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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pope Benedict's Lenten Reflections

We are one week away from Lent, starting with Ash Wednesday, Feb 6th. This is the opportunity the Lord gives His Church to grow closer to Him and to strengthen our interior life. How do we accomplish this? The tried and true method that has never failed and has been used by the Church for 2000 years:
Fasting, Prayer and Almsgiving.*

Who needs Lent? I do! Far be it from me to come up with a better method to grow in grace! Check out Pope Benedict's lenten reflection here.

* a specific way to assist those in need and, at the same time, an exercise in self-denial to free us from attachment to worldly goods.



Yes Folks! The day has come. My good friend Theo, who has often graced my combox with his incredibly insightful thoughts, has reluctantly entered the blogosphere over at The Reluctant Blogger's Diary. Let's all give him a hearty Catholic Blogger's Welcome. His writings will be a blessing to many. Congrats Theo. Now don't forget to stop by the old tiberjumper's place from time to time. God bless you.

(Just a little background on him because he is too humble to ever talk about himself, but when he was in an undergraduate religion class, the professor/priest had to leave the class for a few days and asked Theo to continue to teach the class in his absence.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

This Seminarian Rocks

Robert Galea is a Catholic seminarian and singer/songwriter. He is doing much damage to the kingdom of darkness by producing such great stuff. Pray for his ministry. Just think what he will be like as a priest!

Accessibility of Salvation: Theo's Thoughts

Theo commented on my post about St. Thomas. He picked up on what I was trying to articulate lately in a few blog posts. Catholicism is a faith that such geniuses as St. Thomas could write volumes about, and yet a simple child or simpleton (like me), without complete understanding can receive salvation from. Here's what Theo said:

"I did not realize that it was my patron's feast day when I started work yesterday. As it happened, I was doing some consulting work in NYC, where my associates and I were working out kinks in a particularly stubborn computer network. I strolled over to St. Patrick's Cathedral just in time for afternoon Mass. It was a joy to join a hundred or so worshipers at a weekday Mass (not counting the hundreds more tourists who observed or came and went throughout the liturgy). Speaking in a New York accent that would have made the Bowery Boys proud, the priest delivered a simple and direct homily on the saving power of Christ's one and only sacrifice, and the opinions of Aquinas and the second Vatican Council on the astounding universality of Jesus' saving act, that whosoever responds to saving grace shall be saved--even if they don't realize themselves that "responding to saving grace" is what they are doing. It was interesting to hear one of my own championed beliefs echoed in this vast cathedral, delivered to people of many backgrounds and (no doubt among the tourists) nationalities and faiths: that one does not need to understand salvation to be saved, but that all are called to repent and respond to the gift being offered and that it is possible for even those who through no fault of their own are intellectually ignorant of Christ may be saved by the grace God offers all men through his once-and-for-all sacrifice, by reason of the gospel presented to them by the Holy Spirit. It is Christ alone who shall judge every human heart, not any mere man. He also noted how wonderful it is that one of the greatest doctors of the church (My mother used to claim Aquinas was the most intelligent man who ever lived, not counting Christ) confessed that the greatest knowledge is the simple knowledge of our savior’s love, understandable by any child.


Monday, January 28, 2008

St. Thomas Aquinas: Captivating and Levitating

Today we celebrate the short, but productive life of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274.) Not only a saint, but a Doctor of the Church known particularly for further illuminating the doctrine of transubstantiation.
Despite the fact that his writings continue to be studied by learned scholars and theologians , he wrote for the common worshiper as well. His hymn Pange Lingua distills the Eucharistic doctrine of the Church literally in one stanza.

"Word made flesh, by Word He maketh
Very bread his flesh to be;
Man in wine Christ's Blood partaketh,
And if his senses fail to see,
Faith alone the true heart waketh,
To behold the mystery."

As an aside, he once was observed levitating while in prayer towards the end of his life. You gotta love these Catholic saints!

"Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you."
– St. Thomas Aquinas

Friday, January 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Theo

I would like to wish Theo, my virtual combox theologian and real-life musician and friend, a blessed and Happy Birthday.

Qualities of a Saint

In our desire to grow closer to Christ, we look to the lives of others. We read their stories in hopes of gleaning the "secret" to a devout on-fire life in God. As a protestant, I read stories of missionaries and Foxe's Book of Martyrs (a historically inaccurate anti-Catholic tome). I even read Brother Lawrence's Practicing the Presence of God somehow getting over the fact that he was Ca... Cath...Catholic.(though he wasn't a canonized saint) It actually was one of my favorite devotional books from the time I was 17 years old.
What I realize now when I read about the lives of the saints there were certain characteristics they all shared. Interestingly, most of them too read about the lives of the saints before them. Scripture is full of references pointing to the fact that we are to emulate human models of holiness.
St. Paul's letters to Timothy are a great example of this.

Here's my quick list of characteristics of Saints. Would that I had some of these qualities.

1) Passion for Jesus in the Eucharist
2) Embracing physical/mental suffering (many saints had chronic medical illnesses)
3) Unfailing support and love of the Church and Peter's successors.
4) Faith that transcends the 'dark night of the soul.'
5) Heroic virtue
6) Untiring love and service for the poor and the sick
7) Detachment to the things of the world and willingness to embrace martyrdom
8) Lack of broadband access!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

St. Francis and The Eucharist

"Your principal motive in going to Communion should be to advance, strengthen and console yourself in the love of God, receiving for love alone what is given for love alone. At no other time is our Lord more loving and more tender than when he, as it were, humbles himself and comes to us in the form of food that he may enter our soul and enter into intimate union with us. If you are asked why you go to Communion so often say it is to learn to love God, to be purified from your imperfections, delivered from your miseries, consoled in your troubles and strengthened in your weaknesses.

As mountain hares become white in winter because they neither see nor eat anything but snow, so by adoring and feeding on beauty, purity and goodness itself in the Eucharist you will become altogether beautiful, pure, and good."

Introduction to the Devout Life
St. Francis de Sales

The Gentleman Saint

Today the Church celebrates the life and ministry of the 17th century Doctor of the Church, St. Francis de Sales. I have grown fond of St. Francis these past four years for several reasons.

1) He used writing as much as preaching to convince many ex-Catholics to return to the Church.
2) His pursuit of holiness was the goal of his life.
3) He became victorious over his human foible of a quick temper and was known for his kind demeanor. (took him over 20 years)
4) I paid tuition to DeSales University for the past 3.5 years where my eldest just graduated. (He chose to go to a Catholic university before we were even Catholic)

His writings are very accessible and his Introduction to a Devout Life is a wonderful place to start.
Here are some of my thoughts of his Controversies (tracts written to convince protestants to revert)

St Francis said: “"The person who possesses Christian meekness is affectionate and tender towards everyone: he is disposed to forgive and excuse the frailties of others; the goodness of his heart appears in a sweet affability that influences his words and actions, presents every object to his view in the most charitable and pleasing light.”"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Saints and Simpletons

"Now many great Christian minds have come to nearly all of the conclusions that the Catholic Church has with the help of the Scriptures, the writings of the Church fathers and the guiding call of the Holy Spirit. But we needn't be smart enough to understand all the doctrines and theology of the Christian faith - we can accept the teachings of the Church based on our faith in Christ and the authority He Himself established on Earth. We can also take comfort in our faith that the Holy Spirit would simply not allow His Church to be so incredibly misleading to the vast majority of all Christians since Christ." (Tim Troutman of GodFearingFiddlerForum)

The Church is truly universal in its appeal, practice and application. The wisest of the wise, St. Thomas Aquinas had to put his pen down when he realized he could no longer articulate the revelation that had been shown to him. Yet the simplest among us can believe and receive Christ in a small host of unleavened bread placed on his tongue. Both saint and simpleton can leave Mass with a tremendous measure of grace regardless of their degree of understanding of the sacred mysteries. Catholicism will always be the religion of the people for that very reason.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"Lord, Make Me More Catholic"

One of my prayers for the past three years has been that God would make me more “Catholic.” After spending the majority of my life as a Protestant I had developed a world view informed by the theology that I came to embrace. Not all of which was wrong mind you, but certainly not complete. Therefore upon returning to the Church, I struggled with certain areas of Catholic devotion, doctrine and practice as my “gnostic” tendencies kicked in. ( I am not saying that all Protestants have these tendencies, I am speaking personally here) I envied devout cradle Catholics who didn’t seem to struggle with their Catholic faith and remained faithful and didn’t leave the Church. I envied Catholics who described Mary with affection and called her "Our Lady" or spoke of her as "Our Blessed Mother." I wanted so much to “be there” right away after entering the Church.

As I accepted the authority of the Church and became docile to her, my heart has been slowly drawn further and further into the fullness of Catholic faith. I can’t say that I am 100 percent Catholic yet but I sense the Lord has been answering my prayers in many ways. What exactly does it mean to be 100% Catholic anyway? I’m not sure but I want to find out!

Each journey is different and becoming Catholic is not an instantaneous process. My goal is to get as close to Jesus as possible in this life and with God’s grace get to heaven. I believe the Catholic Church is God's gift to us to facilitate this. As Paul said: “Not as though I has already attained, or were already perfect; but I follow after, if I may by any means apprehend, wherein I am also apprehended by Christ Jesus.”

Jesus, thank you for apprehending me through the Church you established. May I continue to be conformed to your image. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Have any of you other converts/reverts ever prayed to “Be More Catholic?”

March For Life 2008

(From 2006 March)

This year PD and I will be unable to attend the March but will be praying along with the marchers to end the holocaust of abortion that has been legalized by the error of the Roe Vs Wade decision in 1973. A live video feed from the March will be available at 11 AM EST here.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dr. David Hall's Blog

After his appearance on EWTN, many were hoping for a way to contact Dr. Hall. He is a Brethren in Christ pastor who left 18 years of ministry to convert to Catholicism as a result of his reading of the Church Fathers and use of Catholic spiritual devotional practices.(LOTH)
Here is his new blog Heart For God
I recommend you stop by and give him The Olde Catholic Blogger's Welcome.
Keep all these new converts in your prayers and don't be bashful about asking them if you could send a couple of quid as well! Thanks and God bless!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Tip Of The Iceberg

For every "high-profile" conversion/reversion to the Church, there are innumerable ones that remain unseen, under the radar so to speak. A recent comment made me realized that throughout the world there are many in active ministry that would be unable to remain in that particular ministry if they converted. Not only are they struggling with the theological implications of conversion, but practical ones as well, such as food for the table, college tuition etc. Many of us had no such obstacle to our conversions . Our struggles were often about relationships with friends and family vs loss of livelihood.

Let us continue to remember these "not-so-high-profile" seekers and converts in our prayers.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Methodist Pastor Allen Hunt Begins the Swim

Joseph over at GoodJesuitBadJesuit sent me a note that Dr. Allen Hunt, the former pastor of the third largest Methodist Church in the USA, has announced his upcoming Tiber River crossing. He left the pulpit in March of 2007 to host his successful radio talk show here full time. He had obtained his PhD in New Testament at Yale University.

As exciting and validating as it is for us to see so many pastors Crossing the Tiber, we need to keep in mind the tremendous loss this engenders for these brothers in Christ. Please keep them in prayer as they put themselves and their families in financial jeopardy by their decision to leave and lose everything they have built to follow Jesus into the Catholic Church. At this rate, the Journey Home program may need to expand to two nights per week to accommodate all of these new river crossings.

"After much prayer and meditation over the past six months, I have shared with Bishop Lindsey Davis that I am relinquishing my status as an ordained United Methodist pastor in the North Georgia Conference. This deeply personal decision reflects my sense that God has called me to serve in a new mission role. Moreover, I believe that God has led me to a new spiritual home in the Catholic Church, so I have made provision to be received as a member into that Church."

(thanks Joe for the tip.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Feast Of St. Berard

Berard joined the Franciscans in 1213. He spoke Arabic and was an able preacher. He had a desire to spread the Gospel to the Saracens (muslims) and was sent by St. Francis to preach in Morocco. St. Berard along with 4 other friars were repeatedly imprisoned and beaten for their failure to stop preaching. Finally they were martyred by beheading. Upon hearing the news of the fate of his friars St. Francis is reported to have said: "Now I can truly say that I have five Friars Minor!"
(Sometimes you just got to have a sense of humor about these things)

The news of these martyrs affected a young man very deeply who then decided to become a Franciscan. St. Anthony of Padua became a loyal servant of God and achieved sainthood.

Thank you Jesus for the heroic lives of faith these saints modeled for us.
St. Berard, we ask for your intercession that we would be courageous in our sharing the Gospel with others around us.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Fathers, The Hours and a Little Hermitage.

Last night on the Journey Home, Marcus interviewed a Brethren in Christ pastor who Crossed the Tiber after 18 years of pulpit ministry. This was of particular interest to me because the first friend I made when I joined the Church knew him when he was an assistant pastor and was from the same spiritual background. I posted earlier about this here.

The highlight of the interview for me was learning that he had obtained two master's degrees as well as a PhD from respected evangelical theology programs and had never been exposed to the Church Fathers! His first exposure to them was when he started praying the Liturgy of the Hours. So I don't feel so bad about never having heard about the writings of the Church fathers as a layman! But, methinks there is a reason why so many of us were never exposed to these seminal writings. It takes all of about 7.5 to 10 minutes of reading Ignatius, Justin Martyr and Irenaeus to come to the uncomfortable reality that the early Church was Ca... Cat... Catho... Catholic! One of my moments of Truth was reading the early Church fathers on the Eucharist and realizing that Catholics had Jesus all along! I felt cheated. I really did. Why hadn't anyone told me I can find Jesus down the street in the tabernacle of every Catholic Church in the world? Sheeesh. But I digress..

Another interesting comment he made was the sense that his Mom was praying for him after she died and how it gave him an almost supernatural understanding of the Communion of Saints.
This too was a pivotal moment for me as well and I have also had the almost palpable sense of my mother's intercession for me after she died about 4 years ago.

Finally, Dr. Hall's story of taking a sabbatical at John Michael Talbot's hermitage while still in ministry and volunteering to drive to the airport to fetch their conference speaker, who turns out to be a Catholic convert from his own seminary (Gordon-Conwell). None other than Dr. Hahn. God's sense of humor, eh?

Keep Dr. Hall and his wife in prayer and all those in his circle of influence. God will use him to help others to see the beauty of the Catholic Church.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Another Conversion Story

We have been following a conversion story over at the Coming Home Forum. Sometimes when we convert, the response from our friends isn't always what we expect it to be. Check out this story by New Creation, and be sure to read down to her second comment.

"The Mass began and WOW! Was Holy Spirit's presence just SO powerful and tangible. This was the most Spirit filled Mass that I'd experienced so far. There was such joy there! ....the Holy Spirit was working hard on our friend K. He wept through most of the Mass. His heart was being broken- particularly through the Peace of Our Lord. I'd never seen him cry before and I've known him for almost 5 years. "

"God's doing a new thing"....actually an old thing; bringing folks back into the fold.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord

Today the Church celebrates the Baptism of Christ by his cousin John the Baptist.
Check out the words of Pope Benedict here:

"In baptism, the Holy Father said that the tiny human beings receive a new life, a life of grace that renders them capable of entering into a personal relationship with the Creator, forever, for all eternity. Unfortunately man is capable of extinguishing this new life through our sin, reducing it to a situation that Sacred Scripture calls a “second death.”

At the Root of Gnosticism is the Denial of the Incarnation

Vladimir Soloviev, in The Russian Church and the Papacy explains why it was so important for the Church to condemn Iconoclasm in the 8th Century:

"The Resurrection of Jesus Christ in the flesh has proved that bodily
existence is not excluded from the union of the human and the divine, and
that external and sensible objectivity can and must become the real
instrument and visible image of the divine power. Hence the cult of holy
images and relics, hence the legitimate belief in material miracles wrought
by these sacred objects. [cf. Acts 19:12] Thus in declaring war on these
images, the Byzantine emperors were not attacking a religious custom or a
mere detail of worship so much as a necessary and infinitely important
application of Christian truth itself. To claim that divinity cannot be
sensibly expressed or externally manifested, or that the divine power
cannot employ visible and symbolic means of action, is to rob the divine
Incarnation of all its reality. It was more than a compromise; it was the
suppression of Christianity."

H/t to Principium Unitatis

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Tertullian on the Sacraments

The statement is often made that the early Christians didn't have sacraments and that they were a later "man-made" addition of the Catholic Church. Could this early Christian have gotten it wrong so soon after the death of the last apostles?

"No soul whatever is able to obtain salvation unless it has believed while it was in the flesh. Indeed, the flesh is the hinge of salvation. . . . The flesh, then, is washed [baptism] so that the soul may be made clean. The flesh is anointed so that the soul may be dedicated to holiness. The flesh is signed so that the soul may be fortified. The flesh is shaded by the imposition of hands [confirmation] so that the soul may be illuminated by the Spirit. The flesh feeds on the body and blood of Christ [the Eucharist] so that the soul too may feed on God. They cannot, then, be separated in their reward, when they are united in their works" (The Resurrection of the Dead 8:2–3 [A.D. 210]).

Friday, January 11, 2008

Gnosticism vs. The Church

I am often amazed how "gnostic" I was in my beliefs and how its subtle influence effectively prevented me from considering Catholicism. The simplified version of gnosticism is this:
"spirit=good, body=bad." Therefore, if the item under consideration is related in some way to the physical- material world , it is earthy, wordly and can't be spiritual and good. Based on that, Catholicism had to be wrong because of its very visible presence. Furthermore, all of the sacraments were "hinged"* on material objects. Water for baptism, oil for confirmation, bread and wine for the Eucharist.
Unfortunately, this false paradigm undermines the very tenets of Catholicism. The Incarnation itself shows us how this construct is wrong. The Church was started to be a visible vehicle for conveying God's grace. God physically entered the world in the flesh, and the Church He established should mirror this principle. Jesus was never meant to be separated from the Church, His grace was always intended to flow through the sacraments, not separate from them as mere symbols. Read this post here on Principium Unitatis for an excellent discussion on gnosticism and the Church.

*Tertullian said "flesh is the hinge of salvation."

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Trying Not to Get Caught in the Web.

Do you ever worry about how much time you spend on the WWW in the virtual world vs the real world? I know I do. On a daily basis I struggle with balancing real world vs virtual. Today I saw this book on the St. Anthony Messenger site and I think I am going to get it. I will report back to you after reading it and if it looks good, we can pass it around to interested bloggers.
Lord Jesus, guide us, lead us, free us to do your will.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Do Catholics Believe in Miracles?

After our appearance on the Journey Home in December we received an e-mail from a non-Catholic Christian who encouraged us to believe in the healing power of prayer. The person explained that God was still performing miracles and had personally witnessed them.

By discussing the Catholic theology of suffering during our testimony perhaps we gave the impression that as Catholic Christians we no longer believed in the miraculous power of God to heal, convert, deliver etc. Just to set the record straight, there has never been a time in the history of Catholicism that miracles were limited to just the apostolic era. As a matter of fact, one of the ways in which a saint becomes canonized is through the careful documentation of at least two supernatural events that can be traced to the intercession of that saint.

The Church has a two thousand year history of documented miracles. A visit to any of the major Catholic shrines will reveal the eye patches, canes, crutches, walkers, braces and wheelchairs that are cast aside after the pilgrim received their healing. You would almost think you were at a Benny Hinn Tent Revival! (Well, not exactly)

In the early 1600's one of St. Francis de Sale's major arguments against the reformers was that their new church had no miracles occurring. He proved his arguments with the historic evidence of miracles that occurred since the birth of the Church and had not stopped. The gifts of the Holy Spirit that our charismatic friends share with us have always been in the Catholic Church. The more recent charismatic renewal of the 1970's in Protestantism has been influenced by the Catholic charismatic movement.
The Catholic Church is full of miracles. A partial list includes:
  • physical healings (requiring careful medical documentation)
  • Eucharistic miracles
  • levitation(several saints began floating during prayer)
  • bi-location(a person being in two places at once)
  • bodies of saints that never decay (incorruptibles)
  • apparitions
  • exorcisms
  • stigmata
  • More than 100 thousand people watched the sun dance in the sky over Fatima in Portugal during one of the Marian apparitions of the early 20th century.

So, yes! Catholics do believe in miracles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit as described in Scripture. These are all alive and active in the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict's and John Paul 2's household preacher is Father Cantalamessa , a charismatic priest who travels the world preaching about the power of God manifested through the charismatic renewal.

The beauty of the Catholic Church is that we have the fullness of Truth. Our Church has always held that the gifts of the Holy Spirit and supernatural workings of God continue to this present day for the edifying of the Body. But at the same time we embrace a theology of suffering(Col 1:24) that allows for the trials of our life (when we are not miraculously healed) to be offered to Christ and used for His purposes. The Catechism states: The Holy Spirit gives to some a special charism of healing so as to make manifest the power of the grace of the risen Lord. But even the most intense prayers do not always obtain the healing of all illnesses. Thus St. Paul must learn from the Lord that "my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness," and that the sufferings to be endured can mean that "in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his Body, that is, the Church."

As Catholics we pray for miracles and supernatural intervention but we trust that God will ultimately give us the grace to endure the trials that we experience if the physical miracle doesn't occur. We know that He can use our suffering united to His for the sake of His body, the Church, as St. Paul so eloquently wrote above.

Finally, Catholics experience the most amazing miracle every day in every single parish throughout the world. God becomes real and present to us in the Mass through the sacrifice of the altar. We experience God's miraculous power to change our hearts through the grace that is poured out in this Most Blessed Sacrament when the God of the Universe humbles himself to become present under the appearances of bread and wine. A miracle that Einstein himself was fascinated by.

To hear how our exposure to the theology of suffering was one of the ways God lead us back to the Church, here is our testimony.


Pope John the XXIII used this method in order to strive to achieve holiness. He would choose one and attempt to live by it to the fullest everyday.

1.Only for today I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.

2.Only for today I will take the greatest care of my appearance, I will dress modestly, I will be courtesy in my behavior, I will not criticize anyone, and I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.

3.Only for today I will be happy in the certainty I was created to be happy. Not only in the other world but also in this one.

4.Only for today I will adapt to circumstance without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.

5.Only for today I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading.

6.Only for today I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.

7.Only for today I will do at least one thing I do not like doing and if my feelings are hurt I will make sure nobody notices.

8.Only for today I will make a plan for myself and be on guard against two evils, hastiness and indecision.

9.Only for today I will firmly believe despite appearances that the good providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world. I will firmly believe that God loves me and provides for me exactly what I need for today.

10.Only for today I will not be afraid. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. I will have no fears.

Whatsoever You Do...

Tim Reidy, a college student from Notre Dame spent a summer in Uganda working with children at St. Joseph's Senior School. He returned forever changed and is a "man with a mission."
Check out this video and if the Lord leads you, perhaps send a few quid to help the St. Joseph Senior School Project. Thanks Susie for the link.

The Epiphany and Mary

"Just as she presented Jesus to the Magi, so the Virgin continues to offer Him to all humanity. Let us accept Him from her hands: Christ fulfils the most profound longings of our hearts and gives meaning to all our plans and actions. May He be present in families and reign everywhere with the power of His love."

Pope Benedict 1/5/06 on the Solemnity of the Epiphany

Saturday, January 05, 2008

On the Banks and Ready to Swim!

Check out this blog by soon-to-be convert, Kelly, and give her the 'Old Catholic Blogger's Welcome Home.' She is in RCIA now.

*Also, today, the CowBikeRider, former Lutheran believer, is receiving the Sacrament of Confession and the Eucharist entering the Church! Keep these folks and all those considering the Church in your prayers.

Lord Jesus, we ask you to draw us all into closer and more intimate fellowship with you. We pray for special graces today for Kelly and CBR as they continue their journey of faith in the Catholic Church.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I Belong to a Church of Sinners

I started the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus today by reading an e mail forwarded to me from one of my friends in my previous non-Catholic church. It was forwarded to a whole list of his friends and I was on the list. The subject of the e mail was a news story regarding a local priest arrested for perjury with possible ties to organized crime in eastern PA. E Mails like this help me to not forget that I belong to a Church of sinners.

Is there any heavenly purpose served by me responding to it? I have been struggling lately with "foot in mouth" disease when responding quickly out of anger to things like this e mail and wonder if more is gained by prayerful silence. What do you think?

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

We are all members of one mystical body of Christ, Scripture tells us when one member suffers we all suffer. This suffering is not only persecution or illness, but also the suffering that occurs as a result of the sinful choices we make. The Catholic Church teaches that no sin is truly private and we injure the communion that is shared among believers when we sin and fall from grace. (Even when we sin privately, there are ramifications that affect the whole body of Christ through the mystical union we share through Him)
"…there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it…" (I Corinthians 12:25-26)
When a Christian brother or sister, or pastor or priest falls, it is an occasion for much sadness and intercessory prayer as we know the heart of God is saddened and the Spirit is grieved. Whether it be a mega- church pastor with SSA or a Catholic priest with ties to the Mob, the whole body suffers when a member chooses the path of sin and selfishness.
We all lose when we hear stories like this and clearly no one rejoices in the stumbling of another fellow brother in Christ. The world laughs in derision and is expectant in false hope of seeing the "gates prevail" when a Christian falls and makes the headlines of the morning paper.
It is only by the grace of God that we ourselves have not gone down these dark paths and we daily take much heed lest we do indeed fall, since all of our hearts are easily capable of such things and worse. (I know mine is. I have proven it over and over again and those closest to me know this is no exaggeration)

The church has been filled with scandal since the days when Christ was here on earth. On the night he was betrayed by one of his own, the other 11 also abandoned Him. Peter denied him thrice, yet Christ forgave Him. Not only did He forgive Him but later gave him the command to feed His sheep, (which he said not once, but thrice), entrusting him to lead this fledgling band of doubters, deniers and liars who became the 12 pillars of the Heavenly City of God as described by John in Revelation.

Please join me in prayer for our fallen brothers and sisters and let us all pray that we too will not be lead into temptation but be delivered from evil. (Even the evil we bring on ourselves.) The good news is that we are given a promise from Christ himself that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church, despite the sinfulness of us who are a part of His body.

In the bonds of His love,

The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus

Glorious name, gracious name, name of love and of power! Through you sins are forgiven, through you enemies are vanquished, through you the sick are freed from their illness, through you those suffering in trials are made strong and cheerful. You bring honor to those who believe, you teach those who preach, you give strength to the toiler, you sustain the weary” (St. Bernardine of Siena).

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Judas Argument

When I thought of Catholicism even up to just 5 years ago, my first thoughts went to images of the pompous looking tiaras and hats the popes and cardinals wore. The paradox of "Vatican riches" despite the example of poor fishermen who followed Christ was ingrained in me from the tracts and propaganda I read as a young Bible Christian. Yeah, I believed this stuff:

"The Vatican's treasure of solid gold has been estimated by the United Nations World Magazine to amount to several billion dollars. A large bulk of this is stored in gold ingots with the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, while banks in England and Switzerland hold the rest. But this is just a small portion of the wealth of the Vatican, which in the U.S. alone, is greater than that of the five wealthiest giant corporations of the country. When to that is added all the real estate, property, stocks and shares abroad, then the staggering accumulation of the wealth of the Catholic church becomes so formidable as to defy any rational assessment."(From Jack Chick's Website)

"Why doesn't the Church sell all the riches and treasures it owns in the museums and repositories and give it to the poor" was the argument often heard. Remember when the women broke the alabaster jar of expensive perfume to anoint Jesus and Judas complained that the money should be given to the poor? He was missing the point! Dwight Longenecker, former Anglican priest and Bob Jones University graduate, now a Catholic priest gives a nice summary of this issue on his blog Standing On My Head.

Not Another Tiber Crossing!

When I came back to the Church in 2004, one of the first individuals I met in my parish was a convert himself from a Brethren in Christ background. He had gone to Elizabethtown College in PA where he met his wife-to-be who was Catholic, and after a period of time, he saw the light and converted. He has since become a leader in the RCIA program of our parish. He recently shared with me the news of the conversion of his former assistant pastor.

Dr. David Hall of Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church gave his farewell sermon in March of 2007 after 18 years of pulpit ministry there. You can listen to it here.
Dr. Hall has impressive credentials and his conversion will be difficult to dismiss as a "lack of sound theological teaching."

Senior Pastor - Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church
B.A., Hobe Sound Bible College
M.A., Columbia International University
M.T.S., Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
D.Min., Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Messiah College is affiliated with this church so his conversion will have tremendous repercussions. Lord willing, it will cause many there to consider the claims of Catholicism.

Pray for Dr. Hall as he tells his story on The Journey Home on Jan 14th at 8 PM EST.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Another Convert Story "The Jogger Mom"

Check out this blog by a new convert from Protestantism.

"It is a great comfort to me in life to know that God didn't leave us behind on earth to flip-flop on what he meant for us to do after Jesus ascended to heaven."

"I'm a new Protestant convert to Catholicism, and I am excited about how God has changed me since I joined the Church."

The Solemnity of Mary, The Mother of God. What a Great Way to Celebrate the New Year!

"Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?"
(Elizabeth asks upon her visit by Mary)

Today the Church recognizes Mary's role in salvation history by celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. Here they go again, those Catholics! It's always about Mary and how they take glory away from Christ by these silly proclamations and feasts! Don't Catholics realize how dangerous it is to elevate a mere human? Isn't Jesus enough for Catholics? I guess not because they always have to go and add stuff, like calling Mary the Mother of God. (Though nobody seems to notice that Elizabeth essentially did that in the gospel of Luke)

Without the benefit of understanding the history of the Church, you can't blame folks for having these thoughts. I know I did for many years. Once I discovered the truth behind why the Church declared Mary the Theotokos at the Council of Ephesus, I was humbled and in awe.
I now see how the Holy Spirit continued to guide the Church in all Truth via these councils.
Here's the story in a nutshell:
Nestorius, a bishop of the Catholic Church was speaking against the title 'Theotokos' and proposing that Mary bore only the human nature of Christ, not the divine.

Orthodox Catholic theologians recognized that Nestorius’s theory would fracture Christ into two separate persons (one human and one divine, joined in a sort of loose unity), only one of whom was in her womb. The Church reacted in 431 with the Council of Ephesus, defining that Mary can be properly referred to as the Mother of God, not in the sense that she is older than God or the source of God, but in the sense that the person she carried in her womb was, in fact, God incarnate ("in the flesh").(Catholic Answers)

The effect of the Council of Ephesus was to protect the doctrine of the Incarnation and once again reinforce to the faithful, the core beliefs regarding Christ's nature. The purpose and net effect of the Marian doctrines of the Church is always to glorify Christ, the Incarnation, born of the ever virgin (but certainly not divine) Mary.

Prayer from The LOTH:

God, it was by means of blessed Mary, virgin and mother, that you gave the human race the gift of eternal salvation.
Grant that we may feel the effects of her intercession for us,
for it is through her that we have received your Son, the source of life.

He lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.