Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

My Photo
Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Full Gospel

"When I was an unexposed -to-Catholicism Evangelical, I lived as though life were about spreading the Gospel (i.e., instructions on how to become saved). Now, as an exposed-to-Catholicism Christian, I realize that life is about the Gospel (i.e., that God is Love). Living out the Gospel (vs. a focus on merely spreading it) will entail painful work until my life is complete. Before I sought rest and comfort in this life (since I had already checked off the "Saved" box). Now I seek to make my calling and election sure by satisfying my convictions to do Kingdom Work."
Thos from Ecumenicity

Many of us can relate to this comment by our non-Catholic brother. We thought the gospel was something to preach and "close the sale." Now being Catholic, I have gained an appreciation for the fuller definition and application of what the gospel is and what it demands of us. When I was a young teenage Christian (outside the Church) we looked for "full gospel" churches to fellowship with. Little did I realize at the time, that good old Notre Dame Church which I left was a Full Gospel Church!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Whisper in the Ear of God

Shortly after my reversion to the Church 3 years ago, I went to a retreat hosted by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal out of Brooklyn. As we adored the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, there was confessions going on in the back of the chapel. A young friar from Ireland spoke about the sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). He said it was sometimes hard to go to confession, like having to walk up a steep ramp and most people don't easily waltz into the confessional. Yet, he said, it is an opportunity to "speak into the ear of God." That phrase has been brewing in me for over three years now and finally made its way into this demo version of a new song.
The words of this song, you will recognize are based on the Act of Contrition that we pray as we receive absolution from the priest. "Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven..." Jn 20:23.
I hope the new converts and reverts can develop a love and desire for this sacrament as this song expresses. God bless.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Today the Church celebrates the lives of those young children in Bethlehem who were slaughtered by order of Herod as he attempted to thwart the will of God and kill the King of Kings. 2000 years later, parents willingly bring their children to the executioners sword(abortionist's suction currette), instead of being wrested out of their hands as in the days of Herod.

Let us continue to pray and act to end the slaughter of the innocents that continues in our day through abortion. Pray for the parents of the unborn that God will open their eyes to see the value of the life that they have been entrusted with. Let us also continue to pray for those who have participated in abortion, parents, clinic employees and physicians.

“A voice was heard in Ramah,/sobbing and loud lamentation;/Rachel weeping for her children...” (Matthew 2:18).

On this feast day Lord Jesus, let us be the the new voice heard in "Ramah", and make our hearts weep for the those children lost to the holocaust of abortion. Make our weeping turn into prayer and action to end this modern day slaughter of the innocents.

Hammer Dulcimers and a Catholic Convert

A young man recently found one of my hammer dulcimer tunes on U Tube and decided to write me to tell me he learned it and posted his version on U Tube.
He saw the on my signature in my e mail and wrote back to tell me "BTW, I am becoming Catholic soon."
Every story of conversion is interesting to me and this one illustrates our idea that "everyone has a Catholic Church-shaped hole in their heart waiting to be filled." Also, it's interesting to me that a young previously un-churched individual is drawn in by the Latin Mass. You are in our prayers, Ian. (And, that's pretty good hammer dulcimer playing too for a person whose only played for 6 weeks!)

"My parents decided to wait until I was old enough to decide what religion I wanted to join so they never had me baptised. When I was alot younger my grandma asked me if I wanted to go to sunday school so I decided to try it out. I only went 2 times and something scared me away from it (I believe there was a kid that had some mental issues in the class that did alot of screaming and throwing things and thats what scared me away) so a few years past and I decided that I needed some form of religion in my life. I became very interested in the jewish religion but I wanted to try other religions too so I went to my current church with my grandparents back in may and I loved it. Since then I have been taking RCIA classes to learn more about the catholic religion and I will be baptised and confirmed on easter saturday (if thats what you call it) Now the church I go to is the only church in this area (Columbus Ohio) that has the Latin mass and I love the latin mass. Right now some members from my church are helping me learn the latin responces so I can become a server for the latin mass right after I am baptised. The link to my church (which was built in 1877) is "

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Free Will, Freedom and Personal Responsibility in God's Plan

"What T.O.A. believes about Free will, Freedom and Personal Responsibility in God’s Plan:
For this reason, please understand that the following calls upon a great and ancient storehouse of Christian wisdom, including, but not limited to the subset of writings that you deem authoritative. I’m afraid this is a gap we must live with if we are to communicate. God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. "God willed that man should be 'left in the hand of his own counsel,' so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him." (GS 17; Sir 15:14) “Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts.” (St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4,4,3:PG 7/1,983) According to our teaching (Catechism of the Church), freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility. By free will one shapes one's own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God. As long as freedom has not bound itself definitively to its ultimate good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil, and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning. This freedom characterizes human acts. It is the basis of praise, blame, merit or reproach. I take it as a part of the economy of Heaven that the more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the willful service of what is good and just—and God alone is good and just. I believe that even among the redeemed, the willful choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom that leads back to the slavery of sin. (Rom 6:17) No doubt you read Romans 6 in a different light. This implies that God-given freedom makes man responsible for his acts to the extent that they are voluntary. If this is so, then voluntary willful progress in virtue and knowledge of good enhance the mastery of the will over its acts. This is meritorious by definition (not to be confused with meriting salvation, but merely to understand that God deems some things “good” and others “bad” and that indeed we are commanded to do good and justly commended for it). (Catechism of the Church) The natural corollary then is that imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors. In short, except for Original Sin, we do not sin apart from an act of will. Regarding personal responsibility, I believe that every act directly willed is imputable to its author: This is why we see that the Lord asked Eve after the sin in the garden: "What is this that you have done?" He did not ask her what He had decreed. (Gen 3:13.) He asked Cain the same question.( Gen 4:10.) On the Lord’s behalf, the prophet Nathan questioned David in the same way after he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had Uriah murdered.(2 Sam 12:7-15 ) Regarding freedom and sin, I believe that unregenerated man's freedom is greatly limited and fallible, and this is indeed where Original Sin comes into play. We know that man failed. Adam freely sinned. By refusing God's plan of love, he deceived himself and became a slave to sin. This first alienation engendered a multitude of others. From its outset, human history attests the wretchedness and oppression born of the human heart in consequence of the abuse of freedom. Yet, because I believe in this freedom, I also believe it is necessary that by his glorious cross, Jesus Christ has won salvation for all men. He redeemed them from the sin that held them in bondage. (Jn 3:16) Yet it is Jesus who says “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” that it is we who must choose life. (Rev 3:20) Thus by God’s plan we are free to choose or reject the greatest freedom, "For freedom Christ has set us free." (Gal 5:1) In Jesus we have communion with the "truth that makes us free." (Jn 8:32.) The Holy Spirit has been given to us and, as the Apostle teaches, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." (2 Cor 17) And we who are redeemed glory in the "liberty of the children of God." (Rom 8:21) I believe that the grace of Jesus Christ is not in the slightest way a rival of our freedom when this freedom accords with the sense of the true and the good that is God. Christian experience attests (especially in prayer) that the more open we are to the promptings of grace, the more we grow in inner freedom and confidence during trials. (Catechism of the Church) By the working of grace, the Holy Spirit educates us in spiritual freedom in order to make us free collaborators in his work in the Church and in the world. Almighty and merciful God, in your goodness take away from us all that is harmful, so that, made ready both in mind and body, we may freely accomplish your will. (from the Missal, 32nd Sunday, Opening Prayer) I know that this is a lot of writing, and I understand if it is simply too much to tolerate in one sitting. If you actually read it all, I appreciate your patience and endurance. Please do know that I do not share these things lightly, nor offer them so much as an argument than as an explanation. But also know that I do not offer this in vain, as I deem this issue is an essential difference between us that if understood properly has a great effect on how we go about practicing our Christianity. So it is that we see that our free will and God’s decree are intertwined, and we therefore see why it is with “fear and trembling” that we are to “continue to work out our salvation.” (Phil 2:12)

To TOA: I don't know who you are but you thoughts deserved a blogpost all their own so here they are. God bless you .

Litany of Humility

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

An Atheist's Comments About the Catholic Church

On a blog that was discussing Tony Blair's conversion last week I came upon this quote in the ComBox from a self-described atheist:

"In my experience, what attracts converts to the Church - indeed, what keeps many deeply skeptical people inside it, and what causes even atheists myself to feel that we can’t entirely leave - is simply that it’s The Church. It’s the one that’s been there all the time, it’s the originally founded institution, it’s not simply somebody’s interpretation of the Bible. It’s not just another choice, one among many. It’s The Holy Roman Catholic And Apostolic Church. That’s not to say that the particular ideological stances of the Church are irrelevant, but they’re not really central either. It’s not a man-made Church, it’s a God-made church and and if you don’t accept or understand everything that’s not so important: you’re just part of it, you’re a sinner seeking the understanding and forgiveness of God and expressing the desire to do His Will. It didn’t matter very much that the medieval peasant understood nothing of the Latin in which the service took place (it only mattered when people started leaving the Church for religions they could understand): it mattered only that they were within the Church."

Despite this gentleman's atheism, he has a far greater understanding of the Church than I ever had as a fairly devout non-Catholic Christian who had left the Catholic Church.

Lord Jesus, pour your Spirit on this man to soften his heart, and revive the indelible mark left on his soul at baptism. Stir the waters once again. Amen.

Spiritual Nativity

"We must also take care lest to our great injury it should happen that just as there was no room for Him in the inn at Bethlehem in which to be born, so likewise now, after He has been born in the flesh, He should find no room in our hearts in which to be born spiritually."

On The Duty of Spiritual Nativity
Catechism of the Council of Trent

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Maggie, the Christmas Dog , wishes all of my faithful readers and friends a very Merry Christmas and Christ-filled New Year!

Pope St. Leo the Great's Christmas Sermon (440 AD)

St. Leo the Great had opposed the heresy of Pelagianism which taught that grace was not necessary for salvation, but was rather a bonus that God granted to those who earned it by their good works. As Pope, St. Leo the Great was forceful and unambiguous in his Christological teaching which affirmed the full divinity and humanity of Christ.

Dearly beloved, today our Saviour is born; let us rejoice. Sadness should have no place on the birthday of life. The fear of death has been swallowed up; life brings us joy with the promise of eternal happiness.
No one is shut out from this joy; all share the same reason for rejoicing. Our Lord, victor over sin and death, finding no man free from sin, came to free us all. Let the saint rejoice as he sees the palm of victory at hand. Let the sinner be glad as he receives the offer of forgiveness. Let the pagan take courage as he is summoned to life.
In the fullness of time, chosen in the unfathomable depths of God’s wisdom, the Son of God took for himself our common humanity in order to reconcile it with its creator. He came to overthrow the devil, the origin of death, in that very nature by which he had overthrown mankind.
And so at the birth of our Lord the angels sing in joy: Glory to God in the highest, and they proclaim peace to men of good will as they see the heavenly Jerusalem being built from all the nations of the world. When the angels on high are so exultant at this marvellous work of God’s goodness, what joy should it not bring to the lowly hearts of men?
Beloved, let us give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit, because in his great love for us he took pity on us, and when we were dead in our sins he brought us to life with Christ, so that in him we might be a new creation. Let us throw off our old nature and all its ways and, as we have come to birth in Christ, let us renounce the works of the flesh.
Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.
Through the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not drive away so great a guest by evil conduct and become again a slave to the devil, for your liberty was bought by the blood of Christ.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Incarnation and the Eucharist- A Two Act Christmass Play

The setting: A stable outside the forgotten little town of Bethlehem (House of Bread). Shepherds and their families and kings from the east as well as a few other curious onlookers stare at a newborn wrapped in coarse linen in a feeding trough for animals. A bright star overhead illuminates the otherwise dark night.
Shepherd boy, while yawning, says to his father: “Just looks like a baby boy to me, can’t we go home now?”
Father to boy:Thomas, the angels in the field said something about a Savior. Let’s just stay awhile.”
Boy: How could a Savior and King look and.... yecch!… smell like a little baby? He looks just like any other baby to me!”
King from the Orient, kneeling before the makeshift crib says with a whisper: “Shhh, don’t you know the ancient prophecies? God would come to us, to live among us, through a virgin’s womb.
Balthasar looking at the Child then raising his eyes to heaven says: The God of Israel has chosen this night to redeem us. Our Savior and King has come to us as a little child.
Fast forward 33 years.
Setting: Jerusalem at Passover. The city is buzzing with the noise of pilgrims and bristling under the Roman occupation.
At the meal of the Passover, Jesus surrounded by his companions prays the blessing. As he breaks the bread he stretches out his hand holding the bread saying:
“Take this and eat. This is my body….”
One of the twelve disciples leans over to another and says under his breath;
“How can this be? It looks just like any other piece of bread to me? How can He give us His body to eat?
The disciple whom Jesus loved said to him: "Thomas, don't you remember last year when he told us He would give us his body to eat and His blood to drink?
Then as supper was ended, Jesus took the cup and gave it to his disciples saying:
"This is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many…"


Just as Christ came to us in the improbable form of a human baby, He continues to abide with us in the equally preposterous “breaking of the bread.” God chose the common things of this world to reveal Himself. First a baby born in Bethlehem* and then bread and common table wine. As we approach the Lord’s Table at Midnight Mass this Christmas Eve, our mind says, it just looks like a piece of bread but our heart says, "Jesus, bread of life, you have come to abide with me this night."

Check this link for scriptural references on the Eucharist.
*Bethlehem means House of Bread. This is no coincidence.

The Incarnation-Divine Helplessness

God'’s choice to give human beings free will was, from the beginning, a decision to be helpless in human hands. With the birth of Jesus, God made the divine helplessness very clear to us, for a human infant is totally dependent on the loving response of other people. Our natural response to a baby is to open our arms.
May this Christmas, we all do the same to to the infant of Bethlehem and to the God who made us all. (from St. Anthony Messenger)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Best Christmas Ever

Please Check out this story here. It is excerpts from the wartime journal of a Catholic chaplain in Iraq during the battle of Fallujah in 2004. God grant the soldiers mercy, safety and peace. h/t Catholic Mom in Hawaii

The Last of the Advent "O" Antiphons - Day 7

O Emmanuel: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The Lord himself will give you this sign: the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”

(“Emmanuel” means “God is with us”)

"the Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose. If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one - Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia - the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come.” Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, “Tomorrow, I will come.” So the “O Antiphons” not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion."
(From R. Greenberg, San Francisco Conservatory of Music)

Arrgh, Mates Tis the Season to Be Jolly (Roger)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holly and the Ivy Free Download

Here's my arrangement of the classic The Holly and the Ivy. Though this is just an instrumental, the words to the song are truly beautiful and glorify the Savior.

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.

Refrain : O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

The holly bears a blossom,
As white as any flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Saviour.

The holly bears a berry,
As red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good.

The holly bears a prickle,
As sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.

The holly bears a bark,
As bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all.

It is the last track on my Yulin' Around CD. It was recorded with just mandolin and open-tuned guitar . Feel free to download it here. Merry Christmas.

This Is The Faith Database

Check out this CD or downloadable software for your computer. It's like having the Magisterium right in front of you. Jon Martignoni as well as Steve Ray are raving about it. Maybe I will find it under my Christmas tree if Prodigal Daughter reads this blog post. (Yeah believe it or not she doesn't frequent my blog much) Only a few more hours till our Catholic Bookstore closes~!

Check out This Is the Faith Database

The Octave Before Christmas - Day 6

O Rex Gentium: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” Isaiah had prophesied, “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” (9:5), and “He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” (2:4)

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Full Two Octave Range!

Nancy, one of my frequent commenters pointed out to me that the true Octave of Christmas is the eight days starting with Christmas Day and ending after the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. The eight days preceding Christmas celebrated by the "O" Antiphons are not
Octave of Christmas, but a "mini-octave" so to speak. The Word becoming flesh to forever change our lives is so important that the season of Advent and Christmas are celebrated by two full octaves in the Church! (Thanks Nancy for the clarification)

O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.” (9:1).

As we pray each antiphon these 8 days of advent, we call out to Christ to come to us and prepare us for His coming. In that process, ultimately we will be transformed. God became man so it becomes possible that we may become more like Him. One of the ways that help us "prepare Him Room" is through the confessional. At this time of year as we contemplate the humility of God coming into the universe as a baby, we desire to be made clean again. We desire to make our hearts right with God, calling to mind our sins. Through the
grace poured out on us via the sacrament of confession, we are made new again, preparing the way for Him. So much grace, so little time.

For a good post about confession check out Susie's post here.

"THANK GOD, for this sacrament. He Loves us all with reckless abandon. Let Him lead you to find freedom from sin in the confessional. Start 2008 with a clean slate! It'll be great! It's never too late! "

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Octave of Christmas-Day 4

O Clavis David: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” Isaiah had prophesied, I will place the Key of the House of David on His shoulder; when he opens, no one will shut, when he shuts, no one will open.” (22:22), and “His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David’s throne, and over His kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.” (9:6).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Love Impels Us to Proclaim the Truth Which Saves

In our town we have a Catholic bookstore. Our good friends who own the store have a strong commitment to evangelism and they carry a wide range of both Catholic and Protestant materials. You can walk out with a copy of The Purpose-Driven Life in one hand and a rosary in the other or the latest encyclical of our Holy Father. This is actually the same store that Prodigal Daughter obtained her first book about St. Therese of Lisieux as suggested by the nice Catholic bookstore owner 6 years ago. Well, 681 blog posts later and one appearance on EWTN, you have witnessed the fruits of this woman's obedience in gently sharing her faith with others.

Today a Christian man came to the store and began to tell our friend, the sales clerk, that the saint prayer cards he saw on display are "idols." He then repeated it and said that "Catholics worship idols." With much composure and biting of her inner lip, our friend gently attempted to explain what the communion of saints is about and how Catholics ask for intercession of our brothers and sisters in heaven, not worship them! (That would be in direct violation of the first commandment and Catholics tend to be sticklers about the Big Ten!)
I admired our friend's composure and ability to answer charitably. I don't think I would have done as well!

Earlier this month, Cardinal Levada came out with a Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization.

Respect for religious freedom and its promotion “must not in any way make us indifferent towards truth and goodness. Indeed, love impels the followers of Christ to proclaim to all the truth which saves.

Ecumenism does not have only an institutional dimension aimed at “making the partial communion existing between Christians grow towards full communion in truth and charity". It is also the task of every member of the faithful, above all by means of prayer, penance, study and cooperation. Everywhere and always, each Catholic has the right and the duty to give the witness and the full proclamation of his faith. With non-Catholic Christians, Catholics must enter into a respectful dialogue of charity and truth, a dialogue which is not only an exchange of ideas, but also of gifts, in order that the fullness of the means of salvation can be offered to one’s partners in dialogue. In this way, they are led to an ever deeper conversion to Christ.

The Octave of Christmas - Day 3

O Radix Jesse: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” (11:1), and A On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.” (11:10). Remember also that Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Octave of Christmas - Day 2

O Adonai: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” (11:4-5); and “Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us.” (33:22).

"Christmas is a Christian Feast."

This statement by Pope Benedict on 12/14/07 made me realize just how far this world has strayed from the reality of the incarnation almost 2000 years ago. There was a time perhaps several hundred years ago, perhaps just 50 years ago, when the leader of the Catholic Church didn't have to remind us of what the real meaning of Christmas is.

"Christmas is a Christian feast," added Benedict XVI in conclusion, "and its symbols, especially the nativity scene and the tree hung with gifts, are important references to the great mystery of the Incarnation and the Birth of Jesus, which are constantly evoked by the liturgy of Advent and Christmas."

Yes, Virginia, there is a Pope. And He tells us that it's not all about Santa Claus.

The liturgy of the Church at this time of year constantly calls us to reflect on the Good News that God has come to us through the Incarnation. The readings at Mass during Advent help us to "prepare Him room."

Monday, December 17, 2007

The OCTAVE of Christmas Begins

Since ancient times the Church has sung the "O" antiphons. From the 17th through the 23rd of December, the universal Church sings these antiphons. Each antiphon is one of the titles of Jesus and a prophecy of the Messiah from Isaiah. These are awesome little devotions that all Christians can share and pray. Today we pray the first antiphon in communion with priests, brothers, sisters in convents and monasteries throughout the world:

O Sapientia: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (11:2-3), and “Wonderful is His counsel and great is His wisdom.” (28:29).

The "Christ-Shaped Hole" in Every Heart

My frequent commenter Theo posted some comments to my "Catholic Church-shaped" post. Once again, too rich to leave in the combox. Thanks Theo. I have recently had very similar thoughts when I read the blogs of our brothers and sisters in Christ who have not yet come to understand the Church. I too was one of them for many many years. My hope is that we can say along with Jesus: "forgive them Lord, they know not what they do."
Anonymous theo said...

TJ, PD and all:

As most of us know, there is an old Christian adage that we each have a Christ-shaped hole in our heart. I was contemplating how this truism relates to the Church-shaped hole you describe, when it occurred to me that there is a scriptural basis by which those who nevertheless are Christian but out of full fellowship might still feel a void in the heart--and in recognizing it, I also found some concern for my non-Catholic Christian friends that I'd not had before. To wit: It occurs to me that when Jesus appeared on the road to Damascus to Saul who was persecuting the Church, our Lord said, "Why do you persecute me?" The implication is astounding.

Although it ought to be obvious, it hadn't hit me that there is a sense in which the Church, being the mystical body of Christ, stands in its entirety as a vicar of Christ. To embrace her is to embrace Christ in yet another meaningful way. There is indeed a Church-shaped void in every human heart, because by definition it is part of the Christ-shaped void.

This is why it is such horrible scandal when anyone should lead "even the least of these" astray. It is also why it is a scandal that so many of our fellow Christians attack the Church.

Those who actively seek to defame the Church while ignoring truth (which would otherwise merely be seeking to correct her), risk offending God.

Pray for them that their eyes may be opened as were Saul's. For their sake, may we all be even more vigilant in our imitations of Christ, so we do not scandalize His mystical body.

Speaking as an expert of sorts: as one who has so often been a poor example, I ask forgiveness of all of you whether or not you are in full fellowship. That which I have done to the least of His brothers, I have done unto Him. May the Holy Spirit mend whatever harm I've ever done.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

"The Catholic Church-shaped Hole"

As I reflected on this past Monday's Journey Home interview, I have been thinking about PD's response to "Bill" who asked a question about our past experience as non-Catholic Christians.
She said: "Honestly Bill, I wish I had never left the Church." I have felt the same, but many faithful "cradle"-Catholics have told us that re-verts can appreciate the sacraments so much more than folks who never left. That maybe so, but we have been so touched by the beneficial effects of the sacraments that it now makes us both wonder what it would have been like to spend a lifetime receiving the Eucharist, sacramental reconciliation and following the moral teachings of the Church. Many saints provide examples for us of such lives.

Furthermore, we have met many godly Catholics who have walked with Jesus their whole life and did not need a 30 year journey outside the Church to appreciate the "Beulah Land." There's probably no point in conjecturing but I do wonder if any other converts or reverts out there wished that you would have converted earlier in your life? PD and I have often talked about the Catholic church-shaped hole in our hearts that we tried to fill with other faith expressions and spiritual experiences. Has anyone else experienced this sense of wistfulness that PD expressed?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Feast of St. John of the Cross

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. John of the Cross. A 16th century reformer of the Carmelite monastic movement, he is best known for his writings "The Dark Night of the Soul."
He was imprisoned and beaten for 9 months by his own order because of his zeal to reform it!
Despite the abuses suffered, he remained faithful to Christ and the Church and is now considered a Doctor of the Church for his theological insights.

"What more do you want, o soul! And what else do you search for outside, when within yourself you possess your riches, delights, satisfaction and kingdom -- your beloved whom you desire and seek? Desire him there, adore him there. Do not go in pursuit of him outside yourself. You will only become distracted and you won't find him, or enjoy him more than by seeking him within you."

St. John of the Cross, You understand more than most the sense of abandonment and loneliness.

Today, I ask you to intercede for those of us who struggle with our own "dark nights" that we would be drawn closer to Christ.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Reading the Word of God With The Church: Biblia Clerus

The Vatican has just launched a website that is a biblical commentary with references to the Church fathers and magisterial teachings, all fully down-loadable! Biblia Clerus was put together for the use of clergy but is free to be used by anyone. Just another way that Christ's command to teach all nations is being carried out by the Church.

"This program offers Sacred Scripture, its interpretation in light of Sacred Tradition and the teachings of the Magisterium, with appropriate theological commentary and exegesis.
The downloadable version allows you to connect Sacred Scripture to the complete works of many Doctors of the Church, Councils, Encyclicals, teachings of the Popes, Catechisms, as well as commentaries from secular literature, etc."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Thanks for the Prayers!!

I want to thank you all for the prayers during our trip to EWTN. The support we sensed from the saints here and beyond was palpable to us. Judging from the volume of e-mail and hits to my blog and website, we are so greatful that God used the program to touch the hearts of many. I received over 2400 hits to my blog for the past two days and the website almost 3000! Thom Hall from LovedtobeCatholic said his server shut down for over 20 minutes due to the volume of hits he received after I mentioned his website.

We felt especially blessed since our appearance on the show was sandwiched between the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We had our blessed Mother working overtime with our prayer requests. She untied many knots for us and Jesus heard her prayers and answered them .

As some of you know, when I first went to confession three and a half years ago after deciding to return to the Church, the priest didn't give me Hail Mary's as my penance. He said, "Go out now and tell everyone what Jesus has done for you." Thank you Lord for giving me the opportunity you have given us to do just that. Only by your grace!

PD and I want to thank you guys for your prayers and support (thanks Japhy for the great question about my music! It loosened us up and helped us relax a bit). Please continue to keep us in prayer as we anticipate some attacks from the old slew-foot.

We will post more about the trip later.
God bless and thanks again.

Links to the show on the archives if you missed it: Here

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Window in Heaven

I wrote this song in 1997 and recorded it on my Acoustic Minstrel CD.
It describes the night that Christ was born from the perspective of a young boy who sensed that this was not an average winter's night. Now being Catholic, I realize that upon Mary's conception, a "window was opened in heaven" as well making her full of grace.

On the evening of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception* let us contemplate a God who can do anything. Even preserve Mary from the stain of original sin. How could He do that if Christ didn't yet die on the Cross? God works outside of time, and best I can tell, is not limited by our linear view of time and space. Can the God who created Heaven and earth not have the ability to preserve the mother of God, a mere mortal from sin? Does this teaching of our Church elevate Mary to a divine state? No, not at all. This teaching exalts Christ and reminds us of His divinity.

So in honor of this feast, feel free to download this Christmas song. God bless.

*The Immaculate Conception was the conception of Mary without original sin. (sin macula, latin without spot) Unfortunately many folks misunderstand it to be the Virgin Birth.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

If Theo Owned a Coffee Shop...Java Jyra, My Coffee Provider

Theo recently commented on Mystic Monk Coffee. His comments were too funny to stay canned up in my combox.

Here's the menu at "Java Jyra"

- Mild Roast Perc-atory.
This bitter-sweet brew is a real eye-opener.

- Sankta
Our wholly decaffeinated coffee made from holy decaffeinated coffee beans!

- Latte Day Saint's Blend
Strictly speaking, this isn't true coffee, but our Mormon customers enjoy it.

- G. Hovah Java
The perfect unity and harmony of three distinct flavor personalities all in one bean. Mysteriously good!"

- Traditional He-brew
Once the only chosen flavor of the very greatest coffee lovers, this strong libation is the foundation of good old-fashioned coffee.

- Kalvin Koffee
One of the relatively new "designer" coffee blends, Kalvin's unique tulip flavor gives it a distinctive, robust aroma.

- Heretic Roast
Actually, Heretic Roast is discontinued, having been bought out by the Sinabun franchise. Once a popular drink served very hot, it is now out of favor with most coffee lovers, although it is still served liberally in some cyber cafes. Heretic Roast is seldom served by itself; rather, it's usually accompanied by a large order of self-righteousness.

- Carmel Lite -The signature blend of the Mystic Monks!
Some might find the flavor too intense; and indeed, it can be hard for some to swallow--but its en-chanting appeal brings joy to a hard day's work and has given many a hungry monk the boost he needs to pick up his crossant and follow the Master.

- Classic Catholic Coffee
Believed by most to be the one true brew: a cup of blessing that we gladly share.

The Journey to The Journey Home

On this upcoming Monday evening at 8 PM, Prodigal Daughter and I will be interviewed on The Journey Home on Eternal Word Television Network. We ask for your prayers that God would use our story to encourage others in the journey. Thanks so much.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Katholic Koffee

What can be better than monks making coffee? (Maybe monks making guitars.) Are you looking for the perfect Christmas gift? If you are weary of supporting Starbucks that contributes to Planned Parenthood and hawks CD's bashing the Catholic Church (Joni Mitchell's latest) go here to buy your coffee and gifts for Christmas. You'll be supporting orthodox Jesus loving brothers who roast coffee that is out of this world!

As an aside, when I was in college I studied a bit about monasticism for a Christian ethics course.
I had to do a project about monasticism. I hated writing papers (as all science majors do) so I wrote a song for my project about being a monk. At the time I was not Catholic so some of the lyrics were a bit pejorative. I might rewrite some of them for the new album I'm working on. Who knows, maybe if I found out about the mystic monks earlier in life....Naaah.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Prayer Request

I received this forwarded email from a physician friend of mine:

"Hello Friends and Family - This is EH with a very urgent and sincere request for prayers. My friend and one-time college roommate is battling brain cancer and has been receiving chemo and radiation for nearly one year. Stacey is a mother to two young children and a wife to Joey, they live in Atlanta. She just found out that she is 18 weeks pregnant. She became pregnant during her chemo and radiation and therefore, the baby has been exposed to these chemicals from day one. She has opted to take a 10 week break from her treatment to allow the baby to reach 28 weeks gestation, when they will deliver the baby via C-section. She has been informed by her baby-related doctors that the chemo is very strong and particularly attacks DNA growth in cells and therefore the baby. They are quite certain that there will be neurologic damage to the baby, although the ultrasounds have thus far showed relatively normal growth. Additionally, her cancer-related doctors have told her that they do not want her to stop her treatment of cancer (even for 10 wks!) because her cancer is so aggressive. They said that if they allowed her to carry the baby to 40 weeks gestation, she would probably not live to deliver the baby. So, Stacey is choosing to give her child a chance and risk her own life. I still cannot believe the situation that this family has been put in, even as I type this.

As a member of Stacey's network of support and prayers, I am asking that you specifically say a prayer to Pope John Paul II. He is in the process of being named a saint and needs a second miracle to "qualify" for sainthood. We have decided to storm heaven with prayers to our former Pope, specifically asking him to stop the growth of Stacey's cancer while she stops her treatment. Many of you may also be calling to mind the story of St. Gianna Molla, whom JPII canonized in the 1994, whose story is very similar to Stacey's. You can read it here. Finally, I just want to thank you for having read this far.

I appreciate the time you took to read this and say a prayer for Stacey, her unborn child and her family. Stacey herself asks that we be sure to pray for her husband, Joey who is truly heartbroken. Sincerely, E. H.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

St Eleanor's Family of God

Prodigal Daughter and I had the opportunity and privilege of sharing our conversion story with the adult fellowship group called Family of God at St. Eleanor's Church in Collegeville, PA. What an on-fire group of Catholic families! There were converts, reverts and many cradle-Catholics who meet regularly to grow in grace. We were scheduled to talk for about 45 minutes, but ended up finishing about an hour and a half later with some great discussion and questions from the good folks there. I started our talk with a rendition of Nicean Blues (which was only the second time I performed it live) and ended the talk with Stained Glass Windows.

We were so moved by the devotion and faith we found in these folks and know they will be spreading the Good News as part of our late Holy Father's New Evangelization. They sent us out with much prayer and love and we hope to work with them again. Thanks again Family of God for the encouragement and prayers!we

"We must re-kindle in ourselves the impetus of the beginnings and allow ourselves to be filled with the ardour of the apostolic preaching which followed Pentecost. We must revive in ourselves the burning conviction of Paul, who cried out: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor 9:16). JP2

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Eric Clapton Joins "That Generation"

Here Eric Clapton joins the generation Mary spoke about in her magnificat when she says that "all generations will call me blessed."