Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Feast of Saint Therese

Today the Church celebrates and honors this quiet little girl French girl who became a giant of the faith. What can I say about Saint Therese that hasn't already been said?
Not a whole lot. She entered a convent at fifteen years of age after going to Rome to try to get an exception from the pope. The pope told her to go back to France and submit to her bishop! She later died a horrible death from tuberculosis at twenty four years of age in 1897. Saint Therese was a cloistered Carmelite nun and never left the convent, yet  a relatively short time after her death,  was canonized. She would have been only 52 when she was made a saint. Her writings were translated into multiple languages and disseminated throughout the world. Saint Pope John Paul 2 declared her a doctor of the Church (of which there are only three women.)
   She said she wanted to spend her heaven doing good on earth and she has kept her promise!
So many prayers asking for her intercession have been answered.
  Saint Therese, pray for us. Amen

If you haven't read her autobiography, I highly recommend it. The Story of a Soul, which can be found free on the internet.

Here's a little tune I wrote to honor the Little Flower, Saint Therese




Friday, September 19, 2014

AHA Cult Member Assaults Pro-life Leader Abby Johnson

I have posted on this fringe radical anti-Catholic hyper-Calvinist cult posing as a pro-life group in the past. They use a pretense to "abolish" abortion as a means of spewing their vile anti-Catholicism and attack any faith that is not accepting of their strange twisted view of the bible.
   Abby Johnson, former manager at planned parenthood, now a Catholic convert and frontlines pro-life leader was assaulted at one of her speaking engagements by a member of AHA. This is not surprising given other members are former felons, church bombers and cult members.  Once again, spread the word regarding this faux pro-life group.  How many babies were slaughtered while this AHA member chose to harass a woman who has now dedicated her life to saving the unborn?


"I always thought this day may come...and it finally did tonight. 

A member of Abolish Human Abortion came to my event tonight and assaulted me...with my 6 week old son just inches away. 

After a wonderful evening with an amazing organization built on prolife unity, a boy named Christopher Rush with AHA came up to me and attempted to argue with me about my Catholic faith. I recognized him from several ugly Facebook messages. After I disengaged and was walking away, he pulled up a video camera and waved it so I could see it. I put my hand in front of it and he grabbed me and started throwing me around by my arm as I was trying to get it out of his grip. A man and woman stepped in to assist me and Christopher finally let go of me and threw the young woman against a table. He started to scream at the top of his lungs and then threatened to punch me.

The police quickly responded and detained him. After some prayer, I chose not to press charges. However, because of the assault, he was charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct. I have also filed a restraining order against him at the suggestion of the police department.

I'm not sure I have ever been in such close proximity to so much hate. It is incredibly disheartening to know that these people are actively part of a movement that strives to be peaceful and prayerful.

After he was released, he was in the parking garage waiting to further his attack. Thankfully, I was given a ride by someone else so I wouldn't have to walk across the campus back to the garage. They were rightly concerned that he may be there looking for me. After he screamed at the group of women in the garage for a few more minutes, he got in his car and peeled out.

Looking back, I am just very thankful that my baby boy is safe and was unharmed from the attack. My arm will heal, but I'm not sure how I could get over something happening to my baby.

In the end, I told him that we were praying for him. Please be praying that he is able to find peace in his heart.   "  Abby Johnson


Saturday, September 13, 2014

What If Luther Was Wrong?


Think of the implications ......


(T shirt courtesy of Michael McCleary)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Swedish Mega Church Pastor Converts to Catholicism

Ulf Ekman gives this reason for why he decided to leave his ministry as the leading charismatic pastor in Sweden:  The truth.

"For us, truth was the very thing that mattered. We have always believed in the Word of God and that there is an absolute truth, revealed by God. Now, more and more, we had come to see that there is a concrete historic Church founded by Christ, and a treasure, a deposit of both objective and living faith. This attracted and drew us into the Catholic Church. If we believed that the fullness of truth is embedded in and upheld by the Catholic Church, then we did not have any choice but to fully unite with this Church."

"The sacraments have become a tangible reality in our lives and they sustain us in a concrete way. Something – grace, I am sure – is here in a way that it was not before. A fresh breeze is blowing through our lives. We look forward to exploring and fully identifying with all that we now are a part of. It is very exciting to live fully for Jesus Christ – in the Catholic Church."


Read the whole article here.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Review of "Ragamuffin: The True Story of Rich Mullins"

 
 As many long term readers of this blog know, I am a huge Rich Mullins fan. I have listened to his music since the 1980's. When I discovered him, I was in medical school and had just recorded my first song with my hammer dulcimer. I thought I was doing something new and revolutionary, adding HD to contemporary Christian music lyrics.  After I heard Rich, I quietly decided that I would "hand my pinball crown to him" realizing he was already doing what I dreamed of doing.
    Years later, Rich's pursuit of simple living and Franciscan spirituality started me on a journey that would eventually lead to my reversion to the Catholic faith.  I later discovered that Rich was pursuing becoming Catholic and was a week away from entry into the Church before his untimely death.  After his death I kept his photo on the top of my hammer dulcimer and would ask him to pray for me before every concert as I opened with an original dulcimer tune in the style of Rich.
   Now fast forward to this spring when Rich's brother and a movie producer released "Ragamuffin: The True Story of Rich Mullins."  I was initially excited to see the movie though I was concerned that there would be little to no mention of his desire for Catholic conversion.I ( I had written to his brother David after I became Catholic and he told me "Rich had no intention of ever becoming Catholic.")  As a matter of fact, his journey to the Catholic Church was surgically removed from the story and one would never know that Rich spent his last days going to daily Mass on the reservation.
    Unfortunately, as I watched the movie, I saw a side of Rich that was carefully hidden from his record buying public all these years.  The Nashville CCM industry did a wonderful job making sure know one knew the double life Rich was leading. One can only wonder why is brother now felt the need to tell the true story. Was he always jealous of Rich? Is it that the record royalties are all dried up now?
     I was devastated by the time I walked out of the little storefront church showing the film. What I learned about Rich is that he had a lifelong struggle with alcohol and possibility other substances and was prone to fits of rage and often alienated those closest to him. As a physician, I recognize that Rich probably suffered from chronic depression worsened by his unresolved conflict with an abusive father. He self -medicated by chain-smoking and binge drinking. However, in between his episodes of debauchery, he would be onstage making young people believe that he was pursuing God with all his might. He often criticized folks in his concerts for relying on comfort and believing in the American "prosperity gospel. "  Yes, he presented himself as a flawed individual, yet he continued to preach from the stage and "minister" to those who attended his concerts.  He is now being held up as a great example of how God loves and uses a flawed and "complex" individual. Many are reviewing the film saying it gave them hope.
    The problem is the "True Story" never presented the real story. Rich was an alcoholic with undiagnosed and untreated mental illness who was a gifted songwriter and became a celebrity among the contemporary evangelical culture. The Real Story is that at some level Rich knew his way of practicing  Christianity was not providing him the grace and strength to overcome his addictions.  He knew he was living a double life.  This ultimately led to his pursuit of Catholicism and his desire to go to confession and receive the Eucharist as outlined in this letter from his friend Father Matt McGuiness.  Rich knew there was something more to Christianity and thankfully started to pursue it through learning about the Catholic faith.  Sadly he never got there on this side of the veil.  The movie never even touched on Rich's pursuit of Catholicism and thus the "True Story" ended up as a sad and sordid tale of a gifted Christian artist trapped in mortal sin, desperately trying to change, but not knowing how.  It was not redemptive in any sense of the word.
    My biggest criticism of the movie and the Ragamuffin Gospel in general is that those who follow it will do just as the movie showed- never getting past their sin, never repenting, just accepting that "Jesus loves me the way I am."  Of course, "while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" and He loves us as the Father loved the Prodigal son covered with mud and pig excrement. But, He then asks us to come to his house to be forgiven and change the way we live.  The movie never showed that Rich was trying, through his pursuit of the Franciscan lifestyle (ie Catholicism), to get his life together.  I believe his desire to leave the Nashville music/ party scene and ultimately end up attending daily mass on the Reservation was proof of this trajectory. It is extremely sad and disturbing that his brother would make a movie showing the darkness and duplicity of Rich's troubled life ignoring the very truth that would have made all the difference in the world for him.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Matthew 25 and the Immigrants

In a community in California, a bishop has asked his diocese to assist the immigrants with temporary housing, food and clothing.  This has created an uproar and Rush Limbaugh has interviewed parishioners from this parish who are opposed to this plan.
    If this was a ghetto in Jerusalem in 30 AD, and a group of Samaritans (women and children) migrated into Jerusalem because of a plague in Samaria, what would Jesus and his disciples do?  Would he tell the disciples to contact the Roman authorities to take care of this problem? I suspect Jesus would kneel at their feet and bind their wounds and give them cool water to drink and bread to eat, despite the risk of contracting infectious diseases that they brought with them. He would tell his disciples that whatsoever you do for them, you have done it unto me, even if they had "lice crawling down their faces."  Putting politics aside, I would expect nothing less from the Catholic Church to offer this assistance. They are following Matthew 25.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

This post is lifted from last year's July 4th post.


 All religions were free to be practiced in the New World except for Catholics and Quakers. Of all the signers of the Declaration of Independence, only one was Catholic, Charles Carroll of Maryland. It was amazing that he ended up getting his name on it at all. Though Maryland was originally founded to be a Catholic haven in the colonies in 1634, by 1689, the British anti-Catholic repression had been imported to the colonies and freedom for Catholics to worship was very short-lived.

Until the Revolutionary War, Catholics in Maryland were considered dissenters in their own country, and were forced to live at times under a state of siege. At the time of the signing of the Declaration, it was illegal for a Catholic in the colonies to hold office or vote or educate their children in the Catholic faith. The Declaration of Independence fortunately ended that. It would have been a little awkward to have the wealthiest member/contributor of the Continental Congress and aide and friend to George Washington excluded from the democratic process because of his religious affiliation. So politically incorrect! How, I wonder, did it get resolved? I concocted a little Independence Day Play to suggest how it may have gone down.
I can just see them there now in the humid sweaty chambers down in Philadelphia on a hot weekend in the end of June with Thomas Jefferson at the helm. (I have lived in Philly for four hot summers and can assure you it gets very hot!)
TIBER JUMPER THEATRE PRESENTS An Independence Day Play

"What Are We Going to Do About Charles?

ACT 1 SCENE 1
Flash back/dream sequence of the signers of the Declaration in Philadelphia at Independence Hall. (Before the barricades went up after 911) The curtain rises on three middle-aged men seated together at a desk flushed with the heat, perspiring heavily.


John Adams {pointing to Carrol}:
Psst. Thomas! Thomas! Did'ya know that chap across the room is a Papist? He's from MARY-land {Hissing through his teeth saying Mary in a sing-song voice}
Thomas Jefferson {holding his forefinger across his lips}: Shush old man! Don't you know who he is?
James Madison {swatting a fly from his arm}: Some say he's the wealthiest guy in here. Owns 100,000 acres down in Maryland. The area is even named after him! Carrolburg or Carrolville they call it, for crying out loud! {Looks out the window with disgust then empties his mouth loudly into the spittoon}
George Taylor: I heard he is friends with George himself as well as Ben.
John Adams: {with a stage whisper} I don't care if he has more money than the pope and is St. Peter's long lost relative! How are we gonna' let him sign the darn Declaration if we don't allow him to vote ? (He hikes up his britches and cautiously looks around the room) And besides, Do you realize he worships idols?
Thomas Jefferson: C'mon boys! {he lights his clay pipe and takes a long puff} You know I'm not big on that religion stuff myself, but, the way I see it every one, even papists, are created equal and given, by whoever they believe their creator is, certain.... privileges. Or, should I say rights... Yes! Now, let me think for a minute. {He takes his spectacles off and wipes the sweat from his brow} Alien rights? No that's not right! Inalienable rights? No, that's doesn't sound right to me either. Damn! {He loosens the tie on his long red pony-tail}
{He motions with his quill pen for Charles Carrol to join them}
Charles Carrol carefully places his rosary beads back in his vest pocket and slowly walks across the floor towards Jefferson.
Charles Carrol: Hey TJ! what's up? I was just chatting with my Lady asking her to intercede for our proceedings here today. Sorry, I got a bit distracted. What can I do for you boys?
Thomas Jefferson: {looking sheepishly at the ground} We know you have the ear of General George and have been very supportive of the efforts for freedom. What are we going to do about this little problem we have with you and the voting issue?
Charles Carrol: {Draws closer to the table speaking nervously } "Well, the way I see it, we are all created in the image of God and therefore need to respect the rights and dignity of all men which includes voting. {He gets a little quieter} Yeah, I know what you are all thinking: 'Who am I to lecture you on religious rights?' I know we got a little out of hand during the Inquisition but you know as well as I it wasn't as bad as the history books made it out to be! Just let me vote and sign this thing and we'll all get home to our families before the summer's over. I have a nice little spread on the Chesapeake and you're all invited for the weekend if we can just get this signed. Besides, I'm really having a hard time offering up all this sufferin' with the heat! St. Blases it is hot! {He makes the sign of the cross and wipes his forehead simultaneously}
{Looks down at Jefferson's notes} Oh, by the way Thom, I was the spelling bee champion at Saint Ann's School and the word inalienable is spelled U-N-A-L-I-E-N-A-B-L-E."
Thomas Jefferson: 
Why thank you Charles!
 {rolling his eyes} I'll take that under advisement.....

A Church bell tolls off-stage as the curtain closes.
The End

To Read the Real Story of Charles Carroll, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence Go Here.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Reason # 646 To Be Catholic: Morality and Doctrine Are Not Determined by Vote


Sadly, a branch of the Presbyterian Church has just decided to change the definition of marriage to accomodate the whims of this modern culture. It was decided by a vote.

  " The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted at its General Assembly on Thursday to change its constitution’s definition of marriage from “a man and a woman” to “two people,” and to allow its ministers to perform same-sex marriages where it is legal."

In Catholicism, issues of faith and morals remain without change protected by the magisterium (teaching authority of the Church) overseen by the pope and are not subject to change based on outside pressure from the culture.  Even if every denomination in the world decides to re-define marriage allowing for same sex unions, and the government demands it, the Catholic Church will not change, it cannot.  As GK Chesterton has said, I want a church that changes the culture, not a church that changes with the culture, and that is Reason # 646 to be Catholic.

Full Circle

My wife and I had the opportunity to give a witness talk and concert tonight at the Catholic Church I was baptized in. I also attended first grade in their Catholic school in 1964.  Just like Phil Keaggy has said: " Full Circle I have come!"
I am so thankful for the grace poured out on me in baptism in 1959 that has left its indelible mark on my soul, keeping me headed towards Him despite some long and painful detours due to my own stubbornness and hard-heart.
  

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Feast of the Trinity and Sola Scriptura


Tomorrow the Universal Church celebrates the Holy Trinity, God in three persons, yet one substance. In 325 AD, almost half the Catholic bishops in the world were starting to believe that Jesus was not truly God, known as the Arian heresy, following the teachings of the heretic bishop Arius. The conflict was threatening the political stability of the Roman empire at the time. Constantine demanded the Catholic Church convene a council and decide once and for all the nature of Christ. The result was the Nicean Council of 325 AD and the Church that Christ established put down the heresy and clearly ennunciated the doctrine of the Trinity.
   What does this have to do with Sola Scriptura?  Interestingly, there was no cohesive canon of scripture and the bible as we now know it was not yet on the scene until 393 AD. So one can't use sola scriptura to derive the doctrine of the Trinity, when it was not yet know which gospels and epistles would make up the New Testament.  It was only the magisterium guided by the Holy Spirit that was able to correctly ennunciate the doctrine of the Trinity and squash this heresy. This is not to say that the gospels were not available, I am sure they were and were read from the pulpits each Sunday, however, the scripture alone did not sort out this controversy. A Church with the authority given to Peter and his successors was necessary.

Universalis

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