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.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Even "The King" Honors the Mother of God



Elvis may have left the building, but he lives on at U Tube. Even the King obeys the Scripture that says "all generations shall call me blessed." Who would have thought?
H/T to the boys over at Per Christum for this one.

Humming Bird (Recorded) from TiberCam

Spiritual Communion, Not Just for Mass Anymore!

I have been reading 7 Secrets of the Eucharist by Vinny Flynn. It is a very quick and easy read. It can give you an enhanced appreciation of the great gift God has left with the Church, the Most Blessed Sacrament. In the last chapter, Flynn explains that there are two ways to receive the Eucharist. This is based on the writings of Thomas Aquinas and other saints and doctors of the Church. We can receive Christ both Sacramentally and Spiritually. What's the difference? When we go up to the priest to receive the sacred host, we can be thinking of baseball scores, mowing the lawn, or God forbid, what the parishioner in front of me is wearing. (I always have PD go up in front of me and keep my eyes low to the ground because of the desire to receive Christ not tarnished by thoughts other than what they should be. But sometimes, we may be receiving Him sacramentally but not necessarily spiritually. Going through the motions, without our hearts attentive, pliant and open. Most of us born Catholic
will admit to experiencing this.

I was once asked by an evangelical pastor why I thought so many Catholics are not transformed by the Eucharist if it is truly Christ's real presence. Firstly, we can't judge who is experiencing Christ vs those who aren't. Secondly, when our hearts are not disposed to receiving His grace, the Communion will not be efficacious. The Host is not a Magic Wafer! Like water off the ducks back, His graces can't penetrate a heart that is not open and docile to receive Him. It's that "cooperation thing" us Catholics often emphasize. So, we still actually receive Christ, His body and blood in the Eucharistic species but our hearts may not always be "in it", so to speak. However when we cooperate with Him, opening our hearts to the Holy Spirit's work, the graces can flow.


There is a whole other aspect of communing with Jesus which our non-Catholic friends understand. When they ask Jesus into their heart, they are spiritually communing with Him. The difference of course, is that Catholics believe that we receive Jesus at every Mass, not as a one time event. When we receive the Eucharist sacramentally, we too should be focus on inviting Him in as well and uniting our hearts to Him. There is no time or place on earth that I can be closer to Jesus than in the reception of the Eucharist. So we can thus, sacramentally and spiritually commune with Him.

Most of this is preaching to the choir here since most convert/reverts do receive Him sacramentally and spiritually as well. We went so long without the Eucharist that every Mass is a pretty big deal to us on most days and we haven't begun to be mechanical about it by the grace of God!

My final note is that we can make a spiritual communion with Christ even when we can't receive the sacrament of the Eucharist physically. We can unite our hearts to His through our desire to receive the sacrament and the graces that flow from this act can be efficacious as well, though not as full as the actual reception of the Eucharist. St Faustina, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Maximilian Kolbe all understood and practiced this spiritual communion throughout the day. Permit me to make it analogous to the sacrament of marriage. We can't always be receiving the sacrament of marriage, but we can in our hearts have fond and loving thoughts towards our spouse, spiritually so to speak of course. Here is a prayer we can pray to make a spiritual communion when not receiving Christ sacramentally.

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.


The Audio CD 7 Secrets of the Eucharist is available free here.
Hope it can be a blessing to you.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Theo Speaks On the Veneration of Saints and Mary


I found a U-tube video on a blogger's site who was attempting to show that Catholics exalt Mary inappropriately. I then used the same video on my blog to draw an opposite conclusion: "If this is how Catholics honor Jesus' Mum, think of how they must worship Him!" Theo commented on it but I didn't see his comment until today and wanted to post it. Regarding the veneration of Mary, Theo said:

Seeing that I'm a life-long Catholic who worships with Christians of other communions, I can't help but wonder: Am I also an apostate or simply confused?

Seriously though, in the end (and I do mean "the end") don't you think all of this controversy will simply fade when seen in the light of the glory of God's beatific vision?

Once we stand before the great throne of the Almighty Father, with every heart joining the unending hymn of praise (Holy, Holy Holy, Lord God of Hosts, Heaven and earth are filled with Your Glory!), won't the very core of heaven and earth see that even the most "over the top" veneration of any saint to the greater glory of God's good work in us nevertheless pales in comparison to the worship of our Lord?

Notice that amid this great Gloria of the liturgy is a benediction upon all who act according to God's will:

Hosanna to God in the highest! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna to God in the highest!

In this model, when we venerate those who do God's will it is always in the midst of the infinitely greater veneration of God Himself.

No one can say it quite the way Theo does. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

When One Converts on TiberVision


Our topic was when one partner in the marriage is interested in Catholicism and the other isn't.
We tell the story of how we personally came to grips with this and it ended up making our marriage better, by the grace of God!
Thanks for all our guests coming to the show tonite. Sorry for all the technical glitches.
God bless, we'll try it again sometimes.

TIBERVISION

At 10 PM EST 8/29/07, I am going to try an experiment with a live video stream from TiberKitchen into Blogdom. There will be a chat back feature as well for dialogue at the end of the Chat. I have been wanting to get Prodigal Daughter to tell her side of the story of what it was like to have a spouse not interested in converting to Catholicism (me). My recording equipment has been on the fritz and Podcasts and the album have been on hold. I don't know if the audio/video will be clear enough but we will give it a try. If you are around tonite, tune into TIBERVISION. Until then maybe you can ask St. Joseph to intercede for your families. But we don't pray to statues, they are reminders of the the great cloud of witnesses we have in heaven!

He Will Listen To You

This tune is for two bloggers out there enduring some very tough times. One is in Kentucky and the other is from Canada. God bless you guys. My prayers are with you. He understands what His children need, He will listen to you. Please pray for Alan and Owen that God will meet their needs and sustain them and their families. Thanks so much.

video

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Feast of Saint Augustine


Today we celebrate the feast of St. Augustine who was killed on this date when his city, Hippo in N. Africa, was invaded by the Vandals. He is a Doctor of the Church and his writings are greatly valued by Christians of all denominations.

"Everlasting God, in whom we live and move and have our being: You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You."


Lord, renew in your Church the spirit you gave Saint Augustine. Filled with this spirit, may we thirst for you alone as the fountain of wisdom and seek you as the source of eternal love. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Collect from the Mass today)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Another Evening at TJ and PD's Place



Just another evening at the Tiber Jumper and Prodigal Daughter's. Prod is in the background doing her Christian chat room evangelism on the lap top. I'm in front of my computer playing a little tune.

Also a reminder, today was the feast day of St. Monica, Augustine's mum. She prayed an awfully long time for his conversion from paganism and therefore has become a role model for us with loved ones that need to come to the Cross. I used to view her just as a role model of perseverance in prayer but now I also view her as my "power" prayer partner and ask her intercession for loved ones too. (About three quarters of the way through the video,the now infamous Maggie of "Maggie's Blues" saunters into the right bottom corner of the screen.)

"Nine years were to follow in which I lay tossing in the mud of that deep pit and the darkness of its falsity, though I often tried to rise and only fell the more heavily. All that time this chaste, god-fearing and sober widow - for such You love - was all the more cheered up with hope. Yet she did not relax her weeping and mourning. She did not cease to pray at every hour and bewail me to You and her prayers found entry into Your sight. But for all that, You allowed me still to toss helplessly in that darkness …(Confessions of St. Augustine)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Prayers for My Oldest Son


My firstborn left for Ireland today to spend his last semester of college at an art school.
I would kindly ask for prayers for him that God will keep him safe and close to Him. Thanks so much!

Hail Mary in Gaelic
Sé do bheath' a Mhuire, atá lán de ghrásta, tá an Tiarna leat.
Is beannaithe thú idir mná agus is beannaithe toradh do bhruinne losa. A Naomh Mhuire, a mháthair Dé, guí orainn na peacaithe, anois is ar uair ar mbás.
Amen.

Found Another Great Resource Here



I just found the Catholic First website. It has just about everything. Church Fathers, Church Documents to Saints, Devotions, Prayers etc. Very nice and faithful to the Magisterium!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Kyrie Eleison



Well, PA was right again, (see comments) The band was not Toto, but Mister, Mister. Great hair, pretty good lyrics, pretty good singing and that now classic chord progression found in every hit in the 80's. "Hit me with Your best shot etc,"

Incidentally, the Kyrie is the only time the Greek language is used in the Latin Mass. It was probably taken from the eastern Churches and is made mention of by St Gregory in the 6th century, though St. Chrysostom mentions the phrase in the liturgy at an earlier time. I wonder if anyone tried to actually bring this song by Mister Mister into the Mass in the 80's. Lord Have Mercy!

News Flash! Christians Walk By Faith Not By Sight


Time Magazine has *breathlessly* released a review of a new book on the "true spiritual condition" of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The news is this: She didn't "feel" the presence of God in her life, and sometimes had doubts, but plugged along in obedience to Christ! For most Catholics and many non-Catholic Christians this comes as no surprise and is well-known as the Dark Night of the Soul described by believers such as King David, Elijah, Jonah, St. John of the Cross and many others. Does it invalidate her testimony? Does it validate Christopher Hitchen's critical writing about her? Nah. I don't think so.

When I had my conversion experience as a 14 year old, I must admit for about one year afterward, I had quite an emotional rush. I do also distinctly remember when the "rush" left. It was sophomore year in high school-1974, I was in the commons area chatting with my girlfriend. I told her I didn't feel Jesus like I had previously, but had no doubts that He was with me. I remember that little tract with the tooty toot train that had Faith as the engine, Fact as the middle car, and Feeling as the Caboose. You had to be lead by faith, not feelings. It was a simple construct but certainly consistent with Christian belief and practice.Ironically, I experienced my conversion in a charismatic type of group but was probably the least emotive person I knew. Just the way God made me I suppose, a little less serotonin than average, leaving me enough angst to always drive me to Him! Well it turns out that many saints from biblical to modern times have wrestled with the lack of an emotional sense of God's presence. Mother Teresa had this persistent dark, dry lack of pious feelings towards God for most of her ministry of more than 40 years! Yet she, kept on trudging along seeing God in the poor but not in herself, never feeling his emotional consolations, but inspiring thousands to walk with Christ. A British agnostic, Malcolm Muggeridge converted to Catholicism after he finished his biography of her as a result of her life and spirituality.

So we press on, by faith. We go to Mass daily, and we pray. We offer up the suffering of our sad hearts for the salvation of souls. We receive Christ in the Eucharist, by faith. We receive absolution of our sins by Christ through the priest, through faith. We walk by faith not by sight.

St. John of the Cross, pray for us that the dark nights we experience will only lead us closer to Jesus.

Mother Theresa, intercede for us that we won't grow weary in well-doing despite a lack of consolations.

Lord Jesus, we offer up to you the sadness in our hearts, our pain, our emptiness, our lonely longing, and all our anxiety. Take them uniting them to your suffering for the sake of the body of Christ as you see fit. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
Amen

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Toto, We Aren't in Kansas Anymore


This past Sunday's Gospel has been on my heart and mind all week. It keeps coming up in conversation and on the blog as well as in real (non-virtual) life. When my brother and I accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior during the early days of the "Jesus Movement" we quickly alienated ourselves from friends and family through aggressive witnessing and a judgmental attitude in which I saw the world as "saved" and "unsaved." My older brother called us Jesus Freaks and sided with my parents against our new found expression of faith. My parents didn't understand our need to be saved, since they thought we were good Catholic kids playing guitar in the folk Mass, going to CCD etc. We didn't tell them for many years the bad stuff we were into including the occult and illegal substances so they didn't see the need for conversion that we so obviously did. I now, with the wisdom of age, can't blame them for their reaction since we weren't honest with them regarding our errant morality that we kept hidden from them. We thought we were being "persecuted for righteousness sake" but I don't think this was what Jesus was talking about. I believe it was our arrogance of how we promoted what we thought was the Gospel that caused division, and not the Gospel itself, at least on most days. (If you're reading this my big West Coast Wally , I'm sorry for being a judgmental little Beave)

As the years went by the youthful zeal settled down quite a bit. I still talked openly about the Lord with patients in my medical practice but the degree of hostility and alienation I experienced as well as possibly self-engendered had definitely settled down. By now America had weathered the Carter years and many celebrities were claiming a born-again experience, even, Bob Dylan I might add. Evangelical Christianity had become a powerful force in politics and no longer is considered counter-cultural as it had at one time perhaps 30 years ago.

Upon returning to the Catholic Church, my wife and I have once again experienced some of that divisiveness that Jesus predicted would occur. The difference now is that I am no longer asking people "are they saved" but simply being open about what it means to believe in Jesus as a Catholic Christian, which seems to ruffle feathers to no small degree. It is odd that as a born-again Christian I pretty much no longer received grief from people but now being Catholic and sharing that fact with others really creates some heat. What is most odd is that the heat has come from fellow believers in the household of God, and not from the outside. Early after my reversion I was performing at a Christian Coffeehouse that I had played at before. At the end of the night I made a joke about needing to go to confession because I now was Catholic. Some folks from the small audience started asking some questions and I ended the show with a spontaneous Q&A about Catholicism. It appeared friendly to me and I went my way after selling a few CD's. Two days later I received an e-mail from the Christian promoter chastising me because "Not only are you Catholic now but you had the nerve to tell the audience about it! I need to cancel your upcoming performance scheduled for October. When you decide you want to live for Jesus, we will be glad to talk to you." And with that as the first of many other e mails and gig cancellations, I realized that we were no longer in Kansas anymore. Christianity practiced correctly will always and should always remain counter-cultural. Living out devout Catholic lives will continue to cause discomfort and division as Jesus predicted. Let's pray it's not from our own arrogance and judgmental attitudes.


Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Me and Scripture


After my born again experience in adolescence, I learned that Catholics don't read the Bible and discourage its personal use. Since we had no Bible at home and my parents knew very little about it, this proved it! I must have concluded that the three readings of Scripture at every Mass, somehow didn't count as "Bible reading." And that interesting way the priest elevated the Gospel and kissed it as we stood at attention as the Gospel was read. Somehow the obvious implication that the Church reverences Scripture was lost on this wide-eyed long haired fanatical young Bible totin' believer. I continued to go to Mass weekly with my parents for at least 4 more years after my born again experience so I had ample opportunity to see and hear Scripture used in the Catholic Church, but I chose not to hear it or see it. I was like a screaming four year old with his hands tightly clasped to his ears repeatedly shouting: "I can't hear You, I can't hear You."
I was so blinded by the anti-Catholicism fed to me at Wednesday and Saturday night Bible studies, I couldn't see the Truth in Catholicism if it hit me over the head. Sometimes I wish my local priest did take a Bible and whack me over the head with it. And being that the Catholic Bible has 7 more books in it than the Protestant one, the extra weight might have done some righteous good! At the time I was reading the Good News for Modern Man version of just the New Testament so you could see how balanced my theology was going to be. (15 references of the "Blood of Christ" were removed and changed to 'sacrifice' because of the bias of the translator Robert Bratcher, who was later forced to resign from the American Bible Society because of his view that Scripture was not infallible.)


I never heard these these quotes below by some well-known Bible-lovin' Catholics


"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." -- St. Jerome, A.D. 340-420

"To get the full flavor of an herb, it must be pressed between the fingers, so it is the same with the Scriptures; the more familiar they become, the more they reveal their hidden treasures and yield their indescribable riches."--
St. John Chrysostom, A.D. 347-407

"
The New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New" -- St. Augustine, A.D. 354-430

"All troubles of the Church, all the evils in the world, flow from this source: that men do not by clear and sound knowledge and serious consideration penetrate into the truths of Sacred Scripture." -- St. Theresa of Avila, A.D. 1515-1582

The Catholic Church loves the Scripture and encourages the faithful to read it.
So much so that Mother Church has given a partial indulgence to those who spend time reading it with the veneration due God's word and as a form of spiritual reading. Yep, the authority to forgive sin and remit the temporal consequences of our sin. What's Not to Love?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another One Dips His Toes in the Tiber


Please send along some prayer and support for this Lutheran brother who feels drawn to the Church. It's tough to go it alone sometimes. Prodigal Daughter (my wife) went for 5 years totally convinced of the Truth of Catholicism and a burning desire to receive Christ in the Eucharist but her knucklehead husband (Tiber Jumper) thought she had lost her mind! I put my foot down and said, "No for the sake of our marriage and the kids stop these Roman Ruminations!" She didn't even pray I would convert because she thought it would never happen. She just asked God if only He would allow her to convert alone. Well, God has a way of sometimes knocking us off the horse on our way to Damascus. I fell on my @#$@ and haven't been *right* since. To God be the Glory!
Our prayers are with you.

Upcoming Journey Home Programs

Sept 10 Dr. Thomas & Lovelace Howard
Former Episcopalian and College Professor, brother of Elizabeth Elliot,


Sept 17 Marcus C. Grodi
Former Presbyterian minister and Founder of the Coming Home Network


Sept 24 Dr. Francis Beckwith
Former Evangelical and Pres. of Evangel. Theo. Society

Feast of St. Pius X


Today the Church celebrates a feast dedicated to the 259th Pope, St. Pius X. (1835-1914) He was canonized in 1954. As a young priest his zeal for the faith and holiness was noted by his Pastor who said: "They have sent me as curate a young priest, with orders to mold him to the duties of pastor; in fact, however, the contrary is true. He is so zealous, so full of good sense, and other precious gifts that it is I who can learn much from him. Some day or other he will wear the mitre, of that I am sure. After that—who knows?"
His pontificate was characterized by care for the poor and restoration of the liturgy and renewal of the Church. He died during the early days of WWI, some say as a result of his anxiety and heartsickness over the war. His epitaph reads:

"Born poor and humble of heart,
Undaunted champion of the Catholic faith,
Zealous to restore all things in Christ,
Crowned a holy life with a holy death."

St. Pius , pray for us. We have imbibed the evils of modernity you spoke against. Intercede for the restoration of the Church,
Through Christ we ask this,
Amen

Monday, August 20, 2007

Liturgy of the Hours/ Night Prayer

When we pray the liturgy of the hours, even alone, we unite our hearts in prayer with hundreds of thousands of kindred souls throughout the world.

Compline (Night Prayer)

O God, come to my aid.
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen. Alleluia.


This is an excellent moment for an examination of conscience. In a communal celebration of Compline, one of the penitential acts given in the Missal may be recited.

A suitable hymn may be inserted at this point.


Psalm 85 (86)
A poor man's prayer in time of trouble
Lord God, you are full of mercies, patient and true.
Turn your ear to me, Lord, and hear me,
for I am poor and destitute.
Keep my life safe, for I am faithful;
O God, save your servant, who trusts in you.

Take pity upon me, O Lord,
for I call to you all the day long.
Make your servant’s heart glad,
for to you, O Lord, I have raised it.
For you, Lord, are gentle and mild:
you are kind to all those who call on you.

Let your ears hear my prayer, O Lord!
Turn to the voice of my pleading!
In my time of trouble I call on you,
for you, O Lord, will hear me.

No other god is like you, O Lord,
and nothing compares with your works.
All people – all nations you made –
will come and worship before you;
they will give glory to your name.
For you are great, you work wonders:
you alone are God.

O Lord, teach me your paths,
and I will come to your truth.
Make my heart simple and guileless,
so that it honours your name.
I will proclaim you, Lord my God,
and give you praise with all my heart.
I will give glory to your name for ever,
for your great kindness is upon me:
you have rescued me from the deepest depths.

O God, the proud rise against me,
in the meetings of the powerful they seek my life:
they do not keep you in their sight.
And you, Lord, are a God of compassion,
full of mercies, patient and true.
Look upon me, have mercy upon me,
give your strength and protection to your servant
your servant, the child of your handmaid.

Give me a sign of your goodness,
let my enemies see it and be confounded;
because you, O Lord, have helped me and given me comfort.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.
Lord God, you are full of mercies, patient and true.

Reading1 Thessalonians 5:9-10
God chose that we should receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us; so that, asleep or awake, we should still live with him.

Short Responsory?
Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.
- Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.
You have redeemed us, Lord, God of faithfulness.
- Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
- Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.

CanticleNunc Dimittis
Keep us safe, Lord, while we are awake, and guard us as we sleep, so that we can keep watch with Christ and rest in peace.
Now, Master, you let your servant go in peace.
You have fulfilled your promise.
My own eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all peoples.
A light to bring the Gentiles from darkness;
the glory of your people Israel.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.
Keep us safe, Lord, while we are awake, and guard us as we sleep, so that we can keep watch with Christ and rest in peace.

Prayer
Let us pray.
Give our bodies rest, Lord, to restore them; and let the seeds sown by our labours today grow and yield an eternal harvest.
Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

May the almighty Lord grant us a quiet night and a perfect end.
A M E N

An antiphon to Our Lady should be recited here.

The Communion of MySaints

Even MySpace has become a place to share the Catholic faith. Thank God for all the folks who put their faith out there into cyberspace. There are numerous MySpace pages for apologetics, devotional and catechetical materials but I liked this one in particular. It is a clearing house for of all the Saints who have "MySpaces."

See, this proves the saints aren't dead because they have access to the internet! I believe in the Communion of MySaints.
*****************************************************************************************
NB: I personally recommend caution on MySpace because of the inappropriate photos that sometimes get posted by "friends" of the saints. I have a MySpace for my music career but rarely use it for that reason. Your mileage may vary, but I warned you! God bless, but be careful out there and make sure you have accountability software installed on your computer. The path to sainthood will not likely be found on the internet. I suspect 300 years from now when the Pope is canonizing a saint from our current generation, it will be noted that "Saint Smith refused to use the internet and in seminary he removed the T1 cable connection to his dorm room, causing a major ruckus at St. Mary's."
His mother was rumored to say, "We gave him an I Phone for Christmas but he threw it away!"

Yet it was St. Francis of Assisi who said "Go through all the world and preach the Gospel and if you must, use the net."

Just When You Wanted To Stop Blogging...

Sometimes I wonder whether blogging really ever reaches anyone. More often than not, if the truth be told (as if you couldn't tell), I can get as snarky as the rest of 'em. Perhaps I've alienated more than I have reconciled. It's been 3.5 years and I still have a growing passion for sharing how Catholicism can draw us ever closer to God. If PD and I just reverted without ever telling others out there what we have found, it would be selfish. We feel like we hit the jackpot and are trying to let other people see the treasure that's under all of our noses. I don't want anyone out there to not consider the Church because they were never challenged with the Truth as we see it. When I was in high school and had been challenged by a well-catechized Catholic perhaps my life would have been much different. I trust that He works all things to the good, but I do wonder sometimes.... Anyway, So when you see a post like the one below on a blog, it makes you think it might be worth plugging along.

Here's a quote from the Hidden One, a soon to be convert. (He is not referring to my blog BTW)

"I'm a convert-in-progress to the Catholic Church - that is to say that last September I ran into a Catholic's blog online, questioned/attacked Catholic theology, started a debate, lost horribly, and had firmly switched sides by November. Since then, I've researched Catholicism extensively, taken a lot of flack from a lot of people, discussed and debated theology with a lot of people, and never yet wavered, becoming evermore convinced of the truth of the Catholic Church in heart and in head. (On that note, if you ever want to discuss a theological issue, hop on over to my blog, "Why Yes, I Do Believe Something, Actually" (wyidbsa) and let fly. I'd be happy to discuss, debate, to answer questions about anything related to Catholic theology under the sun - and perhaps you can lead me deeper into Catholic spirituality, where I am quite the novice. I was raised Presbyterian, with a small slice of Arminian Sunday schooling mixed in. I eventually went non-denom, sliding Arminian, until I hit my Catholic debate opponent, where I 'fought' the Catholic Church from all angles, Calvinist and Arminian, using anything and everything I had. (I will hopefully start RCIA this fall.) Since then, I've encountered plenty of things far above and beyond what meager attacks I could launch, but with some research, thought, and occasionally consulting my debate opponent, now friend, I've handled it all. I'm quite sure there's plenty more that can be thrown at my conviction, but, after all, the beauty of Catholic apologetics is that virtually any issue anyone has with Catholic anything has already been dealt with by somebody else (often pre-Reformation) and it just gives me something more to read."

Lord Jesus, bring folks closer to you in the fullness of Truth.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Myth Of Hitler's Pope

One of the myths regarding the Catholic Church that continues to be perpetuated is the myth that Pope Pius the 12th was in league with the Nazis during WW2. I found this short U tube that may help dispel the myth by presenting some facts, particularly weighty, because they are from Jews who lived during WW2. Of course, 3 minutes of a U-tube video can't be used as "case closed" argument but it presents a few facts that a rabbi researched and wrote a book on. He is not a Catholic convert, BTW. I saw his interview with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN last year.

H/t to The Hidden One

Why Don't We See Stuff Like This?

The Prodigal Daughter and I went to early Mass this AM and had a little extra time on our hands on this rainy Lord's Day. We spent some time chatting about the Church and evangelism and came up with the idea of establishing a Catholic Information Center to provide free information about the Church. It would be a "safe" non-threatening environment for seekers to come in and "get a little shelter from the storm." People who have an interest in Catholicism but would not go to a Church (particularly those with insensophobia) could feel free to come in for some information, non-threatening discussion and hopefully answers to their questions. Think "Catholic Science Reading Room" and you get the picture. We are considering this because our diocese is not necessarily a "hot bed" of the Catholic revival yet. (I'm not complaining, we do have some excellent parishes and priests, mine included) But, sadly our diocese has some of the lowest numbers of new converts entering the Church in the US based on Crisis Magazine's research recently published. The idea would be that if a person expresses more interest, we direct them to their local parish RCIA program .

As PD and I discussed this, the idea of finding a location, paying rent and attempting to get 501(c)(3) status, etc became overwhelming. Then suddenly she remembered the festival I played at where our local Baptist Church set up a booth. Holy St. Francis!~! What if we purchased a small ice cream truck or RV and loaded it with books, apologetic tracts, free rosary beads, prayer cards, teaching CD's etc? We could travel to fairs, festivals, Walmart parking lots, parks, campgrounds and provide information to anyone interested. Maybe, I could play a little hammer dulcimer while PD shares the Good News. A modern-day Catholic version of a Travelin' Medicine Minstrel Show offering the "Medicine of Life." No snake oil here folks, just the Truth!
Yeah, we are going to pray about it a bit before we go RV shopping and sell our house.

Courtroom Vs. Family - Catholic View of Justification

The Vivator has another good post contrasting the forensic view of justification vs the Catholic view. Check it out here.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Another Emergent Church Guy Goes for a Swim


Almost a year ago I posted about the emergent church movement. The desire to return to the "roots" of the ancient faith combined with an appreciation for liturgy and more contemplative forms of spirituality, for some, inevitably leads to Rome. What I have also found in the emergent and the "ancient/future" worship movements is a willingness in these folks to let go of their disdain for anything that may have the scent of incense on it. (Perhaps they never had incensophobia*) The willingness to appreciate anything written before 1517, except the Bible, is a moderately strong predictor of an eventual Tiber Jump.
Would that I had been able to to get over my disdain of all things liturgical, ancient, and.. ca..Ca....Catholic. Perhaps I would have made the swim years ago.

After Robert Webber's passing, I told my wife, Prodigal Daughter, I expected to see a number of new conversions among the Emergent Church folks after his death. Why? Because, Robert now stands before the throne of glory and no longer sees through a "glass darkly." He is able to intercede for those on the journey that are so close to what he now knows to be the fullness of truth. Who knows? Perhaps, some of these recent conversions/reversions may be the results of his prayers. He may become the patron saint of the emergent brethren.

All that being said, Welcome Home Tom! Our prayers are with you and your family.
Please give him a hearty Catholic Blogger's Welcome!

*Incensophobia, According to Tiberpedia, an acute medical condition characterized by symptoms which develop upon exposure to liturgical incense. (Incense burned while listening to the Dead doesn't seem to have the same effect) For some, the symptoms can occur with even the slightest provocation including a brief whiff of incense often found in the foyers of Catholic Churches.
Symptoms include a tightening of the throat, lower abdominal cramps, sudden headache and an intense desire to be somewhere else. Repressed memories of Mass as a child often return upon exposure and may lead to exacerbation of the above symptoms.
As a result, the sufferer develops intense fear and a near pathologic loathing of all things associated with incense, ie. the ancient Church.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Catholics United for the Faith

Check out these folks for some excellent teaching and apologetic resources. It is a lay apostolate dedicated to support, defend, and advance the efforts of the teaching Church. The founder H. Lyman Stebbins came to faith through the writings of CS. Lewis. He also corresponded with CS in 1945 regarding Catholicism and those letters have finally been published by his widow in 1998.



Our organization inescapably (and willingly) gets involved in the various problems of the Church in which the laity have a responsibility-in areas such as sex education, catechetics, etc. But all we are and all we do is based on the primacy of the spiritual, on the “better part” of a genuine, inner spiritual renewal, and on the belief that for all soldiers of Christ the first and constant battlefield must be our own hearts.

H. Lyman Stebbins
July 29, 1974

Lord, I Want More of You!

There is a common accusation that the Catholic Church adds extra “stuff“ to the pure gospel way of living a Christian life. But, the approach to spirituality of just prayer and praise, fellowship and bible study wasn’t enough for my wife, Prodigal Daughter. In the following post, PD explains how she came to get more of Jesus through the Catholic Church. This was recently posted on a Coming Home Forum but I wanted to share it here.

As an evangelical, I always prayed "Lord I want more of you!" My battle cry was that “He might increase and I might decrease.” The way I was told to go about getting more of Jesus was through prayer, Bible reading, and fellowship.

Now as a Catholic, I find that my prayer for "more of Jesus" is answered in a complete and fulfilling way!!

Prayer:
As an evangelical all I had were MY OWN spontaneous prayers and petitions to God. Many times I didn't have the words to pray and so I would get discouraged and pray less. Or if I was in a group, the prayers of others would be filled with "loving" agendas as to what they thought the answer to my particular conundrum was. The praises I would sing to God were usually not my own but some modern “interpretation” of scripture and often times theologically loose at best.
As a Catholic, I have a treasury of 2000 years of prayers written by men and women who have been through so much more than I could imagine, men and women who clearly walked with God on this earth as evidenced by their holy lives and miracles that followed. I also have the Mass, the prayer of the Church. During the Mass, I don't have to wonder if I am "touching God" or if I am praying "according to his will," I am assured by scripture and Jesus Himself that heaven opens up and the bread and wine are transformed into His precious body and blood.

Bible Reading:
As an evangelical I would spend hours reading and re-reading the Bible. Often I would become confused about the meaning of some text and would consult a commentary or ask my pastor or other learned person. Rarely would two sources have the same interpretation especially when it came to doctrines such as eschatology, baptism of the Holy Spirit, or eternal security. Oh I guess I could have gone to seminary and obtained my own theology degree, but then which one? The one that said “the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today,” the one proclaiming a dispensational view of the end times, or the one that said you cannot lose your salvation? Reading the Bible became very confusing to me. After a while I just stuck with the Psalms.
As a Catholic I am no longer intimidated by the Bible. I am neither left on my own to decide on the meaning of complicated Scripture passages nor expected to decide for myself on which doctrines are true. I am however encouraged “to learn ‘the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ’ by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures.” (CCC 133) One treasure I discovered while still an evangelical was the tradition of Lectio Devina, an ancient Catholic practice for reading and meditating on Scripture. Like a mother who cares for her children, the CC assures that I will hear/read the entire Bible every three years as I faithfully attend daily Mass.

Fellowship:
Fellowship as an evangelical was always readily available and when I first re-verted I truly felt a void. However, I do remember that when going through a very difficult emotional struggle as an evangelical, it was hard to find and maintain friendships which were genuine. In general the well meaning evangelicals I knew would “lovingly” blame my struggles on a lack of faith, prayer, Bible reading, or church involvement. It was all very works oriented and required effort which at the time was hard to muster up. When we left our non-denominational church for a denominational one, many of our friends assumed we were “backsliding” and our phone tended to ring a lot less. For the friends who did stick with us after that move, we have been almost completely rejected since becoming Catholic. So fellowship as an evangelical was helpful in getting “more of Jesus,” but in a limited way.
Now after being Catholic for three years I am finding earthly fellowship so much more satisfying and genuine. I no longer choose friends based on our common ecclesial background, but on whoever God brings into our lives. The friendships are developing slowly and naturally over time. We have met some wonderful orthodox priests and lay people who have welcomed us into their lives and homes. I no longer view people as saved or unsaved but somewhere on the journey so I enjoy a variety of friendships with people from other faiths. Of course I cannot go without mentioning our virtual family here on the Coming Home Network as well as in the blogosphere. Finally, I am ever grateful for the Church Triumphant whose constant prayers sustain us and cheer us on toward the goal of gaining Christ more fully here and in eternity.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Catholics Obeying Scripture

Here's a beautiful video clip of a generation of Catholic believers obeying Scripture and honoring the Mother of God. Yeah, their not worshiping the statue, that would be idol worship and devout Catholics are into obeying the Big Ten as well as the rest of Scripture. I get chills thinking that if this is how they revere the mother of our Lord, think of how they must worship Him!

"All generations shall call me blessed"

When was the last time you called her blessed?

St. Francis de Sales on Miracles as Proof of the True Church

St. Francis de Sales wrote about the miracles that historically had always accompanied the work of the Church as another defense of the Catholic Church. I thought this was an interesting defense and these miracles still continue to occur through the prayers of the Church and the response of God to them. In order for the Church to declare sainthood, the process of documentation of miracles is extremely exacting and miracles are not easily or quickly proclaimed. When the Church does state there has been a miracle, you can be sure there's been no "smoke and mirrors" involved. For example, Eucharistic miracles have occurred throughout the history of the Church to encourage the faithful to remain true to the belief of transubstantiation and have been carefully scientifically studied. St. Francis is basically asking the reader in this tract to consider why there continued to be miracles in the Catholic Church if it indeed was no longer the Church that Christ started .


"The Church then has milk and honey under her tongue and in her heart
, which is interior sanctity, and which we cannot see: she is richly dressed with a fair robe, beautifully bordered with varieties, which are her exterior sanctities, which can be seen. But because the sects and heresies disguise their clothing, and by false stuffs make them look like hers, she has, besides that, perfumes and odours which are her own, and these are certain signs and shinings of her sanctity, which are so peculiarly hers, that no other society can boast of having them, particularly in our age.

For, first, she shines in miracles, which are a most sweet odour and perfume, and are express signs of the presence of the immortal God with her, as S. Augustine styles them. And, indeed, when Our Lord quitted this world he promised that the Church should be filled with miracles: These signs, he said, shall follow them that believe: in my name- they shall cast out devils, they shall speak with new tongues they shall take up serpents, poison shall not hurt them, and by the imposition of hands they shall heal the sick. (Mark ult.).


Besides, I beg you to show me at what period the visible Church may have been without miracles, from the time that it began until this present? In the time of the Apostles there were miracles beyond number; you know that well. After that time, who knows not the miracles, related by Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, worked by the prayers of the legion of Christian soldiers who were in his army, which on this account was called thundering? Who knows not the miracles of S. Gregory Thaumaturgus, S. Martin, S. Anthony, S. Nicholas, S. Hilarion, and the wonders concerning Theodosius and Constantine, for which we have authors of irreproachable authority - Eusebius, Rufinus, S. Jerome, Basil, Sulpicius, Athanasius? Who knows not again what happened at the Invention of the Holy Cross, and in the time of Julian the Apostate? In the time of SS. Chrysostom, Ambrose, Augustine, many miracles were seen, which they themselves relate why then would you have the same Church now cease from miracles? What reason would there be? In truth, what we have always seen, in all varieties of times, accompanying the Church, we cannot do otherwise than call a property of the Church.

The true Church then makes her sanctity appear by miracles. And if God made so admirable the Propitiatory, and his Sinai, and his Burning Bush, because he wished to speak with men, why shall he not have made miraculous this his Church in which he wills to dwell for ever?"

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

That Disturbing DeSales

I could imagine this as the headline in the local daily newspaper in Chablais during the evangelism campaign of St. Frances. I am sure he caused no small disturbance as he preached and ministered to an area that had been mostly Protestant for over 40 years. As I continue to read the tracts, Catholic Controversies, a pattern emerges. He attempts to get his reader to see the novelty of their religion compared with the antiquity of Catholicism. Since the reformation religions were no older than 80 years, this was not an unreasonable argument. He uses the unity of Catholic doctrine vs the diversity of doctrines that had already developed as a way to get his readers to question the value of sola scriptura. He also relied heavily on the writings of the Church fathers as we do today. He makes no apologies in insisting that Catholicism is the One True Church in continuity with Jesus and the teachings of the apostles.

I sometimes wonder how he was so successful using these arguments when nowadays they fall on deaf ears and are so easily dismissed as "sophistry."I have to realize that St. Francis DeSales was presenting arguments that some of the listeners had never heard before. Since the reformation was fairly new, perhaps the "mythology" of "false" Catholic beliefs had not yet become part of the culture. After all, there were no Chick tracts, or Gendrons then and Loraine Bottner's famous anti-Catholic encyclopedia had not been written yet. To be sure, there was Protestant literature and the reformers were prolific writers, but perhaps the anti-papist- colored glasses were not as widely available. Also at this time, everyone had relatives, grandparents etc in their genealogy who were Catholic and this may have had a salutory effect as well.

The Feast of the Assumption


This week so far has been a little Marian feast all by itself for me. On Tuesday we celebrated the feast of St. Maximilan Kolbe, a polish priest martyred in Auschwitz who had a strong devotion to Mary. He started a newsletter with devotions and catechesis as a young priest with a circulation of over one million. I have been praying to St. Max since Monday in Mass to intercede for me to Jesus that I would develop more affection and devotion to the Mother of God, in the way Jesus wants me to. As a Protestant convert, we were so trained in "anti-Marianism" that it is often the largest stumbling block for the revert or convert to Catholicism as has been noted by others as well.

Today we celebrate the feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven. The Church has held from apostolic times that Mary died a physical death and was then taken to heaven so that the body of the Mother of God would not see physical corruption. There are no relics of Mary, though the site of her tomb is thought to be in Jerusalem, while some have said she died in Ephesus since St. John lived with her for a time there.

"WHERE'S THAT IN THE BIBLE?" is the question often asked in my combox. As Catholics we are free from the notion that Scripture has to contain every single dogma of our faith. However, the Bible always supports Catholic doctrine and goes hand in hand with Sacred Tradition. There is no Scripture that would contradict Mary's Assumption into heaven. It would not be the first time that God "assumed" someone into heaven, and therefore how can we say that there is no possibility that Mary was assumed?
Enoch(Gen 5:24) and Elijah never saw corruption, and perhaps Melchizedek did neither. Also, the saints who walked the earth after Christ rose from the dead were not corrupt either.
Since Catholics believe Mary is a type of Ark of the New Covenant, the bearer of the word of God, we have no issue with God choosing to assume her body uncorrupted into heaven upon her death. This doctrine really honors Jesus because He is perfect therefore even his bearer (Mary, theotokos), was sinless and allowed to not let the processes of decay occur to her after death! The same God that created the world, took Elijah to heaven, brought salvation to the earth in the form of little baby and suffered and died on the cross could certainly assume Mary's body into heaven where she continues to remain as the Queen of Heaven as the Revelation of St. John suggests. Mary may have still been alive when some of the NT was written and perhaps may support the reason why her assumption is not recorded.

In 1950, the Pope declared the Assumption of Mary to be dogma, meaning this belief held by the Church since apostolic times was now considered to be an essential belief for Catholics. Before it would have been optional for a practicing Catholic to accept this, after this proclamation, that was no longer an option. How can the Pope do that? It's that old property of the Keys, (Matt 16) binding and loosing things on earth and in heaven that the Church has been given by Christ.

Bottom line for me: I accept the Assumption of Mary because the Church that Christ started says it is true. It gives me hope that I too one day will be assumed into heaven and join the angels and saints to praise our Awesome Lord and Savior!

"All-powerful and ever-living God: You raised the sinless Virgin Mary, mother of your Son, body and soul, to the glory of heaven. May we see heaven as our final goal and come to share her glory."

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

St. Francis de Sales on the Unity of the Church


Catholics often refer to the Nicean Creed in 325 AD which established the four marks of the Church: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. In this look at Catholic Controversies, St Francis illustrates the lack of unity or "oneness of doctrine" that existed among the reformers and their adherents in that very early post-reformation era. Catholic apologists often bring up the "thirty thousand" or more sects that have developed 500 years since the reformation. They are accused of exaggerating this statistic but just a scant 80 years after the echoes of the hammer on Wittenberg's church door fell silent, you can see how many divisions, disagreements and denunciations had already developed. (This is something Dr. Luther feared and at the same time predicted.) If indeed the "new True Church of Christ" was the God-ordained fruit of the reformers' mission, why was there such a marked disunity of practice and belief that rose so rapidly as a result? If anything, this fresh, new reformed church of believers should have been one. We can see from the writings of St. Francis this was not the case.

"Are you not aware that one of your greatest ministers teaches that the body of our Lord is as far from the Lord's Supper as heaven is from earth, and are you not likewise aware that this is held to be false by many others? Has not one of your ministers lately confessed the reality of Christ's body in the Supper, and do not the rest deny it? Can you deny me that as regards Justification you are as much divided against one another as you are against us:-witness that anonymous controversialist. In a word, each man has his own language, and out of as many Huguenots as I have spoken to I have never found two of the same belief.

But the worst is, you are not able to come to an agreement:-for where will you find a trusted arbitrator? You have no head upon earth to address yourselves to in your difficulties; you believe that the very Church can err herself and lead others into error: you would not put your soul into such unsafe hands; indeed, you hold her in small account. The Scripture cannot be your arbiter, for it is concerning the Scripture that you are in litigation, some of you being determined to have it understood in one way, some in another. Your discords and your disputes are interminable, unless you give in to the authority of the Church. Witness the Colloquies of Lunehourg, of Malbron, of Montbeliard, and that of Berne recently. Witness Titman, Heshusius and Erastus, to whom I add Brenz and Bullinger. Take the great division there is amongst you about the number of the Sacraments. Now, and ordinarily amongst you, only two are taught; Calvin made three, adding to Baptism and the Supper, Order; Luther here puts Penance for the third, then says there is but one : in the end, the Protestants, at the Colloquy of Ratisbonne, at which Calvin assisted, as Beza testifies in his life, confessed that there were seven Sacraments. How is it you are divided about the article of the almightiness of God? -one party denying that a body can by the divine power be in two places, others denying absolute almightiness; others make no such denials. But if I would show you the great contradictions amongst those whom Beza acknowledges to be glorious reformers of the Church, namely, Jerome of Prague, John Hus, Wycliff, Luther, Bucer, Cecolampadius, Zuingle(Zwingli), Pomeranius and the rest, I should never come to an end Luther can sufficiently inform you as to the good harmony there is amongst them, in the lamentation which he makes against the Zwinglians and Sacramentarians, whom he calls Absaloms and Judases, and fanatic spirits (in the year 1527)."

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St. Francis de Sales - On "The Headless Church"


In describing the mark of the true Church as one, undivided institution, St. Francis makes an appeal that the Church is represented in Scripture as a house and family and therefore naturally needs one visible Master.

He also makes the point that I have often used, that every successful business has one CEO and every successful nation in history has one visible leader. The Church is no different. The principle of governance by one leader is part of the "natural law" and historically has proven to be the only successful method of governance that safeguards the longevity of a nation. Nations divided against themselves have never stood, but the greatest kingdoms/nations of all history have always been united under one human , visible leader- not an "invisible committee" of equals, each with equal authority to decide how to rule the country. The paradigm proposed by the reformers as St. Francis points out, had never existed before in the history of the world. For the Church to remain as One Visible Body, it must be united under one visible head, lieutenant, vicar general, or yes, one pope, meaning father. Let's see how St. Francis lays out this argument:

"Now the Church being a house and a family, the Master thereof can doubtless be but one, Jesus Christ: and so is it called house of God. But this Master and householder ascending to the right hand of God, having left many servants in his house, would leave one of them who should be servant-in-chief, and to whom the others should be responsible; wherefore Christ said: Who (thinkest thou) is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath set over his family (Matt. xxiv. 45). In truth, if there were not a foreman in a shop, think how the business would be done-or if there were not a king in a kingdom, a captain in a ship, a father in a family-in fact it would no longer be a family. But hear Our Lord in S. Matthew (xii.): Every city or house divided. against itself shall not stand. Never can a province be well governed by itself, above all if it be large. I ask you, gentlemen so wise, who will have no head in the Church, can you give me an example of any government of importance in which all the particular governments are not reduced to one? We may pass over the Macedonians, Babylonians, Jews, Medes, Persians, Arabians, Syrians, French, Spaniards, English, and a vast number of eminent states, in regard to which the matter is evident; but let us come to republics. Tell me, where have you ever seen any great province which has governed itself? Nowhere. The chief part of the world was at one time in the Roman Republic, but a single Rome governed; a single Athens, Carthage, and so of the other ancient republics; a single Venice, a single Genoa, a single Lucerne, Fribourg and the rest. You will never find that the single parts of some notable and great province have set to work to govern themselves. But it was, is, and will be necessary that one man alone, or one single body of men residing in one place, or one single town, or some small portion of a province, has governed the province if the rest of the province were large. You, gentlemen, who delight in history, I am assured of your suffrages; you will not let me be contradicted. But supposing (which is most false) that some particular province was self-governed, how can this be said of the Christian Church, which is so universal that it comprehends all the world? How could it be one if it governed itself? And if not, there would be need to have a council of all the bishoprics always standing-and who would convoke it? It would be necessary for all the bishops to be absent; and how could that be ? And if all the bishops were equal, who would call them together? And how great a difficulty would it be, if there were some doubt in a matter of faith, to assemble a council! It cannot then possibly be that the whole Church and each part thereof should govern itself, without dependence of one part on the other.

"You will say to me: Our Lord is not dead, and moreover is always with his Church, why then do you give him a vicar? I answer you that not being dead he has no successor but only a vicar; and moreover that he truly assists his Church in all things and everywhere by his invisible favour, but, in order not to make a visible body without a visible head, he has willed further to assist it in the person of a visible lieutenant, by means of whom, besides invisible favours, he perpetually administers his Church, and in a manner suitable to the sweetness of his providence."

Monday, August 13, 2007

Two New Tiber Crossers

Please give a hearty Catholic Bloggers' welcome to this Tiber Crosser
and this One as well.

St. Francis de Sales On The Invisible Church


When I was in college, Keith Green came out with his Catholic Chronicles*. They were a poorly researched and horribly distorted diatribe against Catholicism. Sadly, many of us read them as if they were the Gospel. In the 16th century, our favorite Saint distributed the original "Catholic Chronicles" to bring fallen-away Catholics back to the Church. Just like our brother Keith Green, he had a "home grown operation" and didn't charge for his tracts! It has been estimated that Keith's ministry sent out over 60,000 free albums to anyone who asked. It has also been estimated that St. Francis was able to win back over 60,000 fallen-away Catholics during his short term mission to the Protestant area of Chablais. Both men were around the same age (late 20's) during their most effective ministry years.

St. Francis de Sales continues in his Catholic Controversy tracts to explain how the Church is the infallible guide for our faith. He brings up an excellent point which is: how can an invisible church be an infallible guide? He also points out how the construct of the "invisible church" is not consistent with Old and New Testament imagery of the Church. It is interesting that just a mere 80 years after the reformation, the "Remnant theory" was being proposed. To reject the authority of the one Universal (Catholic) Church at this point in history, you would have to invent the remnant theory, otherwise you would be saying Christ failed in his mission and the gates of Hell did prevail . Let's see what St. Francis has to say to his readers regarding the "invisible true church" operating in secret:

"All that our adversaries can say is that this infallibility is only true of the invisible Church. But they arrive at this their opinion of the invisibility of the Church by two roads; for some say it is invisible because it consists only of persons elect and predestinate: the others attribute this invisibility to the rareness and scattering of the believers and faithful. Of these the first consider the Church to be invisible at all times, the others say that this invisibility has lasted about a thousand years, more or less; that is, from S. Gregory to Luther, during which time the papal authority was peaceably established among Christians for they say that during this time there were some true Christians in secret, who did not manifest their intentions, and were satisfied with thus serving God in concealment. This theology is imagination and guesswork; so that others have preferred to say, that during those thousand years the Church was neither visible nor invisible, but altogether effaced and suffocated by impiety and idolatry. Permit me, I beseech you, to say the truth freely; all these words are the incoherencies of fever, they are but dreams had while awake, and not worth the dream Nabuchodonosor had while asleep. And they are entirely contrary to it if we believe Daniel's interpretation (Dan. ii); for Nabuchodonosor saw a stone cut out of a mountain without hands which went rolling till it overthrew the great statue, and so increased that having become a mountain it filled the whole earth: this Daniel understood of the Kingdom of Our Lord, which shall last for ever. If it be as a mountain, and a mountain so large as to fill the whole earth, how shall it be invisible or secret? And if it last for ever, how shall it have failed a thousand years? And it is certainly of the Kingdom of the Church militant that this passage is to be understood; for that of the triumphant will fill heaven, not earth only, and will not arise during the time of the other Kingdoms, as Daniel's interpretation says, but after the consummation of the world. Add to this that to be cut from the mountain without hands, belongs to the temporal generation of Our Lord, according to which he has been conceived in the womb of the Virgin, and engendered of her own substance without work of man, by the sole benediction of the Holy Ghost. Either then Daniel has badly prophesied, or the adversaries of the Catholic Church have done so when they have said the Church was invisible, hidden and destroyed. In God's name have patience; we will go in order and briefly, while showing the vanity of those opinions. But we must, before all things, say what the Church is."

* Keith Green never had the opportunity to finish his chronicles but his last line written was this:
"Never has something so black and wicked, gotten away with appearing so holy and mysteriously beautiful . . . for so long!"
I can't imagine the conversations Keith Green and St. Francis are having now.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

St. Francis de Sales and The Need for Another Rule of Faith



In St. Francis de Sales' Catholic Controversy he begins by attempting to show the need for more than just the Bible as the rule of faith. He gets right to the crux of the issue by pointing out 500 years ago what still happens in the blogosphere literally every minute of every day! Been to a Christian Chat room lately? Whew! For example, a Catholic gives a Scripture to defend the role of the papacy, but a non-Catholic refutes it by saying, "I don't judge that to be the correct interpretation, and besides all that, you Catholics worship idols."
We are now "reliving" the same arguments St. Francis was involved with. Prodigal Daughter and I often frequent the chat rooms to "slip a little tract under the door" as St. Frances did, and sometimes we are met with the same "jeers and stones" as he was. (The quote above is an actual quote from our little chat last night.) Other times we are able to give a calm and reasoned defense for the hope that is within us regarding Christ and His Church to an interested listener. Let's hear what the "Apostle to Chablais" said regarding the need for another rule of faith outside of the Scriptures.

"They answer that we must decide the interpretation of Scripture by collating passage with passage and the whole with the Symbol of faith. Amen, Amen, we say: but we do not ask: "How we ought to interpret the Scripture, but- who shall be the judge?" For after having compared passages with passages, and the whole with the Symbol of the faith, we find by this passage: Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I shall build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, and I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. xvi), that S. Peter has been chief minister and supreme steward in the Church of God: you say, on your side that this passage: The kings of the nations lord it over them..but you not so (Luke xxii.), or this other (for they are all so weak that I know not what may be your main authority): No one can lay another foundation, &c. (1 Cor. iii. 11), compared with the other passages and the analogy of the faith makes you detest a chief minister. The two of us follow one same way in our enquiry concerning the truth in this question -namely, whether there is in the Church a Vicar General of Our Lord -and yet I have arrived at the affirmative and you, you have ended in the negative; who now shall judge of our difference? Here lies the essential point as between you and me.

"The Scriptures," says S. Jerome, ( Adv. Lucif. 28. ) "consist not in the reading but in the understanding:" that is, faith is not in the knowing the words but the sense. And it is here that I think I have thoroughly proved that we have need of another rule for our faith, besides the rule of Holy Scripture. 'If the world last long, said Luther once by good hap (Contr. Zwin. et. Oecol)”, “it will be again necessary, on account of the different interpretations of Scripture which now exist, that to preserve the unity of the faith we should receive the Councils and decrees and fly to them for refuge."* He acknowledges that formerly they were received, and that afterwards they will have to be."



*I credit Dr. Luther with much insight here. He predicted the problem of multiple interpretations of Scripture in his own lifetime as he feared for the
"preservation of the unity of the faith." Many of us malign his writings and intentions, but to his credit, Dr. Luther had a keen insight into the problem that St. Francis was addressing just 60 years later, and that we now continue to address 500 years later. Luther recognized the problem but sadly it was his own rejecting the "outside rule of faith" that led to it.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

St. Francis de Sales and Canon of Scripture

So often in our amateur apologetic arguments, we rely on the arguments that contemporary Catholic apologists have put forth. Ever wonder what the apologists were saying at or immediately after the reformation? St. Frances de Sales (1567-1622) was quite an apologist and wrote volumes to challenge the arguments put forth by the reformers. He was in the thick of things as he preached to Calvinist Switzerland. From his chapter on the Violation of Scripture:

"What likelihood is there that the Holy Spirit has hidden himself from all antiquity, and that after 1500 years he has disclosed to certain private persons the list of the true Scriptures? For our part we follow exactly the list of the Council of Laodicea with the addition made at the Councils of Carthage and Florence.* Never will a man of judgment leave these Councils to follow the persuasions of private individuals. Here, then, is the fountain and source of all the violations which have been made of this holy rule; namely, when people have taken up the fancy of not receiving it save by the measure and rule of the inspirations which each one believes and thinks he feels."

It is statements such as this that historically support the fact that Catholics didn't add to the bible at Trent as we are often accused of. I hope to post more of his writings in the future.


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