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.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Soap Suds Mouth Wash and Sin

JP over at Return of the Prodigal Blogger has recently asked some questions regarding Catholic doctrine of venial and mortal sins. Rather than tie up his combox, I'll try to give my perspective here.

Disclaimer: the following statements are my own musings and not to be taken as DOGMA but do set the stage for my next post. No imprimatur here unfortunately.

When I became an evangelical as a teenager, I was freed from the burden of discerning between mortal sin and venial sins. Hey! All sins are alike in the sight of God and are covered by His blood! What a freedom I felt to not have to go to confession to tell my most awkward sins to another person. (I do wonder though, if I had never stopped going to confession as a pre-adolescent, I may not have headed down that road to Yasgur's farm in the first place and making some very bad moral choices.)

Back to my first summer as a born again in 1973. In my new weekly Bible studies, I learned that a white lie, or gossip was the absolute equivalent to murder and blasphemy and fornication since there was no biblical basis for venial and mortal sins. I was told that Catholics invented mortal and venial sins because, well, … that’s just what they do and besides, they make up their own rules to rob our freedom as believers in Christ. Yeah that’s the ticket, those Catholics are just trying to put the yoke of slavery on us that Jesus removed!
Our bible study leader had the largest collection of Chick Tracts east of the Delaware River and we were never short of reading material. Therefore, my understanding of mortal and venial sins was colored by my own distrust of all things Catholic, and partly just plain *faulty intelligence.*

In the back of my mind, I did wonder how an irritable thought towards a neighbor or my unspoken impatience with my brother (we used to get on each other’s nerves) could be morally equivalent to rape, murder or grand larceny?

And even more troubling to me was the issue of parenting. I disciplined my children with a different level of punishment based on the severity of the infraction implying there was varied consequences for their level of disobedience. Was having a "potty mouth moment" with his brother equal to direct defiance of my authority? Clearly, the ramifications of each sin here are worlds apart. Soap in the mouth might be appropriate for the former, but the latter would have graver consequences. Why didn't I just give one discipline for all since each disobedience against his parents and God should be the same? Wasn’t I teaching my children that some sins are really, really bad and can lead to death, and others are kinda bad and lead to soap suds mouth wash? As a Father was I teaching my children the principle that some sins are deadly (mortal) and others, less so (venial) yet believing that my Heavenly Father treated all sin the same and all sin held the same consequence regardless of severity?

The concept of venial and mortal sins is consistent with Natural Law and illustrated in parenting as well as our criminal justice system. For instance there are various degrees of murder based on mitigating circumstances. Why if society throughout the ages has always held that there are different degrees of sin and punishment should our heavenly Father start an entirely new paradigm that goes against Natural Law and reason? More to come.

St. Paul Would Have Been All Over This

Check out Catholic videos on Catholic Tube. A compilation of music, teaching, inspiration, preaching and "all things Catholic." If only the early Church had the internet hmmm...

Despite St. Paul and St. Peter's lack of wireless access in the Mediterranean, they were able to spread the Gospel to the whole world baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Online Dating

According to their system I am rated NC-17 because of my references to:
* death (10x)
* abortion (8x)
* kill (6x)
* rape (1x)
* whore of babylon (4x) (just kidding :)

I don't feel so bad-my wife's blog, Mystery of Suffering is rated R
  • death (24x)
  • pain (4x)
  • hurt (1x)
The Vatican website as well as my music website is rated G.

Protestant Pastor says Why Not Return to Catholicism?

"I feel as if 1,000 pounds has been lifted from my shoulders. Peace. That struggle is done. Of course the journey continues and there will be other struggles, but that's fine. It's always like that. I won't go into all kinds of reasons why this is happening, theological and otherwise, right now. That's not what this post is for. That will come, as a matter of course I'm sure."

A pastor named, Alan, found my "double crossed the tiber" posting and just notified me he is coming home to the Church. Tomorrow he will receive reconciliation and be reconciled to the Catholic Church. He is the pastor of a "home church" and has gotten the green light from friends and family for his return. Check out his blog and let's all send him a Hearty Catholic Blogger's WELCOME HOME! Our prayers are with you and your family as well as the prayers of St. Peter and St. Paul on this great solemnity of the Church.

Check out the photos on his site, he's very good with a camera too! ( the above photo is his)

Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul

Today the Church celebrates the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. What a power packed week of saints and solemnities! Apostles and Fathers of the Church and the main writers of the NT! From St Anthony Messenger:

"St. Mark ends the first half of his Gospel with a triumphant climax. He has recorded doubt, misunderstanding and the opposition of many to Jesus. Now Peter makes his great confession of faith: "You are the Messiah" (Mark 8:29b). It was one of the many glorious moments in Peter's life, beginning with the day he was called from his nets along the Sea of Galilee to become a fisher of men for Jesus.

The New Testament clearly shows Peter as the leader of the apostles, chosen by Jesus to have a special relationship with him. With James and John he was privileged to witness the Transfiguration, the raising of a dead child to life and the agony in Gethsemane. His mother-in-law was cured by Jesus. He was sent with John to prepare for the last Passover before Jesus' death. His name is first on every list of apostles.

And to Peter only did Jesus say, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the nether world shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:17b-19).

But the Gospels prove their own veracity by the unflattering details they include about Peter. He clearly had no public relations person. It is a great comfort for ordinary mortals to know that Peter also has his human weakness, even in the presence of Jesus.

He generously gave up all things, yet he can ask in childish self-regard, "What are we going to get for all this?" (see Matthew 19:27). He receives the full force of Christ's anger when he objects to the idea of a suffering Messiah: "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do" (Matthew 16:23b).

Peter is willing to accept Jesus' doctrine of forgiveness, but suggests a limit of seven times. He walks on the water in faith, but sinks in doubt. He refuses to let Jesus wash his feet, then wants his whole body cleansed. He swears at the Last Supper that he will never deny Jesus, and then swears to a servant maid that he has never known the man. He loyally resists the first attempt to arrest Jesus by cutting off Malchus's ear, but in the end he runs away with the others. In the depth of his sorrow, Jesus looks on him and forgives him, and he goes out and sheds bitter tears."

Go to St Anthony's Messenger to read about St. Paul as well.

One of the things I love about the Catholic Church is the way she continues to remind those living now (Church Militant) of the heroic lives of faith of those who have gone before us (Church Triumphant). The priest celebrates the Mass on these special days wearing a bright red cassock, representing blood, to remind us that the price of following Christ is often martyrdom, as it was for Peter and Paul. Even more amazing is to me is the knowledge that this great cloud of witnesses continues to intercede for us before the throne of God.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Feast of St. Irenaeus

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Irenaeus, one of the first apologists of the faith born in 130 AD and martyred in 2o2 AD. He was the Bishop of Lyons and wrote extensively as well as preached the gospel leading to the conversions of a major portion of his bishopric. Adversus Haereses or Against Heresies was his tour-de-force against the rising tide of gnosticism in the 2nd and third century. His writings protected the Catholic faith from the errors that were rampant and being spread by the gnostics.

St. Irenaeus was a disciple of St. Polycarp who himself was a disciple of the Apostle John. All through his life, he told a friend, he could recall every detail of Polycarp's appearance, his voice, and the very words he used when telling what he had heard from John the Evangelist and others who had seen Jesus. So the deposit of faith and sacred tradition passed to him was still pretty fresh. The things that Irenaeus wrote about the faith, though not canonical, can help us understand what the early Christians believed and preached.

What did St. Irenaeus preach about to combat the heresies? He spoke about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the authority of the Church, apostolic succession and how the deposit of faith was passed on. He warned the Church to avoid those who who claimed to know the truth but couldn't trace their heritage to the Church that Jesus started. (those who departed from "primitive" succession)

"He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life—flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?" (ibid., 5:2).

"Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time" (ibid., 3:3:4).

"Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth, so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. . . . For how stands the case? Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient churches with which the apostles held constant conversation, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question?" (ibid., 3:4:1).

"[I]t is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church—those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the infallible charism of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth" (ibid., 4:26:2).

"The true knowledge is the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of the body of Christ according to the succession of bishops, by which succession the bishops have handed down the Church which is found everywhere" (ibid., 4:33:8).

The remains/relics of St. Irenaeus were forever lost when the Church housing them was destroyed in 1562 .

O Be Careful Little Hands What You Type

On the subject of blogging again, I had an interesting and sobering comment posted from someone who I assume is a non-Christian regarding the "love" he sees displayed on the Christian blogs. Skepticus Maximus said this in response to my Blogospheric Beatitudes:

"Tiber Jumper, I find it interesting that you don't provide a URL or link to this conversation. The snippet you provided hints at a more volatile history in the conversation than you let on. Anyone can cherry-pick the rare civil comment. Yet anyone who looks at xtian blogsites knows that xtians can't help but damn one another faster than their god can."

Perhaps we could be doing a better job of preaching the gospel on the blogosphere. I don't suspect this particular person would be drawn to Christianity based on the commentary that he describes. Let's remember to say prayers for Skep Max too.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Blogospheric Beatitudes

Oftentimes, due to the zeal to defend our faith, we sadly lapse into *snarkiness*, sarcasm, condescension and downright vitriol. If our blogged words could kill, there would be many casualties of the religious wars of blogdom. The reality is, at some level there are casualties. Our Church believes there are very real and temporal consequences to our wrong actions and behaviors including grieving the Holy Spirit. The words we type on-line are not excluded from Christ's promise that they will be shouted from the housetops. Unfortunately, my own comments and posts are not entirely free of this. I am not proud to admit this nor do I look forward to the "This Was Your Life" tract of my darker moments, since we are definitely held accountable for the things we have done in this life, whether good or bad. So when I see interactions on the net that are examples of Christ's command to love your neighbor as yourself, I want to post about it!

My frequent commenter, Theo,
had been conversing on a blog that does not share his theological perspective. Check out the beatitudes shown here. Theo always ends his comments with:


Humbly, I remain your brother in Christ,


As long as you cultivate a belief that you are justified by the merits of Christ, your congruent merit, and the congruent merit of others, you believe a false gospel, Theo, and you are no brother.

Theo :

Dear brother ****,

You wrote: "you believe a false gospel, Theo, and you are no brother."

I fully understand how your interpretation of Scripture and the theology you hold sacred forces you into this view. As I previously wrote in a different thread on this blogsite,
"...please understand that in spite of your theology, I recognize your Christianity, and as such, I deem you my brother... I know that you cannot call me ‘brother.’ Please understand that *my* best understanding of the Gospel mandates that I recognize you as ‘brother,’ nevertheless. You can disavow our fraternity in Christ. I cannot.

“Regardless, I'm confident that God's will shall be done. In the end, all is to God's Glory."

Humbly I remain your servant and brother in Christ,

God bless Theo, he's a better man than I!

Elderly and Embryos

I have blogged on this before but in our study of Evangelium Vitae last night we touched on the topic of euthanasia again. Here's a link to an excellent article regarding euthanasia and the recent release of Dr. Kevorkian. The "futile care theory" is spawning the creation of "ethics" committees in hospitals which may be more accurately called "Auschwitz Welcome Wagons." When the doctors perceive that the patient's quality of life is poor they now consult these "Welcome Wagons" to badger the families into relenting and letting them stop care. I understand the need to stop aggressive measures when death is imminent and the treatment is over-burdensome, however, I have seen fluids and feedings stopped because a person with dementia was judged to not "measure up," to use Dr. Kevorkian's terminology.
Once we start killing life at the beginning, it becomes so much easier to hasten death at the end.
Germany still has the graveyards as the one seen above where the elderly and disabled were interred after being euthanized.
Let's face it, elderly and embryos don't look good in two piece bathing suits nor do they contribute to the GNP. So where's the quality there? God have mercy on us. Lord Jesus, Give us understanding of the inviolability of life.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"At Every Moment of Existence, Life is Sacred"

We are studying Evangelium Vitae, The Gospel of Life by Pope John Paul 2 in our parish pro- life group. In chapter 3, he refers to the Didache, the apostles teaching from 75 AD to illustrate that the Catholic Church has always spoken against abortion from its earliest days continuing to the present . It remains the one Church that has held this position unwavering since the time of the apostles.
When I was an evangelical, I never could understand why Catholics were leading the fight to defend life, if they were wrong about so many other things. When I asked this to a friend, he said: "They got that one thing right." I have since found out they were right about many other things as well, including their stance on artificial contraception which contributes to the abortion mentality as predicted by Pope Paul in the 1960's.

From the beginning, the living Tradition of the Church-as shown by the Didache, the most ancient non-biblical Christian writing-categorically repeated the commandment "You shall not kill": "There are two ways, a way of life and a way of death; there is a great difference between them... In accordance with the precept of the teaching: you shall not kill ... you shall not put a child to death by abortion nor kill it once it is born ... The way of death is this: ... they show no compassion for the poor, they do not suffer with the suffering, they do not acknowledge their Creator, they kill their children and by abortion cause God's creatures to perish; they drive away the needy, oppress the suffering, they are advocates of the rich and unjust judges of the poor; they are filled with every sin. May you be able to stay ever apart, o children, from all these sins!". The texts of Sacred Scripture never address the question of deliberate abortion and so do not directly and specifically condemn it. But they show such great respect for the human being in the mother's womb that they require as a logical consequence that God's commandment "You shall not kill" be extended to the unborn child as well.

Human life is sacred and inviolable at every moment of existence, including the initial phase which precedes birth. All human beings, from their mothers' womb, belong to God who searches them and knows them, who forms them and knits them together with his own hands, who gazes on them when they are tiny shapeless embryos and already sees in them the adults of tomorrow whose days are numbered and whose vocation is even now written in the "book of life" (cf. Ps 139: 1, 13-16). There too, when they are still in their mothers' womb-as many passages of the Bible bear witness60-they are the personal objects of God's loving and fatherly providence. (from Evangelium Vitae)

When God looks at those eight cells in the above picture, He sees a human life from beginning to end as well as an immortal soul that goes on for eternity. Would that we see things from His perspective. We begin our meeting by the praying the rosary for the end to abortion and end with this prayer to Mary, whose unborn child was the Savior of the world.

O Mary,
bright dawn of the new world,
Mother of the living,
to you do we entrust the cause of life
Look down, O Mother,
upon the vast numbers
of babies not allowed to be born,
of the poor whose lives are made difficult,
of men and women
who are victims of brutal violence,
of the elderly and the sick killed
by indifference or out of misguided mercy.

Grant that all who believe in your Son
may proclaim the Gospel of life
with honesty and love
to the people of our time.

Obtain for them the grace
to accept that Gospel
as a gift ever new,
the joy of celebrating it with gratitude
throughout their lives
and the courage to bear witness to it
resolutely, in order to build,
together with all people of good will,
the civilization of truth and love,
to the praise and glory of God,
the Creator and lover of life.

Year Of St. Paul

This Thursday Pope Benedict the 16th will proclaim the Year of St. Paul on the evening of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. This year will mark the 2000th year of the birth of St. Paul thought to be born between 6 and 8 AD.

Pope Benedict XVI will preside at the celebration of first Vespers in the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls. This is the location that archaeologists confirmed last December was the resting place of St. Paul.(See image above)

During the ceremony, the Pope will proclaim a year especially dedicated to St. Paul, to mark the 2000th anniversary of the birth of the "Apostle of the Gentiles."

His ministry here still continues through the prayers and intercessions he makes for us before the throne of God. Can you imagine St. Paul not praying for conversions? I am sure if he is within earshot of the angels that rejoice when one converts , he no doubt shouts a hearty "Praise God! along with them.

This may be an excellent time to start a Novena to St. Paul. There's one below if you are so inclined. A Novena is a prayer said for a particular intention over a 9 day period, based on the 9 days the apostles tarried and prayed in Jerusalem as instructed by our Lord. Not an incantation, or superstition. Just fervent faith-filled intercession through the communion we have with all believers, here and beyond.

Novena to St. Paul the Apostle

Entrust your special intentions to St. Paul
and offer the following prayer,
concluding with an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.

O St. Paul the Apostle, preacher of truth and Doctor of the Gentiles, intercede for us to God, who chose you.

You are a vessel of election, O St. Paul the Apostle.
Preacher of truth to the whole world.

O God, you have instructed many nations through the preaching of the blessed apostle Paul. Let the power of his intercession with you help us who venerate his memory this day.

Monday, June 25, 2007

More on Conscience

From the Catechism:


1783 Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings.

1784 The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. From the earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law recognized by conscience. Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human weakness and faults. The education of the conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.

1785 In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path,54 we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord's Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.55

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Forming Your Conscience

The word conscience comes up a lot lately in the media, particularly when interviewing Catholic presidential candidates on their views of abortion and same-sex marriage, etc. We hear that well worn Catholic teaching that says "you are to follow your conscience." That's of course assuming you have a well-formed conscience. Even hardened criminals have a conscience, *formed* according to their own particular code of ethics. I wouldn't encourage them to just "follow their conscience!" So what is a well-formed conscience? How do I form mine? How do I know if it is formed well? Thankfully, the Church has the answers for us.

"We are responsible for forming our consciences, allowing God’s Word to truly be a light for our path. When we do not respect the dignity of conscience -- when we do not seek what is true and good -- the conscience becomes increasingly blind and less capable of making sound moral judgments (cf. Mt. 6:22-23; Veritatis Splendor [VS] 63).

The Catechism (no. 1792) gives several examples of how conscience can go astray, identifying the following sources of errors of judgment in moral conduct:

—ignorance of Christ and His Gospel

—bad example of others

—enslavement to passions

mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience

—rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching

—lack of conversion

—lack of charity

Conscience is our personal link to God’s law, and it must be distinguished -- often with the help of a confessor or spiritual director -- from our natural inclinations and “passions.” And deep down we know that as Catholics we are not acting with a “certain” conscience when we make choices known to be at odds with the Church’s moral teaching. "
(From Catholics United for the Faith)

A key to a well-formed conscience involves:

  1. Prayerful adherence to God's Word
  2. Submission with a docile attitude to the moral teachings of the Church
  3. Accountability through the sacrament of reconciliation and spiritual direction
I believe the grace and strength to then follow our well-formed conscience is obtained through frequent reception of Christ in the Eucharist. We can never follow our conscience on our own power but through His spirit living in us.

Left to my own devices with just the "God told me" mentality, my Sin-o-Meter becomes defective and begins to malfunction. Sometimes, I was not aware that it was malfunctioning until it was too late. I am very thankful that Jesus gives us the "tools" we need to live a life pleasing to Him and the ability to form our conscience in accordance with His will and to keep our Sin-O-Meter working in tip-top shape.

Thanks to commenters MMFan for the sin-o-meter idea and Nancy for her recent thoughts on Confession. You guys inspired this, God bless.

Cycles of Feasting and Fasting

Kacy, a new convert and new bride has a most excellent post regarding food over at Meandering Home. The cycles of feasting and fasting in the Catholic Church is something I have grown to love over the past three years. She references Babette's Feast which has been one of my favorite movies, next to Buckaroo Bonzai and the Adventures from the 8th Dimension. (Buckaroo was a race car driver, neurosurgeon and lead guitarist in a rock band, but I digress)

"In summary, we are brought closer to God through eating because we are reminded of our dependence on Him. The family meal brings to mind the Eucharist, as we share food as a community. Finally, the cycles of feasting and fasting keep us from becoming too attached to creation while letting us enjoy the good things God has given to us."

Calling All 12 Steppers

Prodigal Daughter has been hosting a chat on the Coming Home Forum on Wednesday evenings at 8 PM EST for several months. Topics in the past have included: "What drew you to the Church?" or 'How converts relate to Mary?" or "Talking to your non-Catholic relatives and friends", and open discussions. It is a chat for support and fellowship, and not the forum for debate.
Go here to the CHN Forum to register

Saturday, June 23, 2007

12 Step Recovery Program for Reverts/Converts

As children of alcoholic parents, Prodigal Daughter and I have benefited from the principles annunciated in the 12 Steps of AA. There has just some been discussion on my blog regarding the subject of converts/reverts returning to their former protestant faith. I began to think of the 12 Steps of AA and how they were uniquely applicable to this situation as well. Therefore, I developed my own version of the 12 Step Program. Together, we can say the 12 steps and hopefully prevent someone from falling off the wagon, or out of the Barc of Peter, so to speak. (The regular font is the original , brown italics are my reworking of them)

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.
We admitted we were powerless over our desire to experience God on our own terms-our spiritual lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Came to believe in the hierarchical Church with an infallible teaching authority that could restore us to theological sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Made a decision to submit our will and our life over to the care of the Church historically started by Christ 2000 years ago.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
We performed an examination of conscience with the help of the Holy Spirit.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
We went to Confession and confessed our sins in detail to a priest.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
We received forgiveness and grace to sin no more through this sacrament of reconciliation instituted by our Lord in John 21.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my love, I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. We perform Penance, attempting to make restitution for the wrongs done and the temporal consequences of our disobedience.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Continue to perform restitution where possible for my sins.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
We continually live in a state of grace and humility acknowledging that we can fall from His grace by our conscious choices to sin. We continue to make frequent use of the confessional.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God through the gifts, graces and sacraments given us by Christ in the Church praying for the knowledge of His will and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to all our brethren and to let Christ guide us in all our earthly affairs.

A Day in the Life of a Catholic Blogger

Blogging about blogging

Friday, June 22, 2007

Crossed The Blogger

JP from Return of the Prodigal Blogger tagged me with these questions. Here goes:

1. How did you start blogging?
I never intended to blog. Being a musician and part time physician took up most of my time. It started accidentally. I was visiting with my extended family and got into a discussion over Catholicism. I later received an e-mail from one of the family members present excoriating my wife and I for our decision to convert. It contained the usual mis-conceptions, bad history and fundamentalist *mythology* regarding the Catholic faith. Even more surprising and sad was that it was from a person with a good heart and good mind, as is often the case.
It prompted me to answer his objections and misconceptions one by one. I may have had my testimony of conversion already blogged, I can't remember but, I decided that it was necessary for me to attempt to make a defense of the faith for those who had never heard the "real story."
I had gone 30 years as an evangelical having never heard an apology for the Catholic faith and my intention is to not let that happen to someone else. The internet is an excellent tool to share the faith since there are so many people on line these days.

2. Did you intend to have a blog with a big following?
No, I didn't, and didn't really understand the whole process when I started. My intention was to share my story of conversion and experiences as a Catholic Christian to the many people who would never ask me directly. Little did I know there's only about 5000 other Catholics out there doing the same thing!
I usually don't have that "big" a following unless one of my posts is picked up by another blogger that is heavily "trafficked." I find it curious that certain non-Catholic Christians who are hostile to "all things Catholic" have links to my blog! If one of their readers is directed to my page, then Praise God!

3. What do you hope to achieve or accomplish with your blog? Have you been successful? I often look to St. Frances DeSales as my role model. Despite being handicapped by the lack of internet access, he was able to win 60,000 Catholics back to the faith by his handwritten tracts, sermons and heroic faith dedicated to Christ. My hope is that by the grace of God, my blog will point some back to the Church and hopefully bring them home. It is frightening though because we will be held responsible for every word typed and we will all have to give an account for our blogged words someday. Sometimes, I wish I could have a good theologian looking over my shoulder as I type, to make sure I don't write anything that is not solid Catholic teaching. It's a bigger responsibility than many of us realize.
I think I have been successful in getting many people peeved at me! But seriously, a highlight for me was when I received a comment from a student at Virginia Tech thanking me for the prayers and telling me had had been reading my blog for awhile and was seriously considering Catholicism.

4. Has the focus of your blog changed since you started blogging? How?
Maybe a bit. Besides the apologetic-type posts (which get old after awhile, I mean, how many times have I written "Catholics don't worship idols?") I also focus on topics that converts and reverts find helpful or humorous. Quite frankly, living a Catholic life is so counter-culture that we are constantly faced with incredulity and derision so the blogosphere forms a nice supportive community. A "virtual 12 step support group." LOL

5. What do you know now that you wish you'd known when you started?
How much hostility was out there. Whew! I don't publish every comment that I receive.
6. Do you make money with your blog?
No, I actually lose moneywith my blog because I should be spending the blog time marketing and promoting my music career! The Cafe Press thing has made zero so far and I am giving that money to Catholic Charities anyway.

7. Does your immediate or extended family know about your blog? If so, do they read it? If not, why? My brother's son-in-law who inspired the whole thing used to go to it, but doesn't anymore after getting peeved by some of my posts. Unless of course he is the silent reader from Helsinki or the Korea (Man, do I have a lot of readers in Korea!)

I initially was impressed with how many people across the world were reading my blog until I realized they were just masking their ISP's by cloaking software. Well, on second thought, maybe my blog is a huge hit in Latvia and Gdansk!
So no, I don't think anyone from my family reads it. My enthusiasm for Catholicism has not been widely shared by family. (Except for Prodigal Daughter of course)

8. What two pieces of advice would give to a new blogger?

Here's more than 2:
Pray before you type, I often don't. Did you have your quiet time before you blogged?
God first, family second, career/job third, blog "ministry" last. None of our blogs are so important that the world will end if we don't post!
Keep your computer in a public place, keep accountability software on it at all times, invite your spouse/friends to read your browser history. Too easy to be lead to badness on the net.
Finally, when on your honeymoon, it's probably best not to blog! (Japhy)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Double Crossed The Tiber?

It has been a little more than three years since PD and I reverted to Catholicism. Shortly after my reversion, I received an e-mail that predicted that once the "pomp and circumstances" of my conversion had worn off, I'd be left with nothing but the "empty promises that Rome can't fulfill." I responded to that e-mail by politely requesting he send me a list of the converts/reverts he was aware of that were reverting back (double crossing) to their previous protestant denomination. I never received a reply.

I am not sure what the person described above meant by "pomp and circumstance." I must admit, I get a little less emotional describing my conversion these days but still get choked-up when I speak of Christ in the Eucharist and how He has been there all the time, unrecognized by myself. I wonder if he meant the aesthetic aspects of Catholicism? Quite frankly, the local Church building we attend is shaped like the mother ship from Close Encounters and the interior design is Frank Lloyd Wright meets IKEA (So it's not the architectural majesty and iconic brilliance that drew us, nor keeps us!) There's not a whole lot of pomp or circumstances there either, just the 2000 year old divine liturgy and the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist confected by two godly over-worked and under-paid pastors.

I still pray as much now as when I first returned and in many ways have a deeper "filial" affection for "Mother Church" that was not there three years ago. I still desire frequent reception of the Eucharist and do not grow weary of daily Mass. Sometimes, I am less enthused about going after a long day, but have never once left Mass saying to my spouse
"PD, what a waste of time, I wish we stayed home instead!" The stack of new and Amazon-used Catholic-related books on my night stand shows no sign of shrinking anytime soon either. So it's been three years and counting I haven't yet seen the "empty promises that Rome can't fulfill."

But, in all fairness, maybe I am not aware of a Double Crossing Phenomena that my e-mail interlocutor is aware of. In light of all the conversions that have been tracked by Coming Home Network or such I was wondering what the percentage of convert/reverts have decided to go back to non-Catholic faith expressions. Does anyone have data on this type of "double crossing?" I am sure it has occurred and in the days of the hubbub over the Beckwith Incident this past May, there was a well known Catholic convert blogger going the other direction with less fanfare. This former 7th day Adventist -Catholic convert recently returned to his 7th Day denomination and posts an interesting discussion on his journey to and from Rome. About a year ago, Rod Dreher of Crunchy Cons blog left Rome to cross the Bosporus.

  • Are there any other revert/converts any out there currently, who long for their previous fellowship experience and question their Crossing Over?
  • As an aside, does anyone ever wonder why we are referred to as converts and reverts rather than just Christians who changed churches and became Catholic? When I went to the Methodist church for a time before coming home, I wasn't referred to as a "Methodist convert." I think it is an interesting phenomenon. The media use this nomenclature as well so it's not just Catholic-speak or "Catholese*."

*Catholese= the use of terms to describe religious experience within the confines of Catholic culture and faith practices. This is a term that is analogous to "Christianese" or my personal favorite "Spirit-speak."

Radical for Jesus- Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of The Eucharist

I posted about these Sisters before but just wanted to post an update. That's their Mother Superior at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast with the President. These Sisters really get around!

I first literally ran into these sisters at the March for Life in Washington DC this January. I was immediately impressed by their love for Jesus and defense of the unborn and have since found out that their order is growing in leaps and bounds. At a time when many orders are dying off due to lack of new vocations (new members), it is refreshing to see that this one can't adequately house the number of young women who desire to live a radical life for Christ! The average age of those entering is 24 and the average age among the professed is 28 years old.

Check out their new website and in particular the link to the CBS news report on their work.
Their new website has received over 1.4 million hits since December and Sister Joseph Andrew, the director of vocations, carries a Blackberry with her to respond to greater than 70 e-mails she receives daily with questions regarding a possible vocation.

What motivates these nuns?
"Our daily prayer life is absolutely essential to our missions, as it is to our whole lives as consecrated Sisters. Religious Sisters are "formed in the sanctuary"-it's only by knowing Our Lord in the Eucharist that we can bring Him to our students, to the families in the parish, and to the strangers we meet."

And if the Lord leads you, pray for them and send a couple quid. If you have time give a listen to their singing. It gives me

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Bible and Conception and Abortion

H/t to Dr. Jeff Mirus of Catholic Culture for this website: Scripture for Life.

"This site is a road map for a journey through Scripture for those who hold life sacred, particularly those who are interested in protecting unborn children. The site is divided into seven themes, each containing related Catechism quotations and Scripture references. This is a very useful tool."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Prayer During Driving is Encouraged

PD and I have taken note in the past few years how drivers are becoming more aggressive and inconsiderate of one another. Call me an alarmist, but my theory is that the "culture of death mentality" has crept into the personal habits of many, including the act of driving. When one disregards the sanctity of life, it's easy to be threatening, rude and disrespectful of others because the underlying assumption is that "my life has more value than yours."

The Vatican has just released the 10 Commandments of Driving.

"A 36-page document called "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road" contains 10 Commandments covering everything from road rage, respecting pedestrians, keeping a car in good shape and avoiding rude gestures while behind the wheel."

A must read for my 18 year old who just got his license, and the rest of us too!

Shameless Self -Promotion Again

After Susie from Recon recently Crossed the Tiber (literally) she took photos to prove it! She sent me the pics and I uploaded one of them onto my Cafe Press Products. Seeing that these babies haven't been flying off the virtual shelves I thought I'd do a little shameless promotion here.
You too can have your very own "I Crossed The Tiber" Refrigerator Magnet.
I will double the amount that comes in and send the proceeds to Catholic Charities.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Quiet Genocide in Iraq

Amid the daily reports of casualties in Iraq in the news, a quieter genocide is occurring among the Assyrian Christians living in Iraq. Check this link.

"Through intimidation, forced conversions, murder, kidnapping, beheading of Church leaders, rape, and daily threats against their security and lives, the Assyrian Christian population in Baghdad and other major cities has dwindled from a once-thriving community to almost nothing."

When we go to prayer daily for the needs of our families and loved ones, let us join in prayer for these brothers and sisters as well.
Lord have mercy on them.
To put feet on your prayers, go to this website.

St Ephrem of Syria pray for them. St Sharbel of Lebanon pray for them. Father Ragheed Ganni of Iraq, pray for your flock.

Stealth Evangelism

We recently spent an evening with a young and very bright "cradle" Catholic blogger we met on the internet! He lives a state away but was visiting the area so we made arrangements to get together. We had a great evening of fellowship and prayed the evening Liturgy of the Hours together. When I mentioned I was having some difficulty learning the Liturgy of the Hours he said, "Wait a minute, I have my book of prayer in the car, we can do it together!" I love the universality of the Church. Here's a Christian brother, whom I've never met except via blogging and is literally on the same page we are on. As a matter of fact, millions of Catholics throughout the world pray the liturgy of the hours so when we pray it, we can be sure we are uniting our prayers with those of millions throughout the world.

In our conversation he mentioned that he attends a weekly bible study at a non-denominational church near his home. He said his goal is to always be able to "provide an answer for the hope that is within him." He doesn't advertise to the group that he is a Catholic believer but doesn't hide it either. Instead he just enjoys being able to give a more Catholic interpretation to Scripture in the hopes that others will see the beauty and truth of Catholic exegesis. I too have found that when you present a Catholic interpretation of Scripture without advertising that it is "Catholic," you can sometimes see the light bulbs "light up." In Haiti, when I was on a medical mission with folks from my previous church, a chat about the importance of works in our salvation based on James and Matt 25 was heartily accepted by 9/10 members on the team. Truth is Truth regardless of where it comes from, but seems easier to embrace when it's from a source that we are not knowingly opposed to.

So who is this Catholic Stealth Evangelist? I can't say, otherwise, I'd blow his cover!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

My boys got me Papa Benedict's New Book for a Father's Day gift today. I was going to wait to get a used copy on Amazon but this is a great surprise. A gift to me from my sons written by the Holy Father!
Come to think of it, there's an awful lot of "Happy Father's Day" going around today, so I suspect it's not just Catholics who understand that Jesus' admonition to "call no man your father" didn't mean to never address anyone with the title "father." (Or rabbi, or teacher for that matter)

Happy Father's Day

St. Joseph is the patron saint of father's and families. This prayer is over 1900 years old

O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most Loving of Fathers. O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen.

We can also turn to St. Joseph , most chaste spouse of the Virgin Mary, and ask his intercession to keep us chaste and holy moral guardians of our family. Today would be a great day to ask his intercession for moral purity in our households and to install some internet accountability software on our computers as a way of putting feet on our prayers! Click Here for free accountability software:
X3 Watch.

Joseph is my middle name given at Baptism so I have a particular devotion to his intercession for me.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops put together a *quiz* to help the faithful learn more about the Eucharist. In a time when it is estimated that 2/3 of Catholics no longer believe in the "Real Presence" of Christ in the Eucharist, this is sorely needed to challenge and get many Catholics back to the basics of their faith.

I left the Church not realizing that I was not only leaving the Church but leaving the physical presence of Jesus as well. My contention now is that if I had known and truly believed Jesus was there physically at each and every Mass and residing in the tabernacle of every Catholic Church, I never would have left to find "solid teaching" and "warm fellowship." If Jesus was at the altar of your Church every Sunday and you had the chance to actually receive him physically, why would you go anywhere else? I found Jesus spiritually through a conversion experience outside his Church, but sadly left the bride groom at the Altar in His Church!

I still wish someone could have grabbed me and said: "Hey kid, it's great that you have finally accepted Jesus as your Savior, since you were ignoring him daily, including every Sunday at Mass. Now you can return to Mass and receive Him personally- spiritually and physically too just like the early Christians did! " Sadly, I was sold a bill of goods by my young mis-guided bible teachers and was told that Jesus wasn't in the Catholic Church. I was too spiritually blind at the time to see Him in the Church. Or perhaps my conscious decision to sin and imbibe the spirit of the age blocked any chance of His Holy Spirit getting through. (Well, thank God it took 30 years to get me back, better late than never)

At any rate, here's the quiz. You better put on your Eucharistic Thinking Caps! For most of my readers, it will be a breeze but I stumbled on #2 already.

‘Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper: On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist’

1. What do we believe about holy Communion?

2. In what three ways are we united to Christ in Communion?

3. Who may receive holy Communion?

4. Should we ever refrain from receiving holy Communion?

5. How can we prepare to receive holy Communion more worthily?

6. May those who are not Catholic receive holy Communion in the Catholic Church?

7. May Catholics receive holy Communion in other Christian Churches?

Corpus Christi Quiz Answers

1. “Holy Communion is a sharing in the Eucharist in which Christ is truly present,” begins the document’s answer.

2. Quoting the Catechism and Pope Benedict, the bishops explain these three ways: participating in the one sacrifice of Christ, communion with each other in the body of Christ, and sharing in Jesus’ resurrection and divinity.

3. “With few exceptions (see answer No. 6), only those who are members of the Catholic Church may receive holy Communion at a Catholic Eucharistic liturgy.”

4. The bishops’ document encourages frequent Communion, but cites three impediments: first, lack of sanctifying grace due to mortal sin (the bishops list 10 common areas of mortal sin); second, lack of adherence to Church teaching; third, giving public scandal.

5. The bishops suggest practices for our day-to-day life, before Mass and at Mass. Day to day: regular prayer and Scripture reading, fulfillment of the duties of your state in life, daily repentance of sin and regular confession. Before Mass: prayerful recollection, one-hour Eucharistic fast, appropriate dress. At Mass: active participation.

6. Citing canon law, the bishops write: “Because of the close communion that still exists between the Catholic Church and certain Churches that are not in full communion with her — such as the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church — properly disposed members of those Churches, who request it on their own, may be permitted to receive holy Communion. Other Christians may receive holy Communion if they are in danger of death or if they are in a situation of other grave necessity as determined by the diocesan bishop or the bishops’ conference. In such instances, Church authority must see that the following four conditions are present: 1. The person is not able to approach a minister of his or her own community. 2. The individual has asked for the sacrament on his or her own. 3. The individual manifests Catholic faith in the Eucharist. 4. The person is properly disposed.” Members of non-Christian religions are not permitted to receive holy Communion.

7. “It may happen that a Catholic, for a legitimate and serious reason, finds himself or herself unable to attend a Catholic Mass. In such instances, provided that the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided, and that a true necessity or spiritual advantage exists, he or she may receive the Eucharist from a non-Catholic minister in whose Church the sacrament is valid or from one who is validly ordained according to Catholic teaching. In practice, this means the Eastern and Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church.” Catholics should be mindful of those Churches’ restrictions, however.

Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in Your Home

June is the month the Church dedicates to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Shortly after Prodigal Daughter and I reverted to the Church, our pastor asked if we wanted an "enthronement" performed in our house. We both said "Sure, Father sounds great! What the heck is an enthronement? He explained that it is a way that a Christian family dedicates their house to Jesus and states in an external way that Christ has sovereign rights over the household. The practice of enthronement is a real physical way of saying that Christ is truly the real head of the home. As an evangelical, whenever we moved into a new home, we asked our pastor to come over and pray a blessing over the home. This is not much different from an enthronement and the practice of asking a blessing over a new home may have its roots in the enthronement described here.

The enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a household finds its origin in the promise Our Lord Jesus made to St. Mary Margaret Alacoque in one of her visions. He told her: "I will bless every house in which an image of my heart shall be exposed and honored." The family obtains a picture or image of the Sacred Heart and it is displayed prominently in the home. The pastor/priest comes over and prays a prayer and act of consecration in which the entire family is consecrated to Jesus and he then blesses the picture and the family. As we pray to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we are praying to Jesus, but focusing on his love inflamed for us and His heart pierced for our sins. We are not praying to a picture, or inanimate object. The image provides a focus for us but it would be breaking a commandment to actually pray to an inanimate object! Catholics worship God alone, not statues, images, icons etc.

Here is the Prayer of Consecration:

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, who did make known to St. Margaret Mary Your ardent desire to reign over Christian families, behold us assembled here today to proclaim Your absolute dominion over our home.

Henceforth we purpose to lead a life like Yours so that among us may flourish the virtues for which You did promise peace on earth, and for this end we will banish from our midst the spirit of the world which You abhor so much.

You will reign over our understanding by the simplicity of our faith. You will reign over our hearts by an ardent love for You; and may the flame of this love be ever kept burning in our hearts by the frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist.

Deign, O Divine Heart, to preside over our meetings, to bless our undertakings, both spiritual and temporal, to banish all worry and care, to sanctify our joys and soothe our sorrows. If any of us should ever have the misfortune to grieve Your Sacred Heart, remind him of Your goodness and mercy toward the repentant sinner.

Lastly, when the hour of separation will sound and death will plunge our home into mourning, then shall we all and every one of us be resigned to Your eternal decrees, and seek consolation in the thought that we shall all one day be reunited in heaven, where we shall sing the praises and blessings of Your Sacred Heart for all eternity.

May the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the glorious Patriarch St. Joseph offer You this our Consecration and remind us of the same all the days of our life.

Glory to the Divine Heart of Jesus, our King and our Father!

So each morning, as I come down the stairs, I see the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the wall and it reminds me who I serve and who my family is dedicated to. No superstition, no amulet- just an awesome devotional to Jesus backed by the authority of His Church. Oh yeah, we also have a little statue of the Mother of God to remind me to fulfill the Scripture that "all generations shall call me (Mary) blessed." Thanks Mary for saying yes to God! Blessed are you amongst all women.

To find out more about The Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in Your Home Click here.

(H/T to Fr. McNally)

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Sacred Heart of Jesus

As a young kid my Mom purchased the above picture for the bedroom I shared with my brother. I grew up with it, never understanding what it meant. I thought it was some kitschy Catholic representation of a Jesus I was slowly drifting from as I approached adolescence. Forty years later I understand that picture represented the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Inflamed with love for me and pierced for my transgressions.

Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Arising sometime in the 11th or 12th century, the devotion to the Sacred Heat of Jesus was practiced by the Benedictine and perhaps Cistercian monastic orders. From an outsider's point of view, a devotion like this is unusual and perhaps difficult to understand. Here is what I have come to understand about the Sacred Heart of Jesus: The heart through the ages has always represented the center and source of all love. The heart of Christ is a symbolic emblem of His love for man and the wound in His sacred heart represents the unmatchable sacrifice He offered to the Father on our behalf. So when we speak about a devotion centered on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we are focusing on the tremendous love and sacrifice of our Lord, and not an anatomical, physiologically functioning organ, we know as the human heart. Is Jesus' heart (meaning precious love and sacrifice for us) sacred? I say yes, absolutely, and can imagine no one would consider his sacrificial love for us anything but sacred!

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a mystic of the 17th century, had a vision from the Lord that encouraged devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This, like all apparitions, was not immediately approved by the Church, but the Church studied the theology behind this devotion and with time it has been approved and promoted. Lives have been changed from this devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Not magic or superstition, but pure love and adoration directed to that One whose heart was pierced for love of each one of us. That's what the devotion to the Sacred Heart is all about.

....Only the Heart of Christ who knows the depths of his Father's love could reveal to us the abyss of his mercy in so simple and beautiful a way ----From the Catechism. P:1439

The prayer of the Church venerates and honors the Heart of Jesus just as it invokes his most holy name. It adores the incarnate Word and his Heart which, out of love for men, he allowed to be pierced by our sins. Christian prayer loves to follow the way of the cross in the Savior's steps.-- From the Catechism. P: 2669

"From the depth of my nothingness, I prostrate myself before Thee, O Most Sacred, Divine and Adorable Heart of Jesus, to pay Thee all the homage of love, praise and adoration in my power." St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Click here for a more in depth look at the Devotion to the Sacred Heart by Fr. Hardon

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Church History: A Lesson in Awe

Yesterday, Pope Benedict reflected on the history of the Church and in particular, the writings of Eusebius of Caesarea, the first historian of the Church. When I read the historical writings of the early Church 3 years ago I realized they reflected Catholic belief that has not changed in 2000 years. I felt ashamed and embarrassed that I had such an incorrect view of Church history. I also was angry that in my faith circles, no one in thirty years had ever discussed the writings of the Church fathers. My view since fourteen years of age was this: "Jesus was born, died, rose again and started a church that immediately went South, and the Holy Spirit went on sabbatical for 150o hundred years." I am now in awe when I realize that His promise that the gates of hell would not prevail has indeed always been kept.

Pope Benedict: "Many centuries later, Eusebius of Caesarea still today issues an invitation to believers. He invites us to be awed by and to contemplate the great work of salvation that God has accomplished in history. And with the same vigor, he invites us to a conversion of life. In fact, before a God who has loved us so much, we cannot remain unaffected. The very demand of love is that all of life be oriented toward the imitation of the Beloved."

It now makes much more sense for me to believe that the God who promised to never leave or forsake us and to lead us in all Truth has never left the Church He started. We used to sing a chorus in our old fellowship that went like this:

"I will build my Church (women echo)
And the gates of Hell (echo)
Will not prevail (echo)
Against It...."

Little did I realize I was actually singing about the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic church. Now that is something to be in awe over.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Catechism on Faith

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Simplified

Receiving Faith from Others (166-167)

Although faith is a personal act, the believer does not act in isolation. Having received human life from others, the believer also receives faith from others, and passes it on to others.

The Apostles Creed begins with "I believe" ( the act of the individual believer). The Nicene Creed begins with "We believe," the faith of the Church expressed by all at Mass.

The Church's Faith (168-169)

First, the Church believes and professes the Lord. Later, the person (won over by the Church) can say, "I believe." "What do you ask of God's Church?" asks the baptismal liturgy. The answer is "faith" which offers "eternal life."

The Church is not the author of salvation. This comes from God alone. We do not believe in the Church as if she is the author of our salvation. We believe that through the Church we receive our salvation.

The Need for Formulas (170-171)

Also, we do not believe in the formulas of the Creeds but in the realities expressed by these formulas. However, the formulations help us to approach these realities, to live the faith.

The Church guards Christ's own words, hands on the apostolic confessions of faith, and teaches her children the "language of faith."

Transmitting the One Faith (172-175)

Through all these centuries and cultures, the Church has transmitted one faith, believing that all people have "one Lord, one faith, one Baptism" (Eph 4:4).

Having received faith from the apostles, the Church hands on this faith with a unanimous voice.

Though languages differ throughout the world, the content of the Tradition is one and the same. One and the same way of salvation appears throughout the whole world (St. Irenaeus).

"We guard with care this faith because this deposit of a great price causes the very vessel that contains it to be renewed" (St. Irenaeus).

Here are two bloggers who are poised to leave Protestantism and jump the Tiber or the Bosporus. Neither can decide yet which river they will ultimately cross.

"A book I bought a long time, right before my "de"conversion from Roman Catholicism titled "The Catholic Way" by Bishop Donald Wuerl, is next up on my reading list. In line after that is "The Orthodox Way" by Bishop Kallistos Ware followed by the continuation of "Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions" by Marcus Borg/N.T Wright. I don't know where I am taking myself here, I may stay put or move to something bigger and better then I expected."

"Welcome to CatholiDoxies! This blog is an attempt by your anonymous blogger, a frustrated Protestant Evangelical, to work through issues related to finding a home in either Catholicism and Orthodoxy. (You might know me by the handle "Irenaeus" on other blogs.)

The big philosophical question: how does one leaving Protestantism decide between Orthodoxy and Catholicism, when a major reason for one's frustration with Protestantism is the necessity and difficulty of having to decide, based on one's own reading of Scripture, what to believe and what confession/denomination/church to belong to?"

Pray that God leads these folks to where He wants them and that they will have the courage to crossover.

Poverty, Chastity, Obedience and Amazing Chops

Here's a link to a video of a jazz trio fronted by Father Stan Fortuna of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. I have seen some of the best bass players in the world play live, including Victor Wooten of the Flecktones. This friar definitely ranks up there with him. This brother definitely didn't bury his "talents" in a field.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Speaking the Truth From the Land Down Under

Cardinal Pell has warned Australian Catholic politicians for the second time that receiving the Eucharist and voting for embryonic stem cell research are not compatible. The Catholic Church supports adult stem cell research but holds that the in-vitro creation and experimentation on human embryo's is an affront to life itself in its earliest stages and needs to prohibited.

"All Catholics who continue to reject important Catholic teachings, even in areas such as sexuality, family, marriage, abortion, euthanasia, cloning where 'liberals' claim the primacy of conscience rules, should expect to be confronted, gently and consistently, rather than comforted and encouraged in their wrongdoing."

Thank God for shepherds in the Church who aren't afraid of warning the flock in order to save souls, regardless of the "political correctness." Let's keep Cardinal Pell in our prayers as well as the politicians who find it easy to disobey their own faith's teachings.