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.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
Thoughts on The New Translation of the Mass
So what effect is this ultimately going to have on the faith lives of the average Catholic?
1) It will cause us to not take the liturgy for granted. The word liturgy means "work of the people" so now we will have to work a little bit to follow, respond and understand. Before this new Mass, for some, there may have been a tendency to "zone out." When the responses and prayers are new and fresh, Lord willing the faithful will take a deeper look into the words and what they mean. (BTW, "zoning out" is not just a Catholic phenomenon. After 31 years as an evangelical in charismatic and more liturgical gatherings, trust me, there was plenty of "zoning out" going on! It's human nature and not just the by-product of liturgical worship. After all, liturgical worship was the normative way of worshiping God for almost 1600 years.)
2) The true meaning and purpose of the Mass will be brought to the fore. Over the past 40 years, the previous translation used tended to de-emphasize the sacrificial nature of the Mass, in some, not all parts. The more accurate new translation returns the focus of the liturgy back on the re-presenting(not recrucifying) Christ's sacrifice to the Father on our behalf. We will understand that we are not just observers but active participants in the sacrifice offering ourselves to God as well, uniting our sadness, joys, sins, triumphs with Christ's sacrifice.
3) Lives will be transformed as Jesus life, death and resurrection are more profoundly expressed in the prayers of the Liturgy and the faithful are once again confronted with the truth of the gospel in a new and fresh fashion.
Here's a link to some examples of the changes from the USCCB.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Deborah and I have a nice devotional booklet published by the Magnificat folks that we read and pray before supper each night of Advent. Today begins the New Year of the liturgical life of the Church. There is such a beautiful rhythm to this Catholic life that we have grown to love that it is now hard to imagine how we lived without it.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Rentler Boys At ChristkindlMarkt, Bethlehem, PA
Friday, November 25, 2011
The New Translation of the Mass
There have been multiple articles and editorials by Catholics who rail against the new translation claiming it will confuse the faithful and is a throwback to pre-Vatican 2 days. One bishop said of the new translation of the Roman Missal : "elitist," incomprehensible to the average Catholic and a looming "pastoral disaster." Actually, the truth is there is a high probability that this new translation will encourage the faithful to learn what the Mass is all about and stir revival in the Church. Blessed John Paul 2 knew what he was doing when he called for the new translation and I am thankful to see this rolled out in my lifetime.
Why is the new translation so important? What's the big deal? The big deal is that the Church has always operated being guided by the ancient principle of Lex Orandi, Lex Credo, "The law of prayer is the law of belief." How we pray affects how we believe.
The liturgy is the prayer of the Church, the most important aspect of our Christian faith because it is in the liturgy we come to meet the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith.
So the way we pray the liturgy affects what we believe. Why not accept a translation that will be more faithful to the original text of the Latin so we will pray more accurately what the heart of the Church is asking us to pray and believe?
"The Church's faith precedes the faith of the believer who is invited to adhere to it. When the Church celebrates the sacraments, she confesses the faith received from the apostles - whence the ancient saying: lex orandi, lex credendi . The law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays. Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition." (The Catechism)
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Eucharist is a word from the original Greek New Testament meaning "giving Thanks."
"And taking bread, he gave thanks, and brake; and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me." (Douay Rheims)
"For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts." (Malachi)
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Remember To Keep the Mass In ChristMass
From Wikipedia ; The word Christmas is derived from Middle English Christemasse and from Old English Cristes mæsse. It is a contraction meaning "Christ's Mass." The name of the holiday is sometimes shortened to Xmas because Roman letter "X" resembles the Greek letter X (chi), an abbreviation for Christ (Χριστός). (This usage first recorded in 1123.)
The Church, around 220 AD, chose December 25th to celebrate Christ's birth. In the fourth century, the nature of who Christ was, both God and Man or just infused with God's nature at the time of His birth was starting to separate and cause division in the Church. The Church used December 25th to promote the doctrine of the Incarnation among the faithful. The celebration of this feast became known as Christ's Mass in the 12th Century as stated above.
So doesn't that prove right there that the Mass is a medieval invention of the Catholic Church? A look back in history may help with an answer. The early Christians called Church Fathers wrote quite a bit regarding what the church looked like and how it worshiped. As I blogged about previously, some of these Church Fathers were instrumental in being led by the Holy Spirit in measuring (canonizing) which books should be part of Inspired Scripture. Even before this time (390's), the writings of the Church Fathers provide a "snap-shot" of the Mass which focused on the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Renowned Protestant historian of the early Church J. N. D. Kelly, writes: "Eucharistic teaching, it should be understood at the outset, was in general unquestioningly realist, i.e., the consecrated bread and wine were taken to be, and were treated and designated as, the Savior’s body and blood" (Early Christian Doctrines, 440).
Justin Martyr wrote:
"We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus" (First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]).
So Christmas reminds me that the Word of God became flesh and died for my sins. His sacrifice on the cross is re-presented (not re-crucified) on all the altars of the world and I am reminded of that at this special time of year. Now just remember "Keep the Mass in Christmas! "
Monday, November 21, 2011
You Will Be Assimilated. Resistance is Futile
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Return From Haiti
We just returned from Port-Au-Prince last night flying into JFK airport and getting picked up by our parish for the 2.5 hour drive back to Orefield, PA. The trip was a remarkable success with over 1100 patients seen by 3 doctors and a nurse practitioner. We sailed through customs with no bribe needed to get the meds into the country, which is an answer to much prayer. All our bags safely got to the parish rectory and no medications were damaged or lost! Father Andrew provided safe and comfortable accommodations for the team at his rectory and we all felt extremely thankful for his pampering. His cook, Jaquelis, could easily get a position at a 5 Star Haitian restaurant if such a thing exists, and we all ate more than we should have. Sleeping in Haiti is still something one must get used to because of the 24/7 street preachers with bull-horns, roosters that have no sense of timing and the dogs.... Yes, the dogs of Port-Au-Prince who prowl and growl and bark through the nite. Occasionally the noise settles down, but then it's almost time to get up for breakfast, devotions and clinic. It has been said "that all Haiti needs to overcome its many problems is if the Haitians could just get one good night's sleep!"
It has been over a year since my last trip to PAP and things look a bit better. Much of the rubble has finally been removed from the main streets but there are still many collapsed buildings and houses that appear to be abandoned now. The most unfortunate thing I saw was that many of the tent cities have become permanent dwellings for the Haitians. It will be two years this January 12th and many people still refuse to move back to the squalid concrete shacks with leaky tin roofs and unreasonably high rent payments. Squatting on land in tents made of tarps from USAID is much cheaper than the rent they were being charged for their former dwellings. Still, the tent cities are a horrible trade-off for what they had before. Security is a problem and rape and abuse are still an issue in the tent cities. One of my patients this week told me that a group of men came in the middle of the night to set the tents on fire to evict the squatters. The wealthy landowners want their land back and have resorted to thug-like tactics to obtain it. This 23 year old mother calmly explained her situation to me through the translator and wanted to know if I could do something for the "shaking loose" feeling she has in her head since the earthquake! God have mercy on the Haitians. All I had was some benadryl to offer her to sleep better, but than worried, if she would be sleeping too soundly when the next group of thugs came in the night to attempt the incinerate her dwelling.
We saw no cholera, thank God, and the children did not seem as sick with infections and skin issues as we have seen in the past few trips. The Haitian government has aggressively been promoting better hygiene and hand-washing since the epidemic. One thing we noted is that the hypertension is severe and fairly prevalent in pretty much most of the patients over 25 years old. I even noticed thin young men in their late teens having diastolic BP's over 90. We had to decide a cut-off point to treat and decided to medicate only those with systolic blood pressure over 160 and diastolic over 100 ; a very difficult reality considering that morbidity and mortality from hypertension significantly increases for each point over normal. I still question whether there is even a point in treating hypertension in this population if the causes of death are from trauma, infection and nutritional issues. That being said, however, many of the patients know they have hypertension and are extremely thankful to receive a three month supply of meds until the next team hopefully arrives to replenish their supply.
One of the highlights of our trip was our daily devotions that centered around Saint Faustina's message of Divine Mercy. One of the members of our team had worked with our priest for weeks before to develop a meaningful devotion to use for the team when in Haiti. We had morning and night prayer that was based on readings from the writings of Saint Faustina, in particular regarding the poor and needy. With each devotion was a challenge to let God's grace work in us and through us as we experienced Jesus in the the least of these.
Another highlight was worshiping with the Haitians at Mass on Sunday in the new sanctuary of Saint Jude's. The walls are up and there is a temporary roof and the altar is completed. The joy and peace we sensed in the congregation was more than palpable. Despite the language barrier, the mass is the same throughout the world and we were able to easily find our place in the liturgy and take part in the worship. (Yet another example of why Christ wanted one Church, with one central set of beliefs and practices) One thing that is very different in Haiti than in America is the way in which even the most impoverished Haitians come dressed beautifully for worship.
Finally, we ended our trip by celebrating mass with the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, Blessed Mother Theresa's orphanage which is just a few miles from the rectory. To receive Christ in the Eucharist along with these beautiful nuns on the very same ground that Blessed Mother Theresa walked was a beautiful gift from God to the team and a fitting end to our trip.
Thank you all for your prayers during this week, and especially Saint Joseph the Worker Parish in Orefield for having 24 hour adoration for us this past week. The Lord heard and answered your prayers!
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
An Explanation of the New Mass Translation-As We Pray So We Believe and So We Live!
of the new mass translation. Please feel free to download it from the internet archive and share with friends and family.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Requiescat in Pace Linda
Linda, a woman from my church who knew my late wife and boys felt God leading her to become my nanny. She left her day job to come work for me for one and a half years. In those dark times in our life, I always said that Jesus came to us through Linda. She surely was the hand of God reaching out to hold my hurting little family when the bottom had dropped out. Linda had already raised two boys as a single mom and really knew had to be a mom. She cared for my kids like her own and looked out for me too! She brought some joy back to our house in those very sad days and helped my kids to acclimate to life without their mom. She prayed for them, drove them to school, watched them at their first school plays, went to parent-teacher meetings, but most of all loved us. We all felt the hand of God in a most palpable way through Linda.
Today at 3PM, the hour of divine mercy, Linda, surrounded by loved ones and friends left this earth after a relatively short and courageous battle with cancer. I know the angels, saints and my late wife, Sue, have gained a great friend in heaven today and we have gained a wonderful ally in the heavenlies to continue praying for us here. Linda, we rejoice with you as you hear these words; "Well done my good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master."
- Eternal rest, grant unto Linda
- and let perpetual light shine upon her.
- May the soul of the faithful departed,
- through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Monday, November 07, 2011
Catholicism The Series Premieres on EWTN
In a definitive interview with a major Catholic publication, Fr. Barron explained the impetus for this series.
“A year ago I was on a local Chicago news program and the opening [statement] was: ‘You represent the religion that has the worst public relations in the world.’ I said, ‘Yes, we have this problem, but I refuse to let 2,000 years of Catholicism be reduced to the sexual-abuse scandal. A handful of people did terrible things, but we have 2,000 years of beauty, art, architecture, liturgy and the saints. We have St. Thomas Aquinas, [Blessed] Mother Teresa, the Notre Dame Cathedral. I don’t want that reduced to the sexual-abuse scandal.’ I want our story told, and that’s a reason I did this.”
Origin of the Canon
Sunday, November 06, 2011
One Body In Christ, One in Christ's Body
For the body also is not one member, but many.
If the foot should say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body ?
And if the ear should say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
If the whole body were the eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?
But now God hath set the members every one of them in the body as it hath pleased him.
And if they all were one member, where would be the body?
But now there are many members indeed, yet one body.
And the eye cannot say to the hand: I need not thy help; nor again the head to the feet: I have no need of you.
Yea, much more those that seem to be the more feeble members of the body, are more necessary.
And such as we think to be the less honorable members of the body, about these we put more abundant honor; and those that are our uncomely parts, have more abundant comeliness.
But our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, giving to that which wanted the more abundant honor,
That there might be no schism in the body; but the members might be mutually careful one for another.
And if one member suffer any thing, all the members suffer with it; or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member.
The body of Christ was never meant to be divided. Christ prayed against schism* as one of his last prayers recorded in the gospel of John:
"I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me."
The Eucharist ensures that all who partake of it remain literally in Christ, one with Him and one with eachother. This alone is reason enough to seek communion with the Church Jesus started. For most of my adult Christian life, I never sensed how the multiplication of sects in Christianity actually stand in opposition to Jesus prayer. Jesus gave us his body in the Eucharist so we could become a part of him and abide with him, but also remain in unity with each other. When I separated myself from the Eucharist as a young person, I may have told myself "we are all one", but scripture and tradition would suggest the opposite.
*What is schism:
1)A split or division between strongly opposed sections or parties, caused by differences in opinion or belief.
2)The formal separation of a church into two churches or the secession of a group owing to doctrinal and other differences.
Saturday, November 05, 2011
Homily on The New Mass Translation
The new translation is the most sweeping change to the liturgy since the latin rite mass gave way to the "novus ordo" rite in the 1960's when I was just a lad. The new translation is much more accurately translated version of the original Latin Mass and will enhance the understanding of the sacrifice of the mass. Unfortunately, the current translation was more of a "dynamic equivalent" type translation of the Latin mass and attempted to convey the meaning vs the actual translation. (think Good News Translation, yikes ) As an unfortunate result, some of the deeper aspects of the Mass have been lost and the new translation will recapture the depth and beauty and convey this to all the faithful in the English speaking world (Germany and France are next, BTW). Blessed Pope John Paul 2 is the one who initiated this change to the liturgy.
"What is coming is richer, more elegant in style, more truthful in doctrinal content, closer to the Scriptures and more spiritual and mystical. The new translations should gradually deepen the quality and tone of our worship. But the transition will not be easy for some people. The new texts carry better doctrinal content but they will call for careful catechesis and explanation. But, what an opportunity this is! For all of us the transition and the catechesis involved should enrich our faith and worship, and our love for the Mass." (Bishop Elliot, Melbourne Australia) Full story here
Can anyone say revival! Yes, this new Mass may be the source of renewal for many of the faithful, praise God! Here's Fr. Ardinger below:
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
All Souls Day Part 2
This is a re-post from 2009
Purgatory really freaked me out as a non-Catholic Christian. When my wife first started dabbling in Catholicism, she actually liked the doctrine and we had some pretty heated discussions about this. In my mind it conjured images of the sale of indulgences(always condemned by the Church) and called to mind the famous saying of the 16th century indulgence merchant, Johann Tetzel*: "A coin in the coffer rings and another soul from purgatory springs!"
(I must admit, I actually used this line as the chorus in an anti-Catholic blues rant I composed when I was 15 years old and a brand new born-again Christian)
When I first returned to the Church in April 2004, this was one of the last doctrines that I struggled with. Now I'm blogging about it and encouraging others to pray for the departed, and spend a portion of each day praying for my loved ones.
Prayers and "suffrages" on behalf of the departed believers have been prayed since the first century. The earliest liturgies of the Church contain prayers for the dead. From the Syriac liturgy of St James: "We commend into thy mercy all other thy servants, which are departed hence from us with the sign of faith and now do rest in the sleep of peace: grant unto them, we beseech thee, thy mercy and everlasting peace."
The catacombs from the first century contain inscriptions asking for prayers for the dead. The early Church fathers wrote about it.
St. Augustine: The universal Church observes this law, handed down from the Fathers, that prayers should be offered for those who have died in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ when they are commemorated in their proper place at the Sacrifice(mass)"
16th century theologians:
"Dear God, if the departed souls be in a state that they yet may be helped then I pray that you would be gracious. When you have thus prayed once or twice, then let it be sufficient and commend them unto God." (Martin Luther)
"We commend into thy mercy all other thy servants, which are departed hence from us with the sign of faith and now do rest in the sleep of peace: grant unto them, we beseech thee, thy mercy and everlasting peace." (Church of England 1549)
- The Jews before Christ prayed for the dead (Maccabees)
- St. Paul prayed for the dead (Onesiphorus)
- Early Christians prayed for the dead (catacomb inscriptions)
- Church fathers wrote about prayers for the dead
- The earliest reformers prayed for the dead including Luther and the Church of England
- The Catholic Church continues this practice and has made a day to particularly honor the dead and keep them in our prayers.
I am no longer freaked out by it but am thankful to God for his grace and mercy towards us in that we have an opportunity to be purged of the last vestiges of sin that we are attached to before we step into His throne room.
So like CS Lewis once said, I now say : "Purgatory ? Our souls demand it, don't they!"
Check out this excellent article on First Things on the meaning of All Soul's Day
*Johann Tetzel was censured by the Catholic Church not for the teaching of indulgences but the practice of money being exchanged for them. The Church never apporoved the sale of indulgences.
To learn more about what the Church teaches on indulgences go here.
Did the early Christians really pray to the dead?
"In a word, so overwhelming is the witness of the early Christian monuments in favour of prayer for the dead that no historian any longer denies that the practice and the belief which the practice implies were universal in the primitive Church. There was no break of continuity in this respect between Judaism and Christianity." (New Advent)