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, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

How do Catholics spend New Year? I can't speak for all of them, but in our parish we are having Eucharistic Adoration from 10PM until Midnight. We sit quietly in the presence of the Almighty bringing Him our sadness and sorrows and joys of the past year and worshiping and praying with hope as the New Year is rung in. I will be bringing all my blogger friends before the Lord tonight, please do the same for Prodigal Daughter and myself. Then in the AM we return for Mass and celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the mother of God, (Theotokos) as pronounced dogmatically by the Council of Ephesus in the early fifth century. A great way to start the year focusing on the things of Heaven.
God bless you.

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.
(cf Divine Mercy Chaplet)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

St Joseph Studio is Completed!

Today, the studio is officially completed. When we moved here in September, there was no place to record. We noted when we first looked at the house, there was a partially finished room in the basement and Prodigal Daughter thought, "that will be the studio." She told me she would have it finished as a birthday present for me. I don't deserve her.

How did I come by the name St Joseph Studio? We asked St. Joseph to intercede for us to sell our home and find this one, and we are 3 minutes from St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church. Also, my middle name is Joseph. Besides, since we no longer live 300 yards from the train tracks, the Loud Train Studios moniker would no longer work here. For my birthday today I received a small statue of St Joseph holding Jesus on his arm and this will be placed in a prominent place of honor in the studio. (You can see it in the TiberCam today)

Here is the prayer to St. Joseph which is over 1900 years old.

"O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most Loving of Fathers. O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen "

Monday, December 29, 2008

Not Just Jesus and Me.

Tonite on the Journey Home program, Marcus Grodi talked about the 20th century heresy of "Just Jesus and Me." I posted about this awhile back, and still have been thinking about the role of the Church in our relationship to God. My conclusion is that we were never meant to separate our relationship with Jesus from our relationship to His Church. Through the Church He gives us the sacraments which bring us to Him. This had been the normative way of Christianity for 1500 years.

In The Spirit of Catholicism Karl Adams says:
"The Spirit of Jesus is introduced into our earthly life, not through the medium of individuals endowed with special charismatical gifts, but through the ministry of an ordered hierarchy, which being appointed by Jesus to be the structural basis of the community, creates, supports and develops it. So the Church possesses the Spirit of Christ, not as a many of single individuals, nor as a sum of spiritual personalities, but as the compact, ordered unity of the faithful, as a community that transcends the individual personalities and expresses itself in a sacred hierarchy. This organized unity, this community, as germinally given with the Head, Christ, and depending upon His institution, is a fundamental datum of Christianity, not a thing created by the voluntary or forced association of the faithful, not a mere secondary and derivative thing depending on the good pleasure of Christians, but a thing which, in the divine plan of salvation, is in its essence antecedent to any Christian personality and is to that extent a supra-personal thing, a comprehensive unity, which does not presuppose Christian personalities, but itself creates and produces them."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dr. Beckwith on "Good Works"

Here's a snippet from Chapter 6 of Return to Rome.

"As I have said, the purpose of good works for the Catholic is not to get you into heaven, but to get heaven into you. The Catholic already believes that he or she is an adopted child of God wholly by God's grace. For the practicing Catholic, good works, including participating in the sacraments, works of charity, and prayer, are not for the purpose of earning heaven. For good works are not meant to pay off a debt in the Catholic scheme of things. Rather, good works prepare us for heaven by shaping our character and keep us in communion with God so that we may be "holy and blameless and irreproachable before him" (Col 1:22)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Francis Beckwith's New Book

One of my gifts for Christmas from Prodigal Daughter was
Return to Rome: Confessions of an
Evangelical Catholic by Francis Beckwith, PhD.

Dr. Beckwith was the president of the Evangelical Theological Society and is currently a tenured professor of philosophy at Baylor University. He tells the story of his reversion back to the Church with many details of his early life as a Catholic kid in the 70's. (I certainly could relate having played guitar for a many folk masses with those liturgically loose wishy washy new hymns)
He later discusses the concept of justification and how he could no longer hold to the reformers' view after seeing no evidence of it in the writings of Christianity before the reformation. He came to the point where he could no longer justify accepting the creeds, the canon of scripture, the Christology of the Church and yet at the same time reject the sacraments, apostolic succession and authority that came along with those key elements. "I was boxed into a corner, with the only exit being the door of a confessional."

Regardless of whether he is further understood or further vilified as a result of writing this book, one cannot argue with this statement Dr. Beckwith makes at the end:
"Since becoming Catholic, I have become much more prayerful, I read the Bible far more often, and I am increasingly more aware and appreciative of the grace God has given me to lead a virtuous life." That's a statement most of us revert/converts can heartily say Amen to.
You can buy a copy here.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Evangelism and Penn Jillete

Recently performance artist/comedian and outspoken atheist, Penn Jillete was given a Gideon bible after one of his shows. Here are his You Tube comments which are worth spending the time viewing. At one point he says "How much do you have to hate a person NOT TO TELL THEM?"
He is saying that if you believe that eternal life is true and you know of a way to escape hell, how much do you have to hate someone to not share the life saving information with them?
Some of us in the blogosphere have been accused of proselytizing-- But, if I found what I believe to be a treasure in the Catholic Church, am I loving others by not sharing it? If God shows you a new and joyous method of getting into closer communion with Him, the charitable thing to do is to not keep it to yourself. BTW, sounds like Penn Jillette is onto something, pray for him.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Today we celebrate the Incarnation. God breaks into history and takes on the flesh of his creation.
He chose the city of Bethlehem , the name of which means "House of Bread." Of all the places to be come to earth, God chooses Bethlehem. This little baby we worship today grows up to become our Bread of Life.

Thank you God for your gift of Living Bread come down from heaven to feed us and give us eternal life.

From Prodigal Daughter, myself and Maggie the Yule Dog, we wish you a Blessed Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Liturgy and the Nativity

"Finally, the solemn liturgy is the centre of everything, because there takes place in it what
we are unable to accomplish and of which, however, we are always in
expectation. He is present. He enters into our midst. Heaven is rent, and this
makes the earth glow."
(From Pope Benedict's Message to the Curia 12/22/08)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Angelus Prayer- A Reminder of Mary's 'Yes'

12/23/2008 Zenit News Agency (
The Holy Father invited the faithful to "gaze upon the ineffable mystery that Mary carried for nine months in her virginal womb: the mystery of God who becomes man."

VATICAN CITY (Zenit) - Upon praying the Angelus, one relives the moment of Mary's "yes," says Benedict XVI.

The Pope reflected on the prayer of the Angelus before reciting the Marian prayer together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

He noted that today's Gospel is Luke's account of the Annunciation, "the mystery to which we return every day in reciting the Angelus."

"This prayer allows us to relive the decisive moment when God knocked at Mary's heart and, having received her 'yes,' began to take flesh in her and from her," The Pontiff said.

Benedict XVI also noted that the collect prayer of today's Mass is the same prayer that is recited at the end of the Angelus: "Lord, fill our hearts with your love, and as you revealed to us by an angels the coming of your Son as man, so lead through his suffering and death to the glory of his resurrection."

As Christmas approaches, the Holy Father invited the faithful to "gaze upon the ineffable mystery that Mary carried for nine months in her virginal womb: the mystery of God who becomes man."

He also urged the contemplation of "Mary and Jesus, who await the birth of Jesus, and learn from them the secret of recollection for tasting the joy of Christmas."

"Let us prepare to welcome with faith the Redeemer who comes to be with us," he added, "the Word of God's love for humanity of every age."

Christmas Novena Day 7

Seventh Day (courtesy of EWTN)

Flight Of The Child Jesus Into Egypt.

Although the Son of God came from heaven to save men, scarcely was He born when men began to persecute Him to death. Herod, fearing that this Child would deprive Him of his kingdom, seeks to destroy His life. But St. Joseph is warned by an angel in a dream to take the Infant and His Mother and flee into Egypt. Joseph obeys at once, and tells Mary about it.
He takes the few tools of his trade, that he may use them to gain a livelihood in Egypt for himself and his poor family. Mary wraps up a small bundle of clothes for the use of her little Son, and then, going to the crib, she says with tears in her eyes to her sleeping Child, "O my Son and my God! Thou hast come from heaven to save men; but hardly art Thou born when they seek to take Thy life." Lifting Him meanwhile in her arms and continuing to weep, she sets out that same night with Joseph on the road to Egypt.

Let us consider how much these holy wanderers must have suffered in making so long a journey, deprived of every comfort. The divine Child was not yet able to walk, and so Mary and Joseph had to take turns in carrying Him in their arms. During their journey through the desert towards Egypt they had to spend several nights in the open air, with the bare ground for their bed. The cold makes the Infant cry, and Mary and Joseph weep in pity for Him. And who would not weep at thus seeing the Son of God poor and persecuted, a fugitive on earth, that he might not be killed by His enemies!

Dear Infant Jesus, crying so bitterly! Well hast Thou reason to weep in seeing Thyself persecuted by men whom Thou lovest so much. I, too, O God, have once persecuted Thee by my sins. But Thou knowest that now I love Thee more than myself, and that nothing pains me more than the thought that I have so often spurned Thee, my sovereign Good.

Forgive me, O Jesus, and let me bear Thee with me in my heart n all the rest of the journey that I have still to make through life, so that together with Thee I may enter into eternity. So often have I driven Thee from my soul by my sins. But now I love Thee above all things, and I regret above other misfortunes that I have offended Thee. I wish to leave Thee no more, my beloved Lord. But do Thou give me the strength to resist temptations. Never permit me to be separated from Thee again. Let me rather die than ever again lose Thy good grace.

O Mary, my hope, make me always live in God's love and then die in loving Him. Amen.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Advent and Suffering

During Advent, we look forward to once again celebrating the Incarnation. God taking upon himself, the flesh of man, to redeem his people. But the joy of this great historic event was tempered for Mary and Joseph by several events. The disruptive uncomfortable trip to their home town, delivering a baby in a cave then followed by the adoration of the magi, one of whom brought preparations for a funeral- myrrh. Then the dangerous flight into Egypt to escape Herod's holocaust. Later, Simeon's words to Mary that her "soul would be pierced by a sword" reminded her that there would be more suffering in her life for sure.
Christ the redeemer came to the world in the midst of great suffering of his people. He lived a life as a "man of sorrows" acquainted with grief and ultimately suffered beyond imagination as he bore the sins of the world past, present and future.
The late John Paul II said that not only did Christ redeem us by his suffering, but he redeemed suffering as well. Christ showed us how to suffer and how to offer that suffering to the Father and to use the suffering in a redemptive way. From the moment of his birth to the moment of his death on the cross Jesus life was a model of suffering for us. St. Paul understood this when he said he rejoiced in his sufferings for the sake of Christ's body, the Church. (Col 1:25) Paul knew that the Christian life was filled with both joy and suffering. He desired that "I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death..."(Phil 3:10)

"Lord, this Advent, help me to accept the trials in my life and those around me with humility and hope, knowing that when I offer up my pain to you, adding it to your afflictions, I am entering into the fellowship of your sufferings, that I may ultimately be drawn close to your heart"

For more on redemptive suffering please check my blog post here

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Prayer Requests

A young married couple in our former church lost their 1.5 year old yesterday. She developed respiratory difficulties in the night and they tried to revive her but she was gone before the 911 team arrived. Please lift them up in prayer at this impossibly difficult time.

A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

His Plans Are Better Than Ours

Tonight, our advent reading before dinner focused on Mary's willingness to let go of her plans and to trust God and say yes to His plan for her. We are given the opportunity to do the same, modeling ourselves after her. This is one of Mary's greatest gifts to us.
"Let it be done to me according to your Word."

"The miracle of Christmas happened because Mary loved the reality created by God more than her plans and ideas. As we approach Christmas, we have images of how it should unfold. Let us welcome those unforeseen circumstances we tend to resist. For Christmas proclaims that our very salvation is the fruit of the most unforeseen and unforeseeable of all events - The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." (Fr. Richard Veras)

Lord, open and transform my petty heart to welcome the gift of your Son Jesus Christ, who will make his presence in my life known, not according to my plans but according to yours. May I prefer you to my very self, that I may discover my true self in you.
(from the Magnificat Advent Companion)

Day 5 of Christmas Novena

Fifth Day

The Life Of Sorrow Which Jesus Led From His Birth.

Jesus Christ could have saved mankind without suffering and dying. Yet, in order to prove to us how much He loved us, He chose for Himself a life full of tribulations. Therefore the prophet Isaias called Him "a man of sorrows," His whole life was filled with suffering. His Passion began, not merely a few hours before His death, but from the the first moment of His birth. He was born in a stable where everything served to torment Him. His sense of sight was hurt by seeing nothing but the rough, black walls of the cave; His sense of smell was hurt by the stench of the dung from the beasts in the stable; His sense of touch was hurt by the prickling straw on which He lay. Shortly after His birth He was forced to flee into Egypt, where He spent several years of His childhood in poverty and misery. His boyhood and early manhood in Nazareth were passed in hard work and obscurity. And finally, in Jerusalem, He died on a cross, exhausted with pain and anguish.

Thus, then, was the life of Jesus but one unbroken series of sufferings, which were doubly painful because He had ever before His eyes all the sufferings He would have to endure till His death. Yet, since our Lord had voluntarily chosen to bear these tribulations for our sake, they did not afflict Him as much as did the sight of our sins, by which we have so ungratefully repaid Him for His love towards us. When the confessor of Saint Margaret of Cortona saw that she never seemed satisfied with all the tears she had already shed for her past sins, he said to her, "Margaret, stop crying and cease your lamenting, for God has surely forgiven you your offenses against Him." But she replied, "Father, how can I cease to weep, since I know that my sins kept my Lord Jesus in pain and suffering during all His life?"

O Jesus, my sweet Love! I too have kept Thee suffering through all Thy life. Tell me, then, what I must do in order to win Thy forgiveness. I am ready to do all Thou askest of me. I am sorry, O sovereign Good, for all the offenses I have committed against Thee. I love Thee more than myself, or a least I feel a great desire to love Thee. Since it is Thou who hast given me this desire, do Thou also give me the strength to love Thee exceedingly.

It is only right that I, who have offended Thee so much, should love Thee very much. Always remind me of the love Thou hast borne me, in order that my soul may ever burn with love of Thee and long to please Thee alone. O God of love, I, who was once a slave of hell, now give myself all to Thee.
Graciously accept me and bind me to Thee with the bonds of Thy love. My Jesus, from this day and forever in loving Thee will I live, and in loving Thee will I die.

O Mary, my Mother and my hope, help me to love Thy dear God and mine. This is the only favor I ask of thee, and through thee I hope to receive it. Amen.

(Courtesy of EWTN)

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Walk Through Christmas

Today, Prodigal Daughter is the guest blogger. She wrote about what Christmas means to her.

"Christmas does not begin when the first commercial comes on TV alerting us to the impending shopping frenzy or when the first Christmas display appears at WalMart with it's gaudy red and green tinsel. Christmas begins after one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. It is then when I pull out the Advent wreath which I always put in with the Thanksgiving decorations.

When that first Sunday of Advent arrives and I see the beautiful wreath displayed near the altar of my Catholic Church, I know it's time. It 's time to anticipate His coming to earth among us. I then have 4 weeks to meditate on the concept of God coming to earth. During Advent we not only focus on God's entry into time, but also his return (the second coming.) There is so much to be thankful for and to ponder, Mary's obedience, Joseph's faithfulness, Elizabeth's joy.

I walk with all of them through Advent and the culmination of these four weeks of preparation, is the joyful Christmas Mass. That one day I completely enter into the mystery and reality of God come to earth. I take out the figures of the baby Jesus and add them to my Manger Scenes. Centuries would not be enough time to meditate on his birth, but thankfully the Church encourages us to set aside one day a year to take it all in. More than that though, we continue to celebrate and meditate on Christ's coming and all that it means to us and the world until after the Feast of Epiphany. It is at that time when we bring our Christmas celebration to a close. We take down the tree, and all the decorations with thankfulness in our hearts for all that God has revealed to us during this holy season of Advent and Christmas.

So Christmas means a taking in of the whole miracle that is God come to earth and asking in some small way if I might have a glimpse at the glory and wonder of it all."

(Prodigal Daughter 12/18/08)

Another Reason to Become Catholic

I admit, this is perhaps not the best reason to convert, but since I have been Catholic, the array of Christmas cards to choose for friends and family has just expanded exponentially!
From the whimsical to the wonderfully illuminated images of the Holy Family from all those great pre-reformation artists. The sky is the limit and I no longer have to limit my selection to the Thomas Kincade collection at our local bible bookstore.
I don't have to avoid the beautiful sacred images of ancient times that told the glorious story of His birth. I remember before I returned to the Church, how I would avoid like-the-plague any image that depicted the Holy Family with halos around their heads.
After all, a halo around Mary's head could get you thinking that... hmmm.... maybe she was like a little more special to God than a random Jewish virgin.

(This was originally posted Dec 1, 2006)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another One Jumps the Tiber

Tim Troutman posted about this. Dr. Jonathan Deane, former reformed presbyterian, is now a rabid papist. Give him the hearty Welcome Home from the Catholic Blogosphere.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Day 2 of The Christmas Novena

Check this out from EWTN's site. It's too good to keep as just a hyperlink that would go unclicked upon:

Second Day

God's Love Revealed In His Being Born An Infant.

When the Son of God became man for our sake, He could have come on earth as an adult man from the first moment of of His human existence, as Adam did when he was created. But since the sight of little children draws us with an especial attraction to love them, Jesus chose to make His first appearance on earth as a little infant, and indeed as the poorest and most pitiful infant that was ever born. "God wished to be born as a little babe," wrote Saint Peter Chrysologus, "in order that He might teach us to love and not to fear Him." The prophet Isaias had long before foretold that the Son of God was to be born as an infant and thus give Himself to us on account of the love He bore us: "A child is born to us, a son is given to us."

My Jesus, supreme and true God! What has drawn Thee from heaven to be born in a cold stable, if not the love which Thou bearest us men? What has allured Thee from the bosom of Thy Father, to place Thee in a hard manger? What has brought Thee from Thy throne above the stars, to lay Thee down on a little straw? What has led Thee from the midst of the nine choirs of angels, to set Thee between two animals? Thou, who inflamest the seraphim with holy fire, art now shivering with cold in this stable! Thou, who settest the stars in the sky in motion, canst not now move unless others carry Thee in their arms! Thou, who givest men and beasts their food, has need now a little milk to sustain Thy life! Thou, who art the joy of heaven, dost now whimper and cry in suffering! Tell me, who has reduced Thee to such misery? "Love has done it," says Saint Bernard. The love which Thou bearest us men has brought all this on Thee.

O Dearest Infant! Tell me, what hast Thou come on earth to do? Tell me, whom art Thou seeking? Yes, I already know. Thou has come to die for me, in order to save me from hell. Thou hast come to seek me, the lost sheep, so that, instead of fleeing from Thee any more, I may rest in Thy loving arms.
Ah my Jesus, my treasure, my life, my love and my all! Whom will I love, if not Thee? Where can I find a father, a friend, a spouse more loving and lovable than Thou art?

I love Thee, my dear God; I love Thee, my only good. I regret the many years when I have not loved Thee, but rather spurned and offended Thee. Forgive me, O my beloved Redeemer; for I am sorry that I have thus treated Thee, and I regret it with all my heart. Pardon me, and give me the grace never more to withdraw from Thee, but constantly to love Thee in all the years that still lie before me in this life. My love, I give myself entirely to Thee; accept me, and do not reject me as I deserve.
O Mary, thou art my advocate. By thy prayers thou dost obtain whatever thou wilt from thy Son. Pray Him then to forgive me, and to grant me holy perseverance until death. Amen.

Why The Incarnation Means So Much

By his incarnation the Son of God has united himself in some fashion with every human being. This saving event reveals to humanity not only the boundless love of God who "so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (Jn 3:16), but also the incomparable value of every human person.
(Source unknown)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why Not Visit a Catholic Church for Christmas?

Our culture has basically hijacked the Christian holidays and even some churches have gotten caught up in the melee. In several of the churches I was a part of in my past, often times the Christmas service took on an almost carnival atmosphere with skits, plays, live nativities, original songs and 45 minute sermons complete with large and unusual props on stage. The intent was pure and good but it often felt like entertainment vs worship. I felt bad for the pastors because there was a pressure to come up with a bigger and better service each year.

This Christmas, why not wander into a Catholic Church for midnight Mass to experience something completely different. You may like what you find. After all, the word Christmas is derived from The Mass of Christ. See this post for an explanation.

Start Your Novena Engines

Today marks the ninth day before Christmas. Prodigal Daughter reminded me this morning that she is going to begin a novena (9 days of focused prayer) for our family events during the holidays.
So here's my reminder for you as well and here's a great novena from EWTN's site.
The Christmas novena has always been part of Catholic culture and is a way for the family, the domestic church, to prepare for the coming of the savior in our hearts, and ward off the distractions of this materialistic culture. This is our fifth "Catholic Christmas" and we continue to be so grateful for the way God uses the Church in our lives to focus on Him, particularly at the holidays.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Church Speaks On BioEthics

The Vatican has just released a 30 page document called The Dignity of a Person, which updates and reinforces the teachings of the Church as it applies to the latest scientific discoveries involving life. The importance of the teaching authority of the Church (Magisterium) is so crucial these days as the morality of the latest scientific advances can't be sorted out by searching Scripture alone. The Word of God is alive and active and Catholics believe that it continues to be proclaimed through this teaching authority of the Church. Unfortunately, the Bible can't speak to us regarding issues of IVF, cloning etc, but the wisdom of God regarding the issues of life is made clear to the faithful through documents such as this. God doesn't leave us orphans, but continues to send His Spirit to lead us in all truth, in all areas.
The document speaks on embryonic stem cell research, frozen embryoes, in vitro fertilization, cloning and other areas that have been developed since the last document(Donum Vitae) 21 years ago. Here's a snippet from Dignitas Personae:

"The Magisterium also seeks to offer a word of support and encouragement for the
perspective on culture which considers science an invaluable service to the integral good of the
life and dignity of every human being. The Church therefore views scientific research with
hope and desires that many Christians will dedicate themselves to the progress of biomedicine
and will bear witness to their faith in this field. She hopes moreover that the results of such
research may also be made available in areas of the world that are poor and afflicted by disease,
so that those who are most in need will receive humanitarian assistance. Finally, the Church
seeks to draw near to every human being who is suffering, whether in body or in spirit, in order
to bring not only comfort, but also light and hope. These give meaning to moments of sickness
and to the experience of death, which indeed are part of human life and are present in the story
of every person, opening that story to the mystery of the Resurrection. Truly, the gaze of the
Church is full of trust because “Life will triumph: this is a sure hope for us. Yes, life will
triumph because truth, goodness, joy and true progress are on the side of life. God, who loves
life and gives it generously, is on the side of life”.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

There Are No Lone-Ranger Christians

"There Are No Lone-Ranger Christians" is a statement we used to make as we would try to convince an errant brother that he needed to be in fellowship when they would tell us that 'all they needed is Jesus.' However, it is not hard to see how that idea could develop when we believed that being a Christian was based exclusively on a personal relationship with Jesus devoid of sacraments or the institutional visible Church.
Sometimes, it was so personal some of us divorced ourselves completely from the Church, His mystical body.
As my blog intro says, I found Jesus in 1973 but promptly lost his Church because I was told there was no need for the Church in the life of a Christian and one could do quite well without it, as long as you were plugged into a bible study somewhere on a regular basis. As a matter of fact, I was told that the Catholic Church in particular could pull you away from God!
A favorite aphorism went like this: Going to Church will make you a Christian just as much as going to a chicken coop will make you a chicken! True enough, that just warming a pew without availing oneself of the rich graces available in the sacraments of the confessional and the Blessed Sacrament/Eucharist isn't going to get you to heaven. But to then make the assumption that the Church is not necessary for salvation is a by-product of the divorce of Christianity from the Church which was never meant to happen. Christ gave us the Church as the instrument through which he directs His grace to us. I didn't make the rules, it's just the way He deigned it!

Read what the pope has just said about being a Christian. You can't become one on your own. You need someone to baptize you! Yes you can have the conversion experience on the road to Damascus like St Paul, but ultimately he needed to find his way to Ananias, a member of the Church and be baptized. So Pope Benedict is essentially saying what we used to say all along, There are no lone-ranger Christians!

Of course, I am speaking of the normative way of becoming a Christian, not desert isle, or concentration camp conversions where the Church and the sacraments are unavailable.

Window in Heaven

Here's a tune I wrote about 10 years ago which I have posted before in the Advent season.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

In the 1500's in Mexico, Mary appeared to a peasant named Juan Diego. This apparition lead to the conversion of over 9 million to Christianity ending the Aztec practice of ritual sacrifice of infants. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron saint of the Americas and we need her intercession for this culture of death more than ever. This present culture that continues to offer up our children for ritual sacrifice to the gods of abortion.

NB. Our Lady of Guadalupe is Mary. When Mary has appeared in an apparition, she is often given the name "Our Lady of ........" I got confused when I first came into the Church thinking "Who are all these Ladies?"

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Eucharist and the Incarnation

Once again this time of year sets my mind and heart to meditating on the great mysteries of our faith. God comes to us in human flesh as one of us! A virgin woman chosen by God, conceived without sin by the merits of Christ, says yes to the Holy Spirit and becomes the Mother of her Lord!

Since the earliest days, the Christian Church proclaims that at the altar at each "breaking of the bread" Christ once again takes on the appearances of a common material substance, bread and wine. As I have asked before on this blog, if the God of the universe can take on the form of a human baby to break into our reality at the Nativity, can He not have the power to comes to us veiled as bread on the altar of sacrifice? The Church has always believed and proclaimed this.

St John Damascene in the 8th century states:

"You ask how the bread becomes the Body of Christ, and the wine . . . the Blood of Christ I shall tell you: the Holy Spirit comes upon them and accomplishes what surpasses every word and thought. . . . Let it be enough for you to understand that it is by the Holy Spirit, just as it was of the Holy Virgin and by the Holy Spirit that the Lord, through and in himself, took flesh."

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

"The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin." Catechism of the Catholic Church

Immaculate Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Video From Haiti Benefit Concert

Tom Epstein joins me on "Untier of Knots"

We were able to raise over $1700 in contributions despite a less than packed house because of the bit of snow that we had. Thank God for the generosity of His people! And thank you bloggers for your prayers!

Emmanuel: God is With Us

On this second sunday of Advent, I was kneeling in Mass after receiving the Lord in Communion and thinking how great a gift we have in the Eucharist. I then had a thought, What if I had gone the rest of my days on earth without it? What if I had never recognized Him in the "breaking of the Bread." I can only say thank you God for opening my eyes to the gift of the Eucharist. "Emmanuel, God is with us" takes on further meaning for those who believe He abides with us still in the Bread of Life offered to the Father on the altar of sacrifice.
( He is re-presented to the Father, not re-crucified, of course) A gift that transcends the bounds of time and space and our linear way of thinking.

From the Catechism: The Benefits of the Mass

Holy Communion augments our union with Christ. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. Indeed, the Lord said: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him."226 Life in Christ has its foundation in the Eucharistic banquet: "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me."227

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Tonite is the Concert for Haiti

Tonite is the Bail Out Benefit Concert for Haiti .
I will be performing my original ballads and instrumentals including several selections from my upcoming CD. Please keep the evening in your prayers as well as continued prayers for our Haitian brothers and sisters at Sts Simon and Jude parish.
I will post some pictures in the next few days.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Church is the Color of Hope

"Advent is the spiritual season of hope par excellence, and in this season the whole Church is called to be hope, for itself and for the world," he said. "The whole spiritual organism of the mystical body assumes, as it were, the 'color' of hope." Pope Benedict 16th