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.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
I Fought The Church and the Church Won
The Eucharist Through the Ages
So Why do Catholics believe in the Eucharist as the true flesh and blood of our Lord? Because we Catholics believe Jesus and take him at his word! We also see his teachings supported and promoted for 2000 years in a unchanging fashion first from the apostles and then to those in succession to the apostles.
"Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” (JESUS)
"Surely, it is not credible, nor possible, since they often speak, and repeat their sentiments, that they should never (if they thought so) not so much as once, say, or let slip these words: It is bread only; or the body of Christ is not there, especially it being of great importance, that men should not be deceived. Certainly, in so many Fathers, and in so many writings, the negative might at least be found in one of them, had they thought the body and blood of Christ were not really present: but they are all of them unanimous.”
Regarding the Eucharist he also said: "For it is dangerous and dreadful to hear or believe anything against the unanimous testimony, faith, and doctrine of the entire holy Christian Church, as it has been held unanimously in all the world up to this year 1500." (Luther)
Monday, November 26, 2012
Former Model Reverts to the Catholic Faith
Catholicism and Caffeine
I just discovered some on-fire Catholics combining their love for the Lord and caffeine in a wonderful new company called His Coffee. As some may know, who have been following this blog for awhile, the topic of coffee comes up fairly regularly (Check out these posts) and I have tried, unsuccessfully so far, to roast and sell Haitian coffee to support our Haiti Medical Mission. Admittedly, some things got in the way in the process (like an incredibly demanding day job) But I'm not complaining Lord, thankful for the work, but I digress.
The folks at His Coffee take a portion of the proceeds and use it to support relief work for the poor, pro- life work and other charitable endeavors. Their other mission is to encourage folks to take 15-20 minutes a day, the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee and spend that time with the Lord! Is that a cool concept?
"Life has a habit of just running away (or over us!) before we know it. Minutes turn into hours, hours become days and as quick as a blink, months have passed, while that regular prayer time we promised ourselves has become all too rare. We know it would be a very good thing,to carve out a little time, especially in the morning, to read some scripture or a meditation about our spiritual journey.
But it seems like all we have time for is the usual morning rush. Out the door and out of time, we grab our very necessary cup of coffee … and then … and then … wait a minute!
That’s it! If I prayed, read scripture and meditated while I enjoyed my morning cup of coffee, I would rarely ever miss a day of praying, because, quite honestly, I almost never start a day without coffee. It takes about 10 minutes to drink a cup of coffee (20 minutes on a good day!), and what I usually read or look at is pretty useless anyway.
Prayer: GRANT me grace, O merciful God, to desire ardently all that is pleasing to Thee, to examine it prudently, to acknowledge it truthfully, and to accomplish it perfectly, for the praise and glory of Thy name. Amen. (from His Coffee Website)
So check them out on the link above, and while you are at it thank the Lord for the papacy because without it, we would be drinking tea, Bleh!
Advent: God is Doing a New Thing
In my former life as an evangelical/charismatic Christian, we frequently heard this remark; "God is doing a new thing and man you should be a part of it!" It was often said by itinerant preachers, retreat speakers and our own local prophets in our congregation.
Well, I really do believe God can still do a new thing in our lives anytime He wants to but there are certain seasons that the Church gives us to allow God to do just that. The Church tells us that the advent season is the time for new beginnings. 2000 years ago God sent His son to the world to take flesh being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary and redeem mankind from sin and slavery. That was a "new thing" then and the world has never been the same since. Advent marks the end of the Church year and begins a time to prepare for Christ's coming in three specific ways: (from the Catholic Encyclopedia)
- to prepare themselves ourselves to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord's coming into the world as the incarnate God of love,
- thus to make our souls fitting abodes for the Redeemer coming in Holy Communion and through grace,
- and thereby to make ourselves ready for His final coming as judge, at death and at the end of the world.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
A Daughter's Gift
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
The First True Thanksgiving in America Was a Mass!
A lot of us were mislead by our text books in grammar school. The first Thanksgiving actually took place in Florida in 1565. Michael Gannon, professor of history at the University of Florida, discovered that St. Augustine, the US’s oldest city, was the site of the first Thanksgiving. This first Thanksgiving took place 55 years before the Pilgrims landed, when the Spanish founder of St. Augustine, Pedro Menindez de Avilis, and 800 Spanish settlers shared in a Mass of Thanksgiving. After the celebration of the mass, Menindez and his Spanish contingent of explorers had a meal together with the Seloy Indians who were there at the landing site. So the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by Catholics, not Protestants, and took place almost half a century before the events of Plymouth.
We plan on starting our Thanksgiving celebration with participating in the sacrifice of the Mass in the morning at Saint Joseph's, receiving the Eucharist which is the ultimate way to say thanks to God, for the word eucharist means "Thanksgiving."
Thanksgiving Is A Catholic Holiday!
Here's a link to an article describing the real events of the second Thanksgiving. We often think of Thanksgiving as a pilgrim/puritan holiday but it looks like Squanto Crossed the Tiber before the Puritans could get to him! Read here to learn about the first real Thanksgiving in the New World which occurred 50 some years before the Puritans came to Plymouth Rock.
Also, the Greek word Eucharist means Thanksgiving, referring to when Jesus took the bread in his hands and gave thanks and broke the bread and said "This is my body."
Monday, November 19, 2012
Larry Norman's Influence on a Conversion to Catholicism
Dale Ahlquist was a Jesus loving , bible-believing Christian. Now he is a Jesus-loving-Bible and Catechism reading Christian in the Catholic Church and the President of the American Chesterton Society. Read his testimony here and learn how seminal Christian Rocker Larry Norman unknowingly had a hand in this convert's story. If you never heard of Chesterton, then it's time to get a book on Amazon and start learning about this amazing 20th century convert.
From the article:
"There is a major hole in the logic of those Christians who protest against the Catholic Church: you cannot use the authority of Scripture to attack the authority of the Church when it was the authority of the Church that recognized the Scripture’s authority. The hierarchy, the sacraments, the major doctrines of the Catholic Church were all well in place — centuries in place — before the biblical canon was in place and, of course, it was the Catholic Church that authorized the biblical canon. Chesterton says he can understand someone looking at a Catholic procession, at the candles and the incense and the priests and the robes and the cross and the scrolls, and saying “It’s all bosh.” But what he cannot understand is anyone saying, “It’s all bosh — except for the scrolls. We’re going to keep the scrolls. In fact, we’re even going to use the scrolls against the rest.”
Friday, November 16, 2012
The Holy Bible: More Precious than Diamonds
Today my post is by my good friend from college. He is a Catholic priest in the diocese of Allentown, Fr. Bernard J. Ezaki.
Some Christians claim to base their faith on Scripture alone. Their battle cry is Sola Scriptura. Yet how do they know what constitutes Scripture? Do they dare to presume that, had they never before seen a Bible, they could, of their own authority, distinguish the twenty-seven books of the New Testament from among the countless pious and sometimes even heretical Christian writings of the first and second centuries? Of course not! It took the Church herself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, about 350 years to do precisely that. The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Section #8) reminds us that it is “through tradition” that “the Church’s full canon of the sacred books is known.” Thus anyone who claims to believe in the authority of the Bible must necessarily accept the authority of the Church. How else could he distinguish a truly inspired book from one that is not? He has no choice but to accept the Church’s informed judgment and authority. In other words, one cannot believe in the authority of the Bible without believing in the authority of the Church. Perhaps a story will help to make this clear. Once upon a time, a young man entered a jewelry shop, intent on purchasing a diamond ring for his would-be fiancé. He lost no time in making his purpose known to the jeweler behind the counter. The latter then produced a small felt-lined tray containing two apparently identical rings. “One of these rings boasts a real diamond,” asserted the jeweler. “The other, a good imitation, a cubic zirconia a clear crystalline oxide. Can you tell which is which? Just at this moment, however, a stranger who happened to be in the shop walked over to the counter and declared: “Gentlemen, I am not ashamed to tell you that I have a discerning eye in these matters. The genuine diamond, I can say with all confidence, is in the ring on the left.” “Well, my friend, you are wrong!” laughed the jeweler. “I’ve been dealing in precious stones for more than forty years, and I know for a fact that the real diamond is the one on the right.” The young man naturally put his trust in the reputable jeweler rather than in the stranger. Without a second’s hesitation, he purchased the ring on the right. He wanted his sweetheart to have a genuine diamond. A jeweler’s expertise and authority cannot transform a piece of glass into a diamond. Yet a jeweler can distinguish the genuine from the false.
Similarly, the Church’s tradition and authority cannot impart the quality of inspiration to a given text. In other words, the books of the Bible are not inspired because the Church says they are. They are inspired because their authors wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As the Council of Trent declared in 1546, the Church venerates all the books of the Old and New Testaments, “for God alone is the author of both.” Yet it is the Church alone which has the authority to recognize the canonical books as inspired. Her tradition allows her to know which ancient books are inspired and which are not. Just as a diamond buyer must rely on the authority of a reputable jeweler to be sure he is purchasing the genuine article, so too must Christians rely on the authority of the Church to be sure that their Bibles contain only those writings which are truly inspired. Sola Scriptura is utterly meaningless, because the authority of the Bible and the authority of the Church are inseparable.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Atheist to Catholic Reality Show!
Check it out :
A Convert's Walk Through The Mass
Renee Lin, former Thomas Road evangelical, now Catholic, has put together a series of blog posts highlighting the Catholic Mass. She's writing in a way to "unpack it" for our Protestant brethren who hopefully will see the mass from the perspective of one who was once in their same position. She addresses all the fears and misunderstandings that Protestants have of the Catholic mass and gives us Catholics an inspiring fresh look at the Divine Liturgy that brings us the source and summit of our faith:
Jesus in the Eucharist, the mystery, power and grace obtained by the faithful for almost 2000 years.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
"Propinquity" and Pat Roberson's DIY Morality
As I have said before regarding Pat's many statements, he can't help it. It is in his spiritual DNA to make up the rules as he goes along. A king of England once started his own religion (Anglican Church) in order to obtain a divorce. What is the underlying issue here? Authority. There is no one to tell them it is wrong. Each individual is making the rules as they go based on their personal interpretation of scripture and sadly, there is no earthly authority to tell them otherwise.
At some point, even the most jaded anti-Catholic has to see that there is an advantage to having a Church that can make pronouncements with the authority of the apostles. Wouldn't it be great if there was a bishop over Pat who could give him a "theological timeout." Unfortunately, that will never occur in his religion because he is his own authority (the papacy of self). I believe this self-authority comes from from his belief that God show's him personally what is moral and correct based on his interpretation of the scripture and how he feels the Holy Spirit is speaking to him. There is no one in Pat's life that can pull him aside and make him behave. (Maybe his wife?) Who can tell him his comments are out of line? This is DIY morality, the sad result of casting out the authority of the Church in favor of an individual's self-proclaimed authority.
Catholic priests and bishops have said and done incredibly stupid and evil things, but they didn't change the rules as they went along to justify them. When Poor Father Groeschel recently suggested that some priests were seduced by their victims, he apologized profusely and disappeared off the face of the earth. Why, because he was subject to authority and there is no way his bishop would let him continue. If he continued on air to say stuff like that, the bishop would have collared him.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
The Converts You Never Knew Existed!
Let's hope and pray that as a result of the New Evangelization and effective use of social media, there won't be a post like this 50 years from now uncovering conversions of note that were never noted.
Conversion stories are powerful and are a way of non-threateningly allow others to dip their toe into the Tiber to see "how it feels" from someone else's perspective, which is often similar to their own background story.
H/t to George over at the Convert Journal.
Monday, November 12, 2012
Interview With Former PCA Pastor Jason Stellman
The Called to Communion blog is hosting a podcast of an interview of Jason Stellman by Bryan Cross. In this over one hour long interview, Jason goes into great detail explaining his journey to Rome and how sola fide and sola scriptura were no longer tenable paradigms. It is evident that "his journey" (he hates that term but will use it because "it's what Catholics say and he's a team player") took a long period of time with a very extensive study, prayer and counsel. It was interesting that despite going to great lengths to meet with reformed theologians, no one could give him a good enough reason to abandon his quest for the truth he found in Catholicism. He relates that many wish to tell you how false Catholicism is but few are able to tell you how true Protestantism is. He spent several hours with James White, well-known Calvinist apologist, but came away unmoved in his determination to follow truth. It's a long interview but worth every minute. This will become a classic in the history of Catholic apologetics. God bless Jason and his family and please keep them in your prayers as he seeks to find a way to feed his family after forsaking all, picking up his cross and following Christ into the Church He started.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Friday, November 09, 2012
Feast of Saint John Lateran, Our Home Away From Home
Thus this building is physical evidence of the presence of the Catholic faith as far back as the fourth century! Before this time, Christianity was outlawed and the Church was persecuted and there are only a few archaeological physical evidences of Christian worship from before that time.
A long time fan of Crossed the Tiber, Rodrigo and his family sent me video and pics from Saint John the Lateran including the first 10 minutes of Mass. Check them out and thank the Lord for your Church today! Thanks Rodrigo!
To learn more about this beautiful basilica go here
These are the actual steps Christ walked up to the praetorium before his passion, brought from Jerusalem to Rome by St. Helena, Constantine's mother.
Thursday, November 08, 2012
Why Didn't Jesus Write?
Monday, November 05, 2012
The Church Will Survive the 2012 Election
But if Governor Romney wins (and I pray he does), will he save the day for the Christians who desire to follow their consciences? Will the religious freedoms promised by our constitution be respected and upheld? Will there be a higher likelihood that the unborn at the beginning of life and the frail elderly at the end of theirs will be protected? We can only hope.
But at the end of this day, regardless of the outcome, kingdoms have risen and fallen and elections have come and gone. But the faith goes on. The Church remains after 2000 years and the faith continues to be passed on and change the lives of those who are open to His calling. The Church will survive this election. It always has, it always will.
Sunday, November 04, 2012
Free Download of Adoro Te Devote
Pearls From the Catechism
I am reading the Catechism in a year through the Flocknote system of Matt Warner and Jeff Pinyan. Basically, they have divided the Catechism into small bite sized portions that get e-mailed to you each day. Totally free, and not too late to sign up here! In this way, you can increase your faith and understanding, one bite at a time, and at the same time fulfill the desire of Pope Benedict to increase our faith in this newly proclaimed Year of Faith. Saint Augustine told us: "I believe to better understand and understand to better believe."
Scripture tells us "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." The catechism is a part of the Word of God made up of Holy Scripture and magisterial teaching. As Catholics, we believe that the Word of God is not just the Scripture alone for we are not "People of the Book," but "People of the Word of God." The Lord has chosen to pour out his divine revelation for us in Scripture and in His Church. (To be sure, the Catechism is packed with scripture throughout, more than enough to quell the suspicions of our "bible-alone" friends)
"It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls." (cf the catechism 62)
Here's just one little pearl I read this morning:
Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation. "Since "without faith it is impossible to please [God]" and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life 'But he who endures to the end.'"
Friday, November 02, 2012
All Soul's Day. Pray For the Church Suffering
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)