Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

My Photo
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.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Rich Mullins Died 20 years Ago Today

Contemporary Christian music lost one of its greatest writers and musicians twenty years ago. Rich was loved by the evangelical community despite the fact he was quietly making plans to become Catholic.
    We contacted his priest friend to finally clarify whether it was true regarding Rich's pending conversion. This is what Father Matt wrote to us:

Rich, pray for us.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Why Doesn't the Eucharist Change Everyone's Life?

About 10 years ago, I was sharing with a former evangelical church member the life-changing properties I had discovered in the Eucharist. I had just come into the Church and was so excited to experience the grace God has for us in this Blessed Sacrament. He then asked me, "If the Eucharist is so life-changing as you say, why then are there many Catholics who go up for Communion once a week not changed?"

I didn't really know how to answer him at the time but have thought about that question many times over the past few years. Particularly in my own life. How could I have been a young long-haired Catholic kid playing guitar in the folk Mass on Sunday receiving the Eucharist, but smoking pot and breaking the law the night before? Why didn't the grace in the Eucharist I was receiving change me or wake me up to see the hypocrisy in my life? This scripture from the gospel of Mark recently gave me an inkling of an answer to this question.

"A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak,28 because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." 29Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed her suffering.
30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?"
31 "You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?' "
32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

Many were crowding around Jesus and even touching Him, yet he perceived that it was one particular woman's faith that lead to the release of His grace and her healing. The many other people crowding around him that day may have been just "going through the motions" following the crowd that day. Perhaps the grace received in the Eucharist is similar. When an individual receives Christ's body and blood but is indifferent, perhaps not even believing, they are not cooperating with God's grace, and hence will not receive the grace.
As St Paul said, it is so vitally important to properly discern the body of Christ at the Lord's Table. Christ works through His sacraments to the degree that we are open and docile to His work. The saints through the ages have written volumes on how to prepare one's heart to receive the Eucharist. So it comes down to our willingness to cooperate with grace of God. Many receive the Eucharist with no intention of cooperating with God. They may even be in mortal sin, God forbid, as I once was as a rebellious young adolescent. Perhaps they are just going through the motions, like some of the folks in the crowd that day who were carried along by the momentum of the crowd, but weren't sure who it was they were getting near nor understood what He was offering to them.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Is The Eucharist Really Jesus?

I have blogged about this for years, but here's an excellent summary of the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Catholics have held that when communion is celebrated, we are indeed "partaking in the body and blood of Christ" as St Paul wrote to the Corinthians.
  Here's the article

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Another Protestant Pastor Converts to Catholicism

Check out this link. Another Pentacostal one jumps the Tiber River!

"“When I read the Church Fathers, that’s when the sacraments began to open up to me, and I began to see how central the Eucharist was to the early Church,” he said. He realized that “if the Eucharist was commanded by Christ, I want to receive the Lord.”

Once again, by looking at how the early Church practiced their faith, it is seen that it was Eucharist-centric with the believers gathering to receive the body and blood of Christ, not a symbol as the reformers later claimed.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Bible Answer Man Crosses the Bosporous

Hank Hannegraff , the "Bible Answer Man"  discovered that the Bible alone was not enough and has become an Orthodox Christian. Here's the details:
Hey, it's not Rome but it's getting closer!
His wife had been reading the Church Fathers.  To be deep in history is to realize that Protestantism is a fundamentally flawed and truncated form of  true Christianity. Once an individual discovers the well-kept secret that the early Christians were Eucharist-centered, members of a Church called "the Catholic Church, they cease to continue protesting.

I am hoping that the Orthodox and the Catholic Church one day soon re-unite. The last two popes as well as Pope Francis have been attempting more and more dialogue with the Orthodox with each pontificate.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Encounter with an Evangelical

On Saturday , my wife and I participated in the street protest to defund Planned Parenthood in front of the PP abortuary in Allentown. It was of course, peaceful and prayerful and some of the women entering actually engaged with one of our protesters who also happened to be a sidewalk counselor at local abortion clinics.
   About twenty minutes into it, a woman approached us who asked us if we were "russ and debbie" from the old evangelical church we used to attend. We responded "yes" and she introduced herself and we did remember her and her family attending services there twenty or more years ago. She had moved to another church ( a common migratory pattern among evangelicals) and asked where we were fellowshipping. We told them Saint Joseph the Worker Parish. She asked if we were going there to "minister" to the people there. We said no, we go there because we believe the Catholic Church is true and have come top realize we were essentially given a false bill of goods about Catholicism.
  This led to a good-natured discussion and thankfully I was able to explain the Eucharist, the Early Church worship format (the mass) and dispel misconceptions about praying to saints, etc.  She asked if we believed in Jesus' death on the cross as our only way to heaven to which we positively affirmed. We chatted for about twenty more minutes as I explained what "born again" really meant up until the reformation (water baptism) and explained the concept of the sacraments.  Finally, she said let me ask you a question: " If you died and went to heaven and Jesus asked why should you get in, what would you say?" (This was a common question I used to ask others when I was a young teenage street evangelist in Morristown NJ , circa 1974.)
   Behind the question is the incorrect assumption that Catholics "work their way" into heaven. What I was able to tell her was that only His death on the cross would allow me to enter his kingdom and that he took the place on the cross for me (Yes, even Catholic theology recognizes that penal substitution atonement is part of His redemptive act)  But I explained that we need to cooperate with his grace and continue to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling." Saint Paul didn't believe in "greasy grace" and neither do Catholics. If most evangelicals are honest with themselves, they will recognize that to enter heaven one must DO more than SAY "Lord Lord. "
Even Christ who founded the Catholic Church commented that the key difference between the sheep and the goats is "what you did and didn't do."   He didn't mention the "sinner's prayer," oddly enough.
   So hopefully, we gave her something to think about, but even more positively we were able to labor together to attempt to stand for the unborn, despite our theological differences.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Seventh Anniversary of Haiti 2010 Earthquake

                                 A woman prays during mass in Port-Au-Prince on the 7th anniversary of the earthquake

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck near Port-Au-Prince.
The earthquake hit at 4:53 PM  leveling the capital including most of the governmental buildings and airport.  Because of the poor construction and lack of safety equipment as a result of their grinding poverty, almost 250,000 people lost their lives.
    A similar strength earthquake in a developed country would have caused a fraction of the death and destruction.  The Church I had done medical clinics in for years before was almost completely destroyed and our pastor-friend Rev. Bienne L' Amerique lost his life.  The mission house we stayed at numerous times before was completely leveled and our beloved host and sister in Christ, Se-Tata also died. Her remains are buried in the foundations of the new house that has been built on the site.
The archbishop died in the ruins of the Cathedral in downtown PAP.
    Our team went down a month and a half later and the devastation was still very apparent. The streets contained rubble and most people in the city were living in tarps and flimsy tents provided by USAID.  Sadly, five years after the earthquake I noted many families still living in the wind-torn tarps
in mud puddles outside the rubble of their former concrete hovels.
    It is safe to say that most of the aid promised to the patients never materialized nor made it to the poorest of poor who most needed it. We did note that the capital streets were crowded with new SUV's and trucks purchased by the NGO's who were the beneficiaries of much of the funds that went to Port-Au-Prince.  A few months after the earthquake another disaster followed in the form of cholera brought by UN troops attempting to help the disaster.
   My wife and I still keep a piece of rubble from the earthquake on our window sill to remind us to pray for the people in Haiti .  Seven years later, let's keep our Haitian brothers and sisters in our prayers.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

500 Year Anniversary of the Reformation and Beer

Already the web is being filled with sites proclaiming the goodness of Martin Luther in breaking from the Church and causing one of the largest schisms in the Body of Christ.

He had this to say about his influence: “I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And then, while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends . . . the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing. The Word did it all.”

I would like to correct Martin here and say that it was not the Word which weakened the papacy. It was Luther's novel interpretations of "the word" essentially making it say what he wanted it to  so as  to support his novel doctrines. Remember that pesky scripture from Revelation about adding to or subtracting from the word? Luther did both, removing several books from the canon as well as adding to scripture to make it more in line with his new teachings.  I do wonder how many Wittenberg beers he had quaffed when he wrote this?

"If your Papist annoys you with the word ('alone' - Rom. 3:28), tell him straightway, Dr. Martin Luther will have it so:  Papist and ass are one and the same thing. Whoever will not have my translation, let him give it the go-by: the devil's thanks to him who censures it without my will and knowledge.  Luther will have it so, and he is a doctor above all the doctors in Popedom.", from J. Dollinger, La Reforme et les resultants quelle a produits. (Trans. E. Perrot, Paris, Gaume, 1848-49), Vol III, pg. 138.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Happy Advent!

Dear Folks, Happy Advent!  A new Church year begins and we are given yet another season of grace to draw our hearts closer to His and prepare Him room.

Please accept a free download (mp3) of my acoustic arrangement of "The Little Drummer Boy"

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Unborn are The Winners of the 2016 Presidential Election!

After many many of sad yearly marches for life in DC, fasting, prayers, protests, we have come to the happy point where there is a chance to have pro-life policies enacted and save unborn children and protect the life and dignity of the frail elderly at the end-of-life.
   Colorado approved Physician assisted suicide yesterday, and other states will soon follow. Let's pray that the President -elect will hold fast to his promises to protect life and once again allow freedom of religion which has been so egregiously attacked the past 8 years.God have mercy on the USA if we squander this rare opportunity to enact laws that protect life, and not hasten death.