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.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Synod of Whitby and Authority of Peter


When missionaries came to the British Isles from the continent under the authority of Rome 200 years after St Patrick died, they found deviations in the way Catholicism was practiced. This was partly due to the shear geographic isolation of the Isles from the Continent and difficulties in maintaining communication with the bishops of Rome. According to some sources, divorce was allowed by the Church and priests were marrying, cutting their hair funny (tonsure), and setting the date for Easter by a different method than had been decided by the Council of Nicea some 300 years before. This lead to a meeting being called between the Northumbrian Church officials and the missionaries from Rome. In 664, the Synod of Whitby was held and the squabbling was ended. The details of this Council were recorded by the Venerable Bede and basically the Celtic Churches agreed to do things the way of Rome.
Why did they back down so easily ? It went back to Jesus giving Peter the "Keys of the Kingdom," the power to bind and loose etc. Is this oppressive and imperialistic? No, this is the way Catholicism promotes unity with unchanging doctrines on faith and morals. Christ established a Church, which Rome happens to be the center of, and the authority He passed on is held by His suucessors there. Did it really matter how they cut their hair or when Easter was celebrated? I don't know, but I post this to show that Christianity in Ireland did not get snuffed out but grew and remained in communion with the Universal Church centered in Rome. These Celtic Christians had devotion to the Virgin Mary, practiced infant baptism and the sacrament of confession. It would be historically incorrect to infer that the Christians in Ireland were practicing a form of Christianity that had not surfaced until after the reformation. The actual synod debate is recorded below:

"You certainly sin if, having heard the decree of the apostolic see, and of the universal Church, and that the same is confirmed by Holy Writ, you refuse to follow them; for, though your fathers were holy, do you think that their small number, in a corner of the remotest island, is to be preferred before the universal Church of Christ throughout the world ? And though that Columba of yours (and, I may say, ours also, if he was Christ's servant) was a holy man and powerful in miracles, yet should he be preferred before the most blessed prince of the apostles, to whom our Lord said, 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give up to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven'?"

"When Wilfrid had spoken thus, the king said, "Is it true, Colman, that these words were spoken to Peter by our Lord?" He answered, "It is true, O king!" Then said he, "Can you show any such power given to your Columba?" Colman answered, " None." Then added the king, " Do both of you agree that these words were principally directed to Peter, and that the keys of heaven were given to him by our Lord?' They both answered, , We do." , Then the king concluded "And I also say unto you, that he (Peter) is the doorkeeper, whorl I will not contradict, but will, as far as I know and am able in all things obey his decrees, lest when I come to the gate of the kingdom of heaven there should be none to open them he being my adversary who is proved to have the keys." The king having said this, all present, both great and small gave their assent and, renouncing the more imperfect institution, resolved to conform to that which they found to be better. From Brittannia's British History Department.

Did Christianity then end in Ireland? No, monasteries continued to flourish and the study of Latin which St. Patrick brought himself to Ireland preserved learning and culture for the rest of the European world when Europe was ravaged by the nordic barbarians. To be sure, there is a small extant Celtic Apostolic Church which claims to trace its roots to the original apostles but is not in communion with Rome . History tells us that the Christian Church (AKA Catholic) started by St. Patrick submitted to the authority of Rome and continues there to this day, though sadly has been weakened over the past 30 years due to the clergy sex abuse scandals and increasing secularization of European culture.

3 Comments:

Blogger TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Thanks for the history lesson! Very interesting. I need to pass this on to my Catholic convert friend who's wife is Catholic from Ireland. He'd be interested to read it.

Bede was also the historian who asserted that the word "Easter" came from pagan sources (which is probably true) although much to the skeptics' dismay, "Easter" is an English word and has nothing to do with the origin of the holiday.

January 12, 2007 11:56 PM  
Blogger NotMyOpinion30 said...

Hey Tim, I did read it! It is really good.

The one thing I noticed happening alot in Ireland recently was that there has been a surge in intellectuals pushing a return to their "Celtic" roots. Bord Failte (Wecolme Board) has also been heavily marketing the Celtic history for years. Despite the contempt many Irish had for this "magical" Ireland image that drew Americans wearing their green golfing pants and tweed hats by the droves on the lookout for leprachauns, the apostate populus has began to adopt the image of their Celtic past.

Of course, what this means is, they need to stop worshipping God and start worshipping the elements like their druid and necromancer ancenstors did. That is the image that is currently being pushed over there and that is the image they are assuming, seriously. Live completely independent of the Church.

As Irish-Catholics abandon their parishes, crops of supposedly secret Celtic Wicca groups are "coming out the closet". The recent wave of materialism and secularism that has struck the heart of St. Patrick's Ireland has swept through every church on the island. The homosexual priest scandal, combined with the propaganda provided by the secular anti-Catholic press, has given these once devout Christians the excuses they need not to be penitent or concerned with their souls any longer. Fittingly, the term they use to describe a lost soul, who has fallen into the abyss of self-love, material wealth, and arrogance, is "Celtic Tiger".

I'm not intending to sound coy about this. It is really depressing to see. Ireland was the heart of Catholicism at one time. The Church around the world benefitted from Her monasteries that consistently churned out thousands of priests and religious. Now, many of those monasteries are only filled with the sound of the echoes of empty hallways.

I first went over there in 1995, when it was 95% Catholic. The first "charm" I received from the Catholic church was there at that time. Only 12 years later and the face of the island has changed dramatically. One can hardly distinguish between Ireland and the United States now.

In Ireland, Catholicism was bought at the price of the blood of millions even up until two generations ago (some would contest even more recently than that... watch "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "In the Name of the Father"). The persecutions by the English Protestants ravaged the poor nation for centuries. The Catholic churchs had either been razed to the ground or the parish priests were murdered when they failed to "convert" to Anglicanism and the churchs were usurped into the Church of Ireland. My wife's family comes from a remote island off of Galway bay. There they had no building to go to for Mass. Not only that, even though they were on a remote island that was worth nothing to the English, the islanders, only 150 years ago, still had to celebrate Mass in complete secrecy or else face a certian cruel death or incarceration. They had a "secret" rock on the island that the they would gather around to celebrate Mass. They courageously faced death to receive the Sacraments.

Now the island has their own parish. The population has dwindled down to somewhere around 150. Only twenty years ago, every single islander would be filling the pews at Mass. Now, less than half make it there. That is actually pretty good compared to the mainland. The parishes count on immigrants to fill the pews now.

I guess being a pagan Celt has become alot more attractive. What sounds better, Celtic Tiger or humble Catholic? One thing that can be said, at least when they go apostate, they go all the way. Here, we live our lives thinking we can worship both God and mammon. And we successfully fool ourselves into believing it's possible. So much so, that we can sit back and talk about how dechristianized the rest of the world is becoming while sitting on our comfy couches watching football on the Lord's Day.

January 13, 2007 8:24 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

It is very sad to see the secularization of these once great Christian cultures. The difference you saw un just 12 years is truly disturbing.
On a more hopeful note, Marcus Grodi has had several interviews with converts or reverts in Ireland and there is definitely a move of God to return to its ancient roots. Let's hope and pray for souls to turn back to Him.

January 14, 2007 9:59 AM  

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