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.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


In one week, we have been through some major transitions. All, good, but bittersweet.
The youngest one left for college in a city about an hour away and the oldest son moved out. In the midst of all this, our house sold and we have started the major move to our new home and new parish, St Joseph the Worker.

We are leaving the town of Emmaus where Jesus revealed himself to us in the breaking of the bread. Our first parish, St Ann's will remain in our hearts as a special place but the beauty of the Catholic faith is that the Mass remains the same no matter where you go. One priest doesn't confect the Eucharist any better than another, and our spiritual life is not dependent on the personality of the pastor or his homiles (sermons).

We are sad to see our children go, but thankful to God for this new era in their lives. The day my youngest went to college, I was seeking the intercession of St. Monica for him. I opened my
e mail and saw that the "Saint of The Day" was St Monica! It was very comforting to celebrate the feast day of St Monica on the day my son left home. As many of you know, St. Monica was St. Augustine's mum and prayed for him to reconcile to God and come to faith. She actually followed him to Rome where he met St. Ambrose who eventually baptised him into the Catholic faith.
Never underestimate, the power of the intercession of the saints. Today I spoke with my youngest and he told me he went to Mass! He's not even Catholic, but the Newman Center on campus is directly across from his dorm. Thank you God for hearing the prayers of your saints! His late Mom is in heaven praying for him I know. This college was her alma mater.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

St. Joseph and Real Estate

Several months ago we put our house up for sale in one of the worst housing markets of recent times. We trusted the Lord and asked for the prayers of many here and in heaven for the sale of our home. We made a special intention to St. Joseph and buried a statue of St Joe in the backyard as sign of his prayers for us and a tangible way for us to remember to continue to ask St Joseph (patron saint of families) for his intercession. Read what I wrote on this back in May here.
In the pic above, I am digging the statue up that I had previously buried in the backyard, to place in our new home as a way of remembering God's faithfulness to us through the prayers of his saints, both here and in heaven.
Did Prodigal Daughter and I worship St Joe and praise his name above all others? Naw, we just said:" thanks St Joe for your intercession and thank you God for hearing the prayers of your saints."
When a prayer of yours is answered, do you thank the folks who prayed for you? If you don't you should! Well, that's just what we are doing by this simple Catholic devotion, using the stuff of earth to point us to the things of heaven. Not superstition, good luck charms or diverting the glory from our Lord. Just taking advantage of all the things He has promised to His Church.
Our realtor (a non Catholic) told us that it must have been the prayers of St. Joseph since he has never seen the market so bad for sellers! All the Glory to God!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

An American Conversion

Conversions to Catholic Christianity are always an interest to me. I recently read the fascinating story of a conversion which occurred in the days shortly after the American Revolution. Reverend John Thayer was an ordained minister of the puritan sect of Protestantism. He traveled to Europe and heard of the miracles that were occurring as a result of the intercession of a soon to be canonized saint. He attempted to debunk the "miracles" by interviewing the people who were healed. This lead to a study of the doctrines of Catholicism and to his surprise he had been grossly misinformed. (Hey, this was even 2 centuries before Chick Tracts!) His heart was slowly converted as he traveled to Rome and met with priests and religious. He found that Catholics were very different than his pre-conceived notions of them in the past and their piety was something which influenced him greatly.

He gave up his ministerial credentials in the Protestant church and studied for the Catholic priesthood. He was ordained a priest in Europe and traveled back to the states where his conversion story made quite a stir in the New World. Such a thing as a Protestant becoming Catholic was unheard of particularly in the strongly anti-Catholic new nation where Catholics were not allowed to vote or hold public office! His desire for the rest of his life was to help others see the truth in the Catholic faith. He was less than successful as a diocesan priest in the states and eventually ended his ministry in Limerick Ireland where he passed away and left his estate back in Boston for a religious order of sisters. This was later burned down by an anti-Catholic mob in 1831.

His brother was a Protestant minister who apparently was less than enthused over his conversion.
 Rev. John Thayer wrote down his conversion story as well as published a letter to his brother. His apologetics regarding papal infallability and discussion of sola scriptura are excellent and still stand the test of time. It is amazing that he was writing only 200 years after the reformation and identified the key issues that today's apologists still deal with.
Check out his book here. At 40 pages it is a quick read.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Being Number 2 Isn't So Bad

After almost a year as the most viewed video on Catholic internet video site Love To Be Catholic, The Nicean Blues has ceded #1 to a sermon by Father Jeffrey entitled "What's Right With the Catholic Church." Check out the video of Father Jeffrey's homily here.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Road to St. Simon and Jude Church, Port-Au-Prince

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back From Port-Au-Prince

The rectory of St. Jude and St Simon

Thank you all for your prayers for our trip. I returned last night after a three day visit to Sts. Simon and Jude parish in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. We met the pastor, Father Andrew, a missionary priest from the Philippines who has been in Haiti for three years under the archdiocese of PAP. He was an extremely gracious host who put us up in his rectory for three days. We went to Mass daily and saw his church and the surrounding neighborhoods. We also had the opportunity to spend time with other young priests who are pastors over parishes in the more remote mountainous areas outside of the city. Many of these parishioners are illiterate so the daily Mass is a perfect way for them to hear three readings of God's Word. (Kinda like the early days of the Church!)

Father Andrew explained his desire to see a medical clinic established in his parish and we nailed down the logistics for making this happen in the next 6 months. We also went to the Matthew 25 House, a guest house for missionaries that is run by Sister Mary, a retired nurse educator with a PhD in Nursing Education. She taught at Temple University School of Nursing when my late wife was studying to be a nurse there. Very small world! Sister Mary had much insight into the medical issues and needs in the Delmas community of PAP and it was delightful to chat with her for almost 2 hours. She gave us a tour of her guest house as we anticipated taking our group to stay there for our upcoming trip.

By the end of our visit, Father Andrew decided that we
should stay with him on our next trip and he has room for a team of 8 members. He has electricity 24/7 because of the use of a battery/inverter system, something which we have not had on previous trips.

I never cease to be amazed by the universality of the Catholic Church (forgive the redundancy). Despite not being able to speak or understand the Creole language, I could actively participate in the Mass with my Haitian brothers and sisters from start to finish! When we went to Mass at 4 PM on our first day, there were over 60 people for daily Mass and at the 6 AM Mass the following morning there were almost 30.

I will have more pics and video to come. Thanks for all your prayers and please keep Father Andrew and the folks in his parish in your prayers. He is in the middle of a building project and the cost of materials has skyrocketed in Haiti.

The closing song at Mass. (Note how the altar server
holds the scriptures high, showing the tremendous
respect the Universal Church has for the Bible

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

From Maine to Haiti

PD and I are heading out for a short vacation to Maine. It's a bit of a "working vacation" because I'll be playing music each night for the guests at the bed and breakfast we stay at. In return, we get a great reduction in room rate for providing entertainment. (If the truth be told, playing music is never work for me thankfully)
On the way up we are planning on visiting the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. We will get there in time for the 2 PM Mass, Lord willing! Thanks to Mass we know where to find a Mass everyday on our itinerary. Just one of the many advantages to being Catholic!

When we return, I leave the next day for Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. The purpose will be to "scout out" a new area for a medical mission. We will be staying with a priest we met through the Twinning Program of the Americas. It is a Catholic organization that seeks to "twin" parishes in the US with impoverished parishes in the third world. St. Simon and Jude is the name of this new parish and Father Andrew Labatorio is the pastor. We hope to find out what the most pressing needs are and what we can do to meet them. I know one of the needs is money for a for a new church building as well as health care for his parishioners . I would covet your prayers over the next 10 days particularly from 8/19-8/21 while we are in Haiti. God bless.

PS. Song for our brothers and sisters in Haiti here.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A New Catholic Convert's Blog

Check out this convert's new blog and give him the old hearty "Welcome to the Catholic Blogosphere!" Based on the first three posts, it looks like it's going to be an excellent read.
I love the different perspectives each convert brings to the Church.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Why Doesn't the Eucharist Change Everyone's Life?

About 3 years ago, I was sharing with my former evangelical pastor the life-changing properties I had discovered in the Eucharist. I had just come into the Church and was so excited to experience the grace God has for us in this Blessed Sacrament. He then asked me, "If the Eucharist is so life-changing as you say, why then are there many Catholics who go up for Communion once a week not changed?"
I didn't really know how to answer him at the time but have thought about that question many times over the past few years. Particularly in my own life. How could I have been a young long-haired Catholic kid playing guitar in the folk Mass on Sunday receiving the Eucharist, but smoking pot and breaking the law the night before? Why didn't the grace in the Eucharist I was receiving change me or wake me up to see the hypocrisy in my life? This scripture from the gospel of Mark recently gave me an inkling of an answer to this question.

"A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?"

31 "You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?' "

32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

Many were crowding around Jesus and even touching Him, yet he perceived that it was one particular woman's faith that lead to the release of His grace and her healing. The many other people crowding around him that day may have been just "going through the motions" following the crowd that day. Perhaps the grace received in the Eucharist is similar. When an individual receives Christ's body and blood but is indifferent, perhaps not even believing, they are not cooperating with God's grace, and hence will not receive the grace.

As St Paul said, it is so vitally important to properly discern the body of Christ at the Lord's Table. Christ works through His sacraments to the degree that we are open and docile to His work. The saints through the ages have written volumes on how to prepare one's heart to receive the Eucharist. So it comes down to our willingness to cooperate with grace of God. Many receive the Eucharist with no intention of cooperating with God. They may even be in mortal sin, God forbid, as I once was as a rebellious young adolescent. Perhaps they are just going through the motions, like some of the folks in the crowd that day who were carried along by the momentum of the crowd, but weren't sure who it was they were getting near nor understood what He was offering to them.

A Prayer of St. Alphonsus Liguori-Make Me a Saint

Oh my God, help me to remember that time is short, and eternity is long.
What good is all the greatness of this world at the hour of death?
To love You, my God, and save my soul is the one thing necessary.
Without You, there is no peace, no joy.
My God, I need fear nothing but sin.
For to lose You, my God, is to lose everything.
Oh my God, help me to remember that to gain everything I must leave everything;
That in loving you I have all good things; the infinite riches of Christ and His Church,
the motherly protection of Mary,
peace beyond understanding, Joy unspeakable!
Eternal Father, your Son has promised that whatever we ask in His Name will be given to us.
In His Name I pray: give me a burning faith, a joyful hope, a holy love for Jesus Christ.
Give me the grace of perseverance in doing Your will in all things.
Do with me what You will. I repent of having offended You.
Grant, Oh Lord, that I may love You always and never let me be separated from You.
O my God and my All, make me a Saint.

Friday, August 01, 2008

A Pope's Vacation

What does the vicar of Christ do when on holiday? Pray, read and play piano. Wow, that's like what I do, though it's usually guitar or some other stringed instrument.
Pray for our holy father that he can recharge his batteries and finish the new encyclical he is working on. At his age, the odds are that he can enter eternity at any time so it's such a bonus for the Church to have a pope who is so productive despite his advanced age.

Thank you Lord for Pope Benedict. Bless him we pray in Jesus name.

More Photos from the Carmelite Monastery