being very ill from diabetes, he gave a very moving talk then nearly died on the stage. He had to be taken to the hospital. He was ready to give everything for Jesus at every monment. What a faithful witness! May His Face shine upon him for all eternity!


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