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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

St Ignatius

Since I have become Catholic over three years ago, the Lord continues to remind me of the little "touches of Catholicism" that were in my life for the past 30 years when I was a full blown devout non-Catholic Christian. On this special feast day we remember St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus in 1534. He helped to kick off the Counter-Reformation. He is known for his Spiritual Exercises and one of his most well known prayers is this:

“Receive, Lord, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. You have given me all that I have, all that I am, and I surrender all to your divine will, that you dispose of me. Give me only your love and your grace. With this I am rich enough, and I have no more to ask.”

When I read it last year on the feast of St. Ignatius, this prayer was so strangely familiar to me, but I couldn't remember where or when I had heard it before. It was like a whisper in my mind but I knew not who had spoken it. Suddenly it dawned on me. I played this as a song over 30 years ago! In 1975, my brother and I were in a little band with a group of three young women singers from an independent charismatic church. I played mandolin, brother was on the upright bass and the three young gals sang three part harmony and played acoustic guitars.(one was the pastor's wife) We were doing some original and some contemporary praise stuff and a song called "Receive." None of us knew where it came from at the time but had we known the words were from St. Ignatius, I don't suspect it would have made it on our recording. We practiced almost nightly one hot summer and then coughed up some cash and went to a professional recording studio in Morristown, NJ to record our album.
I have no idea where the original tape is now but I remember it was pretty intense, no overdubs, and the first take had to be right since the timer was clicking away.

At the end of one song, everyone started to sing and pray in tongues and I was mortified, but the engineer just kept the tape rolling and it ended up being on the finished tape. I was the only non-tongue speaker in our band and you would think I would have gotten the hint that this wasn't where I was supposed to be. Well, Israel took 40 years to finally get out of the desert and it took me 31 years to find my way back to the Catholic Church......could have been worse.

St. Ignatius, pray for all those who leave the Church. Intercede to the author and finisher of our faith to bring those home who left without knowing Who they were leaving.

NFP vs Contraception

Here's a creative little commercial on Natural Family Planning as compared to Contraception. H/t to Phat Catholic.

New Blog

Check out this excellent blog by a former agnostic. Defend Us in Battle
His conversion story is a trip to say the least!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Chain Reaction

I posted on this last year but my recent foray into the Twilight Zone brought back suppressed memories of stories of chained Bibles. Remember those?

" The Catholic Church chained Bibles to the pulpit so the common folk couldn't read the simple gospel plan of salvation for themselves and get saved. The Church sought to keep them in bondage to the sacraments."

The story goes something like this, Dr. Luther was rummaging around the attic of his old seminary trying to come up with lyrics to his new hymn and discovered a dusty old book, blew the dust off its cover and said: "Holy Reformation Melancthon Man, I just discovered the Bible! And there ain't no chains on this baby!"

Not only did Catholics chain bibles up but so did Protestant libraries and churches. It was a way of keeping knowledge accessible to everyone, not just the rich or the thieves with chain cutters!
This practice died down in the 1700's after printing presses and paper manufacturing made the price of books less astronomical and less desirable to "sign-out" permanently.
Here's an interesting article from a librarian's point of view with no theological axe to grind on either side.

Also in Elizabethan England, the Geneva Bible as well as Foxe's Book of Martyrs (a polemic protestant work*) were chained by order of the government. I guess, the argument would now go something like this: "Well, they chained The Book of Martyrs down because Catholics didn't want anyone to find out how many people they were burning at the stake and would steal and destroy it, so the true believers had to keep them chained up."

"The gross blunders due to carelessness have often been exposed, and there is no doubt that Foxe was only too ready to believe evil of the Catholics, and he cannot always be exonerated from the charge of wilful falsification of evidence." (From Ency. Brittanica.)

The Apostate

This cartoon series was sent to me recently by a blogger who has requested anonymity (no, it's not me, I am too proud to not tell you when I put something together) This blogger told me this cartoon was inspired by the reaction to the Dr. Beckwith conversion he had witnessed in the blogosphere as well as my Cathochic Tract post sometime ago. He had no idea of the negative view that some- not all non-Catholics have towards a Catholic's conversion. (I suspect the amount of times Dr. Beckwith was called an apostate in his com box may have fueled the title.)

Anonymous Blogger presents:

Sunday, July 29, 2007

There She is Again!

The following account was told by Father Sineux, during a spiritual retreat given on July 29, 1964:

A Protestant pastor from Scotland had a large number of Irish families in his parish and, consequently, some fervent Catholics. He was extremely annoyed by these people and, being fervent himself in his religion, tried to fight against their beliefs in any way he could. He went readily to children with his ideas.

One day he came across a young Irish girl of about eight years of age on the roadside. He stopped her, spoke a few nice words to her and then asked her to recite a few prayers, promising to give her two pennies if she recited them well. At once, the girl recited Our Father and the pastor congratulated her. “Do you know any others? Can you say another one?” he asked her. The child began the “Hail Mary,” but the pastor interrupted her. “That one is not a prayer, because you mustn’t pray to a woman, you should only pray to the Good Lord.” The small girl was a little embarrassed, but she continued and recited the Creed and the pastor encouraged her this time. However, when she arrived to the words “was born of the Virgin Mary”, the child sighed in annoyance and said, “There she is again! What am I to do?”

The pastor later acknowledged that he almost suffocated when he heard the words of the young Irish girl. He gave her two pennies, sent her home and returned to his own abode very upset. There she is again, that Virgin Mary, even in the Creed, which he had recited so many times without noticing the words he was pronouncing! There she is in the center of our Christian faith! This marked the beginning of long reflections, which resulted in his own abjuration, shortly afterwards. He himself told this story many times, which was so decisive for his vocation, when he had later become a Catholic priest.

From "A Moment With Mary"

Saturday, July 28, 2007

You Have Entered the Chick Zone

St. Peter told us to always be ready to give an account of the hope that is within you. Today I performed at an outdoor local festival in our town. Right next to the performance tent was a stand set up by a local baptist church ("We Preach the Bible, The Blood and the Blessed Hope" is their trademark statement) for the purpose of spreading the gospel and giving out free bottled water with a gospel message on it. I had a half an hour to kill before the first act was over so I sauntered over to their stand. I perused their tracts noting the "This Was Your Life" tract prominently displayed. Normally, I am fairly keyed-up before a gig and in my "performance mode" and can't talk much but I started chatting with the two women at the stand. We started talking about the Bible and when I asked them how they knew their interpretation of the Bible was the correct one, they called their pastor over and he took over.

Twilight Zone Music here..... I had now entered the Chick Zone. I spent the next twenty minutes attempting to refute the usual mythology about Catholicism directed at me once I identified myself as a Catholic. The pastor quoted Colossians and inferred that I was following the tradition of men rather than the Word of God (I assumed he meant the NT ). I gently reminded him that the "Word of God" (NT) was not yet formally canonized as the Word of God at that time that Colossians was written. I also mentioned that Paul told Timothy to take heed to the traditions that were handed down to him therefore, how do we know which ones should be disregarded as the "tradition of men?" He seemed a little frustrated that I didn't understand that the traditions that should be disregarded are ones he disagreed with, but the ones Paul told Timothy to accept were the ones in accord with his interpretation of the NT that wasn't yet available when Paul told Timothy to heed tradition! He then changed the subject and started telling me we were "saved by grace through faith, a gift of God not of works, lest any man should boast", to which I heartily Amen'd him.
Finally, he looked me in the eye and told me I would have to stand before God someday and give an account to the Lord for what I believed. I gently looked at him in the eye and said politely; "Yes, Pastor and you too will also have to stand before God someday and give an account for what you believe." He didn't argue with me about that though I suspect he thought I would be the pitiful lost soul of the Chick Tract standing before the throne of judgment as the faceless God sent me to the pit. Only by His grace will any of us stand before him and hear "well done good and faithful servant."

My better half, Prodigal Daughter, gave her testimony to one of the women at the stand explaining what led her to convert to Catholicism after 15 years as an evangelical. She talked about the theology of suffering and how the Eucharist had changed her life. I had to get on stage so PD thanked the folks for their time and told them how much she appreciated their boldness in sharing the gospel at a festival like this.

Next year, I am going to ask my pastor if we can set up a stand at this festival so St. Ann's Catholic Church can spread the gospel too . The sad thing is how many souls walked by who really needed to hear the Gospel while I defended Catholicism to a person who I assume already is a Christian, while he simultaneously attempted to get me to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior because he made the assumption I couldn't be saved because I was Catholic! I can only imagine how this grieves the heart of God.

8 Facts You Never Wanted to Know About Me

God Fearin' Fiddler tagged me a few days ago with this: "The rules are simple... Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.'

1) I have broken my arms four times. Once I broke both of them at the same time. Another time I re-fractured the same arm two weeks after the cast was off! I have a love-hate relationship with gravity.
2) It was a month before Christmas 1972 when I broke both arms and my parents gave me a mandolin for my Christmas present. They had a dark sense of humor, which I suspect I may have inherited.
3) I become very embarrassed when I am near a person in an animal costume if I can't see their face. Also, those large inflatable people that radio stations use at promotional events make me very uncomfortable, even if I am in a car just passing by. Along the same lines, I have marked difficulty using drive-thru fast food lanes. I don't like talking to people I can't see. (Confession is excluded here) The thought of my voice, requesting extra ketchup packets, amplified, distorted and reverberating off the tiled, grease-stained floors and walls of Mickey D's just bothers me to the point of distraction. (A new song "Drive Through Anxiety" may be on my next album) Clowns bother me quite a bit too!
4) My great-great-grandfather, a Frenchman with the name Pierre Benoit, was an inventor in Newark NJ and according to family legend discovered how to make "patent leather." The legend goes that the idea for his invention was stolen by another Frenchman named DuPont while the tipsy Pierre boasted of his discovery at a neighborhood bar. Just think, if Pierre was a bit more careful with his alcohol consumption, I probably could have quit my day job by now.
(I may never have had a day job!)
5) In college, the head of the art department asked me (a biology major) if I would be interested in minoring in art after seeing my stuff in an intro to art course. (They must have been quite desperate to fill slots in their department, though my still-life pen and ink drawing of an old gym bag was simply transcendent)

6) I never eat anything that is blue.

7) My grandmother is the only person to ever be blinded by a broken violin string. (She is the inspiration for One-Eyed Grandma on my Scarecrow's Lament CD.)

8) I made the decision to become Catholic while watching Christ carry the Cross in Mel Gibson's
The Passion of the Christ. A decision that I am forever grateful to have made.

*I tag anyone who wants to be tagged!*

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Live without Duplicity

(H/t to ReCon for the photo of the confessional)

Chastity! What's all this talk about chastity? I thought I didn't have to worry about that since I am married. In a beautiful way, the Church paints a picture for us of what chastity is and why we are called to it regardless of our station in life. It is all about self-giving and living a life without duplicity. Not living a secret interior life that I thought I could "get away with" or not have to seriously deal with because "it's all under the Blood."
Here's what the Church teaches:

" The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. It tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech.

All the baptized are called to chastity. The Christian has "put on Christ,"135 the model for all chastity. All Christ's faithful are called to lead a chaste life in keeping with their particular states of life. At the moment of his Baptism, the Christian is pledged to lead his affective life in chastity.

"People should cultivate [chastity] in the way that is suited to their state of life. Some profess virginity or consecrated celibacy which enables them to give themselves to God alone with an undivided heart in a remarkable manner. Others live in the way prescribed for all by the moral law, whether they are married or single."136 Married people are called to live conjugal chastity; others practice chastity in continence:

There are three forms of the virtue of chastity: the first is that of spouses, the second that of widows, and the third that of virgins. We do not praise any one of them to the exclusion of the others. . . . This is what makes for the richness of the discipline of the Church.137

Those who are engaged to marry are called to live chastity in continence. They should see in this time of testing a discovery of mutual respect, an apprenticeship in fidelity, and the hope of receiving one another from God. They should reserve for marriage the expressions of affection that belong to married love. They will help each other grow in chastity."
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

As His redeemed people, Christ calls us to live a life enslaved to Him, and not our passions. Not only does He call us to this but empowers us to make it so. The sacrament of reconciliation and the act of frequent "confessing of my sins to one another" (a priest) as scripture exhorts, is a surefire way to gain grace directly from the giver of all grace. John Paul 2 went to confession weekly. Far be it from me to think that I need the sacrament less!

Through prayer, a daily examination of our conscience, and a docile spirit open to the salutary effects of the sacraments, we can live our Christian lives without duplicity.

“Immaculate Virgin Mary, I confide my chastity to your maternal heart. I ask your help to guard my senses, especially the eyes, for an unchaste eye is the messenger of an unchaste heart. Knowing my pride, I pray for that humility which invites the mercy of God. Knowing that I am human, I shall not be surprised at the urge of concupiscence, but trusting in your care I rely on your protection and all the graces that I need from your divine Son. Amen.”

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Custody of the Eyes

(Pacific Coast Hwy in December)
This is going to be one of my more unpopular posts but something that deserves discussion since it's an area of moral weakness for most men, and perhaps a few women as well. The summer always exacerbates it and I no longer choose to vacation at the beach because of my failure to master it.

Yeah, I'm talking about taking custody of our eyes. At some point long ago in my Christian life, I gave up trying and had given myself over to doing the "second look" routine (you guys all know what I am talking about). I just figured "I am wired this way" and gave up the battle to be chaste in my viewing of the fairer sex. I would say a quick prayer of "I'm sorry" but invariably would find myself continually repeating the same sin. Even despite a conversion experience in my young teen years and all the teachings on lust and lusting, etc etc, I still developed the inability to take custody of my eyes from an early time in my life. I am not talking about lecherous staring necessarily, but that second look back in the rear view mirror after driving past a comely young women, created in the image of God. Was I really interested in those nice shoes she was wearing? One sin leads to another and eventually you are not even aware that you can't look at a woman "wholly" without evaluating her "parts" individually. I'm sorry to be so frank folks, but I'm just being real with you here.

Even despite being a devout Christian, this is a sin that takes root and begins to deceive until the point where you are no longer aware that you are sinning anymore. Eventually you just give up, give yourself over to it and the possibility of living a chaste life eludes you. At least it did me. Being married didn't make it easier. I found it made it worse! (you know longer had to imagine)

Over the past three years, I have developed a real sense of how the sin of unchastity, (lusting with the eyes) can really foul up my relationship with God as well as my spouse. I am not being scrupulous either! Some may say: "Oh, he's Catholic now so he has that guilt thing going." No, actually, I am trying to get as close to Jesus as possible and His word tells me that looking after women with a lustful eye is not the wisest or quickest route to heaven. Is it a serious sin? Well, Jesus said it would be better to go to heaven missing one eye than to go to hell with both, if it is your eye that causes you to sin. Even before Jesus walked the earth, He spoke through His servant Job in these words:
Job 31:1 – “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I look upon a virgin?” King David's roving eye towards Bathsheba led to his moral collapse.
Christians throughout the past two millennium have taken His words seriously and have committed themselves to purity and "custody of their eyes." The term itself is from one of the Church Fathers and makes me realize that the Church has always meant business when it came to moral purity/chastity*. So why did I think I could just give up because: "I am just wired this way?" St. Augustine, no stranger to issues of chastity, made a rule for priests that has been followed by certain religious orders for 1600 years.

"Although your eyes may perhaps fall on a woman, they must never be fixed on her. For in passing here and there, you are not forbidden to see women, but to desire them or wish to be desired by them is wicked. On either side bad passions are stirred up, and that not merely by touch or by thought, but by sight alone. And say not that your minds are pure if your eyes are not kept in modest restraint, for the immodest eye is the messenger of the impure heart. And when such hearts exchange thoughts by looks though without words and by fleshly concupiscence allure each other with evil desires, then chastity flies from the soul, even though the body is free from outward stain. And when a man fixes his eye on a woman, or takes pleasure in being locked on by her, let him not imagine that his sin will pass unnoticed."

I have found tremendous grace and strength over this sin through sacramental confession and frequent reception of the Eucharist (though I still stumble). I can't explain it exactly, but I have a renewed desire to have a pure heart towards God and others.(On more days than I used to anyways) Also through the teachings of JP2's Theology of the Body, I have become acutely aware of how I rob women of their God-given dignity when I unrobe them with my gaze. The thought now pains me when I realize how long I had disobeyed God to the point of no longer even being aware of it.
I don't watch R rated movies or most TV programs because it's nearly impossible (at least for me) to not sin against my wife by looking at other unclothed women. Are there any guys out there who can go home from the movies and not have those images in their minds during private moments with their spouse? (I think Jesus called this adultery. Matt 5:28-29)

Either single or married, same sex attraction or heterosexual. It doesn't matter. God has called us to walk in chastity and has given us the power and grace to do it! I close with this quote from a member of Courage, a Catholic ministry to Christians with same-sex attraction but it applies to all of us.

"It takes courage to be chaste, and still more courage to be a witness to chastity so that others who struggle will not struggle alone. But though it takes more courage to walk the steep and narrow road to Heaven than to take the broad and easy road to Hell, it will be much more pleasant to enjoy the banquet of heaven with the saints than to endure the torments of Hell. And so, though the way to sanctity is hard and I may stumble ten thousand times before I reach the top, it is the only road for me." R. Belgau

*Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.126 "Man's dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end."127 Catechism of the Catholic Church

(Deer Isle, Maine)

“Take God for your spouse and friend and walk with him continually, and you will not sin and will learn to love, and the things you must do will work out prosperously for you.”

St. John of the Cross (1542-1591)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Growth in Vacations

Our holy father Pope Benedict reminds us that vacations can be a time of spiritual growth and enrichment as well as a physical respite. During his vacation he commented on the purpose of vacations during his daily address. (Is he really on vacation?)

“Every good Christian knows that vacations are an opportune time to stretch one's body and to nourish the spirit in more ample spaces of prayer and meditation, to grow in one's personal relationship with Christ, and to conform more and more to his teachings,” the Pope said.

As he began his message, Pope Benedict thanked the Lord for the possibility to spend some days of rest in the mountains, and he expressed his gratitude “to those who have welcomed me here in Lorenzago, in this enchanting panorama in which the summit of Mount Cadore forms the background and where my beloved predecessor John Paul II visited several times.”

“Before this scene of meadows, of woods, of peaks ascending toward heaven,” the Pope said, “the desire to praise God for the marvel of his works spontaneously arises in the soul and easily transforms itself into prayer.”

The universality of our faith is never more evident than when we travel. Thank you God for Mass Don't leave home without it!
See you next week, God bless.

Growth in Vocations

Despite yesterday's sobering blog post regarding the abuse settlements, there is still hope that Christ continues to build the Church. One would think that the scandal would cause a decrease in vocations but here is some positive news that illustrates the opposite. Check out this link in
Per Christum and continue to pray for our priests and religious and those He is calling.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Los Angeles Priest Abuse Settlement

When Catholics read about the priest abuse scandal settlements like this one in LA, it is easy to become discouraged. We have a found a treasure in this Church and it's so hard to understand why some priests (about 4% of the total) are not themselves transformed by the very miracle that occurs in their hands at every Mass. However, scandal has been with the Church from the very beginning and it doesn't invalidate the truth. God has chosen us, very broken, very earthen vessels, to carry forth the truth. The chosen nation of Israel (the *shadow* of the Church to come) failed God time and time again yet He remained faithful.

As Prodigal Daughter reminds me , you can't judge a religion by those who don't practice it. The priest scandal broke in 2002 when PD was considering Catholicism and the abuse crisis made me even more resistant to the Church than I had been. I might have returned sooner to the Church but it was a hard concept to grasp; that the truth is not invalidated by the sinful lives of those called to practice it, but don't.

That being said, I am not trying to invalidate the pain and suffering of the shattered lives that the abusive priests and the bishops who covered it up have caused. No settlement, financial or otherwise can replace lost innocence, broken trust and devastated lives and families. The temporal consequences of this crisis has been and will continue to be great and our penance may last for generations to come. Yes, Christ has forgiven those who have confessed and admitted their guilt and received sacramental absolution, but we will all share in the temporal consequences of this sin. When one part of the body suffers, we all suffer.

God, have mercy on those who have suffered at the hands of your priests.
Lord, have mercy on the ones who brought about that suffering.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

You scored as Roman Catholic, You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is Mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.

Roman Catholic


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox


Reformed Evangelical








Classical Liberal


Modern Liberal


What's your theological worldview?

Boy, it would have been embarrassing if I came out like something else!!
Thanks to Susie from RECON for this.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

What is the Church?

The concept of Church being a sign and instrument of the communion of God and men was, as a non-Catholic Christian, difficult for me to grasp. I was taught that the church was an invisible, amorphous structure and came to think of it as an "add on" to the simple Gospel message Jesus brought. In other words, my concept was that the church was a man-made structure that Jesus reluctantly had to allow; a "well, if you must have, then go ahead, but " mentality.

Many of the non-Catholics coming from my particular background had a high degree of suspicion for anything that had structure or hierarchy to it, or remotely resembled Ye Church of Olden Tymes (AKA Catholic Church). Part of this was due to our lack of teaching regarding the early church and from where it derived it's structure and function. As the Catechism below illustrates, the "ecclesia" was used in the OT to describe the gathering of God's people. Complete it was with a hierarchy, officiating priests offering a sacrifice, and a liturgy. Jesus came not to abolish the law, but fulfill it. Why wouldn't the New Testament *ecclesia* have similar structure? My previous view that the NT Church should be a spontaneous gathering of Christians with no specified format or structure, invisible to the world was not consistent with the actual records of salvation history from Old to New Testament and beyond.

Catholics believe that Jesus gave us the Church to be the vehicle, if you will, to bring salvation to the world. Catholics don't separate Jesus from the Church the way I did as a non-Catholic. To be Catholic, one must understand salvation and the gospel in relation to the Church and not separated from it. Jesus is the head and can't be separated from the body, but actually that's what I was doing. My idea of the church was actually a disembodiment of Jesus. I wanted Jesus, but didn't want His church. I just didn't realize that He never intended to be separated from his body.

So, what is the Church?

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

751 The word "Church" (Latin ecclesia, from the Greek ek-ka-lein, to "call out of") means a convocation or an assembly. It designates the assemblies of the people, usually for a religious purpose.139 Ekklesia is used frequently in the Greek Old Testament for the assembly of the Chosen People before God, above all for their assembly on Mount Sinai where Israel received the Law and was established by God as his holy people.140 By calling itself "Church," the first community of Christian believers recognized itself as heir to that assembly. In the Church, God is "calling together" his people from all the ends of the earth. The equivalent Greek term Kyriake, from which the English word Church and the German Kirche are derived, means "what belongs to the Lord."

752 In Christian usage, the word "church" designates the liturgical assembly,141 but also the local community142 or the whole universal community of believers.143 These three meanings are inseparable. "The Church" is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ's Body

In Brief: 777 The word "Church" means "convocation." It designates the assembly of those whom God's Word "convokes," i.e., gathers together to form the People of God, and who themselves, nourished with the Body of Christ, become the Body of Christ.

778 The Church is both the means and the goal of God's plan: prefigured in creation, prepared for in the Old Covenant, founded by the words and actions of Jesus Christ, fulfilled by his redeeming cross and his Resurrection, the Church has been manifested as the mystery of salvation by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. She will be perfected in the glory of heaven as the assembly of all the redeemed of the earth (cf. Rev 14:4).

779 The Church is both visible and spiritual, a hierarchical society and the Mystical Body of Christ. She is one, yet formed of two components, human and divine. That is her mystery, which only faith can accept.

780 The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation, the sign and the instrument of the communion of God and men.

Another Reason to Not Use Artificial Contraception: "Rainbow Trout"

In a society that has now convinced all Christians that artificial birth control is not sinful, Catholics continue to be viewed as archaic, misogynist and medieval for continuing to hold to the belief that artificial contraception is gravely immoral. (Despite, the fact that every non-Catholic denomination up until 1930 shared their belief)
When one starts to understand the unitive and creative nature of the marriage act as explained by JP2 in his Theology of the Body, the barriers to understanding artificial contraception start to fall. Recently, some Protestant theologians have begun to look at Humane Vitae and Evangelium Vitae and have started to question whether the contraceptive mentality is really such a good idea. (Al Mohler of Southern Baptist Seminary for one)
Well, if the theology doesn't grab you, maybe the environmental impact will. Scientists have known for years that estrogen in the sewer water from contracepting women has profound effects on the sexual development and fertility of water-dwelling creatures. Maybe, if the fertility of fish continues to drop and we start seeing more and more hermaphroditic fish, (brings new meaning to the name "rainbow trout") people will scratch their heads and wonder if there isn't something to this contraception business. Don't expect it to make headlines in the MSM. (Just like the way the epidemic of breast cancer in women since the use of oral contraceptives doesn't get noticed or reported)

Read This
H/t to GFF

Upsy Daisy Angel *Free Download*

This is the first song on the new studio project. It was written in the summer of 1975 when I was junior in HS. I have never recorded it and perhaps played it live less than a handful of times. The song is based on a true story. We were camping in South Jersey with our little church group while attending Bill Gothard's Basic Youth Conflicts. (A cultish "bible" application course with much error and poor exegesis)
While setting up the campsite, someone noted the pastor's 3 year old son staring up at the trees and saying "uppity daisy uppity daisy" with his hands stretched over his head. The story emerged that perhaps the little guy saw an angel and we were all filled with awe and amazement. (It didn't take a lot in those days to get us going) As a matter of fact, we thought Jesus was returning before we graduated high school based on the landmark theological treatise: Late Great Planet Earth. Ah, good times, good times...
I thought it would be a nice tune for the new project. Let me know what you think.
Listen here to Upsy Daisy Angel (easier to sing than uppity)

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha

Today the Church honors a "Blessed." Not a saint officially yet, but on her way. Born to an Algonquin Indian mother in 1656 in Auriesville, NY, Kateri (Catherine) Tekakwitha was the first person born in North American to be beatified. After her baptism and conversion to Christianity, she took a vow of virginity which was the "kiss of death" for a young Indian woman. Marriage was the only means of survival in her culture at that time. She was treated as a slave among her own people because of her conversion. Eventually(with the advice of a priest) Kateri escaped 200 miles north to Montreal Canada where she lived out her short life in prayer, fasting and penance for the conversion of her people. At the time of her death at 24, the disfigurement from small pox on her face disappeared and a touch of a smile came to her lips. After her death, many miracles were attributed to her intercession and she was beatified by JP2 in 1980. Blessed Kateri become a source of inspiration for native American Catholics.

Kateri said: “I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus. He must be my only love. The state of helpless poverty that may befall me if I do not marry does not frighten me. All I need is a little food and a few pieces of clothing. With the work of my hands I shall always earn what is necessary and what is left over I’ll give to my relatives and to the poor. If I should become sick and unable to work, then I shall be like the Lord on the cross. He will have mercy on me and help me, I am sure.”

Lord Jesus, give us the grace to take up our crosses (Lk. 9:23) and unite our suffering to yours (Col. 1:24) for the sake of the body of Christ. In your name we pray, Amen.

More on Blessed Kateri here.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Check Out This New Blog

A Catholic priest has a new blog. Give him a hearty blogger's welcome over at Elois Voice.
We look forward to reading some good stuff from him if his blogging is anything like his homilies!
God bless you Father.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Catholic- Protestant Dialogue On TBN

Catholic-Protestant Dialogue to air on
Trinity Broadcasting Network

That Protestants may not be Christians is an issue raised by the Vatican's reinforcement of how it defines a "Church." In COMMON GROUND the issue is raised on several fronts. The Catholic Church's position is clearly explained by Fr. John Riccardo in answer to questions from a probing, but friendly, Pastor Steve Andrews.


, a groundbreaking Protestant-Catholic Television Special consisting of a 90-min. dialogue between a Catholic priest and an Evangelical pastor will air on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN),
July 14, 2007 5:00 PM Eastern, 2:00 PM Pacific Time.

COMMON GROUND: What Protestants and Catholics Can Learn From Each Other (the full title) is a television special produced by
Kensington Community Church, (Evangelical-Protestant) and approved theologically by a Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit theologian.

The project promises strides in clearing up nearly 490 years of misunderstanding by Protestants about Catholicism.


Timothy George
Here is an honest conversation between two deeply committed men of faith, an Evangelical pastor and a Catholic priest, about their shared faith in Jesus Christ. I recommend this resource to all who are interested in Christian unity, in keeping with a prayer of Jesus himself that his disciples be one as he and the Father are one, so that the world may believe.

--Timothy George, Dean
Beeson Divinity School
Christianity Today, Senior Editor

NeuhausAn astonishingly honest, lucid, and winsome conversation about what unites and divides Catholics and Protestants. Father Riccardo and Pastor Andrews exemplify the kind of encounter made possible and necessary by the fact that we are, in the words of Evangelicals and Catholics Together, "brothers and sisters in Christ."
--Rev. Richard John Neuhaus
Editor in Chief, FIRST THINGS

Tom AllenThe fact that a prominent Evangelical admits that Protestants have long misunderstood a range of key Catholic teachings is noteworthy. The fact that a Protestant church has produced this barrier-breaking interview is astonishing.

--Tom Allen
Editor & President
Catholic Exchange

MartinHeadOnlyThis is a great tool for the Kingdom of God. It can bring peace to the body of Christ in a beautiful way. Every Evangelical pastor needs to see this DVD. I do not have the words to say how important this is.

--Rev. Martin Lombardo
Evangelical Missionary
Jesus Cares Ministries


Kensington Community Church, a large non-denominational, Evangelical-Protestant church was growing by leaps and bounds under the leadership of founding pastor Steve Andrews.

Many of those attending Kensington were disgruntled ex-Catholics. Concerned that these former Catholics were inaccurate and uncharitable in their assessment of Catholicism, Kensington's Spiritual Formation Director (Dan Kopp) started a mid-week small group in his home to talk about the common ground shared by Roman Catholics and Evangelical Protestants. He refused to allow any Catholic bashing. Dan, a lapsed Catholic himself, also created a "Pastors & Priests" seminar that he taught at Kensington, which examined at what Catholics and Protestants believe and why - topics included the Pope, the Virgin Mary, Confession, and Purgatory. The seminar was so popular Kensington's leadership decided to get a Catholic Church and a priest involved.

In the Spring of 2006, hundreds of members from Kensington gathered with members of nearby St. Anastasia Catholic Church (pastored by Fr. John Riccardo), for a "dialogue." Held at St. Anastasia, an SRO crowd showed up. During the two-plus hour event, Bobby Hesley, a Catholic apologist and Dan Kobb presented short talks on the differences between the two faith traditions. It was not a debate, but a respectful pairing of presentations about how Evangelical-Protestants and Roman Catholics understandings differ on the subjects of "Divine Revelation," "The Eucharist," and "Salvation."

On another evening, shortly after the first, Fr. Riccardo spoke from the Kensington stage along with Kensington staff on "The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction."
So successful were the first two gatherings, that the leaders at Kensington wanted Fr. Riccardo to come and be interviewed during their Sunday morning services. But because Fr. Riccardo was busy with Sunday Masses, they decided to videotape an interview and use that in their services. A 1-hr. 48-min. interview resulted. In addition to answering Protestant objections to Catholicism put to him by Pastor Andrews, Fr. also suggests some important things that Catholics can learn from Protestants.

Large portions of the interview were played before the Kensington congregation on two Sunday mornings, and over the next few weeks over 2,000 copies of the interview on DVD were sold through the Kensington Church's bookstore.

Fr. John Riccardo's explanations of Catholicism were later reviewed and approved as being faithful to the magisterial teachings of the Roman Catholic Church by Robert Fastiggi, a theologian at Detroit's Sacred Heart Major Seminary, and later by the theologians at EWTN.

Contact Information


Kensington Community Church - 248-786-0655
Karl Nilsson x-700, Director of Communications

St. Anastasia Roman Catholic Church - 248-689-8380

Nineveh's Crossing Distribution - 1- 877-606-1370
A 1 hr 48 min. DVD screener is available.

(H/t to Susie from Recon)

A Protestant's Response to the CDF Statement

My friend PA over at Porters Lodge posted a comment on yesterdays post that I am posting below.

"After reading some of the Protestant blogs, it's clear that some find this statement objectionable:

These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery[19] cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense[20].

I would ask my Protestant friends, "Why should that statement bother me?" It is the nature of Protestantism to be opposed to a great deal of Catholic dogma, is it not? The fact that the RCC does not recognise Protestant ordination or churches as "Churches in the proper sense" should have no bearing whatsoever on their own doctrine and calling from Christ. After all, most Protestant denominations do not recognise the RCC as a "Church in the proper sense," either. It's nothing new, as far as I can tell, unless some Protestants consider the reiteration of the statement as some kind of blow to Catholic/Protestant relations, a step "backward." I have read that some do consider it that. In that case, I would encourage them to read what the sedevacantists have to say about Protestants. After reading that, they'll run to the Pope!"

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"Separated Churches -Instruments of Salvation"

The blogosphere has exploded regarding this recent statement made by the Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith. (I am late to the blog party on this one. PD and I were out tonight giving our reversion testimony to the Bethlehem Serra Club. More on that later) There is no new news here but simply a re-iteration of Catholic teaching. What is sad is that some non-Catholic's are taking offense to this statement (Thanks CNN for the spin) when it was actually intended as correction and instruction for Catholics whose theology has grown fuzzy over the past 40 years since V2. Catholic theologians have been misinterpreting Vatican 2 for years and the Vatican is attempting to clear up the fuzziness.

"Given the universality of Catholic doctrine on the Church, the Congregation wishes to respond to these questions by clarifying the authentic meaning of some ecclesiological expressions used by the magisterium which are open to misunderstanding in the theological debate."

"This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic […]. This Church, constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him"[7].

The early Christians identified the Church Jesus started by 4 marks. It was one, holy, catholic and apostolic. Why did the early creeds bother to mention these four marks if there was no question or controversy regarding how to identify the Church Jesus started? At the time of the creeds, there were many sects and heretical cults springing up claiming to be the Church of Christ (referred to as *The Catholic Church*, since 105 AD) So how did one know the one true Church from another? It had to be one in doctrine and faith, it had to be holy because it was the bride of Christ. It had to be universal. Any where in the world when you walked in, the teaching and beliefs had to be identical. Finally, if it was the Church that Jesus started, it had to show that it was in direct historical succession from the apostles. The Creed has always held the standard for what constitutes the true Church. (The Nicean Creed was written before the New Testament was officially canonized, compiled, etc available or circulated)

So is Rome saying that non-Catholic churches are counterfeit or illegitimate? Absolutely Not!

It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them.[9] Nevertheless, the word "subsists" can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the "one" Church); and this "one" Church subsists in the Catholic Church.

...there are "numerous elements of sanctification and of truth" which are found outside her structure, but which "as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity"[11].

"It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church"[12].

Finally, Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of "Church" with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery[19] cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense[20].

My take on this last statement is that the Church uses the creedal template of apostolic succession for making this determination. These communities can't have the Eucharist because the ability to confect it has always been based on the unbroken apostolic succession, which they don't have. I hope that it can be seen that these statements are not made in a spirit of triumphalism or in a condescending fashion.

My concluding "spin" on all of this : The Church is reiterating their belief for 2000 years that Jesus truly intended us to all be one Church in unity of belief, doctrine and praxis. They say that the creedal definition of "Church" is found in the 4 marks.
The Church acknowledges, that despite the fact that our separated brethren do not share these 4 marks, "they are not deprived of significance or importance in the mystery of salvation."

Jesus, may we all be one as you and the Father are one.

We pray in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen

Monday, July 09, 2007

Back To The Studio

After almost two years since my last album, I'm headed down to the studio to start another project. My gig schedule has lightened up this fall and it will give me the opportunity to finish before the new year (wishful thinking). Not sure what it's going to be called yet, but it will contain some material I have never performed live or recorded as well as one or two songs written a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. This will be my first CD using a Digital Audio Workstation running Sonar 3.0. (Special Thanks to Dr. J.D Flazmo of Frogsong Music)
St Cecelia, patron saint of musicians, pray for me.
Tiber Jumperettes pray for me too.

More of PD's Flowers

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Here is an interesting article summarizing the recent growth in the Catholic Church by author of The Tide is Turning, David Hartline. (H/t to Whitestone Name Seeker) There is always the danger of launching into triumphalism when one posts these articles. If the truth be told, I think they function more as validation and encouragement for me and other revert/converts. Shoving the roll of new converts from the intelligentsia in people's faces doesn't necessarily win converts (though it may make them think we are not all grey-matter challenged), but reading about them does help the convert/reverts to know they are not alone. It is also comforting to know that brighter much more learned converts than myself with advanced degrees in theology and philosophy have tried Catholicism and found it worth pursuing.

This occurs in other faiths as well. When I joined a community of believers in 1991, we first had to attend an orientation class for several months. The pastor remarked in the church service welcoming new members how impressed he was with the "quality" of new members they were taking in. He was referring to the fact that at the time, two PhD's and one MD were joining the church. It was a validation that the church was "legit" in that folks with advanced degrees in medicine and psychology were willing to throw their lot with them.

Finally, I have seen that non-Catholics have noted this recent "tide" and one blogger referred to it as an "epidemic." I wouldn't say converting to Catholicism is a disease. Though, I suppose if it were I'd be the first to name it: Tibernucleosis.
A partial list of the symptoms include:

  • A daily sense of wonder and the almost uncontrollable desire to regularly slap oneself on his/her forehead and say "Why didn't I see this before?" (Anti-seizure medications do not suppress this urge.)

  • A sudden desire and interest in Church history (before 1517).

  • A propensity for hanging around Catholic Churches and shrines.

  • An irrepressible urge to begin collecting rosary beads (I mean, how many do I really need?) holy cards, blessed objects, third class relics, holy water, lawn and garden statues.

  • Setting up a new "one click" buying feature on Amazon used books.

  • An insatiable desire to spread the disease to others.

  • The desire to kiss the hands of every priest you meet.

  • The new found physical ability to kneel for prolonged periods of time despite arthritis.

  • The inability to pass up buying candles and decorating the home with them.

  • A new and unusual interest in *dead* people (Saints)

  • A renewed interest in burning incense (left over from the 60's?)
  • A sudden new fondness for the Pontificus Maximus.

  • Add your own here________________________________

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Making A Stink About Incorruptibles

St. Bernadette of Lourdes

Answering Father "R" regarding Incorruptibles:
Accounts of incorruptibles (non-decaying dead folks) have been a part of the Church since the early days. The discovery of a saint's body that had not undergone natural decay(corruption) became a sign of person who had lived a particularly righteous and holy life. One of the oldest incorruptibles is over 1500 years old and still doesn't stink!

Several other religions have claimed incorruptibility of some of their revered leaders but it has mostly been on the basis of mummification and many of those were actually embalmed. (Which rules out the ability to declare someone incorruptible in Catholicism) The majority of incorruptibles have been found in people of the Catholic faith .

There is a process called saponification which has been known to occur when the precise combination of alkalinity, moisture, calcium etc is present and a human's tissues can become soap-like! Skeptics claim that Catholic incorruptibles are the result of this process, but not all incorrupt saints are chemically saponified. No one can explain the sweet odor that is often associated with an incorruptible either, or the "holy oil" that has been known to ooze from these folks. Given the presence of bacteria, both aerobic and anaerobic within a human at the time of death, the finding of a corpse without decay after any time in the ground does verge on the miraculous. Even in an airtight sarcophagus, the anaerobic (not requiring oxygen) bacteria would still work their stinky magic! Remember , it was only four days after Martha's brother had died when she yells at Jesus because he wants to remove the stone from his tomb. "Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days."

In our diocese of Allentown, a Carmelite nun who was the founder of a cloister was recently found in a preserved state though she had died in 1939. (The last year of the great pre-war Martin guitars) A palm branch in her hand was still green. This does not grant "instant sainthood" but will be a strong consideration in the case for her canonization. There are many saints who did decompose so it is not a requirement for sainthood.
The Church is extremely careful in the scrutiny of these incorruptibles and the most advanced science available is used in evaluation of the state of incorruption. It requires forensic pathologists, unbiased observers, careful documentation and notarization of the proceedings. Wishful thinking on the part of the faithful hoping to have a new saint in their backyard just doesn't cut it.

As an evangelical, what did I think of incorruptibles and other supernatural aspects of Catholicism such as apparitions?

I always believed, even before my reversion, that God intervened in supernatural ways in this world (I still do) . Similarly, I also held that the enemy had power as an "angel of light" to create apparitions of Mary and other miracles of Catholicism to deceive people and draw them away from God! It's ironic that I could believe in the miracles seen outside the Catholic Church, yet refused to accept or believe in the miracles inside the Church and most especially the miracle of the Mass that occurs on a daily basis throughout the world. God's grace to change our hearts is amazing!
Go to this link for More on Incorruptibles

I Was My Own Canonizer

On my recent post regarding St Maria Goretti, a commenter, Father R. asked about non-Catholic's take on saints and incorruptibles. (I think he was priming the pump a little bit here) I lifted and edited my response for this post.

Dear Father "R" :
When we were evangelical believers, we considered all believers saints based on Scripture, and in a sense, that is certainly true. Scriptures such as Psalm 34;9 and Romans 15:26 make reference to earthly believers as saints but the canonized saints represent those, who by the Petrine authority of binding and loosening are declared to be in heaven. The Church tells the faithful that these particular individuals are worthy of us following their example and venerating (honoring) them and asking them to pray to God on our behalf. We are not praising, worshiping idolizing, necromancing etc. etc., ad nauseum.

But I didn't accept or believe that the Catholic Church could or should make anybody "better" than anyone else via canonization. I thought; "who are they to tell us someone is definitely in heaven." Yet, as an evangelical Christian, I regularly judged people's salvation and was part of the "salvation police" often inquiring at the time of a tragic, untimely death, "Were they saved? - I don't think so brother... etc." In a sense I was acting as my own "Canonizer." (declaring someone to be worthy of heaven)

Individual Catholics, outside of papal authority, should never attempt to judge whether someone is "saved" or not, because, ultimately, that judgment is up to God. We believe in the promise of salvation, but like St. Paul, look towards heaven with a lively hope, not a surety. “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, THAT IF POSSIBLE I MAY ATTAIN THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD. NOT THAT I HAVE ALREADY OBTAINED THIS OR AM PERFECT; but I press on to make it my own….” Phil 3:8-14.

Yes, that's Arnold the Terminator from Judgement Day in the lens


Friday, July 06, 2007

Saint Maria Goretti -A Modern Saint

When the priest walked to the altar wearing red, I knew it was another martyr's feast day.
Today the Church celebrates the heroic life and death of a 12 year old young lady named Maria Goretti.(1890-1902) A devout young lady, she was assaulted and murdered because she refused a man's sexual advances. She chose death and heaven rather than allow herself to be raped. She was stabbed over 14 times but lived for almost 20 hours after the attack in which time she prayed for and forgave her accuser. Fifty years later Pope Pius canonized her in 1950 as the Patron Saint of Modern Youth. Many miracles have been attributed to her intercession.

In our present age, when many young people idolize the wrong kind of role models we need a modern saint whose virtue and faith can be emulated. Promiscuity, materialism and hedonism are put forth as the new "virtue" for today's youth. Saint Maria Goretti shows us how to choose purity and chastity over the values that this world offers. Even in 1950, the pope knew that young people needed positive role models and examples of the faith rightly lived. St. Maria Goretti had "resisted sin to the shedding of blood."

Saint Maria Goretti, today we honor your faith and example of holiness to the point of martyrdom. We ask you to intercede to Jesus for the souls of our young people that they would be open to God's grace and power to choose a life lived for God and not self.
Through the merits of Christ we ask this in His name,

The political and social order will inevitably crumble in ambiances where the virtue of purity is disregarded. Thus, there can be no preservation of the social and political order, nor the serious building of Christian Civilization without a foundation based in purity, among other virtues. "