Crossed The Tiber
An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism
- Name: Russ Rentler, M.D.
- 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.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy New Year
Happy Thanksgiving to all! May God bless you with much grace this season of advent.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
What If It Was True?
When my wife was trying to pursue God with all her heart, she went to Mass when evangelical protestantism was no longer "working" for her. When the priest held up the consecrated host and said "this is Jesus, the Lamb of God" she thought: "What if it is true?" What if it was true that the God of the universe who she had been seeking most of her adult life was physically and spiritually present in the Eucharist? Wouldn't it be worth anything to apprehend Him in receiving Holy Communion? This led her to eventually return to the Church. I say eventually because she was married to a certain individual who needed about 5 years for the Holy Spirit to work on him and soften his hardened heart and stiff neck towards all things Catholic.
Well, the Holy Spirit indeed did His holy work on this fallow-grounded heart of mine. I too came to the realization that Jesus is in the Eucharist, and that I must pursue Him in a Church that I never thought I could go back to. I still remember the moment when I was sitting on the edge of my bed reading Steve Ray's description of the Early Church Father's view of the Eucharist. It was the realization that, if this was true, I need to be in this Catholic Church to receive Him entirely. Where else in the world can one get closer to God than in physically consuming Him?
To me, the doctrine of the Eucharist is the drawing power of Catholicism. Once you seriously entertain the possibility, that It Could BE True, there's no going back. As recent convert/revert Dr. Francis Beckwith has said, "Why would you not want this to be true?"
Monday, November 15, 2010
Catholic Art by Owen Swain
He blogs at Drawn to Catholicism. Keep up the Good Works Owen :)
Saturday, November 13, 2010
From the Apostolic Exhortation on the Word of God
Friday, November 12, 2010
Wise Words From Pope Benedict
Pope Benedict 16th
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Another Conversion to Catholicism
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Please keep Haiti in your prayers.
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Truly, the only power given to the pope is a power that is not of this world and can't be measured or explained in popular media. The only true power the pope has is the "power of the keys" and what is given to him from Christ.
See this excellent article by Dr. Jeff Mirus on the authority of the pope.
Thursday, November 04, 2010
‘Way to Emmaus’
A Musician’s Journey of Faithby Susie Lloyd, Register correspondent Friday, Oct 29, 2010 12:01 PM
Russ Rentler is a physician, musician, missionary and apologist. He didn’t plan the combination. It’s all because of a resolution he made to follow Jesus.
Rentler shares those experiences in popular coffee-house concerts that benefit his biannual mission trips to Haiti. In an easy style reminiscent of John Denver, Russ reveals the story of his life. “Late Have I Loved You” echoes St. Augustine’s years away from the Catholic Church.
The treasure always has been at my feet
Given to me as a child, given to me as a child.
Like many of the Aquarius generation, a young Russ, along with his brother, badly wanted to fit in with the rock ‘n’ roll culture, which seemed to promise a sense of belonging. Even though their parents took the family to Mass, their home life was one of strife. At 14, Russ didn’t see any disconnect between playing guitar at folk Masses and listening to Black Sabbath at home. He also experimented with drugs and alcohol.
Fortunately, this destructive lifestyle lasted only a year. Unfortunately, the cure meant that he and his brother would leave the Church. They found meaning in a charismatic Bible study. “It was the first time I emotionally connected with God,” Rentler recalls. He flushed his drug stash, burned his albums and parted with his prized electric bass guitar.
Rentler shared his newfound joy in the Lord with his high-school sweetheart, Sue. They married, but just three years later she was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer. There was no known treatment, and every prior case had been fatal. With the support of their church community, the Rentlers believed that if they only had faith God would send a cure.
Even though Russ was a doctor by then (a profession he didn’t really want but was convinced that the Lord wanted), he lived in denial of Sue’s disease. They prayed and lived as if a cure was inevitable, and had two children. In his view, any mention of her possible death would be to doubt God.
Many years later he would write a song called “The Way to Emmaus” that expressed the bewildering grief of the disciples, a grief that Russ personally experienced when Sue eventually died:
We spoke of Jesus,
We hoped he’d free us,
But he was crucified, he was crucified.
Reversion to Catholicism
There was no theology of redemptive suffering in Russ’ church. In fact, if you weren’t healed, it was not seen as God’s will but as your failure to trust him. The only person who seemed to understand was an old friend from his college Bible study. Bernie was now a Catholic priest.
Father Bernie told him that Jesus wanted Sue to share in his suffering and that far from being a failure of faith, it was a privilege. He quoted St. Paul: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24).
That was just one of the Scriptures on redemptive suffering that was missing from Russ’ biblical formation. That discovery marked the beginning of his return to the Catholic Church.
In the meantime, Russ remarried. Deb was a devout evangelical and fellow former Catholic. It was she who first spoke of her longing for the Eucharist. She also had left the Church in her youth, after her parents’ divorce. After a few years of unsatisfying worldly pursuits, she also experienced the exhilarating sense of rescue in being “born again.”
But where once she had been so joyful with a love of Jesus, Deb was experiencing her own dark night of the soul. Life as a wife and stepmother was a difficult adjustment. She no longer “felt God” and began looking for anything that might bring him back: charismatic retreats, praise and worship, Bible study. Russ’ devotion was so different. He told her he hadn’t felt God’s presence in more than 20 years. After his experiences, he wanted nothing to do with the emotional side of faith. But Deb wanted “more of God.” She found him, just as Russ had, in the theology of suffering.
Through reading the writings of St. Thérèse, Thomas à Kempis and Mother Teresa, and even once praying to Mary, she learned to unite her suffering to Our Lord’s. She found herself reconnecting to the Catholicism of her childhood and attending Mass during the week.
It was during the elevation that the thought came to her: What if it’s really true? As “The Way to Emmaus” relates:
Then our eyes were opened
in the breaking of the bread.
Our hearts burned within us
at every word he said.
Deb longed to return to the faith of her childhood, but Russ was firmly against it. Any church that had produced pedophile priests, he reasoned, couldn’t be of God.
Nevertheless, when his mother died, he and his brother — now an evangelical pastor — found her rosary and crucifix. Russ gave them to Deb, and something in him realized that, in spite of his parents’ pain, Catholicism had worked for good in their lives.
When his whole congregation attended a viewing of The Passion of the Christ, Russ was overwhelmed by the graphic display of Christ’s suffering: “Jesus underwent all of that pain and suffering for me, so I said, ‘I would do anything for you, Jesus. I would even become Catholic.’” He left the theater knowing he was about to experience major changes in his life.
Russ and Deb re-entered the Church together and had their marriage consecrated to God. Receiving the words of absolution after 35 years brought tears that Russ never expected would flow. He chronicles that sentiment in “Stained-Glass Windows”:
As I speak the timeless creed,
Passed on to us by saints
Together with all of heaven,
I say, “Yes, Lord,” I believe.
Resolving to follow wherever Christ would lead has led him to continue the work he began as an evangelical missionary in Haiti. It was after one of those trips that he wrote “Jewel of the Caribbean”:
We gave away some aspirin, vitamins and hope,
All the while my heart was riding high up in my throat.
‘Catholics Are Christians’
After his conversion many of his evangelical friends ended their friendship with him. Churches canceled his concerts. “I told them that being Catholic hasn’t affected my dulcimer playing,” he recalls. “They didn’t think it was funny.”
He hopes to convince others of the truth of the Catholic faith through his website, Crossed the Tiber, and his Facebook apologetics page: Catholics ARE Christians.
His music has taken an apologetics turn as well. “The Nicean Blues,” a humorous, catchy number, was the top video for over a year on the popular Love to Be Catholic website:
To say we worship anyone but Jesus Christ our Lord
Is a fundamental fairy tale of which I’m getting bored.
Converts well relate to Rentler’s music. “‘Untier of Knots’ has been a consolation and something of a personal theme song for me as I work through many of the difficult circumstances to arise out of becoming a grateful convert to the Catholic Church,” noted Owen Swain.
Commented Kim Luckey, “He and his music were very special to me in encouraging me in my reversion to the Catholic faith three years ago and continue to be special to me in reminding me of how beautiful our faith truly is!”
In 2009, he released his first all-Catholic album, called appropriately “Way to Emmaus.”
Listener Maureen Sullivan expressed her thoughts on the new CD this way: “‘Way to Emmaus’ has enabled me to see my Catholic Church through new eyes. I have been a Catholic all my life, and his CD so simply and beautifully relates the treasure we have.”
Monday, November 01, 2010
For Those Readers Who Despise Catholicism
Who taught me what I think I know about the Catholic Church? Is what I was taught true? Have I looked at what the Catholic Church has to say about itself, using official resources such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church and papal encyclicals? Could my opinion of the Catholic Church possibly be based on bias, bigotry, bad history, propaganda from the secular media, or the bad priests who get publicity (i.e., the sick, and sickening, ephebophile priests or those certain heretical modernist priests the secular media love to give press to)? Is it fair to judge doctrine by such things? Is any group with human beings in it free from sin and scandal? If I am wrong about the Catholic Church, what does that mean?
Here are some common myths about the Catholic Church:
Because Catholics reject the tradition of "sola fide" ("faith alone"), they think they can work their way into Heaven and believe they are saved by works . WRONG
Catholics think the pope does not sin . WRONG
Catholics re-crucify Christ at their Masses (or at least think they do) WRONG
Catholics think Mary is part of the Godhead and is to be worshipped WRONG
Catholics worship statues WRONG (for the 150th time on this blog) WRONG
Catholics think they can't pray to God directly but have to go through saints WRONG
Catholics conjure the dead WRONG
Catholics believe people can be saved after they die WRONG
The Catholic Church teaches that one who isn't formally a Catholic is damned to Hell WRONG
The Crusades are an example of Catholic aggression WRONG
The Inquisition(s) killed hundreds of thousands of people and targeted Jews WRONG
Pope Pius XII was "Hitler's Pope" and didn't do a thing to help Jews during WWII WRONG
The Catholic Church wasn't around until the time of Constantine, a pagan who controlled the Church. WRONG
The Catholic Church did more than baptize pagan calendar days for the good of Christ, it is pagan in its very roots. WRONG
If you believe any of the above myths, I implore you to research. For doctrinal questions, ask the Church what it teaches; it's the only fair thing to do. For historical questions, look at balanced and objective scholarly research from a variety of sources (including Catholic ones). And as you research, keep in mind the common logical fallacies that are often used in attacks against Catholicism:
Generalization: "I knew a Catholic/ex-Catholic (or I was a Catholic) who was (mean, a drunk, not holy, didn't like the Church, was superstitious, didn't know the Bible, didn't have a deep relationship with Jesus, etc.), so therefore, the teachings of the Catholic Church are wrong." (Ignores the fact that bad catechesis, misunderstandings, or other shortcomings of a few Catholics do not reflect on what the Catholic Church teaches)
Bifurcation:"If the Catholic Church doesn't teach that it's faith alone that saves, then it must teach that men are saved by their own works." (Ignores that we teach that we are saved by Grace alone -- a Grace with which we must cooperate through "faith that works in love")
Cum hoc ergo propter hoc (with this, therefore because of this): "Winter Solstice is on 21 December; Christmas is 25 December. Therefore, Christmas is a pagan holiday. (Ignores that fact that there are only 365 days to choose from in a year and that the early Church Fathers had good reasons to choose the date they did. It also ignores that Protestants' "Reformation Day" is celebrated on 31 October, the pagan festival of Samhain.)
Post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this): "Constantine must have been the real source of the Catholic Church's teachings because after his reign the Church grew tremendously, and before his reign it wasn't as well-known" (Ignores the simple fact that Constantine merely stopped the persecution of Christians with the Edict of Milan and allowed Christianity to spread. It also ignores the writings of the Church Fathers who lived before Constantine -- and who were Catholic.)
Straw man: "You guys worship statues, and that's evil. Therefore, your religion is Satanic." (Ignores that fact that we don't worship statues)
(comes From FISHEATERS WEBSITE)