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.
Friday, August 31, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
"Late Have I Loved You"
Saint Augustine discovered God late in His life, and I discovered His Church late in my life.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Do No Harm? Physicians Moving Away From the Oath
Feast of Saint Augustine
Saint Augustine later became a priest and a bishop and is a Doctor of the Catholic Church. He achieved this title because of the great contribution his teaching on faith and doctrine was and still is to the Church. He taught against several heresies in his life including Manicheanism, Donatism, Pelagianism and finally Arianism.
Many people attempt to claim that Saint Augustine was the forerunner of the Protestant movement, but his beliefs as illustrated from the following quotes make it difficult to understand how he could be mistaken to espouse the beliefs of Protestantism.
"That Bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God IS THE BODY OF CHRIST. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, IS THE BLOOD OF CHRIST. Through that bread and wine the Lord Christ willed to commend HIS BODY AND BLOOD, WHICH HE POURED OUT FOR US UNTO THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS." (Sermons 227)
"The Lord Jesus wanted those whose eyes were held lest they should recognize him, to recognize Him in the breaking of the bread [Luke 24:16,30-35]. The faithful know what I am saying. They know Christ in the breaking of the bread. For not all bread, but only that which receives the blessing of Christ, BECOMES CHRIST'S BODY." (Sermons 234:2)
"What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that THE BREAD IS THE BODY OF CHRIST AND THE CHALICE [WINE] THE BLOOD OF CHRIST." (Sermons 272)
“I would not believe the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church did not compel me.”
"Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ." - from The City of God by Saint Augustine
"A Christian people celebrates together in religious solemnity the memorials of the martyrs, both to encourage their being imitated and so that it can share in their merits and be aided by their prayers". - from Against Faustus the Manichean, by Saint Augustine
"There is an ecclesiastical discipline, as the faithful know, when the names of the martyrs are read aloud in that place at the altar of God, where prayer is not offered for them. Prayer, however, is offered for the dead who are remembered. For it is wrong to pray for a martyr, to whose prayers we ought ourselves be commended."
Monday, August 27, 2012
Can't Judge a Religion By Those Who Don't Practice It
I believe in the Catholic Church and will never leave her (again) because I know this is the Church Christ started and promised the gates of hell would never prevail over. His promise is not made null and void by the bad Catholics through the centuries who didn't practice the faith.
Every religion is made up of those who don't live up to its standards. Ours just makes the front page more often.
See Mark Shea's excellent article on why he remains in the "Corrupt Church."
Feast of Saint Monica
Upon Saint Monica's deathbed, she asked Saint Augustine to pray for her when he said mass.
“Bury my body wherever you will; let not care of it cause you any concern. One thing only I ask you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be.”
Saint Monica, pray for all loved ones who have strayed from the path of Truth
PS: "When in Rome , do as the Romans do." This quote came as a result of Saint Monica's interaction with Saint Ambrose :
"When Monica moved from North Africa to Milan, she found religious practices new to her and also that some of her former customs, such as a Saturday fast, were not common there. She asked St. Ambrose which customs she should follow. His classic reply was: “When I am here, I do not fast on Saturday, but I fast when I am in Rome; do the same and always follow the custom and discipline of the Church as it is observed in the particular locality in which you find yourself.” (cf American Catholic)
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Multi-Track Recording With iPad
The technology that is out there for digital recording is amazing to me. I found an app for $9.99 called MultitrackDAW (digital audio work station) that allows you to record up to 8 tracks of sound on sound on your iPhone and/or iPad. You can even record more than one track a time if you have the appropriate interface. You can upgrade for a total of 24 trks if you want for another $7.99.
The first recording I did was with an acoustic Martin 00015S recorded just with the native iPad mic. I laid down a rhythm track then two additional lead tracks. I then used an Apogee Jam A/D converter adapter jack to plug the bass direct into the iPad and a Vericorder connector cord to record the harmonica. The Vericord is a high quality adapter that allows you to connect a three pin XLR mic to your ipad via the 1/8th inch input of the iphone or ipad and allows for simultaneous monitoring from a 1/8th inch jack that you plug your phones into to listen as you record. The rhythm track is me tapping on the face of the guitar. You can hear the early autumn nighttime crickets in the background.
Even if you don't have the fancy adapter interfaces (Vericorder cord or Apogee Jam, etc) you can still make excellent quality recordings through the on board ipad mic. Just think, this app gives you way more capability than the Beatles had when they did Sgt. Pepper (kinda embarrassing that we have all this technology and still can't match the quality and creativity of Sir George Martin and the Fab Four using only a four track tape!)
Special Thanks to Jeff Geerling who has done the best product reviews on the net regarding input devices/ adapters for mobile recording with iphone/pad technology. He also runs the website for the Archdiocese of Saint Louis and is a "techno-evangelist" for the Catholic faith!
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
One of My Favorite Images
Monday, August 20, 2012
Life is Short and Distracting- We Need Icons!
One of the many joys of re-discovering the Catholic faith so late in my life (I was 45) was to gain an appreciation for icons, images, statues etc. My wife and I often take weekend trips to shrines to soak up this aspect of our faith that was so sorely missed (though unbeknownst to us). Fortunate for us, Pennsylvania is a pretty Catholic state so there is never a shortage of beautiful old Churches and shrines.
Our house now has many images of the Lord, the saints and the Blessed Mother (she is blessed because scripture tells us all generations will call her blessed.) I have a wonderful concrete statue of Mary illuminated by a solar light in my backyard. It's a great treat to step out onto my backyard at night and see the statue and it reminds to pray the Hail Mary (most of the prayer comes from scripture) All these images of the saints and the Holy Family are a constant reminder of who watches over us and who we have surrendered our lives to. At the front door and garage door we have little holy water fonts to bless our selves with the sign of the cross. A great way to start and end the day, remembering who died for us and that we have died to ourselves in the waters of baptism.
In 8 years of being Catholic, I have not been tempted to worship these images.... ever. I have never thought that an inanimate object had any magical power or thought the spirit of the saint inhabited the statue or icon. Instead I have gained an appreciation for the role the saints play in interceding for me, and I ask their intercession when I look at their image. Life is short and full of distractions to our faith. Images and icons are God's gift to man to help refocus our attention on Him. Nothing wrong with that.
Catholic Answers has a great article on Images here.
Catholic Doctors in the Age of Obamacare
As a Catholic doctor who is 53 years old practicing geriatrics, I agree that Obamacare has the potential to make it exceedingly more difficult to practice medicine according to the dictates of our conscience. It will also be more difficult to be profitable and stay in business given the cuts in medicare which have already occurred over the past 10 years.
As a geriatrician, 99 percent of my income is derived from medicare payments. Over the past ten years, even before the threat of Obamacare, yearly medicare reductions now have us getting re-imbursed for only 50% of what we bill for. Malpractice rates continue to rise. In one year in my state, they doubled. Also, I am not compensated for the hours on the phone with family and loved ones that are an essential aspect of geriatric care. Fortunately, at this point, I am an “employee physician” and the hospital system that employs me is taking these cuts “on the chin.” However, it’s only a matter of time when my employer realizes they can’t maintain the luxury of paying geriatricians who don’t generate anything close to their salary because of the massive reductions in medicare payments. This is in spite of the fact that geriatricians are a most-needed specialty given the retirement of the baby-boomers and the care they will require.
The other aspect of this “perfect storm” for Catholic physicians is the pressure to cut costs at the end of life and to “end the suffering.” We are practicing in an era when the concept of redemptive suffering has no meaning to most patients and many families think the purpose of hospice and palliative care is to provide a quick and painless end to their loved one’s suffering. As a medical director in a nursing home, I am regularly asked to stop tube feeds by families and push the morphine to lethal doses. Thankfully, in my state, it is still illegal for doctors to kill people and my nursing home, though not Catholic, agrees with the basic Catholic concepts of appropriate end-of-life care and my administration rarely questions my decisions to continue or initiate artificial nutrition and hydration. However, with the advent of Obamacare, institutions will eventually be pressured for financial reasons to withdraw and limit care and we will definitely see more euthanasia being performed than it is even now, in covert and subtle ways. The public’s acceptance of physician assisted suicide and euthanasia will increase as the costs of a fully implemented Obamacare drain the already insolvent coffers of medicare.
As Catholic physicians, we are certainly in a difficult time, but I am thankful to have the wonderful guidance of the magisterium to assist me to make the right decisions in caring for my patients. If I have to quit practicing because I am told to kill my patients, that’s ok. Better to go to heaven without a pension than hell with money in the bank.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Sacred Images Bring Us Closer to God
Saturday, August 18, 2012
What Do Catholics Believe? Find Out For Free!
One of the biggest difficulties in sharing the Catholic faith is to get an individual beyond their pre-conceived ideas of what the Church is and what it teaches. Though most Protestants of good will have moved beyond the vile caricatures of the faith portrayed by Jack Chick in his infamous tract series, there is still an incredible amount of mis-information about the faith being taught and believed by intelligent and well-meaning Protestant Christians.
On a regular basis, I deal with those who attempt to criticize the Church based on data that is false, misleading or distorted beyond reality. The hardest part of the New Evangelization is to get the person beyond the "Straw Man" that exists in their mind when they hear the word "Catholic."
As a little experiment right now, write down the first three things you think of when you read this;
"CATHOLIC CHURCH." The pre-conceived notions you have will be reflected in the answers.
If your answers are: 1) Whore of Babylon 2) Pedophile Priests 3)Inquisition, you have some homework to do. Well, now you can do that homework through a course offered online for free!
If you choose to dialog with Catholics, this is your opportunity to learn what it is Catholics believe from Catholics, not those biased against the Church. I always say you shouldn't learn Greek from a Calculus professor and you shouldn't learn about the Catholic faith from dubious sources. See my post about this here.
Thank God for the internet and social media and those who desire to share the fullness of faith found in the Catholic Church. The John Paul 2 Institute has put together a free video series called the Pillars of Catholicism. Please share this with those who may be interested in learning more about their faith or wish to learn the truth behind Catholicism from a reliable source.
"Pillars of Catholicism is a crash course in the fundamentals of the Catholic Faith. It consists of 13 episodes, each a half-hour long. A new episode will be unlocked each week and will be permanently accessible. The course and all materials it provides are free."
Check it out here
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Former Thomas Road Evangelical Now Catholic!
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Joan of Arc of the Gospel of Life- Nellie Gray RIP
Nellie Gray (1924-2012) Catholic convert, lawyer and WW2 veteran was the founder and leader of the Annual National Right to Life March on Washington DC. She was the voice and inspiration for the pro-life movement and actually inspired Fr. Frank Pavone's vocation. Cardinal Sean O'Malley referred to her as the "Joan of Arc" of the Gospel of Life. We had seen her at several Marches for Life and I was always impressed that an elderly and physically diminutive woman could stand all day in front of a massive crowd on the Mall in Washington, often in the worst weather. Nellie, pray for us that we will continue to stand up for life and press on until Roe v Wade is overturned in this country.
Feast of the Assumption of Mary
Today the Universal Church celebrates the bodily assumption of the Lord's mother (Mother of God) into heaven. Defined as official dogma in 1950, the concept of Mary's assumption has been written about since the 4th century. Basically, the Church teaches that Mary, at the moment of her physical death was taken body and soul to be with God in heaven. Because Mary was sinless, her body was spared corruption and her sinless flesh was spared the degradation that all flesh will see.
Did the Church "create" this doctrine to elevate Mary and purposefully take glory from Jesus?
NO, NOT AT ALL. Mary's assumption gives us all hope that we too on that final day will be raised by the power of His resurrection to be with Christ. Mary was "one of us" yet without sin, and the celebration of the Assumption reminds us that we too, like Mary will someday join the Lord in heaven.
At the Mass tonight, there was no Mary worship, just thanks given to God for his blessed Mother and the way in which she points us to her Son.
To learn more about the assumption, Scott Richert has a nice article here.
"As Calvin and other Protestant polemicists pointed out, medieval Catholic Europe did not lack for spurious relics. Multiple heads of John the Baptist, even foreskins of Christ, circulated on the relic market, to the amusement of some and disgust of others. But in the whole history of Christendom, no one ever came forth with a putative first class relic of the Blessed Virgin. The reason was plain." David Anders, PhD (Calvinist to Catholic)
"By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory" (Pipe Pius XII in MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS)
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Sacramental Life: Running On Hi-Test
this blog by James Mathias (H/t Tito, for the link). He has expressed in this one post what I and many other reverts and converts have been saying for years now, upon an adult return to the faith- the discovery of unspeakable joy. I always say it's like being "born-again" again. The nagging doubts, the frustrations, the uncomfortable experiences, the confusion, seem to have faded away with returning to the faith. Sure we still "see through a glass darkly", but you know what? It doesn't appear as dark as it use to!
It's almost like we are an automobile designed to operate most efficiently on a certain type of fuel. We lose the operating manual and start to operate the machine by the seat of our pants. We put-put along on fuel that is not designed by the manufacturer for optimum performance. It's cheaper and more convenient to just get whatever gas seems good at the time. Yes, the car starts on most days and gets from point A to B, but it takes a while longer, requires frequent servicing and sometimes breakdowns along the way. When we operate on the premium fuel designed specifically by the manufacturer the performance is enhanced and the car runs like a finely-tuned machine. The fuel is the sacramental life we were designed to "run on", in particular, the Eucharist and confession. Often when one returns to the Catholic Church, or finds it for the first time, there is a Eureka moment and we suddenly find ourselves with more grace for the journey than we ever had before. That being said, your mileage may vary based on your docility and openness to this amazing grace poured out in the sacraments.
Is Transubstantiation Really Hocus Pocus?
My good friend since our college New Testament Greek class together in 1976, Father Bernard Ezaki is the guest blogpost writer today. He wrote this one on my favorite topic. Every day of my life, I contemplate transubstantiation, even if just for a moment during daily Mass and this blog usually returns to discussion about the Eucharist. What a concept! Jesus abiding with us under the appearances of bread and wine, by His power through the hands of a priest. God allows us to eat His body and drink His blood as He commanded. It is either totally insane, or totally true. Take it away Fr. Ezaki!
TRANSUBSTANTIATION- In the theology of the Eucharist, the conversion of the whole substance of the bread and wine into the whole substance of the Body and Blood of Christ, only the accidents (i.e. the appearances of the bread and wine) remaining. --Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
Ever since the thirteenth century, much ink has been spilled over the subject of transubstantiation. This doctrine, defined by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, sets forth the official Catholic teaching on the Eucharist. Faithful Catholics believe that when the priest pronounces the words of consecration at Mass (viz. “For this is my Body.” “For this is the chalice of my Blood.”), the bread and wine of the altar are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, even though the sense perceptions (accidents) of the bread and wine remain unchanged. Admittedly, at first sight, this is a strange teaching. I repeatedly tell Jesus that, if I had to invent a religion, I could not come up with a doctrine more puzzling than transubstantiation. We are dealing with deep mystery here. The best analogy I can use for it is this: Suppose you engage the services of a well-known magician to come to your child’s birthday party and perform the famous tablecloth trick. You have a mahogany table covered with a linen tablecloth. On the table are various articles of china, linen, silver, and crystal. You hire the magician, at a very high cost incidentally, to grab two corners of the tablecloth and whisk the cloth off the table without disturbing a single item on it. The magician approaches the table, but what does he do? He simply says, “Hocus-pocus,” and walks away. “Wait a minute!” you protest. “I hired you to do the famous tablecloth trick, and you’ve done absolutely nothing.” “I’ve done nothing?” the magician asks. “Au contraire, mon ami!” He then proceeds to pick up one corner of the tablecloth, and you discover that the mahogany table has been transformed into solid gold! That is the best explanation I can give you of transubstantiation. The outward appearances remain exactly the same. The underlying substance has undergone a radical transformation for the better. The word “transubstantiation” means a change in substance. The bread and wine of the altar are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ, even though the sense perceptions (the accidents) remain exactly the same. Now this teaching of transubstantiation is so strange that Protestants during the English Reformation understandably accused the Catholic Church of advocating magic. As a matter of fact, as you may know, our word “hocus-pocus” was originally a slur on the Latin Hoc est enim corpus meum, i.e. “For this is my Body,” the very same words the priest says during the consecration of the Mass. Although transubstantiation appears to be a bizarre teaching, I believe it. Why? First, the doctrine of transubstantiation is a literal interpretation of Jesus’ words at the Last Supper. Our Lord said, “This is my Body. This is the cup of my Blood.” Second, the Church has always taught that the Eucharist is the Flesh and Blood of Christ. Yet there is also a third, and perhaps more personal reason for my belief. Transubstantiation is a model of what Jesus accomplishes in us. When Christ’s grace comes to us, we are inwardly transformed, although our outward appearances remain the same. Grace does not mean that we merely symbolize Christ. It doesn’t even mean that our sinful nature coexists with Christ. Grace means transformation (however gradual) from the inside out. We may look and feel the same on the outside, but, as St. Paul says (2 Corinthians 5:17), grace makes us a new creation. Do you see? The Church’s doctrine of transubstantiation is really a model of what takes place in a human being when he or she experiences true conversion—inner transformation beneath an unchanged exterior! One priest of our diocese, Father William Seifert, says: “If Jesus is willing to transform cheap bread and wine into His most precious Body and Blood, what will He not do for our hearts?” Transubstantiation, then, is a profound mystery that even our most clever analogies barely begin to explain. Yet it is also a model of Jesus’ transforming love. I BELIEVE!
Friday, August 10, 2012
"Never Too Late to Cross the Tiber"
Episcopal to Catholic Converts
Tuesday, August 07, 2012
#1) The organization is committed to funding legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. A very bad idea. I am not a homophobe, I just agree with the timeless definition of marriage dictated by natural law and my religion (Catholic Christianity) You can go here to register your displeasure at Starbucks for making a immoral stand one of the platforms of their business plan.
#2) They support Planned Parenthood which is one of the largest abortion providers in the world.
#3) Final Reason, their coffee tastes like crap. There, I said it. Starbucks coffee has never ever appealed to me. It is, quite frankly, burnt tasting, but I think I have been afraid to say anything because it was, after all, "Starbucks." Perhaps their sugary, fat-laden mocha fraps and machiattos are tasty to some, but I never tried them because I was too embarrassed to say the silly names when ordering. I also found it very hard to spend 6 dollars or more for a single beverage.
Years later I got into roasting my own green beans and drinking fresh coffee and it turns out the trick to Starbucks is that they simply burn their coffee! Yep, even crappy quality cheap green beans will taste expensive if you just burn them so that the innate unpleasant tastes are masked by the over cooked carmelized sugars in the super-dark roasted beans.
Am I the only person in the world who thinks Starbucks coffee is crappy tasting? I don't think so. Maybe people frequent Starbucks because it's hip and trendy and they like the bohemian vibe. Like the crowds in the story of the Emperor's New Clothes who stare at the ugly, fat, naked emperor in all his anatomical glory and say "fine suit he's wearing today," the Starbux crowd swish the expensive burnt watery coffee, heavily diluted with sugar, cream and cocoa powder around on their undiscriminating palates and say to each other: "hmmm, this is great" while the bubble over their head is screaming; "why in the world did I just spend a small fortune on this burnt swill?"
Yeah, just wake up, smell the coffee at Starbucks then dump it in the gutter and head on over to get a good Cup o' Joe at Dunkin's for half the price and half the time, minus the boho vibe and embarrassing names. Take the money you save and donate it to a good cause, or buy a homeless person a chicken sandwich.
BTW, if it wasn't for a pope, we wouldn't even have coffee!
Euthanasia: History Repeats Itself...Again
It took only 72 years for history to repeat itself. During the Nazi reign of terror, the Nazi's dispatched "gas vans" to kill civilians who could not get into their "work camps." How convenient.
Now, the Dutch have gone back in history and borrowed on Hitler's ideas to rid society of the frail, disabled, elderly and undesirable. H/t Wesley on Secondhand Smoke
To concur with the intention of another person to commit suicide and to help in carrying it out through so-called 'assisted suicide' means to cooperate in, and at times to be the actual perpetrator of, an injustice which can never be excused, even if it is requested...
Laws which legitimize the direct killing of innocent human beings through abortion or euthanasia are in complete opposition to the inviolable right to life proper to every individual...
Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize."
Blessed JP 2 (Evangelium Vitae)
addendum: Here is a blog post from a Catholic who is experiencing this firsthand in the Netherlands
Monday, August 06, 2012
Did Jesus Practice Necromancy?
On the Feast of the Transfiguration, the answer is resoundingly NO! But Jesus indeed was having an adult conversation with two dead guys, Moses and Elijah, as witnessed by three of the apostles and recorded in three gospels. The Church has celebrated this momentous occasion since the 3rd or 4th century. The transfiguration not only announced who Jesus was by the Father's own voice, but set the stage for the next part of the plan of salvation. With Elijah and Moses, he spoke of the work that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Don't you wish you were a fly in the wall in that conversation?
I find it interesting that Moses and Elijah were fully alive and conversant and obviously "in the know" regarding Jesus and his work on earth. I think it is very unlikely that they were the only two people ever in heaven to be made aware of events on earth while the rest of those in heaven maintained a blissful naivete regarding events on earth. So Peter, James and John saw "dead" people who were fully alive and able to hear and be involved in God's plans on earth.
What I find surprising is that Peter, usually being rather quick to speak, didn't chide Jesus for going against the scriptural prohibition on consulting with dead spirits (necromancy). (Deuteronomy 18:10-12; 1 Samuel 28:3-20; 2 Chronicles 10:13, 14; Isaiah 8:19-22) Certainly those verses don't apply here. Neither do they apply when we pray (ask) to people in heaven, who are alive and "in the know" to intercede for us.
Sunday, August 05, 2012
How To Experience Jesus in a Personal Way in the Mass
Saturday, August 04, 2012
Pope's Trilogy is Finished
Friday, August 03, 2012
Former Bible Church Missionary David Currie
Thursday, August 02, 2012
Olympic Swimmer is Now Considering Swimming The Tiber
Update 8/3/12: Missy has just broken the world record for the 200 yard backstroke! You Go Girl!