Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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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, August 31, 2006

The Apocrypha Revisited

Protestants refer to the deutero-canonical books removed by Martin Luther as "apocryphal" which means hidden. This term came about since these books were often segregated and set apart by reformers in a separate part of the Bible at the end, and were "hidden" as it were. This was done to let the reader know that the publisher did not feel they were supposed to be part of the original canon. Yet, the publishers of the original 1611 KJV Bible included these books in their first editions.

Despite the fact that these books were part of the original canon up until the Reformation, they have in the past 600 years acquired a mysterious and questionable status in non-Catholic circles. I was recently asked why Catholics added 7 books to the Bible. The underlying assumption from the inquirer is that we "added" these books to justify our "unscriptural" doctrines and beliefs. My gentle response was to go back and look at the first Bible ever printed 70 years before the reformation, and before the Council of Trent. You will find the Gutenberg Bible contained all the books that Catholics supposedly added after the reformation to combat the reformation doctrines. Therefore, these books were always part of the original canon of Scripture from the fourth century when the Scriptures were first compiled, and it was the first reformer, Dr. Luther, who removed the books. He maintained that the Jews themselves in the first century rejected these books and therefore he was just following their lead. However this same group of Jews ( called the Pharisees, by the way) also rejected Christ and set themselves against the growing early church. The deuterocanonical books were written in Greek and this sect of Jews was attempting to combat the Hellenization of their culture and would not accept these scriptures because they were written in the Greek language.

Another "proof" so to speak of the validity and canonicity of the deuterocanonical books is the fact that the New Testament contains over 300 references to these books. Jesus and the apostolic writers often referred to the deuterocanonical books in their inspired writings. It is difficult for me to imagine why Jesus would reference these books if they were not going to end up in the final canon. Here is a fairly exhaustive list.

Matt. 2:16 - Herod's decree of slaying innocent children was prophesied in Wis. 11:7 - slaying the holy innocents.
Matt. 6:19-20 - Jesus' statement about laying up for yourselves treasure in heaven follows Sirach 29:11 - lay up your treasure.
Matt.. 7:12 - Jesus' golden rule "do unto others" is the converse of Tobit 4:15 - what you hate, do not do to others.
Matt. 7:16,20 - Jesus' statement "you will know them by their fruits" follows Sirach 27:6 - the fruit discloses the cultivation.
Matt. 9:36 - the people were "like sheep without a shepherd" is same as Judith 11:19 - sheep without a shepherd.
Matt. 11:25 - Jesus' description "Lord of heaven and earth" is the same as Tobit 7:18 - Lord of heaven and earth.
Matt. 12:42 - Jesus refers to the wisdom of Solomon which was recorded and made part of the deuterocanonical books.
Matt. 16:18 - Jesus' reference to the "power of death" and "gates of Hades" references Wisdom 16:13.
Matt. 22:25; Mark 12:20; Luke 20:29 - Gospel writers refer to the canonicity of Tobit 3:8 and 7:11 regarding the seven brothers.
Matt. 24:15 - the "desolating sacrilege" Jesus refers to is also taken from 1 Macc. 1:54 and 2 Macc. 8:17.
Matt. 24:16 - let those "flee to the mountains" is taken from 1 Macc. 2:28.
Matt. 27:43 - if He is God's Son, let God deliver him from His adversaries follows Wisdom 2:18.
Mark 4:5,16-17 - Jesus' description of seeds falling on rocky ground and having no root follows Sirach 40:15.
Mark 9:48 - description of hell where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched references Judith 16:17.
Luke 1:42 - Elizabeth's declaration of Mary's blessedness above all women follows Uzziah's declaration in Judith 13:18.
Luke 1:52 - Mary's magnificat addressing the mighty falling from their thrones and replaced by lowly follows Sirach 10:14.
Luke 2:29 - Simeon's declaration that he is ready to die after seeing the Child Jesus follows Tobit 11:9.
Luke 13:29 - the Lord's description of men coming from east and west to rejoice in God follows Baruch 4:37.
Luke 21:24 - Jesus' usage of "fall by the edge of the sword" follows Sirach 28:18.
Luke 24:4 and Acts 1:10 - Luke's description of the two men in dazzling apparel reminds us of 2 Macc. 3:26.
John 1:3 - all things were made through Him, the Word, follows Wisdom 9:1.
John 3:13 - who has ascended into heaven but He who descended from heaven references Baruch 3:29.
John 4:48; Acts 5:12; 15:12; 2 Cor. 12:12 - Jesus', Luke's and Paul's usage of "signs and wonders" follows Wisdom 8:8.
John 5:18 - Jesus claiming that God is His Father follows Wisdom 2:16.
John 6:35-59 - Jesus' Eucharistic discourse is foreshadowed in Sirach 24:21.
John 10:22 - the identification of the feast of the dedication is taken from 1 Macc. 4:59.
John 10:36 Jesus accepts the inspiration of Maccabees as He analogizes the Hanukkah consecration to His own consecration to the Father in 1 Macc. 4:36.
John 15:6 - branches that don't bear fruit and are cut down follows Wis. 4:5 where branches are broken off.
Acts 1:15 - Luke's reference to the 120 may be a reference to 1 Macc. 3:55 - leaders of tens / restoration of the twelve.
Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11; Gal. 2:6 - Peter's and Paul's statement that God shows no partiality references Sirach 35:12.
Acts 17:29 - description of false gods as like gold and silver made by men follows Wisdom 13:10.
Rom 1:18-25 - Paul's teaching on the knowledge of the Creator and the ignorance and sin of idolatry follows Wis. 13:1-10.
Rom. 1:20 - specifically, God's existence being evident in nature follows Wis. 13:1.
Rom. 1:23 - the sin of worshipping mortal man, birds, animals and reptiles follows Wis. 11:15; 12:24-27; 13:10; 14:8.
Rom. 1:24-27 - this idolatry results in all kinds of sexual perversion which follows Wis. 14:12,24-27.
Rom. 4:17 - Abraham is a father of many nations follows Sirach 44:19.
Rom. 5:12 - description of death and sin entering into the world is similar to Wisdom 2:24.
Rom. 9:21 - usage of the potter and the clay, making two kinds of vessels follows Wisdom 15:7.
1 Cor. 2:16 - Paul's question, "who has known the mind of the Lord?" references Wisdom 9:13.
1 Cor. 6:12-13; 10:23-26 - warning that, while all things are good, beware of gluttony, follows Sirach 36:18 and 37:28-30.
1 Cor. 8:5-6 - Paul acknowledging many "gods" but one Lord follows Wis. 13:3.
1 Cor. 10:1 - Paul's description of our fathers being under the cloud passing through the sea refers to Wisdom 19:7.
1 Cor. 10:20 - what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God refers to Baruch 4:7.
1 Cor. 15:29 - if no expectation of resurrection, it would be foolish to be baptized on their behalf follows 2 Macc. 12:43-45.
Eph. 1:17 - Paul's prayer for a "spirit of wisdom" follows the prayer for the spirit of wisdom in Wisdom 7:7.
Eph. 6:14 - Paul describing the breastplate of righteousness is the same as Wis. 5:18. See also Isaiah 59:17 and 1 Thess. 5:8.
Eph. 6:13-17 - in fact, the whole discussion of armor, helmet, breastplate, sword, shield follows Wis. 5:17-20.
1 Tim. 6:15 - Paul's description of God as Sovereign and King of kings is from 2 Macc. 12:15; 13:4.
2 Tim. 4:8 - Paul's description of a crown of righteousness is similar to Wisdom 5:16.
Heb. 4:12 - Paul's description of God's word as a sword is similar to Wisdom 18:15.
Heb. 11:5 - Enoch being taken up is also referenced in Wis 4:10 and Sir 44:16. See also 2 Kings 2:1-13 & Sir 48:9 regarding Elijah.
Heb 11:35 - Paul teaches about the martyrdom of the mother and her sons described in 2 Macc. 7:1-42.
Heb. 12:12 - the description "drooping hands" and "weak knees" comes from Sirach 25:23.
James 1:19 - let every man be quick to hear and slow to respond follows Sirach 5:11.
James 2:23 - it was reckoned to him as righteousness follows 1 Macc. 2:52 - it was reckoned to him as righteousness.
James 3:13 - James' instruction to perform works in meekness follows Sirach 3:17.
James 5:3 - describing silver which rusts and laying up treasure follows Sirach 29:10-11.
James 5:6 - condemning and killing the "righteous man" follows Wisdom 2:10-20.
1 Peter 1:6-7 - Peter teaches about testing faith by purgatorial fire as described in Wisdom 3:5-6 and Sirach 2:5.
1 Peter 1:17 - God judging each one according to his deeds refers to Sirach 16:12 - God judges man according to his deeds.
2 Peter 2:7 - God's rescue of a righteous man (Lot) is also described in Wisdom 10:6.
Rev. 1:4 the seven spirits who are before his throne is taken from Tobit 12:15 – Raphael is one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints before the Holy One.
Rev. 1:18; Matt. 16:18 - power of life over death and gates of Hades follows Wis. 16:13.
Rev. 2:12 - reference to the two-edged sword is similar to the description of God's Word in Wisdom 18:16.
Rev. 5:7 - God is described as seated on His throne, and this is the same description used in Sirach 1:8.
Rev. 8:3-4 - prayers of the saints presented to God by the hand of an angel follows Tobit 12:12,15.
Rev. 8:7 - raining of hail and fire to the earth follows Wisdom 16:22 and Sirach 39:29.
Rev. 9:3 - raining of locusts on the earth follows Wisdom 16:9.
Rev. 11:19 - the vision of the ark of the covenant (Mary) in a cloud of glory was prophesied in 2 Macc. 2:7.
Rev. 17:14 - description of God as King of kings follows 2 Macc. 13:4.
Rev. 19:1 - the cry "Hallelujah" at the coming of the new Jerusalem follows Tobit 13:18.
Rev. 19:11 - the description of the Lord on a white horse in the heavens follows 2 Macc. 3:25; 11:8.
Rev. 19:16 - description of our Lord as King of kings is taken from 2 Macc. 13:4.
Rev. 21:19 - the description of the new Jerusalem with precious stones is prophesied in Tobit 13:17.
Exodus 23:7 - do not slay the innocent and righteous - Dan. 13:53 - do not put to death an innocent and righteous person.
1 Sam. 28:7-20 the intercessory mediation of deceased Samuel for Saul follows Sirach 46:20.
2 Kings 2:1-13 Elijah being taken up into heaven follows Sirach 48:9.
2 Tim. 3:16 - the inspired Scripture that Paul was referring to included the deuterocanonical texts that the Protestants removed. The books Baruch, Tobit, Maccabees, Judith, Sirach, Wisdom and parts of Daniel and Esther were all included in the Septuagint that Jesus and the apostles used.

For further info, check this link:

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Monday, August 28, 2006


NEWS FLASH!! Another Tiber Jumper!

Renowned Christian entertainer and recording artist, Rob Evans AKA "The Donut Man" has come home! Just this past Easter he was received into the Catholic Church! I remember how my kids grew up listening to the Donut Man and when I close my eyes I can still hear "I like the Bible, I like the Bible, cuz I read it and I do it......."
Congrats Mr. Donut Man! We will pray for you and look forward to even greater opportunities for your ministry.

To see the story of Rob's journey home to the Catholic Church see him tell his story on EWTN's Journey Home on September 11th, 2006. Go to EWTN's website:
You can listen live on the web or watch on your local cable TV station if they carry EWTN. programming.
You can go to Rob's Donut Man Website at

Feast of Saint Augustine. A Scoundrel to Saint Story

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the life and work of St. Augustine. (354-430 AD) He was a scoundrel, womanizer and pagan until a dramatic conversion at 33 years of age, largely due to the intercessions of his mom, St. Monica. As an evangelical christian, I recall his story of conversion was often shared as an inspirational lesson to never give up on praying for someone's conversion. Little did I realize then that Augustine was one of the greatest "Fathers" of the Catholic Church and a stalwart defender of the faith against several heresies floating about in his lifetime. His writing and preaching put an end to at least two common heresies of the day, Pelagianism and Donatism and he fought valiantly against the Arian heresy as well. His writings are foundational for the development of Christian doctrine and revered by Protestant as well as Catholic theologians.

His City of God and Confessions are spiritual classics that are available for downloads to Palm Pilots. I have Confessions on my Palm currently but I must confess, I haven't gotten all the way through it yet! Nevertheless, I am thankful for his softened heart to the call of the Holy Spirit and his subsequent contributions to the understanding and defense of Christianity from the ancient times that remain to this day. I too feel similar to St. Augustine regarding my late-in life conversion to Catholicism. I loved and sought out Jesus for most of my life but lost his Church early in my life. So "too late" have I loved your Church, Lord. But God is so merciful and kind to me and lead me back to His Church at such a late date (30 years after turning my life over to Jesus).

“Too late have I loved you, O Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! Too late I loved you! And behold, you were within, and I abroad, and there I searched for you; I was deformed, plunging amid those fair forms, which you had made. You were with me, but I was not with you. Things held me far from you—things which, if they were not in you, were not at all. You called, and shouted, and burst my deafness. You flashed and shone, and scattered my blindness. You breathed odors and I drew in breath—and I pant for you. I tasted, and I hunger and thirst. You touched me, and I burned for your peace” (St. Augustine, Confessions).

"In the Catholic Church . . . a few spiritual men attain [wisdom] in this life, in such a way that . . . they know it without any doubting, while the rest of the multitude finds [its] greatest safety not in lively understanding but in the simplicity of believing. . . . [T]here are many other things which most properly can keep me in her bosom. The unanimity of peoples and nations keeps me here. Her authority,
inaugurated in miracles, nourished by hope, augmented by love, and confirmed by her age, keeps me here. The succession of priests, from the very see of the apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after his resurrection, gave the charge of feeding his sheep [John 21:15–17], up to the present episcopate, keeps me here. And last, the very name Catholic, which, not without reason, belongs to this Church alone, in the face of so many heretics, so much so that, although all heretics want to be called ‘Catholic,’ when a stranger inquires where the Catholic Church meets, none of the heretics would dare to point out his own basilica or house" (Against the Letter of Mani Called "The Foundation" 4:5 [A.D. 397]).

For more free palm pilot texts of Catholic writings and theology, go to Chris Wong's Site:

Sunday, August 27, 2006

God's Will vs. My Will

So many times in my Christian life I have made decisions based on my own "commandeering" of God's will for my life! Meaning, if it is what I wanted, surely it must be God's will. Have any of you ever done that? For many years I was part of Christian sect that taught that Jesus' will can become a "reality" for you when you speak it into existence. This is an extreme example of the faith and prosperity "gospel" and continues to be taught and embraced by millions of wishful adherents. It never seemed completely right to me, but faced with a spouse with an incurable cancer and two young children, one still in diapers, my theology tended to drift to address my situation. I was told by loving brethren steeped in this teaching, that God surely wants my wife to be healed because "when Jesus came to Capernaum, he healed them all" and since Jesus is the same yesterday , today and forever, His will is to heal all today! This is called eisegesis where we read something into Scripture that it didn't intend to say. Certainly there were those in Capernaum who didn't get healed but the Bible language of the time uses "all" in a figurative sense. We know there were times in Scripture when all weren't healed. In John, he states that the whole world could not hold all the books that would be written with the deeds of our Lord. Again, this is language written in the idiom of the day to describe the breadth and depth of Jesus' ministry, but we read that figuratively. Some day when people read a book from the 20th century and it says "it was raining cats and dogs", will they assume it was truly raining small house pets? It is an idiom and not meant to be taken literally.
At any rate, getting back to God's will vs. mine, what is the best way to know how we should proceed? By looking at the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus! What did Jesus do when he was confronted with the reality of his impending passion and death? Did he rebuke the devil and bind the demons and commandeer his favorite Old Testament Scripture to obtain his "release" from the situation? No, he didn't. He quietly went before his Father in prayer; a pleading so earnest and intense that he sweated blood as he asked that this cup be removed from Him. BUT, He then prayed "Not my will, but thine."
I hope and pray for the strength to do just as Jesus showed us to do. In another instance He taught us to pray: "May Your kingdom come and your will (not mine) be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
Sister Faustina, a humble Polish nun who became the first canonized saint of the 20th century, showed us how to do this throughout her short life:

"Oh My God, I am ready to accept your will in every detail, whatever it may be. However you may direct me. I will bless you. Whatever you ask of me, I will do with the help of your grace. Whatever your holy will regarding me might be, I accept it with my whole heart and soul, taking no account of what my corrupt nature tells me."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

"Is That What Catholics Really Believe?"

Today we had our inaugural picnic for a new meeting we are starting called "Seekers." Once a month, we will invite folks into our home for a discussion about a topic pertaining to Catholic faith and practice. The goal is not to "convert" non-catholics but to allow people with an interest to have their questions answered as well as discussed in an informal and non-pressured environment. My wife and I started this group as a way of providing a place for non-Catholics to ask and find out about Catholicism. If we had found a group like this existed 6 years ago, perhaps we would have come into the church sooner!
Our speaker today was an Nazarene church member who first fell in love with an Irish Catholic, then subsequently came to love her Church as well. His conversion story was humorous and heartfelt and it was great to hear from yet another convert who was convinced he
needed to convert, not just for marital unity, but because of Truth! He became convinced that Catholicism was true, particulary after reading Karl Keating's Catholicism vs Fundamentalism and gentle questions from his wife as to "why Protestants have so many religions when Jesus started one Church? " He now leads the RCIA group in our parish and has a powerful testimony for how the Eucharist and the other sacraments of the Church have been life-changing.
A Catholic bookstore in our area also has quite a large volume of business with the many evangelicals who come there to purchase the latest best seller among Christian writers and they stock most of them; The Purpose Driven Life, Prayer of Jabez etc, along with Bibles, CD's etc. They also have an excellent Catholic section with all the latest writings of Pope Benedict as well as the classic writings of the saints. Sometimes a non-Catholic will ask the employees about Catholic doctrine or belief and our group can benefit these folks. My wife's conversion was aided by the patient answers that were given her by the owner of the store. Our group is meant for those with inquiries who aren't necessarily interested in converting but are not running 180 degrees away from the Church! If they should decide to become Catholic, that's even better, but our main goal is to dispel the myths that surround our faith. Catholicism is regularly misrepresented by Hollywood, the media, and sadly, by our separated brethren, as well as "cafeteria Catholics" (I'll take one of those, but not one of those, thank you very much!)
The ground rules are that the discussion will center around a particular aspect of Catholicism;
"Why do Catholics make such a big deal about Mary," "Catholics and the Bible," "Where did the Bible Come from?" The group is not to encourage polemics and vitriol and Catholic-bashing is not allowed! We pray God will draw a few souls that have honest questions and are seeking understanding about the Catholic faith. Pray for us for wisdom, hospitality and charity.
I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Next week a fair opens up in a nearby city and it will run through Labor day. They have rides, contests, music and a number of folks rent booths to sell, trade or dispense information. This year, myself and a small group of Catholics including a priest (who is a convert after being convinced of the truths of Catholicism while studying church history at Wheaton!) will have a booth set up to dispel the myths behind Catholicism and provide apologetics literature to anyone who is interested. We will be set up at a booth right next to a local evangelical church who will be proselytizing as well. Please ask St. Ignatius of Loyola for boldness and wisdom and gentleness so we may communicate the truths of our faith in a loving way, as he did many years before us.
I think the Holy Spirit needs to soften hearts first and prepare them to hear His voice, and we are just the vehicle to help along with God's work.
Thanks for the prayers.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Our Back Yard and The Blessed Mother

This summer we put a little statue of Mary in our backyard. It gives me a sense of peace as it reminds me that I have a friend in "high places" who prays for me to her son and my Lord, Jesus. I have no desire to worship this cement statue, pay homage or pray to it, but it reminds that Jesus gave his mom to the Church at the Cross when he turned to John and said, "Son, behold your mother." One could argue that this was just a good and faithful Jewish boy making arrangements to care for his mom since he was leaving her without a family, yet it has always been seen as a more global action on Jesus' part. When Jesus said or did anything in His life, the church has always taken those words to go beyond the context of the moment. For example, at the last supper, Christ broke the bread and gave it to his disciples saying "Take eat, this is my body." We believe that Christ continues to give us His body in the breaking of the bread, just as the disciples on the road to Emmaus had experienced.

One last thought for the day, If Jesus did have brothers, why weren't they at the foot of the cross with Mary and John? Hmmmm.......

Monday, August 14, 2006

Thoughts on the Didache

Why am I blogging about the Didache, a non-inspired (non-canonical) document of history written some 30 years after Jesus ascended? One reason is that I have always been a fan of history and I won the Daughters of the American Revolution award for history in 8th grade in 1972! Yet when it came to studying my faith as an evangelical christian, I only considered modern church history from 1500's onward and never thought about the "black hole" of Church history from the Pentecost to the Reformation. I thought all I needed to know about church history was found in the Bible, yet it's not intended to be an accurate primer on 1st century history.

So back to the Didache. My thoughts are this: there was no "Bible" being passed around or other "sole rule of faith" yet this new church was growing and spreading throughout the ancient world like wildfire! To be sure, there was certainly some letters and epistles being read in churches and being circulated but some of the gospels and letters may not have been written down yet! So how did this fledlging group of believers know what to believe and what was correct if they did not have a Bible until some 300 years later, fully "bound" and set in one volume so to speak? Even if they did have copies of the "New Testament" there is a fair chance that many of the folks were illiterate. They did have the Old Testament and many of Paul's letters refer back to it including his references that can be traced to the deuterocanonical books, (which were removed from the scriptures during the reformation.)
So the church grew and spread without a formal Bible, but they did have letters of instruction , including the Didache which obviously didn't make the "cut" at the early Church councils. However it is still useful as a peek into the history of the primitive church.
2000 years from now, when future historians/theologians are trying to understand what the 21st century church believed and practiced, they will no doubt consult sources other than the Bible. The Bible alone will not give them information regarding how this current 21st Century church believed and worshipped. They would consult letters, books, any records that survived through history (perhaps "Prayer of Jabez", "The Purpose Driven Life?" Writings of John Paul 2 and others?) to give them a "snapshot" of what this church was like in worship and practice. In the same way, we look to extra-biblical sources to help us now understand how the early church worshipped and practiced their new found faith. I thank God for the documents of history that have been preserved to this day for our edification. They have opened my eyes of faith in ways that I never thought possible.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Didache: An Instruction Manual for the Early Church

In Mass today, we sang a hymn that was based on some lines from the Didache. The Didache (pronounced: "did-a-kay") was the earliest writing of the early church written between 50 to 80 AD. Though it is not canonical, it was used by the early Christians as a guide to living and assembling together as a community. Originally it was thought to be written by the apostles but that is probably not the case. Most importantly for us now, it provides a "snapshot" of what the early church looked and worshipped like.

The Didache provides evidence that the early church celebrated a sacrifice which we call the Mass. This is further evidence that the first Christians within 30 years of Jesus' ascension were celebrating the breaking of bread which is the Eucharistic sacrifice, Christ's actual body and blood with the outward appearance of bread and wine. Christ is not re-crucified in the Mass, but His sacrifice for us to the Father is re- presented, throughout the altars of the world. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever and so is His sacrifice for us. He died once and for all for our sin, but continually He is offered on our behalf and the behalf of his church here on earth through the Mass.

Here is a qoute from the Didache:

14:1 But on the Lord's day, after that ye have assembled together, break bread and give thanks, having in addition confessed your sins, that your sacrifice may be pure.
14:2 But let not any one who hath a quarrel with his companion join with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be polluted,
14:3 for it is that which is spoken of by the Lord. In every place and time offer unto me a pure sacrifice, for I am a great King, saith the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the Gentiles
( this verse is based on Malachi 1).

As we sang that closing hymn and I looked up at the stained glass windows , I was again reminded of God's power, majesty and steadfast love preserving His church for the past 2000 years.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Jew, then Atheist, then Saint. St. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein)

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the life and death of Edith Stein. She was an extremely brilliant young women born to a Jewish family in Poland in 1891. She became an atheist as a teenager, but later felt drawn to the Catholic faith by reading the writings of St. Teresa of Avila.
She went to university and studied philosophy earning her Ph.D. She taught at a university in Munich until being forced out by the Nazis. She later became a Carmelite nun and entered a Carmelite Monastery in the Netherlands.
When the Nazis took possession of the Netherlands, they arrested any Jews who had converted to Catholicism as retaliation for the Dutch Catholic Church denouncing the Nazis. She and her sister, also a convert, were captured and deported to Auschwitz and killed in 1942.
A few days before her deportation, Edith Stein argued against being rescued from her upcoming fate. ‘Do not do it! Why should I be spared? Is it not right that I should gain no advantage from my Baptism? If I cannot share the lot of my brothers and sisters ,my life, in a certain sense, is destroyed.’” John Paul 2 canonized her in 1998 for her heroic life and faith. Her translated writings fill over 15 volumes.

Her relentless pursuit of truth led her to the Church and I thank God that He continues to raise up believers like her, even in this generation. A saint is not someone worshipped, but a model for Christian living to encourage us to press on in spite of our daily adversity. I also can ask St. Teresa Benedicta (her new name given by the Carmelites) to intercede to Jesus for me for friends and family who have an intellectual bent but have not yet discovered the Truth. She knows what the journey is all about so she can pray with real fervor and understanding. She also can pray for us for strength in times of severe testing as she had before she died.

St. Teresa Benedicta, pray for our loved ones who are pursuing truth but as yet don't realize that all Truth leads to Jesus.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

History is the Best Defense of Catholicism

Recently I was involved in a rather protracted on-line debate with a Sola Scriptura Christian who had a very unusual view of church history. He found my blog and wanted to set the record straight with his interpretation of church history. He remarked that the Roman Catholic Church was an invention of the Council of Trent and before that, there was only two churches; the western and the eastern christian churches. He suggested that my attempt to use the word "Catholic" was a modern mis-application of the word universal and that the church was always meant to be the catholic the universal small "c" church. The writings of multiple early Church historians and Church Fathers rebuff this theory. I was surprised at his view of history but he seemed like a sincere and intelligent gentleman and we continued the debate back and forth as well as with other bloggers adding their two cents from time to time. Even secular, as well as protestant histories of the church will accept the fact that the early church was indeed the Catholic Church continuous with the one that still exists today. My western civilization class taken at my very liberal arts college recognized that the Catholic Church was the Church started by the Jesus and the early Christians.

One of the main reasons that I converted to Catholicism was my discovery that the early church was Catholic in both practice and doctrine. When I found that they believed that the Communion meal was not symbolic but a real presentation of the body and blood of Christ in the species of the bread and wine as Jesus foreshadowed in John 6, I knew I had to return to the Church. I could no longer hold onto my view that the early church worshipped and lived out their faith as "post-reformation" Christians ; believing in symbols but not Sacraments as the Church Fathers wrote about. (Baptism for the forgiveness of sins etc.) If the folks writing about the Church back then described it as hierarchical, sacramental, undivided, led by a succession of apostles in communion with and submission to Rome, it would be academically dishonest for me to dismiss it as apostate.
How could they go so wrong so fast if these were the guys who had learned at the feet of Jesus' 12 disciples? That would be like saying the Holy Spirit came and fell on the Church at Pentecost but less than 70 years later went back to Heaven to wait 1500 years for the birth of Martin Luther while the Church Jesus established went apostate and allowed the gates of Hell to prevail over it.

A very instructive and graphic web site that explains the development of the Church and the non-Catholic sects can be found at
Jesus prayed that we would be one.