Father Groeschel is Still Teaching

Jamey Brown

When I first saw him on television, I didn’t care for him; the grey-bearded monk in his Franciscan habit. He seemed to represent most of what I didn’t like about the Catholic Faith—the ancient religion with its medieval beliefs and rules.  Besides, I was into one of the newest religions, A Course in Miracles, which was “channeled” in the 1960s – no sin or guilt, or suffering, and none of that nonsense about Jesus being Divine.

Yet, the reason I was even watching Father Benedict Groeschel on EWTN (one of the founders of the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal) was because my interfaith church, where I played guitar and had written songs for 15 years, closed due to the death of our beloved pastor. I was lonesome and despondent. After the camaraderie and the hustle and bustle of the services and meetings was over, there was nothing much that I could sink my teeth into. There was still suffering in my life, even if I told myself that it was an illusion. I was trained to believe that if my thinking was ordered correctly I wouldn’t experience it. There were still breakups, and struggles on the job, and annoying family and friends, and me and others not living up to expectations.

With no church to attend on Sunday, I was searching for something to fill the void. I tried the religious channels on television, even the Catholic channel, when nothing else interested me. Little did I know at the time, the monk I seemed to dislike was friends with Dr. Helen Schucman who wrote A Course in Miracles. As the snippets of truth and beauty of the Catholic faith started sinking in,  I was slowly converted. Father Groeschel would soon become one of my favorites, because of his humor and insights from being both a psychologist and a theologian. It was his love and warmth, however, that made me think that he, more than anyone, is what Jesus must been like.

A Still Small Voice

Months later, I read Father Groeschel ‘s book A Still Small Voice, A Practical Guide on Reported Revelations about his personal witness of Dr. Schucman:

“This woman who had written so eloquently that suffering really did not exist spent the last two years of her life in the blackest psychotic depression I have ever witnessed.”

Father Groeschel would also write that her book “was possibly a true diabolical manifestation.” [October 1994 lecture on “Discernment” given at Holy Cross Church, Rumson, New Jersey.]

I really didn’t need any convincing about my former New Age beliefs. Once I started believing the truths of the Catholic faith I completely abandoned my old beliefs. The Catholic beliefs just had such a ring of Truth to them and were so satisfying that I never looked back.

For seven years, I had watched many hours of his shows. The news of his death was not unexpected. I had watched him deteriorate in the last few years, sometimes stammering and groping for the right word, so out of character for the man who was such a master with words.

Scandalous Mistake

As much as I admired and respected him, I was saddened by his terrible mistake of saying in an interview in the National Catholic Register in 2012 about the priest pedophile scandals, “Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster—14, 16, 18—is the seducer.” He was completely insensitive to the public’s, and my own, attitude of no excuses for any of the adults in these horrendous cases. His mistake was possibly due to senility. After an apology, he had to leave EWTN. Later, I heard that he was in a nursing home.

The news of his death on October 3 on the vigil of the feast of Saint Francis, the founder of the order, saddened me. I watched the Prayer Vigil and Funeral Mass for Father Groeschel. Many kind words were said and one tearful eulogy at the Prayer Vigil struck me as an example of Father Groeschel’s humor and street savvy. Danny Quinones was once a youth (11 yrs) at Children’s Village for pregnant women and children in Dobbs Ferry, New York, when he met Father Groeschel. Danny was reprimanded and struck by one of the counselors. He ran away down Snake Hill to the road below. Father just happened to be passing by in a black pickup truck. The truck came to a halt, the door opened and Father said to him, “It’s a long way back to New York from here. Just come back with me.” They remained dear friends for forty-three years, travelling together throughout New York and New Jersey.

“Hey That’s You, Dummy!”

Father Groeschel was the author of forty-six books. The one most mentioned is Arise from Darkness, What to Do When Life Doesn’t Make Sense. I have always thought that this book was probably a good antidote for someone going through a rough time. I was going through a bout of depression at the time and after hearing the title mentioned several times I realized, “Hey, that’s you, dummy.” I bought the book and started reading it on my computer that night.

Father  Groeschel writes that the Lord always brings a greater good out of every evil and misfortune. He cites numerous examples of people that he had personally ministered to and many stories of saints who had terrible troubles. He often refers to Scripture and spiritual writings and he quotes generously from the likes of John Henry Newman, Augustine and Teresa of Avila. There is a considerable section of prayers in the back for everything from Prayers for the Worried, or Prayers for the Depressed, to Prayers for One Who Took His Own Life.

His words of inspiration in this book was certainly the antidote I needed at the time.

One Remedy That Never Fails

My personal favorite part of Father Groeschel’s book was in the Epilogue, The One Remedy That Never Fails. This remedy is to get out of yourself and help someone else. Father writes, “…[C]harity is the one greatest of medicines. It is the medicine of the soul. Merciful love will not only overcome all, it heals all. For those willing to try it, even with hesitation and reluctance, its effects will be lasting and most beneficial.”

As if on cue, a friend with a broken ankle called recently to ask if I could help him get to his doctor’s appointment. I was able to put some of Father Groeschel’s teaching into action and also share some of the wisdom I had learned, because my friend was despondent. My friend was doing a lot of work for the Church as a Pastoral Visitor taking the Eucharist to the sick and home-bound and he had just enrolled to take classes to be a Lay Minister when he broke his ankle. Now, he was home-bound for two months.

As I quoted from the book to my friend, how the Lord always brings good out of suffering and that maybe my friend will get new insight from this experience, I couldn’t help thinking that Father Groeschel is still teaching right here on earth with his books, DVD’s and CD’s. Although he is no longer with us, he is with us in spirit and through the words of wisdom he left behind.

Father Benedict Joseph Groeschel, please pray for us.

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42 thoughts on “Father Groeschel is Still Teaching”

  1. Jamey, I enjoy reading your column, you have a lot of great stories and
    insights. Please keep up the good work. On Fr. Groeschel though, my
    question is what is he REALLY still teaching? I grant he did much good,
    with the Good Counsel Homes, and some of his books were well worth
    reading, however he made no bones about the fact that he did not believe
    that a person had to be a Catholic in order to be saved. He clearly did
    not believe in an infallibly defined dogma of the Faith, which put him
    outside the Church. And his really stupid comments that FINALLY woke up
    EWTN to the necessity of getting him off the air (too bad it wasn’t
    sooner). I respect that he affected many people in many positive ways,
    and I am glad of that. However, I see far too many people attempting to
    portray him as some long-suffering saint. The truth is he contributed
    much toward the destruction of the Church and the faith, and that is a
    FACT. I hope in his final moments he had the opportunity to choose to
    believe ALL that the Church has always taught and will always teach, and
    at least made it to Purgatory. But if not……

    1. Shawn, a am so glad that you like my stories. About Fr. Groeschel, however, I have read 2 of his books and seen all of his TV shows for the last 7 years and he was always strictly doctrinaire. Can you give any examples when he wasn’t?

    2. Hi Jamey. Thank you for your reply Sorry I didn’t get back sooner. Here is one example: “Now do I think that you have to belong to the true Church? You have to belong to the religion that you think is the true religion. God is true, and if you want to follow God, you must follow Him by the truth that you recognize.” That quote is from the Sunday Night Live episode aired July 24, 2005, and quoted from in the book EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong by Christopher Ferrara. There are those who will cndemn this book as “attacking” EWTN, and it’s author as a “radical traditionalist” and other assorted names, on and on,however, what Fr. Groeschel said and believed is a matter of public record. And there are several other examples in this book. And if you put what he said up against what the Church teaches, especially what Ven. Pius IX so clearly taught in his documents, then it is clear that Fr. Groeschel DID NOT believe what the Church teaches. Now, could he have moved away from that rejection of what the Church taught later on, sure it’s possible, but there is no public record of such. I sincerely hope in his final moments he received the grace of final repentance and accepted it, which of course would mean he rejected his former beliefs and accepted what the Church infallibly taught. But we will not know until we die whether or not that was the case. On another note, one of his books I read was the one on the history of Eucharistic devotion, I don’t recall the title, but it was very good, and a very interesting read…..

    3. Glad to know you are such an expert on me. Tell me, when, for example, St. Francis Xavier went to Japan to convert the pagan Japanese to the Catholic Faith, was he being uncharitable? When the martyrs died rather than worship devils, were they being uncharitable? Was Jesus being uncharitable when He said that he who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does NOT BELIEVE will be condemned?

      How is it uncharitable to state the truth? And to hope that Fr. Groeschel saw the “light” before his soul left his body? The ultimate uncharity is to confirm people in their unbelief and their sins, thus contributing to their going to hell. That is true uncharity, not to mention hatred.

      May I be spared your idea of “light”.

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  3. ” This remedy is to get out of yourself and help someone else. ”

    That is so true no matter what you believe about God, religion and life. Getting out of myself is the hardest challenge I face every day. Since becoming atheist (although someone has pointed out that I am more of a deist), I have continued participating in Church activities that get me outside of myself because of a lack of comparable alternatives in the secular world.

    1. I agree with you that it’s very hard to get out of myself. It’s the last thing that I want to do at the time but it’s really the most beneficial thing to do. I was an atheist for many years and I also agree that helping others is an immense benefit irregardless of what you believe. Thanks for reading and replying.

    2. Jamey, after reading your bio, it occurred to me that you may be a good person to discuss a certain personal situation going on in our family today. Is there a way for me to reach you? Or should I give you my email address? Would you be willing to give me a few minutes of your time and insight?

    3. Your bio is interesting. Atheist. New Age. Catholic. Do you believe that there is any historical accuracy to the Bible stories?

    4. I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God–a history book it’s not. It’s a book of salvation history–how we get to heaven and avoid going to hell. The historical background is in context to this.

    5. Why do you think we need to be instructed in how to get into heaven and avoid going to hell? Is that really what you think life is all about? Do you think it is possible that the whole concept of going to heaven for believing and obeying or going to hell for disbelieving and disobeying is just someone’s way of controlling others?

    6. I used to think like that
      but I have come to believe that life is about loving God and loving our neighbors
      as ourselves, with the ultimate goal of heaven. When I first learned this
      through Jesus and his Catholic Church it gave me such joy, fulfillment and hope
      that I wanted to tell others about it. Not to control them but to share the
      good news.

    7. I think life is about loving ourselves and loving our neighbors as ourselves. I think it is also about being honest about our mortality and about death being the end of us and not a step to an afterlife or another life. We have one life to live and this is it to do with it what we will.

    8. I thought the way you do for many years but I have come to believe that Catholic thinking is the best explanation for life after death—heaven or hell. We know just the tiniest fraction about God with his incalculable intelligence. There are things in the universe–dark energy, dark matter, anti-matter—that we know little about. God has tried to explain eternal truths to our limited understanding in Scripture. He has told us about heaven and that the soul is immortal. We can get an inkling of some of this with some people’s near death experiences who were clinically dead and
      still somehow observed the room, their bodies, and saw objects and things that are not rationally explainable. And some people’s experiences of heaven. We also get a taste of heaven when we do acts of charity–a momentary feeling of infinite joy, timelessness, oneness. We are wired with an innate love of virtue and a desire for perfect goodness, truth and beauty—God. As Augustine says, “You have made us for yourself, oh Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
      This is the sketchiest of explanations of something so vast, but I thank you for your questioning and your honesty. I share with you your quest for the ultimate truths. I have been on this journey my whole life and I have been at the same place you are at for many years And thank you for listening to the Catholic point of view. I hope you keep an open mind about it. It has slowly and finally provided the answers I was looking for—after 59 years! Please keep doing your charity work.
      Fr. Groeschel himself was clinically dead once after his car accident but was revived. He said afterwards, “If anyone is afraid of death, I can tell you, I have been there myself and you have nothing to worry about.”

    9. I don’t think Catholic thinking provides an accurate description of what happens when our brain stops functioning. It describes a consciousness that is independent of the need for a properly functioning brain which is essentially impossible. Death is a natural part of the life cycle that allows natural selection to work. It is to be neither feared nor looked forward to with anticipation of some eternal reward.

    10. If that’s what you think, that’s fine. I happen to think that virtue receives its just rewards, if not in this life which is often the case, then in the next life. If a man lays down his life for others, which Jesus says is the greatest love, he will receive his reward at the Second Coming when the soul is reunited with the body.

    11. The Second Coming is a superstition. People need to know that death ends everything for them so they can plan their lives accordingly.

    12. The Second Coming is not a superstition, it’s right from the Gospels. Jesus says he will come again many times. People should live their lives in a way that they can give a good account for them at that time.

    13. I think you really have to be more rational about the likelihood of a 2000 yr old prophecy really and truly coming to fruition. You are not dealing with reality. If Jesus really did say he would return, he was obviously wrong. And anyone else who wrote that he was going to return was also wrong. It happens.

    14. Jesus also prophesied that he would be resurrected on the third day, an event that came true and changed
      the world: he told us and showed us that if we believe in him we would live
      again also. I used to think that these miracles of Christ were just made up
      stories and my life at the time seemed empty and unfulfilled, I felt like I was
      going nowhere. But when I learned through Catholic teaching that God really
      cared about me, and loved me, and needed me to help build His Kingdom, it
      really ignited my life. Sometimes a kind word or a gesture can pierce through and
      open one up to the wondrous riches of belief. I lit a candle for you in church
      today.

    15. I used to think that these miracles of Christ were just made up
      stories and my life at the time seemed empty and unfulfilled, I felt like I was going nowhere.

      That is kind of where I am at right now. But, unlike you, I do not decide what is or isn’t true based on what makes my life better or worse. If a delusion makes my life better and the truth makes my life worse, I can’t choose to convince myself that the delusion is true and the truth is some awful terrible lie. Some people can do that but I can’t.

    16. You don’t have to force
      yourself to believe things that you don’t believe just to feel better. Have you
      tried prayer? Talking to God like He’s your good friend, because He is, you
      know? Just asking Him to reveal Himself to you, to show Himself to you.

      What
      worked for me was watching EWTN the Catholic TV station just for some spiritual
      imagery. Little by little what they said sounded convincing; it had the ring of
      truth.

    17. I have enjoyed many days thinking that I had a personal relationship with God. I suffer with the realization of that being a delusion. I know what I know. I can’t unknow it.

    18. I hear you. When I was at a similar place to where you’re at, no one could debate me into a belief in a personal relationship with God. It takes time. I’m praying for you and I’m sure others are praying for you too.

    19. What on earth happened to make you believe the earth is only a few thousand years old and it was created by a (whatever god might be) that let thousands of years go by. before “writing a book” telling us about him.
      If God were a human he would be considered sick twisted and demented.
      I assume you are christian or jewish one. Strange how “God” is going to let billions burn in fire for infinity simply because they were “trained” to believe the wrong story which simply depends on where you were born. Could just let us all know the truth.
      Naw that would make too much sense.
      Don’t give me the ole free will meme. One should know the truth before choosing.
      But I never claimed to create the EVERYTHING. Peace

    20. No one said the earth was only a few thousand years old. I believe it’s 4.54 billion years old. The problem of finding the truth and going to heaven is simple–the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Christ are pretty straight forward. You make a choice to obey them or not, simple but not easy.

    21. Many people say that preach that teach that.I would presume you are aware of that.
      Literally interpret the bible without ” cherry picking” which parts and the bible translates to thousands of years old for the age of the UNIVERSE.
      How do you resolve the conflict on your differing beliefs?
      Ten commandments ay? Ha boy that simple gesture allowing one to ask for forgiveness saved, what, 99.9999% of all Christians Jews etc… As a whole followers of Jesus do little in life that resemble anything that jesus taught. That is self evident ,again ” cherry picking”. Besides to me it is too illogical and bizarre to take literally.There is really no other way to interpret the book.Actually Books.

    22. The Ten Commandments and the Commandment of Jesus to love the Lord with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself, work very well for over 2 billion Christians and Jews. What do you believe? What guides your life?

    23. All one has to do is start helping others. The environment political corruption economical poverty and corruption. Take a stand. You do not need help from magic.Do the good things you learned from your religion (which I were taught by just regular old atheist who prefer the label of Human) it is not rocket science or bar tending.
      Might I ask what made it so difficult to “get out of yourself”? Perhaps I do not understand your meaning. Peace needs no help fro humans who blindly believe that a viscous horrifying war neefs to take place and after billions have died the ones taught from the right book will be placed in paradise for ever
      They will be the cause of the whole damn thing.

    24. I appreciate your insights. You are right. Helping others is all I need to get out of myself. Also, I get what you are saying about religion. Right now, islamic religious fanatics are wreaking havoc with their stupid ideologies.

    25. Helping others has been proven to benefit those helping those being helped and those observing it as well.
      It appears to me the problem does not lie with Islam.It lies with Arabs who through propaganda and lies have have used Muslims for their war against “western civilization”.
      The western government ( who act in the name of the people as percieved by middle easterners) has been killing and stealing from them since oil was discovered on their land.(Are you seeing the connection to past western governments or Monarchys)
      Some were sick enough to stand up and kill back.In any form they can.( oops gotta run will continue later. ) Hope all is well for you and your family Peace.

    26. Has our government “stolen” even a single drop of oil from anyone in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world. Give me one example of any western government stealing oil from anyone. Oil companies buy oil, perhaps at much less than fair market value from rich people in those countries. We should charge countries for liberating them from dictators and religious fanatics imposing religious laws.

    27. We overthrew their government when our government would not go along with our program.As we did all over. South America. What I would call much worse than stealing.
      As for paying for liberation. What a joke America does not send men and even women nowdays to kill and be killed just to help oppressed people. Now we have helped those doing the oppressing (saddam hesein to name one of many).After the first gulf war when we ( liberated kuwaiti oil from saddam) our government encouraged the people to revolt against Saddam. They did, we stood by and watched them get bombed gassed and slaughtered. Yeah we should charge them for our good deeds.
      Denying the truth is not going to help.

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