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, July 09, 2008

Another Benefit of Being in the Catholic Church

In our diocese, a third of the parishes are closing due to the shortage of priests . This has caused much pain and distress, particularly for those whose lives revolved around the local parish. Those who were baptized, received Holy Communion, confirmed and married in a parish that is closing are particularly hurting. Some of the parishes have sent an appeal to Rome and there have been some angry letters written to the editor of our local newspaper from parishioners who feel they were unjustly treated in the process.

Our parish is not closing but we are getting an entirely new pastoral staff. The pastor is retiring after 48 years of active ministry and a new pastor is being assigned. The associate pastor who very much wanted to stay is becoming a pastor of 6 consolidated parishes in the northwestern far-reaches of the diocese, one hour away. Despite these significant changes, the majority of the faithful will remain just that, faithful. For some, there will always be a sadness and the grieving process may never quite be completed this side of the veil. But at the end of the week, the Catholic will once again find himself at Mass. The preaching may be better or worse, the choirs and music won’t be the same, the architecture of the building may change. The look and feel of the congregation won’t be the same. But as the new and unfamiliar priest reverently begins the Mass, “In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit….” we will know we are home.

The beauty and strength of Catholic faith is that it is truly universal. Our relationship to God and our ability to remain in fellowship with Him and His people is entirely independent of our emotional attachment to a particular local expression of the Church. Before I was Catholic, I was part of several churches that saw the changing of their leadership. Many times after this occurred, a significant portion of the membership left. Some chose to not go to church at all. After a particularly charismatic and well loved pastor left, the church slowly dwindled and eventually closed when another could not fill his shoes.

When our two priests leave next week, surely there will be a sense of loss, but our faith remains unchanged, undimmed, not dependent on the strength or weakness of the particular priests who fill their shoes.Surely, this is another benefit of being a member of the Catholic Church.

7 Comments:

Blogger Er said...

I am truly humbled by your article. Yes, being a Catholic is a grace-filled life. I am so proud to have a Catholic faithful like keeps on strengthening the Catholic community through blogging.

July 09, 2008 9:13 PM  
Blogger ~Joseph the Worker said...

The only thing I could think of during this article, despite it's beauty: Let's pray for vocations to the priesthood.

July 10, 2008 12:58 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

thanks er, yes God's grace is really poured out on us through His Church!

July 10, 2008 8:19 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Amen Joseph!

July 10, 2008 8:19 AM  
OpenID onionboy said...

Our first priest is a very godly and devout man. We love him and we miss him as he was moved to a parish about 20 minutes away. It was a new experience for me, the former protestant minister, because I had always been the one leaving. But the mass went on. Our priest is a good man with different gifts. Our music director left for a church in the states. We now have, much to my personal pain, protestant choruses from the late 70s and early 80s - it's really hard but the mass goes on and Jesus in the Eucharist and the people we have become family with are the reason we stay.

Someone suggested we could drive 20 minutes to continue under the ministry of our former priest. I answered, yes, we love him but we love, worship and give our lives to our Eucharistic Lord in the context of the local body He has called us to be a part of. i.e. we follow Jesus not any man.

Though, I do admit, that June has a scare factor for me now - something I'd never experienced before.

Peace to you TJ and your home parish.

July 12, 2008 6:53 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

OBoy said:
"Someone suggested we could drive 20 minutes to continue under the ministry of our former priest. I answered, yes, we love him but we love, worship and give our lives to our Eucharistic Lord in the context of the local body He has called us to be a part of. i.e. we follow Jesus not any man."
Owen: that was so well put. Exactly! I remember a while back I saw a comment on a reformed blog that was questioning why the Church didn't fold during the height of the priest sex abuse cover up. ( BTW 4% of all clergy in all denominations are abusers)
The reason is even if the priest is a bad apple , the Church is still the only source of the sacraments that provide the sustenance for our journey here and aid us into eternal life. Regardless of personalities, preaching, etc, we follow Jesus (in the Eucharist) and not man.

Thanks so much Owen for the comments. Being a former Protestant pastor, you really have understood and experienced this more than most.

July 12, 2008 11:04 PM  
Blogger Cow Bike Rider said...

TJ~
Your comment "Our relationship to God and our ability to remain in fellowship with Him and His people is entirely independent of our emotional attachment to a particular local expression of the Church."; as well as the comments from OB are exactly what I need to hear (and remember) as I still pursue a parish home. I wrote a post this past Monday on the struggles I've had with this. I admit, I am guilty of the emotional attachment. I'm finding that to be one of the hardest parts of this - that is, to simply keep my focus on Christ.

Thanks and God Bless,
Chris

July 13, 2008 12:24 AM  

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