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, May 31, 2007

More Flies With Honey Than Vinegar

Opinion piece from the NCR on the subject of conversion:

"It is ironic but true: Attempts by Catholics to correct Protestant misunderstandings often do much more to strengthen Catholics’ faith than they do to change Protestants’ minds. The attempts by Catholics to understand what Protestants get right are what attracted Beckwith to the faith.

There are several reasons this is the case.

The most obvious is the cliché that honey attracts more flies than vinegar. Yet the deeper truth is that we can’t reach anybody we don’t love. Love and freedom are fundamental to our human dignity. We would never think of joining up with someone who has done nothing but criticize and belittle us. But if someone has respected us and appreciated what we’ve gotten right, then we’re more likely to listen when they offer to show us how to get even more right.

That’s because, ultimately, Catholics don’t convert people – the truth does.

To bring people to the truth, what’s necessary isn’t to expose the error of their ways – but to dispose them to seeing the splendor of the truth."

He Could No Longer Explain Why He Wasn’t Catholic

Here's Tim Drake's interview with Dr. Beckwith. I could relate to a lot of what he said regarding his upbringing in the Church during the 60's and 70's. Still, there are many other "cradle Catholics" who held to the faith and didn't jump ship because of kumbayaism. Those of us who left in the 70's, I suspect, didn't believe or know Jesus was there, really present at the altar. (I don't know what I was thinking when the priest held up the Sacred Host and said, "This is Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!) If I truly believed as a 14 year old in 1973 that Jesus was present in the Mass, no amount of bible study, warm fellowship, Chick Tracts or exciting contemporary praise and worship services could have dragged me away. I simply was not believing, not interested or both. No matter how watered down the homilies were, or the singing vapid, Christ was still made present in the Mass in the breaking of the bread. I just didn't see Him because I wasn't looking for Him.
(Just thought I'd point out, I think that Hm chord in the music above is supposed to be Bm. Now that I think of it, maybe that's why I left the Church after all....too many Hm chords I played in the folk Mass)

Thomas Howard on Genuflection

Thomas Howard wrote On Being Catholic in 1997. I just started reading it last night and took this from his section on genuflection. He is able to articulate the way Catholics embody the physical in their faith and worship better than I could, and believe me, I have been trying throughout this blog!

"The eternal . . . attires itself in the routine, the inauspicious, the anonymous. It does this because it reserves itself (it is so holy) for the pure eye of faith . . . The eye of faith alone can pierce the surface and see Reality. That is why Catholics genuflect when they come to church. They know that this is a holy place, and to be found on one's knee is a very good posture in such precincts. It says, ceremonially, not verbally, "I am a creature, and thou art my Creator. I am thy child and thou art my Father. I am a subject and thou art my Sovereign. And alas, I am a sinner, and thou art holy" . . . A Catholic has difficulty in grasping what it is that non-Catholics espouse that precludes this act. Surely we are not mere minds? Surely all of us bring physical gesture to bear on all situations (a wave, a nod, a kiss). Why is the physical excluded here? Surely to exclude it here and here alone is to imply a gnostic (disembodied), not a Christian (incarnational) state of affairs?"

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Baptist Sunday School Teacher Discovers the Church

"I started bitterly regretting the many statements I had made, disparaging Catholics as not knowing what they believed, and as idolaters or worse."

Read here for the first part of this gentleman's journey and here for second part. I am still intrigued by these stories and find that each person has a somewhat different perspective. I particularly appreciate the fact that this blogger is a medical student with a PhD. The medical establishment is in great need of those with a thorough understanding and appreciation for the Gospel of Life.

"This process, which may be called discovering the Catholic Church, is perhaps the most pleasant and straightforward part of the business easier than joining the Catholic Church and much easier than trying to live the Catholic life. It is like discovering a new continent full of strange flowers and fantastic animals, which is at once wild and hospitable. To give anything like a full account of that process would simply be to discuss about half a hundred Catholic ideas and institutions in turn. I might remark that much of it consists of the act of translation; of discovering the real meaning of words, which the Church uses rightly and the world uses wrongly." GK Chesterton

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The New Evangelism via The Internet

Check out this article from Amy Wellborn's blog regarding the fruit that Catholic internet sites are starting to bare.

Nick Hardesty from Phat Catholic is collecting Solid Catholic U tube videos on his site as well.

The Rosary Army folks are now producing short, humorous apologetics videos.

The other benefit beyond evangelism is the virtual community of converts/revert that encourage one another to press on in the faith. Prodigal Daughter and I found the Coming Home Forum to be a great source of comfort, information and camaraderie in the journey and have allowed us to help others along too!

I can't imagine what it was like when Frank Sheed of the Catholic Evidence Guild was standing on a soap box every Sunday in Hyde Park, London expounding the faith to whoever would hear.
Still, the best witness is preached by the lives we live "off-line."

"Preach the Gospel, and if you must, use words ." St Francis of Assisi

Catholic Basement Tapes 4 / The Sacrament of Confession

TJ and PD discuss the Sacrament of Confession and how it has become a blessing in their spiritual lives and marriage. It starts with a brief reading from Scripture, the Catechism as well as the Didache and St. Augustine's writings and ends with their personal testimony regarding the benefits of this sacrament. There is also an explanation regarding the meaning and purpose of penance.
It is non-scripted, but goes a bit long at 17 minutes. God bless and thanks for listening. Feel free to comment!
Hear the Podcast Here.

Monday, May 28, 2007

"Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen."

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pentecost: Birthday of the Church

"You will receive Power when the Holy Spirit falls upon you,
And you will be my witnesses to the ends of all the Earth." Act 1:8

Today the Church celebrates the solemnity of Pentecost. We remember how the Holy Spirit filled the disciples gathered in the upper room and gave them the power to spread the gospel and grow the Church. Almost 2000 years later the third person of the Trinity continues to bring hearts to Christ through this pillar and foundation he built. During the words of consecration of the Eucharist today at Mass, I again marveled that the same prayers described by St. Justin Martyr in the 2nd century continue to be prayed.

An Astonishing Requirement: Forgiveness

From the Catholicity Website:

Forgiving and Being Forgiven (2838)

This petition is not listed with the first three because of an astonishing requirement. Our sins won't be forgiven unless we forgive others. Our petition seeks a future good (our forgiveness). However, the word "as" shows that our own forgiving must happen now.

"And Forgive Us Our Trespasses..." (2839)

When we begged that God's name be holy, we also asked that we be made holy. Although clothed in baptismal grace, we do not cease to sin. In this new petition, we are as the prodigal son and the tax collectors. We begin with this confession because in Christ "we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins" (Col 1:14). In the sacraments, we have the efficacious sign that we received this forgiveness.

Forgiving Hearts (2840-2841)

Christ's mercy cannot penetrate our hearts if we have not forgiven those who sinned against us. Love is indivisible. We cannot love God (whom we cannot see) and not love others (whom we do see). By refusing to forgive others, our hearts become hardened to God's mercy. However, confessing our sins opens us to God's grace.

Jesus says explicitly "If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions" (Mt 6:14-15).

Jesus' Use of "As" (2842)

Jesus frequently used the word "as." He told us to "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48), to love "as I have loved you" (Jn 13:34), and to be merciful "as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6:36). To act as Jesus, the believer must vitally participate in the life and love of God. We must have the mind of Christ "forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave us" (Eph 4:32).

Jesus' Parable (2843)

The Lord ended his parable of the merciless servant by saying, "So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart" (Mt 18:35). Sins are bound and loosed only "in the depths of our heart," where the Holy Spirit can turn injury into compassion and hurt into intercession.

To Enemies (2844)

This forgiveness must extend to enemies. Only hearts attuned to God's compassion can receive the gift of prayer. Forgiveness proclaims to the world that love is stronger than sin. Only by love can men be reconciled with God and with one another.

To Everything (2845)

Divine forgiveness has no limits in forgiving "sins" (Lk 11:4) or "debts" (Mt 6:12). We are all debtors owing to no one, "except to love one another" (Rom 13:8). "God does not accept the sacrifice of a sower of division, but commands that he depart from the altar so he may first be reconciled with his brother" (St. Cyprian).

Friday, May 25, 2007

Atheist Gives to the Catholic Church

Robert Wilson, an 80 year old philanthropist and self described atheist gave 22.5 million dollars to the archdiocese of NYC for the education of inner-city children.

"Let's face it, without the Roman Catholic Church, there would be no Western civilization," Wilson said. "Shunning religious organizations would be abhorrent."

God bless this gentleman.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Katliks Always Addin' Stuff

In the aftermath of the Beckwith Incident (Frances Beckwith's conversion to Catholicism) I found a podcast on Dr. Albert Mohler's blog. He is the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and often sides with the Pope's writings on abortion and artificial contraception.
Dr. Bruce Ware, vice president of the Evangelical Theological Society was his guest to discuss Evangelical Identity in light of Beckwith's reversion. At one point in the discussion, Dr. Ware made the comment that Catholics added books to the bible. "The Roman Catholic Church adds to the Bible, not only books to the Bible, apocryphal books, but statements by the pope ex-cathedra and magisterial statements that are equally binding.." This ruffled my feathers a bit so I wrote to him and he kindly wrote back explaining to me the canon controversy:

"The apocryphal books (Jewish books written between 200 B.C and A.D. 200) were never considered canonical, even though some of them were sometimes place in the bindings along with the 66 books of the Bible.
In the Reformation time period, because of the controversy over the catholic doctrine of pergatory, the Roman Catholic Council of Trent (A.D. 1546) added the apocryphal books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, I and II Maccabees to their own Bible. In other words, the RC church had previously also held to the 66 books of the Bible as those inspired by God and canonical, and in this action at Trent, the RC church added these apocryphal books to their own Bibles."

I am not questioning Dr. Ware's integrity because he obviously believes what he wrote and said but I need to ask again: Did Catholics really add books to the bible at the Council of Trent in 1546? Is this issue something that can't be definitively settled? A discussion by Jimmy Akin found here goes into great depth to discuss the various Church councils (as early as the fourth century) which accepted the "apocryphal" books as canon . No Catholic apologist would deny that some early Church fathers disputed some of the books including St. Jerome, but at the end of the day, the "apocryphal" books had been firmly accepted by the Catholic Church a full 1100 years before Trent, and were not added in 1546 to justify the doctrine of purgatory.

Akin writes: Protestant patristics scholar J. N. D. Kelly remarks that in spite of Jerome's doubt, "For the great majority, however, the deutero-canonical writings ranked as Scripture in the fullest sense. Augustine, for example, whose influence in the West was decisive, made no distinction between them and the rest of the Old Testament . . . The same inclusive attitude to the Apocrypha was authoritatively displayed at the synods of Hippo and Carthage in 393 and 397 respectively, and also in the famous letter which Pope Innocent I dispatched to Exuperius, bishop of Toulouse, in 405"
(Early Christian Doctrines, 55-56).

Isn't it more intellectually honest to state: "Catholics didn't add to the Bible, but accept a canon that Luther rejected?" (Whether or not you agree with the canon.)

Why is this distinction so important? If you listen to the original podcast Dr. Ware makes his statement in the same sentence that he says that Catholics added extra-biblical doctrines based on binding ex-cathedra papal/magisterial statements. Yes, we do believe in doctrines (assumption of Mary) that are not chapter/verse found in Scripture, but to tie that in the same sentence as "Catholics added books to the Bible" smacks of anti-Catholic rhetoric, IMHO.
The average non-Catholic (like I was) will nod their heads in agreement and wrongly conclude: "Yep, just like Dr. Ware says, Katliks always addin' stuff...."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Night of The Living Catechism

Great stuff from Greg and Jennifer of the Rosary Army!

USCCB Rebukes the Gang of 18

Recently a group of 18 Catholic democratic legislators from the US House of Representatives took it upon themselves to correct the Pope regarding his recent statements about the excommunication of the Mexico City Catholic politicians who voted for abortion. They implied that the Pope's stand against pro-abortion politicians "offend the very nature of the American experiment."

"The fact is that religious sanction in the political arena directly conflicts with our fundamental beliefs about the role and responsibility of democratic representatives in a pluralistic America," the 18 write; "it also clashes with freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution."

The USCCB responded on May 18th:

To suggest that the Church should not clearly voice its teaching and apply it in a pluralistic society is to attack freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The Catholic Church always will and must speak out against the destruction of innocent unborn children. The right to do so is guaranteed by the Constitution that all legislators are elected to uphold. Speaking and acting against abortion is not a matter of partisan politics. It is a matter of life and death.

The bishops urge all Catholics, especially those who hold positions of public responsibility, to educate themselves about the teaching of the Church, and to seek pastoral advice so that they can make informed decisions with consistency and integrity. Read the full statement here.

At a time when when the USCCB is frequently maligned by Catholics in the blogosphere, I am thankful for the stand they took here in going head to head with the Catholic politicians who felt that they could defy 2000 year old Christian morality in the falsely purported name of constitutional freedom. Thank God for these bishops, let's keep them in prayer as well as the Gang of 18 too. Pray that they will stop "experimenting" with us Americans and take the side of life.

Life Is A Good and a Sign of His Presence

At our pro-life group at Church we are studying John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae/The Gospel of Life. Why should we respect and promote life? Because life is itself a good that God created.
Here's a snippet from Chapter 3.

"Life is always a good. This is an instinctive perception and a fact of experience, and man is called to grasp the profound reason why this is so.

Why is life a good? This question is found everywhere in the Bible, and from the very first pages it receives a powerful and amazing answer. The life which God gives man is quite different from the life of all other living creatures, inasmuch as man, although formed from the dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7, 3:19; Job 34:15; Ps 103:14; 104:29), is a manifestation of God in the world, a sign of his presence, a trace of his glory (cf. Gen 1:26-27; Ps 8:6). This is what Saint Irenaeus of Lyons wanted to emphasize in his celebrated definition: "Man, living man, is the glory of God".23 Man has been given a sublime dignity, based on the intimate bond which unites him to his Creator: in man there shines forth a reflection of God himself."

This should be required reading for every Christian. The entire encyclical can be found here. Thank God for popes like JP2 and B16. Between the two of them they have left us enough writings to last a lifetime of study. Some predict that the waves created by JP2's Theology of the Body alone are yet to be felt and will make their presence known for the next hundred years of Church history.

Pizza Box Preaching to Keep Kids Katholic

This past Sunday, Prodigal Daughter and I were invited to speak at a parish near Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania . Catholics call these "witness talks" contrasted with "giving our testimony" in evangelical parlance. (Becoming Catholic is learning a whole new language, but that's for another post.) We were asked to speak to the confirmation class about our conversion/reversion story. We joined the kids in the all-purpose room after the Mass and a dinner. In our diocese, revert stories are not all that common (yet) and it encourages "cradle Catholics" to understand why we left and why we returned. I always am humbled speaking to these folks because they remained faithful to the Catholic faith despite some perilous times in the past 25 years, while I bailed. I believe I was showing what the Church calls my vincible ignorance, I just didn't know what and who I was leaving.

Our witness talk is not "ecumenical" and our goal is to encourage the listeners to stay Catholic. We try to make sure the host knows this before we come to speak. I have since learned to do this because last year I was asked to give a "pep talk" to an entire Catholic High School and ended up offending most, if not all, the faculty and students!! I was told to encourage the students in their faith and I made the wrong assumption that all the listeners were Catholic. I had 7 minutes to tell my reversion story. Needless to say, it didn't go well and later I was accused of "hating" protestants and they wondered if I wasn't going to join another church after this latest stopover. Whew! Maybe it was my joke about Luther getting his idea about "faith alone" while in the "tower." (Hey, I thought it was funny, no one laughed) Well, it turns out, many of the faculty are not Catholic as well as a fair amount of the students at this Catholic HS. So my lesson was: learn who the audience is, what they want to hear and never do a 45 minute talk in 7 minutes!

So back to the Confirmation Class talk. Prodigal Daughter and I gave our talk and we emphasized the tremendous treasure they have in the Catholic Church. We explained how the sacraments are opportunities for God to reach down and "hug them" and give His grace to them and change their lives. We emphasized the need for a personal relationship with Jesus in all of this and talked about how the Pope last year encouraged us all to personally know Christ. Most of all, we emphasized the way they can have Jesus in the Eucharist. I always choke up when I tell them how I had been trying to get close to Jesus for the past thirty years and tried many different churches but He was there all the time in the Catholic Church. I said to them, "I tried the rest, now I found the best!" Just like the Pizza Box says. I told the kids that they don't have to try all the other religions out there because Prod and I did and we found that the Church is the Best!! "Trust us, we saved you the trouble." Perhaps, if I had heard a "Pizza Box Preach" as a young Catholic, it wouldn't have been so easy to just walk away if I knew what I was leaving.

Lord Jesus, I ask that you fill these kids with your Holy Spirit at their confirmation in such a way that they will never desire anything but You in the Holy Eucharist and in their hearts. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit we ask this, Amen.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Book Meme

I was tagged by Beka from The Road Less Traveled for a book meme. Well, being the genius I am, I had to look up what a meme is. From Wikipedia, source of all truth...
"The term "meme" (IPA: /miːm/, rhyming with "theme"), coined and popularized in 1976[1] by the biologist Richard Dawkins, refers to a "unit of cultural information" which can propagate from one mind to another in a manner analogous to genes (i.e., the units of genetic information)."

Well here goes my meme:

Three non-fiction books everyone should read:

The Bible (started reading it in 1973, haven't stopped yet, Catholics are encouraged to read it daily) To be Ignorant of Scripture is Ignorance of Christ-St. Jerome

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (been reading it now for three years, wow it talks about every issue!)

Mere Christianity by CS Lewis (Read it in college, need to re-read it)

Three books of fiction everyone should read:

Chronicles of Narnia ( I read these to my children, I always cry when Aslan reaches the Stone Table)

I must confess from 1980 to 2002, was a "black hole" of literature for me. I was so immersed in studying and practicing medicine, I did virtually no pleasure reading or theological study except for the "best selling Christian bookstore" type books . Sometimes, I believe my gearing down from my practice of medicine gave me the time to finally reflect about my life and what I really believe, which lead me back to the Church.

Three authors everyone should read:

CS Lewis (If he lived just a bit longer would he have converted? The thought just nags at Catholics!)

John Paul 2 (How could one man be so smart?)

Thomas Howard (Elizabeth Elliot's Brother. A convert, poet and thinker)

Three books no one should read:

Left Behind by Tim LaHaye (no comment needed)

Intended for Pleasure by Ed Wheat (Wish I hadn't read it before my first marriage, gives the wrong impression to young Christian couples, especially by separating the unitive and procreative aspect of marriage)

Faith That Prevails by Smith Wigglesworth (heretical stuff my late wife and I read after she was diagnosed with lung cancer)

I tag Pilgrimsarbour(In college he read when he didn't have too!), Godfearin' Fiddler and my new bloggger friend MaryMajor.

A Guild Guitar, A Folk Mass and A Full Circle

The guitar above is my 1970 cherry-stained mahogany Guild D-25 acoustic guitar purchased used in a music store in Morristown NJ in 1972 by a 14 year old Dylan wanna-be. I used this guitar playing in folk Masses in high school and college as well as our Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship at Moravian College. Though I left the Church in my heart in 1973, my parents still required my attendance so playing guitar in the folk Mass was one way that made it less painful.
If I had to go to Mass, at least I could be doing something I liked. I didn't receive the Eucharist by the grace of God, something inside me told me I shouldn't.

This was my main performing guitar and I wrote and recorded many songs on it (including Footsteps) until I finally saved up enough money to buy a new Martin D41 in 1993. This was a belated wedding present from my late wife that I never purchased until 6 months before she died. We were married for almost 12 years but I never felt I could justify the purchase though she had given me a check for it on our wedding day! I still kept the Cherry Guild using it from time to time for alternate tunings but mostly played my Martin(s).(You can't buy just one!)

Prodigal Daughter and I do some speaking for Catholics at youth groups, confirmation classes etc, and recently were asked to provide music for a Mass and speak to the confirmation candidates about our journey from and back to the Catholic faith. I almost said no because I hadn't played in Mass since 1978! I knew only contemporary worship songs from my years as a worship musician in the charismatic churches and had much apprehension about playing for Mass again. I chose three songs, changed the words a bit to reflect Eucharistic theology (Sorry Michael W. Smith) and practiced them for several days with Prodigal Daughter.

The woman who invited us to speak was a girl I went to college with who always remained a faithful Catholic. I had a research lab next to hers in the biology department and some late nights were spent discussing, the Kreb cycle , unrequited love and occasionally spirituality. I remember thinking what a sweet and wholesome girl this was, feeling badly that she was Catholic and didn't know the Lord! (Sorry KM) I hadn't spoken to her since 1979 but she heard through a Christian bookstore that I had returned to the Church and looked me up.

As we prepared to leave the house to go up to her Church yesterday, on the spur of the moment, I decided to bring my old Guild Guitar that I last played in a Catholic Church in 1978. As we sang during the Mass for the Introit, Communion and Recessional, my heart was in my throat as I looked down at the Tabernacle. Jesus was redeeming the years that I had rebelled against this Church that I have now come to love. Thank you God for you kindness and mercy to allow me to offer praise to you with the old guitar of my youth. I have come full circle.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

"If He Only Had a Brain...."

Dr. Robert Koons just announced his upcoming conversion 5/26/2007 to Catholicism. He is a professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas. He wrote a paper in July 2006 called a Lutheran's Case for Catholicism here.

"I began to realize that many Lutheran and Protestant polemicists have been guilty of two fallacies: a straw-man version of contemporary Roman Catholic teaching, and a cherry-picking of quotations from the Fathers..."

But alas, the bashing has begun. Here's a few select quotes from a Lutheran blogger:

"So it really is intellectual suicide on the order of what geocentrist fundamentalists ask of people.

". . . In other words, to be a Catholic is to have so put your mind to death that no matter how ludicrous or self-contradictory the Vatican’s declarations are, you simply trust with absolute faith that the pope is being inerrantly inspired by God."

Is he implying that if he (Dr. Koons) only had a brain....Maybe he wouldn't have converted?

Toto, we are definitely not in Kansas anymore.

Welcome Home Dr. Koons. You will be in our prayers.

First the Thames, Then The Tiber

Tony Blair will convert to Catholicism after his resignation as Prime Minister. He has been going to Mass with his wife who is Catholic for years and reports of his pending conversion are not a surprise. Apparently there are some anti-Catholic laws from 1829 still in place that would have made it impossible for an elected leader to be Catholic.
St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher were both martyred by King Henry the Eighth for their stand on the indissolubility of marriage and loyalty to their faith. They would be excellent intercessors for Tony Blair as he crosses the Tiber. I suspect that his conversion may be the result of their prayers already.

You confirm the true faith
with the crown of martyrdom.
May the prayers of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More
give Mr. Tony Blair the courage to proclaim his faith
by the witness of his life.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Won't Get Fooled Again

Are you tired of hiring Protestant university faculty that later “Poped-Out” on you? Do you live in dread fear that the brilliant young mind you just gave tenure for your Medieval Studies Program is a "latent Papist?" Do the recent “high profile” defections from academic evangelicalism to Catholicism keep you up all night as you mentally review all of your recent faculty hirings? Are you starting to spend your free time in the HR department going over the files of those recent faculty hires trained at Catholic universities and high schools? Are you beginning to wonder if the initials Ph.D really mean Papist Homing Device?

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Happy Ascension Thursday!

We just got back from evening Mass where we celebrated the ascension of our Lord into Heaven 40 days after his resurrection on Easter Sunday. I thought about the apostles and the feelings they may have had as they saw their Lord and friend for the last time ascending into heaven. They may have felt they would never again have that sweet communion with Jesus that they shared on earth.

"And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up and a cloud received him out of their sight.

These momentary feelings of awe, wonder and loss were tempered by the fact that He told them that He would never leave them or forsake them. Two thousand years later I take great comfort in the fact that indeed He never has left us but has remained with us in the Eucharist. As the evening sun streamed through the stained glass windows above the altar I was so thankful that though He is ascended, He still gives himself to us through the sacrifice of the altar as the early Church believed and practiced and took great comfort in.

Justin Martyr said in 155 AD: For we do not receive these as common bread and common drink; but just as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have learned that the food over which thanks has been given by the prayer of the word which comes from him, [see 1 Cor 11: 23-26; Lk 22; 19] and by which are blood and flesh are nourished through a change, is the Flesh and Blood of the same incarnate Jesus.

Our Pope is an International Best Selling Author!

I don't suspect this will come close to the popularity of the "Purpose Driven Life" but you never know.

"A new book by Pope Benedict XVI, arriving in U.S. stores today, is already an international best seller.

Jesus of Nazareth has sold more than 1 million copies since it was released in Italian, German and Polish versions last month. The book will be published in 20 languages.

Jesus of Nazareth is the first book Benedict has written since becoming pope. He had published widely as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before his election two years ago."

In the book's preface, the pope notes that its contents are not official church teaching but merely an "expression of my personal search 'for the face of the Lord.' Everyone is free, then, to contradict me."

Gotta' love that humility.

Salvation "Outside" The Church

In the aftermath of the Beckwith Incident, I have noted a recurrent discussion in the BSphere regarding salvation "outside" the Church and the anthemas of Trent, etc.
Mark Shea has a nice piece here.

"Catholics do not say, and never have said, that they are the sole possessors of revelation. Indeed, the Church does not “possess” revelation at all. Revelation possesses her; and that revelation, who is Christ, has, she teaches, committed Himself fully to her. “God,” said the great Protestant writer George MacDonald, “is easy to please, but hard to satisfy.” On the one hand, God is delighted when the most miserable sinner takes the smallest serious step toward the love of God and neighbor. On the other hand, He will not be completely happy until every last person He came to save is completely perfected in the image of Christ and overflowing with perfect love for God and neighbor. This same pattern is supremely evident in the Catholic Church’s understanding of her relationship with her members, whether in full or very imperfect communion. For the Church is happy to recognize even the smallest commonalities she may share, not only with other Christians, but even with non-Christian religious traditions and the great philosophical traditions of paganism. The Church can even find things to affirm in virtuous atheists. But at the same time, the Church is acutely aware that there is a real difference between imperfect and perfect unity and so she, too—easy to please, but hard to satisfy—labors toward that day when all the members of the Body of Christ will be perfected in faith, hope, and love.

Till that day, we know where the Church is; we do not know where she is not."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell Dead at 73.

This morning, the Rev. Jerry Falwell passed into eternity at 73 years of age. He was most known for his Moral Majority which galvanized evangelical voters to elect Ronald Reagan in the 1980's.

"Requiem aeternam dona ei , Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei . Requiescat in pace. Amen." "Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him . May he rest in peace. Amen."

More On Icons

MMF posted this comment on my blog regarding the recent point on Billy Graham on icons. She makes an excellent point regarding history and the development of iconography:

I'm very fond of the Grahams and actually participate in some of their causes, such as Operation Christmas Child, which is wonderful!

I get your puckish point with the picture, but our Protestant friends can't get the point without one additional important historic fact. Before the reformation most people in the world could not read. They simply had no education, could not read or write, and certainly did not have religious instruction and crusades (I mean the public gatherings type.) They were too busy breaking their backs in the field trying to get some turnips to grow so their children wouldn't starve. The reformation conveniently came along with the printing press and more widespread ability to read "among the masses." Back when the church was one, it was a VITAL part of the transmission of faith to have paintings, stained glass, statues, illustrated Psalters (for the wealthy) and architecture that "told the story" because that was the only means by which so many of the poor and unread were educated in the faith! I know people like to put on the Catholic church that it's all the pomp and idolatry, but they could not be more wrong. Their own Christian ancestors learned their faith by being able to go into a Church whose very art was for instruction to the poor. The statue of Mary was the way to instruct about the Incarnation of Jesus. Parables and saints in their stories are in the window's glass, and painted on plaster to explain who they were and what they did. The stations of the cross are the obvious example. All of the imagery in the Church came about because that was the means to truly be "Catholic" and instruct those who could not read or write, or attend education. I grind my teeth when "experts" don't understand how human beings lived for the first 1500 years after Christ and then try to smack down the Church that provided the art that gave them the very faith that they can now criticize. Grrrr!
LOL. :-)

Thanks MMF

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Idol Worship Transcends Denominational Boundaries

Nashville Christians congregated with fellow worshipers at the unveiling of the graven-image of Rev. Billy Graham in June 2006. Our non-Catholic brethren have begun to see the importance of honoring others with 3-D material representations of a living thing (graven image).
I know these brothers and sisters are not worshiping the image, but if an alien landed in Nashville on that day, do you think they could get the wrong impression? (Especially if they were Bible-Only Aliens from a distant Sola System)

Hey, I love Billy Graham by the way, and admire his walk with Christ and his ministry with an almost perfect track record. I saw him live at the Urbana 1979 Intervarsity Mission Conference. He was a friend to JPII.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

If I Only Had a Brain...Thinking Blogger Award

St. Jimbob of the Apocalypse recently knighted me with the Thinking Blogger Award. Thanks so much! He presented me with the award that's been circulating the blogosphere lately by notifying me in my com box. However, me being the genius that I am, accidentally deleted his comments in an attempt to re-write my Pope and Pills blogpost tonite. I humbly accept this award despite my near successful attempt to accidentally refuse it. No wonder my latest CD release was entitled "Scarecrow's Lament."

Now I need to Be-Knight 5 fellow bloggers!

Do Protestants Need a Pope?

It has been one week since the solar flare of activity ignited in the blogosphere as a result of The Beckwith Incident . I have noted that this has caused many bloggers to comment that Evangelicals need to better define what they are. Perhaps they have been more defined in the past by what they are not. One of the advantages that I have noted in my three years as a new Catholic is the unity and identity brought about by the papacy. The papacy defines and ensures the compact unity of the Church as Karl Adams explains in the Spirit of Catholicism:

"But when he speaks as pope, as successor of St. Peter, then he speaks with a divine authority that demands the obedience of all the faithful; he speaks as the visible basis and pledge of unity, out of the compact fullness of the Body of Christ, as that principle in which the supra-personal unity of the Body of Christ has achieved visible reality for the world of space and time."

An article written by evangelical theology professor , D. S. Long, two years ago ponders the notion of whether Protestants need a pope. Given the recent conversion and the controversy it has engendered, this article is more apropo today than it was two years ago. Check it out here.

The Pope and Those Little Paper Pills

Pope Benedict presided over the canonization of an 18th century Franciscan friar yesterday in Brazil. There was an estimated one million faithful on hand to attend the Mass.

Pope's Benedict's speech here

Blessed Antônio de Sant'Ana Galvão (1739-1822) lived a heroic life of faith in Christ. "He was renowned as a counselor, he was a bringer of peace to souls and families, and a dispenser of charity especially towards the poor and the sick. He was greatly sought out as a confessor, because he was zealous, wise and prudent," the pope* said.

His canonization is based on the documentation of miracles that have been attributed to his intercession. In his lifetime, he would give tiny “pills” to people seeking healing. They were prayers printed on rice paper and rolled up into a pill form. These pills are still being made and handed out by an order of nuns in Brazil and two of three recently documented miracles form part of the basis for his canonization.

Our Western “post–enlightened” sensibilities are often offended by what appears externally to be mere religious superstition. In the wake of Dr. Beckwith's conversion, I have seen blogs with detracting comments about "these superstitious Catholic practices." I would like to make a few points about this.

1) The healing occurs, not as a result of the “magic pill”, but through the faith of the recipient who trusts in God to hear the prayers of St. Galvao. St. Galvao , a created being, has no power to heal. He has "God's ear" in heaven though and his prayers obviously have been fervent and effectual.

2) The Bible contains more than one story of God’s people being told to place unusual objects in their mouth!

3) The paper pills have no miraculous power themselves. For example, a pet dog accidentally ingesting one of these pills would not be miraculously healed (because the dog can’t pray and have faith, as far as we know). However, if God chose to heal the dog, who am I to question his actions?

4) God works through the stuff of earth and allows His grace and power to be displayed through, mud, blood, spit, hankies, shadows, and yes even paper pills!

(Mt. 9:20-21;22) - And behold, a woman which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment....and the woman was made whole from that hour. (It was not the garment that made this woman well but the holiness of Jesus).

(Mt. 9:20-21;22) - ...And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.

(Acts 19:11-12) - And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

(Acts 5:15-16) - Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them (Even Peter's shadow was enough to heal those who were sick. It was not Peter that healed those in which his shadow was cast, but it was God working through Peter).

*Note, that the comments of Pope Benedict regarding St. Galvao were focused on his holiness and devotion to Christ and not the miracles.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

It Hurts to Revert

Scott Lyons over at Sweptover has written a post regarding the pain of reversion/conversion that many of us could have written. He stated that the hostility directed towards Catholicism seen with Francis Beckwith's reversion opened old wounds. (The reformation wars are still being fought in his com box as we speak) I have tried at times in my blog to express the painful losses of my reversion but Scott says it better than I:

"It's true that I became Catholic. But I changed churches; I did not change who I am, or my relationship with them or others. They and others have changed our relationships. They and others have voluntarily withdrawn from me emotionally and spiritually. They and others have, apparently, felt that they needed to do so.

And I'm sorry for all of them. I'm sorry for all those who a friend or family member's decision to, on their own journey, follow Christ into the Catholic Church has been so incomprehensible and objectionable to them that it fundamentally changes how they view that person.

It's painful. It hurts that following Christ can cost so much because of other believers. It hurts to hear disparaging words spoken about you and your relationship to Christ from brothers and sisters. It hurts to see people whom you love and respect distance themselves from you because of their inability to recognize even the possibility of Christ in a Church that believes and worships differently than they do. It hurts to hear the Church you so dearly love spoken about with such hostility."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Mexican Politicians Excommunicate Themselves

The Church has always taught that when one obtains, assists or aides someone in an abortion, they have removed themselves voluntarily from the Communion of the Church by that grave act.

"2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae," "by the very commission of the offense," and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society."

On traveling to Brazil today, Pope Benedict was asked if he was going to excommunicate the Catholic politicians who voted for abortion in Mexico City.

ROME, MAY 9, 2007 ( The Vatican clarified that Benedict XVI has not excommunicated Mexican politicians who supported the legalization of abortion in the country's capital -- rather, they have excluded themselves from Communion.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said this today in a statement he issued in wake of comments made by the Pope aboard his flight from Rome to São Paulo.

Reporters asked Benedict XVI if the Church had excommunicated the politicians of Mexico City who had voted to legalize abortion in the first trimester.

The Holy Father said that the excommunication for those promoting abortion is "nothing new, it's normal, it wasn't arbitrary. It is what is foreseen by the Church's doctrine."

The Pontiff also underlined that Christian politicians need to be consistent with their beliefs, and confirmed that the Church announces the Gospel of Life.

"The death of an innocent, of a newly born baby is inconceivable," the Pope added. "It is not something arbitrary and the Church expresses value for life and for the individual character of life from the moment of conception."

Father Lombardi, who was with Benedict XVI on the plane, clarified that neither the Pope nor the Mexican bishops had declared those politicians excommunicated.

The press office director explained that the Church teaches that the promotion of abortion is not compatible with the reception of Communion.

The journalists then asked the spokesman: "So, are they excommunicated"?

"No," Father Lombardi responded. "They excluded themselves from Communion."

As Catholics we believe we receive Christ body, soul and divinity in the Eucharist. Therefore, we are admonished to not receive the Lord in an unworthy manner as Paul states to the Corinthians. To perform, or sanction or receive an abortion puts you in a state of mortal sin and you thus sentence yourself to not receiving the Eucharist = Excommunication. This is actually a compassionate act since the Church knows the mortal danger of receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin. Only then through the Pope or bishop/priest commissioned by him can you be restored. "I give you power to bind sins" John 21

The Inquisition(s)

Tonite PBS broadcasts the first part of its 4 part documentary "The Secret Files of the Inquisition."

“For over half a millennium a system of mass terror reigned. Thousands were subject to secret courts, torture and punishment. Learn how the Catholic Church once employed mass terror to remain the world's only true Christian religion."

The very word "inquisition" brings to mind for many images of an oppressive Catholic Church wielding its political power in a tortuous and inhumane fashion on any defectors from the true faith. For others in my generation, it brings to mind an old Monty Python skit!
Sometimes, on this blog when I attempt to show the beauty of Catholicism, I get an anonymous commenter saying "oh yeah, how beautiful were the inquisitions?" I myself had long ago concluded that the Church had to be "off the rails" given such practices as I heard occurred in the Inquisition. Though quite honestly, most of my information regarding the inquisitions was from anti-Catholic sources that had a vested interest in portraying the worst-case scenario.

There are always two sides to every story, and this one is no different. Bill Donahue of the Catholic Defense League has a few points here.

Catholic Answers has some information here .

Sadly, religious intolerance has not been limited to the Catholic faith alone but can be found in other traditions as well. Phillip Schaff, 20th century Protestant theologian notes:

To the great humiliation of the Protestant churches, religious intolerance and even persecution unto death were continued long after the Reformation.... Bullinger, in the second Helvetic Confession, announced the principle that heresy could be punished like murder or treason.

As Karl Keating has said before, Catholics should never attempt to defend the wrong actions of the Church and this post isn't made to justify the actions of the Church during several of the Inquisitions. However, it is important to be aware that Inquisition history is not always presented in the most accurate light and I fear that the PBS documentary may not tell the entire story. We'll see.

Eucharistic Astonishment

Dr. Mirus has an excellent post over at Catholic Culture that ReCon pointed out. Thanks Susie!

"Here we have God in what appears to be a piece of bread, or a sip of wine. The improbability is staggering, yet this is believed by millions upon millions of well-educated, modern, sophisticated people—as unprejudiced and self-conscious as modern criticism can make them. Moreover, people have believed it for nearly two thousand years. Every conceivable human regime has, at one time or another in that long history, tried to make people stop believing it. Yet they still believe. Nearly every one of these believers has had a doubt or two about it at one time or another. Yet they believe again and more strongly."

Yes, every once and awhile I say to myself, How can this be? Yet, at the end of each day, I find myself heading over to good old St. Anne's believing I will encounter the living God in a 2000 year old rite. Truly astonishing.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

May is Mary's Month

For what other reason do we continually turn to Mary except to seek the Christ in her arms, to seek our Savior in her, through her, and with her?

Since returning to the Church, I discovered that the month of May is set apart to honor Mary, the mother of God. This particular focus of devotion has been present in the Church since the 13th century and several popes since then have encouraged increased Marian devotion during May including Pope Paul VI* and John Paul II.

Why the month of May? The ancient Roman and Greek cultures celebrated the rites of spring by feasts dedicated to Artemis and other female goddesses. The Catholic Church has always taken the profane and pagan and transformed it to the sacred and holy dedicating these things to Christ for the glory of God alone. The pagan basilicas of Rome during the early days of the Church were converted to Catholic Churches for use by the converts. In the same way, the Church saw the pagan feast days and rites of spring and redeemed them by honoring the Mother of God, not pagan goddess! Perhaps this is one of the reasons Catholicism is often accused of having its roots in a pagan mystery religion. Mary doesn't take the place of pagan goddess worship because we don't worship Mary. Instead we redeem the pagan feasts days of May by dedicating this time to honor Mary and to fulfill Scripture by us calling her blessed. Scripture doesn't say how or when we should call her blessed so the Church has chosen May!

So how does honoring Mary more this month bring us closer to Jesus? First, we again meditate on the mystery and majesty of the Incarnation. God coming to earth as a man, being born in the flesh to a woman full of grace and virtue. Secondly, we look to Mary as a model of the perfect Christian life, being obedient to God. Thirdly, we take her words spoken at the feast of Cana; "do whatever He tells you to do" to heart and further ask for grace to love, serve and obey Him. Finally, we can seek her intercession for us since Catholics believe that though Mary was a created being like the rest of us, she shares a special place in heaven beholding her Son. Why shouldn't she? She was the God-bearer, Theotokos.

I hope to spend more time in prayer this month, in particular with the rosary meditating on the events (mysteries) of the gospels and asking Mary's intercession for some key concerns of mine. The Church states that there is an extra measure of grace to be afforded to the faithful in the month of May. I like to think of this month of Marian devotion as my honoring the Scripture to be part of the generation that calls her blessed.

*"We are delighted and consoled by this pious custom associated with the month of May, which pays honor to the Blessed Virgin and brings such rich benefits to the Christian people. Since Mary is rightly to be regarded as the way by which we are led to Christ, the person who encounters Mary cannot help but encounter Christ likewise. For what other reason do we continually turn to Mary except to seek the Christ in her arms, to seek our Savior in her, through her, and with her? To Him men are to turn amid the anxieties and perils of this world, urged on by duty and driven by the compelling needs of their heart, to find a haven of salvation, a transcendent fountain of life."

Monday, May 07, 2007

Patty Bonds on EWTN Tonite

Just a friendly reminder for those who may not know. Patty Bonds will be on The Journey Home at 8 PM tonite on EWTN. She will detail her story of conversion from Baptist to Catholicism. I don't know if this is a re-broadcast or not. Her brother is well-known reformed apologist Dr. James R. White.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Simply Irresistible

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Church Fathers Know Best

Blame it on the Fathers. Yet another revert as a result of The Early Church Fathers! Here's is Dr. Beckwith's statement made on his blog today regarding his conversion/reversion.

"The past four months have moved quickly for me and my wife. As you probably know, my work in philosophy, ethics, and theology has always been Catholic friendly, but I would have never predicted that I would return to the Church, for there seemed to me too many theological and ecclesiastical issues that appeared insurmountable. However, in January, at the suggestion of a dear friend, I began reading the Early Church Fathers as well as some of the more sophisticated works on justification by Catholic authors. I became convinced that the Early Church is more Catholic than Protestant and that the Catholic view of justification, correctly understood, is biblically and historically defensible. Even though I also believe that the Reformed view is biblically and historically defensible, I think the Catholic view has more explanatory power to account for both all the biblical texts on justification as well as the church’s historical understanding of salvation prior to the Reformation all the way back to the ancient church of the first few centuries. Moreover, much of what I have taken for granted as a Protestant—e.g., the catholic creeds, the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation, the Christian understanding of man, and the canon of Scripture—is the result of a Church that made judgments about these matters and on which non-Catholics, including Evangelicals, have declared and grounded their Christian orthodoxy in a world hostile to it. Given these considerations, I thought it wise for me to err on the side of the Church with historical and theological continuity with the first generations of Christians that followed Christ’s Apostles."

Prayer Request

"The doctors think the cancer is in the lymph nodes and that a double mastectomy may have to be performed. Also, there is inflammation at the site where she had a tumor removed. "
My friend Pilgrimsarbour recently requested prayer for a 26 year old woman named Jeannine who is starting the battle of her life. Please keep her in your prayers. Thanks so much.

Friday, May 04, 2007

President of the Evangelical Theological Society Crosses the Tiber

Francis Beckwith, PhD. of Baylor University came home to the Catholic Church this past weekend. He was raised as a Catholic but became an evangelical sometime in his youth. As Professor of Church- State Studies and Philosophy he has authored numerous academic articles and books published by Cambridge University Press, InterVarsity, etc. He is also President of the Evangelical Theological Society, a one year position, though I suspect his tenure at this position may end a bit sooner. He is also a respected Christian ethicist on the lecture circuit and has a new book to be released shortly on abortion.

Whenever the news of a "high-profile" convert/revert hits the blogosphere, the detractions begin. I am amazed that a gentleman with his resume and leadership can be written off so quickly.

  • ETS President An Apostate? (From Pastors Perspective) That's a whole lotta love
  • "I hope he has adequately considered the fact that when he is kneeling down in the mass during the event of transubstantiation, he is to worship and adore the bread/host as if it were Christ himself standing before him." Wait stop the presses! Maybe he didn't realize that Catholics actually believe they are worshiping Christ in the Eucharist. I mean he only has a PhD from a Catholic University, yah know? Honey, Quick, get Frank on the line, I got some bad news for him.....
  • "I have this theory that a large plurality of evangelicals who become Roman Catholics think they’re becoming Lutherans. I mean, a lot of them think they’re getting a historic liturgy, ancient practice, and an evangelical understanding of grace with a sacramental package providing assurance. But what they’re really getting is crappy Marty Haugen rites, medieval novelty, and dogmatic doubt. I mean, you almost never see evangelicals swimming the Tiber because they’re really excited about being able to get indulgences, sacrificing Masses to get their grandmas out of purgatory, or doubting whether they’re in the state of grace."(Boar's Head Tavern) You mean I joined the wrong church....again?

  • "In any case, as sad as it always is to read of someone abandoning the gospel for the false pretenses of Rome, it really does not surprise me when it happens. Why? Because we live in a day when the faithful are being tested as they were in Elijah's day. If you do not passionately love the truth, God is under no obligation to continue to allow you to possess it." (Dr. James White) You mean he never really was saved, don't you?

Now a tad more conciliatory:

  • "I am very appreciative of professing evangelicals such as Peter Kreeft who are also professing Roman Catholics. Maybe Beckwith is another Kreeft. Kreeft is a Roman Catholic, yet when I listen to him speak about the important issues of the role of Scripture, the doctrine of Christ, and the grace of God, I have to force myself to find nuances in his beliefs that distinguish it from mine. " (Parchment and Pen) Don't strain yourself bro!

Finally a response that is like a drink of cold water in a dry and thirsty land:
  • "I trust that if these rumors are true about Dr. Beckwith going to Rome that he will make his reasons plain in due time. And, even if he doesn’t it really doesn’t matter. I respect him as a brother and especially as a doctor in the Church. I don’t see any reason to say anything but I’m glad to see the sanctifying grace given him in Baptism is continuing to work as he grows like the rest of us into that image of Christ the Bible calls us to work toward. So he’s gone to Rome. So what? Movement in our eyes ought to be seen graciously as sanctification and the Spirit at work.

Let’s put away the conspiracy theories and the condemnations.
Pray for your brother and Rejoice that God is with him and working in him!
May the Lord be praised! "(Kevin Johnson of Reformed Catholicism)

  • "James White implies that Dr. Beckwith lost a love for truth and thus, decided to "return to Rome." I think it was precisely Dr. Beckwith's love for truth that brought him home. As many of us converts and reverts can attest, it is our love for truth, for Christ, and for His Church that lead us to make this difficult journey."(Meandering Home)

Keep Dr. Beckwith in prayer as he faces more persecution and rejection now than any other time in his Christian life, and most sadly, from his own brethren. It grieves the heart of God.

Welcome Home Dr. Beckwith

More Catholic Mythology

Theo has already "primed the pump" with ideas for the New Mythical Catholic Weblog. I added a few myself (in blue), hope he doesn't mind. He writes:

"One thing's for sure: you'd be hard pressed to run out of material. Think of the extremes from virulent Catholic-bashing propaganda to common misunderstandings held even by many practicing Catholics.

Among the former group (anti-Catholic propaganda) we might find :

1. The Vatican Supercomputer (tm) has a database of all Protestants to be used in the upcoming world-wide attack of 'true Christians' by the eeeevil Roman church. It runs Windows SSPX (home edition) and was inspired by the devil. The frequent bluescreens of death prove this to be so.

2. Catholics worship Mary.

3. Catholics worship Mary

4. Catholics worship Mary

5. Jesuits killed President Lincoln.

4. The Pope created Islam, Nazism, Zionism, Mormonism, Druidism, the New Age movement, the Masonic Lodge and Communism. And yes, Ismism too!

5. The Eucharist celebrates the worship of Egyptian gods.

6. The Vatican controls...... (fill in the industry or organization).

7. Priests and Nuns have secret nookie tunnels built between rectories and convents.

8. Oh yeah, one more.......Catholics worship Mary!

Of the Latter (common misunderstandings by Catholics) we might find:

1. Indulgences forgive sins.

2. Only Catholics go to Heaven.

3. All Catholics go to Heaven.

4. The Church no longer teaches..... (fill in the unpopular dogma) is required of Catholics.

5. A "venial" sin is a sin that doesn't really matter.

6. It does not matter whether Catholics repent, so long as they go to Confession.

7. It does not matter whether Catholics obey the Gospel so long as they go to Mass.

8. Whether or not a Catholic is permitted to use artificial contraception is up to their individual conscience.

Thanks Theo for the post. Your comments regarding the misunderstanding among Catholics make it imperative that the New Evangelism starts in the Church first.

A final thought: One reason that there is no shortage of Catholic myths is the fact that the Catholic Church has been a very un-moving target for 2000 years. I take comfort in that, strangely enough.

*Words in blue added by TJ