Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

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

Thursday, 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,


Blogger japhy said...

Very well said/written. I might be inclined to point out the latest scandal the human race has been involved in... clearly, you don't want to be associated with THEM!

January 03, 2008 11:33 PM  
Blogger Fr. J. said...

As Christians we ought to be scandalized by sin, but ought never be surprised by it.

There are no lengths the evil one will not go to deprive the world of the Gospel. Foremost will be attacks on the Church. Scandalized, humbled, dismayed, recommitted, more contrite, all of these, but never surprised.

January 04, 2008 2:11 AM  
Blogger A Simple Sinner said...

We are a hospital for sinners not a hotel for saints... Though the latter manages to rise like cream to the top in every generation.

And what of it?

Not only are these allegations just that - allegations - but what do they prove?

Can your friend demonstrate sinlessness among the members of his community tasked with clerical responsibility? I somehow doubt it... If and unless he is presupposing "The Church" is only what he/she makes of it... The sinners aren't there, only saints.

If it is this bad where the Eucharist and forgiveness of sins via the holy sacrament of Reconcilation can be found, I shudder to think how it would be without!

So remind your friend that we, like Saint Paul, are working out our salvation in fear and trembling.

Some of us (points to myself) have more work then others.

January 04, 2008 3:36 AM  
Blogger Joyful Catholics said...

We should leave the backbiting and backstabbing to the world, but yet, so many do resort to this when it is (and especially) when it is a Catholic priest who's sinned or failed in a way that gets publicity. I just prayed for him and ALL leaders, shepherds of churches and various flocks in the wide plethora of 'denominations' out there. The world does laugh, but we, as you say, truly suffer when one of us suffers and sins. There is no private sin, yet when an email is sent to you (since your return to the CC they must feel the need to 'warn' you about the "mistake" you made) those who send these things must think themselves better than this priest. Well, far be it from me to judge this priest, for it is by grace alone that I'm not where I could have ended up with the mortal sins I've committed! I just prayed the Memorare for this man of God, who's made a sinful choice and was weak and failed. I pray for the gift of repentance and reconciliation. Also for others in the body who become proud and too presumptious upon the grace of God who seem to almost take some sort of weird delight when a priest or religious falls. God forgive them all. God forgive me when I've done worse.

"To thee I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. Oh Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions buy in your mercy, answer me. Amen."

January 04, 2008 6:00 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

thanks japhy.
You know, as a matter of fact, I always have been in search of the perfect planet. But as the saying goes, when I get there, it won't be perfect anymore.

January 04, 2008 8:11 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

"There are no lengths the evil one will not go to deprive the world of the Gospel."

Yes Father so true.

January 04, 2008 8:13 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

"So remind your friend that we, like Saint Paul, are working out our salvation in fear and trembling.

Some of us (points to myself) have more work then others."

SS, so true. The old evangelical saw:
"when we point to someone else, there are 4 of our own fingers pointing back at us."

January 04, 2008 8:19 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

"We should leave the backbiting and backstabbing to the world, but yet, so many do resort to this when it is (and especially) when it is a Catholic priest who's sinned or failed in a way that gets publicity."

The reason this kind of stuff gets to me is probably because, i was one of those in 2002 saying "Christ cannot be the Church of pedophiles." I actually said that to my wife, PD, when she told me she wanted to return to the Church in the midst of the worst scandals the Church has had in its history.
If we actually had to choose which Church to go to based on the perfect behavior of those in leadership, we'd be home watching Davy and Goliath re-runs on Sunday instead of going to Church .

January 04, 2008 8:25 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

"I just prayed the Memorare for this man of God, who's made a sinful choice and was weak and failed. I pray for the gift of repentance and reconciliation"

Susie, that's always the best thing we can do.

January 04, 2008 8:28 AM  
Anonymous theo said...

That is an excellent response TJ! I suggest you send it. When you do, could you add my email to the distribution please?

With acute awareness of my own poor imitation of Christ, I remain your devoted servant and brother in Christ,

January 04, 2008 10:10 AM  
Blogger Theocoid said...

Well written and absolutely on the mark.

January 04, 2008 12:53 PM  
Blogger Cow Bike Rider (alias, Chris Sagsveen) said...

I like your response because it is very charitable. To me, I do think there is “heavenly purpose by sending it” because we all (Catholic and Protestant) need to think and hear the things we share and discuss with others.

John 8:7 "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."

And I believe that one charitable email might be enough to at least get your friend to think. If nothing else, your response (followed by prayer for your friend) will glorify God.

My two cents.


January 04, 2008 4:05 PM  
Blogger A Simple Sinner said...

Well let us do some of your heavy lifting, Doc!

Send your friend a link to this post and invited him to offer comments in the combox and read what we have said, if you think that will help.Being made up of humans the church's valleys are equally low... are the mountain tops equally high?

January 04, 2008 10:16 PM  
Blogger MMajor Fan said...

Hi tiber! (Happy and Blessed New Year by the way to you and your entire family.)

I thought it was a lovely letter actually, particularly because it was written to be balanced in reference to both Catholic and non Catholic churches.

You know what my reaction would be if I received this letter? (If only the mail I received was as good as that one ha.) I would reply that I agree and suggest that in addition to prayer that this group of addressees form a new network in response to such incidents. I would create a tangible outreach to the parish or church group that has experienced such a scandal. This group of friends could identify a contact in the parish or church group that experiences this unfortunate event or scandal and write a prayerful message of support. I think people who have had their priest or pastor go astray have a hurt that would be comforted by hearing from a group of Catholic-Prot-non denominational friends who send them like a prayerful sympathy card, if you know what I mean, and perhaps establish a friendship in the afflicted parish or church group. You could call yourselves the Friends Ecumenical Scandal Consolers ha ha, here I am kidding, but seriously, I think this thoughtful letter to a group of friends could form a network who can reach out to the folks who experience the pain of such a let down. I have done it myself, when I've read in the paper of some scandal I've sent a personal note in a card to those who are hurt or under attack to provide some comfort and I have heard back in return that it was appreciated. So I think this ad hoc group could provide a nice outreach.

January 05, 2008 12:52 AM  
Blogger Hidden One said...

I really liked your response, TJ.

January 05, 2008 1:46 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Your response is inspired, truthful, and as Chris said - charitable.

January 05, 2008 12:33 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Simple. thanks for the offer. That's an interesting idea, but I have refrained from sending my old church friends links to my blog for fear that they will think they are being "proselytized." But I'm thinking about it :)

January 06, 2008 10:39 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

What a thoughtful ministry! I never would have thought of that. Thanks for the post.

January 06, 2008 10:41 AM  
OpenID julienicke said...

Well, since your friend is so obviously interested in Catholicism (God bless him), you could send him bits of writings of the early church fathers. And/or snippets of stories about good things Catholics are doing (you will probably have to go to a Catholic news source for that). Your response is very good. I'd start with that.

January 07, 2008 8:15 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

julie: great idea.

January 07, 2008 8:26 AM  

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