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.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pro-Life Ad Nixed by NBC

The CatholicVote Organization has put together an amazingly simple but effective pro-life video. They were willing to pay 3 million dollars to have it air during the SuperBowl, but it was turned down because of its message of "political advocacy."
It is so ironic, because both of the teams playing are owned by devout Christian families including the Steeler's Rooney family who are pro-life Catholics. Eternal Word Television Network will be playing it this Sunday.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Catholic Faces Eternity on Flight 1549

A few years ago, someone made a comment about his experience of watching Catholics die in a hospital "clutching their rosary beads screaming in fear." His claim was that Catholics have "no reassurance of their salvation" and thus die in a state of fear and dread. I took exception to it then because I have seen people of all faiths( and no faiths) die on a regular basis at my nursing homes. My conclusion is that Catholics face death no differently than non-Catholics except for the fact that many Catholics often have a priest come in to administer the last rites of the Church, a beautiful sacrament to behold.
Below is a letter from Fred Berretta, a "Joe Catholic" who was on the flight that recently went down in the Hudson. He is writing to Vinny Flynn who wrote 7 Secrets of the Eucharist which he had just been reading as he waited to board the flight. Let's hear how he experienced facing death and eternity as a Catholic.

Saturday, January 24, 2009
Subject: Passenger of Flight 1549


I sincerely hope this email finds its way to you. I was a passenger on flight 1549 and my name is Fred Berretta. You might have caught a glimpse of me or heard me on CNN or Fox the night of the crash. I interviewed with Lou Dobbs, Wolf Blitzer and Bill O'Reilly and discussed the crash that night.

I had been on a one day business trip to NY and sat in seat 16A just behind the left engine. My trip was a last minute decision the day before. I finished my meetings early on Thursday and realized I had time to attend the 12 noon mass at St. Patrick Cathedral. It was unusual for me to have the extra time, but that day I did. After Mass, I stopped by the gift shop just across from the cathedral and purchased your book, "7 Secrets of the Eucharist." As I waited to board flight 1549 bound for Charlotte, where I live, I began reading your book. I continued reading while we taxied until just after take off.

I think I got through about half of it and then decided to close my eyes and reflect on the incredible insights your book gave me regarding the Eucharist. We were climbing out and just a minute or so into the flight I heard the impact of the bird strikes and then the explosion in the left engine. I could see it on fire and the cabin began to smell like jet fuel. As a private pilot, once I realized the second engine was also not functioning, things became quite tense.

While I had known about and prayed the Divine Mercy chaplet years before, I had not really focused on it in quite a long time. Ironically, I had prayed the chaplet the day before at 3 pm. I had forgotten that in my briefcase I had long kept a copy of a booklet of the Divine Mercy chaplet which had excerpts from St. Faustina's diary. When I arrived in NY, I had some time at my hotel and decided to clean out my briefcase, something long overdue. I found the Divine Mercy booklet, prayed the chaplet, and read some of the words of Jesus to Faustina.

Before we hit the water, I thought about the words Jesus said, that nothing would be refused if asked for during the hour of mercy.* I really thought there was a good chance myself and others would die that day, but I asked God to be merciful to us, I prayed the Lord' prayer and a Hail Mary. I then prayed to St. Michael, and we impacted the water. The odds were not with us that day, but God clearly was. I believe it is the only jet airliner to successfully ditch in the water without fatalities in the history of aviation.

I just want you to know that your book gave me comfort as we were going down, and for that I am grateful. I know a lot of people prayed on that plane, and I believe the Miracle on the Hudson was a testament to the mercy of God, and a sign of hope.

Take care and may God continue to bless your ministry and all you do to spread the message of Divine Mercy and the wonders of Holy Communion.

Best regards,

Fred Berretta

*Flight 1549 crashed into the Hudson River during the 3 o'clock hour (at about 3:30 pm), which Christ told St. Faustina is "the hour of great mercy." It was during this hour that His heart was pierced by a lance, and blood and water gushed forth as a fountain of mercy for the world. "In this hour," He told her, "I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion." (Diary of Saint Faustina, #1182, 1320.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Last Day of Clinic in Haiti

This video is a quick snippet showing the mothers and their children in the Church waiting to be seen on the last day of the clinic. They had been waiting outside the gates since before 8 AM and many had been there for at least 5 hours with their babies.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Slide Show of Photos From Haiti

Check out some photos here.

Return From Port-Au-Prince 2009

We flew into JFK last night after a week at St. Simon and Jude Parish in PAP, Haiti.
All praise and thanksgiving to our God for all the answers to prayer on this trip! Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. We couldn't have done it without you!
We sailed through customs without a hitch. Not one bag was opened! This was the first time that our passage through customs was this smooth.
Dr. Dave Dwyer, from an Indiana parish, heard we were making this trip and decided to join us. He and his team had a clinic at the parish in November and he volunteered to come down again when he heard I would be the only physician on this trip. This was truly an answer to prayer for me because 3 weeks before we left, it looked like I would be the only doctor on the trip and I was laying awake at night wondering how I would be able to do it alone. Between myself and Dr. Dave we saw over 750 patients in 4 days. The team worked incredibly well together despite the fact that most of us had never met before we got to the airport.

The last day of clinic was set aside for infants and children. When we got to the parish at 8 AM, there was already huge lines of mothers and babies wrapping around the outside walls of the parish grounds. The tension in the air was palpable as the women hoped they would get a chance to be seen. The workers from the Church had to clear a path through the crowds so we could get in. By the end of the afternoon, we had seen well over 250 children and their mothers. As the medicines and vitamins were running out, it was so painful to look into the eyes of the mothers and tell them, "Desolait, m'pa gen medikammen." ( I am sorry, I don't have medicine) I didn't dare get up from my make-shift exam room to peek out and see the never-ending line of mothers and children sitting in the hot sun waiting for their chance to be seen. Despite my discomfort and sense of frustration, I had to remind myself, that my momentary suffering was nothing compared to the daily suffering they experienced.

Finally we had to close the clinic and send people away as the light was fading and the medicines and vitamins were exhausted. We packed up the "pharmacy" in the sacristy to get ready for evening Mass. I was emotionally spent and couldn't wait to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. I just needed to unite my heart to His and offer up the day's sorrows in the sacrifice of the Mass. Though the Mass was in Creole, we were able to follow along and we all had a profound sense of thankfulness as we worshiped with our Haitian brothers and sisters. After Mass, we had Eucharistic adoration . When the monstrance holding Jesus was held high, the congregation on their knees lifted their hands in worship and you could here them whisper "Jesi, Jesi."
Indeed, there was no place on earth that day that we could get closer to Him than in the Eucharist and in the hearts of the least of these, our brothers and sisters in Haiti.

Thank you all again for your prayer and support that made this trip a reality.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Leaving For Haiti

Prodigal Daughter and I and 6 other folks are leaving for Port-Au-Prince Haiti this Saturday for a one week medical mission in the parish of St. Simon and Jude. We will be providing basic medical care out of a "clinic" and "pharmacy" that we will set up on the grounds of the parish. Another physician from Indiana will be flying in to meet us on Sunday so we will have two doctors, two nurses and four others to help run the pharmacy and guide the patients through the process.
This will be my 10th medical mission to Haiti but my first one in which I will be able to receive Jesus daily in Mass and pray the rosary in Creole with my Haitian brothers and sisters.
Pray that God gives us favor with the customs agents as we are attempting to bring in 16 bags loaded with approximately $8000 worth of medications and supplies. In the past we either had meds confiscated or had to pay huge bribes to get through customs. Fr. Andrew in PAP is working with the archdiocese in the hopes of getting a letter from the bishop which may be helpful at customs, but it's really in the hands of God.
Pray that God will give us supernatural discernment to diagnose and treat without basic diagnostic tests or equipment.
Pray for the health and safety of the team while we are there.
Thanks so much for your prayers. I will have video and pics Lord willing, when we get back.
"There are two places on this earth where you truly can't get any closer to Jesus: in the Eucharist and in the poor and suffering."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Another Couple of Tiber Jumpers!

George and Ashley Weis of the Path of Weis have made a momentous announcement today. After over a year of reading Church history and much prayer, they have decided to Cross the Tiber.
If you get a chance please paddle over to the Path of Weis and give George and Ashley the good old Catholic Blogger's welcome. Keep them in your prayers since they will face some opposition and tough criticism in the days ahead.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Love Beyond All Telling

I have never really thought about how much Mary loved Jesus and what it must have been like for her to lose her only son and Lord at Calvary. Scripture tells us that very early on she knew that her life would be filled with sorrow because "a sword would pierce her soul." Until becoming Catholic, it really wasn't something I thought about much except for on Easter. I tended to focus on the Resurrection and to a lesser degree the passion. Remembering the events of Holy Week was not a part of my personal devotional life. I have since found there is great blessing in the stations of the cross and thinking about Jesus and Mary during His passion.
Artists throughout the ages have understood and appreciated Mary's love for Jesus and have depicted it through their many pietas.(Which corresponds to the 13th Station of the Cross) Prodigal Daughter put together a beautiful montage of art depicting Mary holding Jesus in her arms after he was brought down from the cross. Check it out here.

Jammin' With My Son

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Feast of St. Gregory of Nyssa and The Communion of Saints

Today the Church celebrates the life and times of St. Gregory of Nyssa (325-386AD), one of the three Cappadocian Fathers. He wrote extensively against the Arian heresy (a belief that Jesus was not truly God, but a created being) that threatened to undo the orthodoxy of the early Church.
With Father Neuhaus' home-going on my mind, I was perusing the writings of St. Greg and came upon his homily at a funeral for a friend and leader of the Church, St. Miletius. Here's a snippet from the sermon:

"Our Bridegroom has not been taken from us. He stands in our midst, though we see him not. The Priest is within the holy place. He is entered into that within the veil, whither our forerunner Christ has entered for us. He has left behind him the curtain of the flesh. No longer does he pray to the type or shadow of the things in heaven, but he looks upon the very embodiment of these realities. No longer through a glass darkly does he intercede with God, but face to face he intercedes with Him: and he intercedes for us , and for the "negligences and ignorances" of the people. He has put away the coats of skin; no need is there now for the dwellers in paradise of such I garments as these; but he wears the raiment which the purity of his life has woven into a glorious dress. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death" of such a man, or rather it is not death, but the breaking of bonds, as it is said,"

I think of Father Neuhaus, now interceding for us, not through a glass darkly, but face to face with God he intercedes for us. The early Christians knew they could ask for prayer from those who had gone before them. We still believe in the communion of saints some 1700 years after this homily was given!


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Father Neuhaus is Gone

Father Richard John Neuhaus passed into eternity last night.

Into your hands, O Lord
we humbly entrust our brother

In this life you embraced him with your tender love;
deliver him now from every evil
and bid him enter eternal rest.

The old order has passed away:
welcome him then into paradise,
where there will be no sorrow, no weeping nor pain,
but the fullness of peace and joy
with your Son and the Holy Spirit
for ever and ever.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Pray for Father Richard John Neuhaus

Father Neuhaus, renowned convert and writer, thinker , commentator for EWTN and editor of First Things is near death. Please pray for a happy death. This is what he has written about death:

"We are born to die. Not that death is the purpose of our being born, but we are born toward death, and in each of our lives the work of dying is already underway. The work of dying well is, in largest part, the work of living well. Most of us are at ease in discussing what makes for a good life, but we typically become tongue-tied and nervous when the discussion turns to a good death. As children of a culture radically, even religiously, devoted to youth and health, many find it incomprehensible, indeed offensive, that the word "good" should in any way be associated with death. Death, it is thought, is an unmitigated evil, the very antithesis of all that is good.

Death is to be warded off by exercise, by healthy habits, by medical advances. What cannot be halted can be delayed, and what cannot forever be delayed can be denied. But all our progress and all our protest notwithstanding, the mortality rate holds steady at 100 percent.

Death is the most everyday of everyday things. It is not simply that thousands of people die every day, that thousands will die this day, although that too is true. Death is the warp and woof of existence in the ordinary, the quotidian, the way things are. It is the horizon against which we get up in the morning and go to bed at night, and the next morning we awake to find the horizon has drawn closer. From the twelfth-century Enchiridion Leonis comes the nighttime prayer of children of all ages: "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee Lord my soul to keep; if I should die before I wake, I pray thee Lord my soul to take." Every going to sleep is a little death, a rehearsal for the real thing."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A New Catholic Blog

Check out Prodigal Daughter's new blog called Journey of a Soul.
She has some great thoughts on our upcoming trip to Haiti.

Saint Basil the Great Speaks Out On Sacred Tradition

St. Basil, in the mid-fourth century, needed to correct those who would attempt to dismiss doctrine because it was handed down as St Paul would say, instead of being written down. He too must have heard one too many times "where does it mention the sign of the cross in the Bible, huh?" or similar questions. St. Basil's comments below could have come from a modern day Catholic apologist explaining sacred tradition to a bible-only believer.

"Time will fail me if I attempt to recount the unwritten mysteries of the Church. Of the rest I say nothing; but of the very confession of our faith in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, what is the written source? If it be granted that, as we are baptized, so also under the obligation to believe, we make our confession in like terms as our baptism, in accordance with the tradition of our baptism and in conformity with the principles of true religion, let our opponents grant us too the right to be as consistent in our ascription of glory as in our confession of faith. If they deprecate our doxology on the ground that it lacks written authority, let them give us the written evidence for the confession of our faith and the other matters which we have enumerated. While the unwritten traditions are so many, and their bearing on single word which has come down to us from the Fathers;--which we found, derived from untutored custom, abiding in unperverted churches;--a word for which the arguments are strong, and which contributes in no small degree to the completeness of the force of the mystery?" St Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea (329-379)

Thoughts from a Saint

Pray with great confidence, with confidence based upon the goodness and infinite generosity of God and upon the promises of Jesus Christ. God is a spring of living water which flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray.
– St. Louis de Montfort

Monday, January 05, 2009

Gifts From Friends

Check out the wonderful art from two of our friends in the blogosphere, (and real world too)

The first is from Owen Swain and is a piece I commissioned him to draw. I just received it in the mail this Saturday. It is beautiful, and it represents the Trinity. Owen was a Protestant pastor for over 20 years who has always been an artist. Since his conversion to Catholicism he is hoping to pay the bills through his art. He does work by request and his prices are extremely reasonable!

The second piece I received unexpectedly from George over at the Path of Weis. A custom Gibson guitar. Check out the inlay crosses on the neck and Mary's image on the pic guard.
You can see it better by clicking on the pic below to enlarge.
Thanks guys!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Happy Epiphany!

Christmas ain't over yet for us Catholics, and all those who follow the liturgical calendar. Today we celebrate the story of the three kings who travel to Bethlehem to worship their king.
The Incarnation is so important that Advent precedes it and prepares us for it for 4 weeks. But, the real Christmas season as celebrated by the Church doesn't end until Candlemas in February, 40 days after December 25th. On Candelmas, we celebrate the presentation of Jesus in the Temple.

So when the world is taking down their decorations and trees and getting the first of the credit card bills for their Christmas gifts, we are just warming up in our continued celebration of God's gift to us: becoming human so we can share in His divinity. Now, doesn't it make sense that our celebration of the greatest event in salvation history should last just a little bit longer so we can meditate on these great mysteries, as Mary did, pondering these things in our hearts?

As a special Christmas present to my blogger friends, here's a new version of an old song, still warm, fresh from St. Joseph's Studio. Sing of Mary, an instrumental on autoharp, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and accordion.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Feast of The Holy Name of Jesus

Today, the Church gives us the feast of The Holy Name of Jesus to help us reflect on the name upon which we call to be saved.

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).

Friday, January 02, 2009

Raving Atheist Now Raving Theist

One of the blogosphere's most outspoken and popular atheist bloggers surprised the atheist and theist on-line community with a simple posting of the apostles creed and his announcement that he has converted to Christianity. I don't know which side of the Tiber he ended up on but the posting of the creedal statement makes me think he has probably become Catholic. The details hopefully will be forthcoming but from what I can gather his association with the Christians in the pro-life movement was an important part of the process.

There have been several well-known conversions to Catholicism as a result of pro-life involvement. Norma McCorvey( AKA Roe of Roe V Wade) , Dave Armstrong and Randall Terry all converted as a result of pro-life involvement. If this Catholic Church is so spot-on regarding the ethics of life, how can it be so dead wrong about its theology? I suspect that had to be banging around in their head for a bit.
I love reading and hearing about conversions. Everyone has a unique story and the reality is sometimes there is no rhyme or reason, because it always goes back to the fact that we are truly saved by grace alone. Conversion is a gift.