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, April 18, 2009

Sacraments! We Don't Need These Stinkin'* Sacraments!

The Old Testament reading in Mass on March 16th during the third week of Lent was the story of Naaman the Leper and his healing. During the reading of the Scripture, this line jumped out at me where Naaman protests the instructions for how he should receive his healing from the prophet Elisha.

"I thought that he would surely come out and stand there to invoke the LORD his God, and would move his hand over the spot, and thus cure the leprosy."
In other words: "Why couldn't God just come down and heal me?"
Instead he was instructed by Elisha to go into a river in Israel, not his own "local" river. He was peeved that the rivers of Damascus were not good enough! "Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?"

This all sounded so familiar to me. Naaman's complaints struck me as reminiscent of what I call the spirit of de-sacramentalism. Which in a nutshell basically says: "Sacraments? We don't need no stinkin' sacraments!" Why can't God do His thing here and now with a wave of a hand or a prayer? Why do I need to submit to some embarrassing "man-made" ritual? Besides, I would have to go to your Church to receive these sacraments. Isn't my church good enough? Why should only a priest be allowed to consecrate the host? ( Even some confused Catholics ask this one) Here's a few other common ones I hear.
  • Why do you need to be baptized in water to be saved? You just ask Jesus into your heart?
  • Why do you think you need to receive Jesus in a piece of bread? He is with you anyway through his holy spirit?
  • Why do you need to confess your sins to a man? God hears you just fine without a priest.
  • Why do you have to receive oil for anointing for healing? Just claim the healing, it's yours right where you are!

Since ancient times, God worked through the material things of His creation. See my previous post about this here. He uses material means not just as a sign of his grace but to effectively convey that grace as well. When Jesus ratified the New Covenant with his blood, the paradigm for the sacraments was already foreshadowed in the Old Covenant. He didn't "invent" a new paradigm. But the difference is that Jesus became the archetype, so to speak, of all the sacraments. God becoming incarnate, using flesh to bring us grace and salvation. He didn't have to die on the cross. He could have just said "poof- your sins are forgiven!" But He didn't, instead he used his flesh and blood and the stuff of earth, bread and wine etc. This has since become the normative way for Him to convey His grace to us.

So yes, just like Naaman, we need to humble ourselves, tail between the legs and go to Israel(The Church) and wash in the Jordan (receive the sacraments) to be healed.
I do need these stinkin' sacraments. Tried it without them for a long time. Works better with them.

* cf The Treasure of Sierra Madre.


Blogger Joyful Catholics said...

TJ~ Oh, I just LOVE IT when you write posts like this!! :) It makes me grin from ear to ear.

You said it here: " Naaman, we need to humble ourselves, tail between the legs and go to Israel..."

Nobody wants to humble themselves these days. We're too proud. As Mary said in her Magnificat, "The proud will be scattered." It's evident that the 'proud' are scattered through the multitude of splinterings occurring daily in so many branches of denominations. It boils down to 'pride' and authority. "Nobody's gonna tell me what to do or how to worship." "I got a bible and I know how to use it!" is type of thinking that's sadly, and soberingly so prevalent.

Thanks TJ! GREAT ONE! It brought to mind my parody of Doris Day's hit "Sentimental Journey." (Dang, I'm old!)

Sacramental Journey

Gonna take a Sacramental Journey,
Gonna set my heart at ease.
Gonna make a Sacramental Journey,
To confess my iniquities

Got my bag of sins and reservations,
And I know I can't afford.
To neglect sweet reconciliation
And absolution from the Lord sacraments are given
To help me on my way to heaven,
to keep me on the straight, and narrow track
That takes me back.

Never thought my heart could be so yearny.
Why did I decide to roam?
Gotta take that Sacramental Journey,
Sacramental Journey Home.
Sacramental Journey (to Rome)

susie melkus

April 18, 2009 12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You had me laughing before I even read the post. The post itself was awesome! Thanks!

April 18, 2009 6:18 PM  
Blogger George Weis said...


I'm still having a hard time with bullet number 2.

Love ya,

April 18, 2009 8:43 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

George, check out this post I did a while back. It looks at why we need to eat his body and drink his blood from a Old Testament perspective. Yeah, it's a tough concept. John 6:66 tells us he lost a large number of disciples that day who couldn't bear this teaching. Yet the early Christians, as you know from your reading, died for this belief in the Eucharist.
Are Christians outside the Catholic Church held accountable to this verse that "unless you eat my body and drink my blood, you have no life in you?" Surely not if they were not introduced to the teaching. However, for the Catholic who accepts and believes this then walks away, that's a different issue. In my experience in the past 5 years, I have not met one person who believed in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist who walked away! As a matter of fact, it is this one belief alone that keeps Catholics faithful to the Church. Where else would we go to feed on the body and blood of God. There is no place on earth we can be closer to Him than in the Eucharist.

April 19, 2009 8:20 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...


"I got a bible and I know how to use it" LOL
the sacramental journey is brilliant!
:) thanks

April 19, 2009 8:22 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

how are u doing? Good to hear from you
God bless

April 20, 2009 7:19 PM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

Wow, you cover much of the same ground I did on the same day in "Let's Get Physical" at my blog.

April 20, 2009 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Ron Kempen said...

Sorry But I think that the Catholic Church is little more like a cult!

You can read of the reasons why here:

please check it out with an open mind.

In His Holy Name!

April 29, 2009 10:05 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Welcome back to Crossed the Tiber Ron! It's been awhile since you have been here. Somethin' keeps getting you to dip those toes in the Tiber River. I suspect your Catholic baptism has more of a hold on you than you realize :)

You call the Catholic Church a cult, and we take comfort in that because the world will always hate the Church Jesus started! Here's a quote you may be familiar with:

"Though I never liked fighting over anything, the angry people are at least responding so that the communication lines stay open. And for those who respond favorably, I hope to continue the writings to help equip you against the massive apologetic battle that is quite overwhelming at times.

Look at what God said in His holy Word, if the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not Him that sent me. (John 15:18, 19, 21)"
(cf. R.Kempen, Gospel Light Ministries)

Finally, in the words of Bishop Sheen:
"There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church." Archbishop Fulton Sheen

April 29, 2009 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Ron said...

Its me, Ron again and I would like to comment about your responce. You quoted as a typical catholic in that the verse you said was said indeed but not in referrance to the truth. He wasn't speaking about the Catholic Church when Jesus said "those that hate you have hated me first." And as far as the Bishop speaking, lets be clear on this, I love the Catholic but I don't like the deceptions that they are taught!!!!


May 17, 2012 4:17 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Ron, I will be willing to dialogue with you but only on the condition you refrain from making unkind and prejudicial generalizations such as "You quoted as a typical catholic."
What does that mean?

Jesus spoke that word to his apostles who then had successors called bishops who then continued to spread the gospel message through the Church he built upon Peter. In 105 AD, these Christians were referring themselves as Catholics. So are you saying that Jesus was only referring in that verse to the Christians who lived from 33 AD to 105 AD? Are you implying that the things Jesus spoke to his disciples only applied to them, and not their successors?

Would you care to explain and back up your assertion that the catholics are taught deception.
I challenge you to give me one example of a deception. You are not allowed to use strawman arguments. You must state a Catholic principle from an approved Catholic source such as the catechism, then tell me why it is a deception.
If you choose Chick tracts and the writings of anti-catholics such as Lorraine Boettner, there is no dialog that can exist because they falsely represent what the Catholic Church teaches. As a Catholic we call that bearing false witness, which we Catholics believe is breaking a commandment. Do you believe in the 10 commandments Ron? If you do, then I ask you to provide truth and not false statements without backing them up. That is not charitable nor the way Christ would ask you to walk. I really feel God is calling you back to the Catholic Church to discover the treasures and healing you desperately need that you did not avail yourself of when you were there, and took the sacraments without understanding the grce an power available to you. If you continue to come to the blog to make unsupported comments bashing the faith, I will list you as spam and your commnets will be lost in digital cyberspace. God bless you and I will pray you return to the faith.

May 17, 2012 7:43 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

"Wherever the bishop appears, let the congregation be there also. Just as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would look upon the Lord Himself, standing, as he does, before the Lord. As therefore the Lord did nothing without the Father, being united to Him, neither by Himself nor by the apostles, so neither do ye anything without the bishop and presbyters. Be ye subject to the bishop as to the Lord, for 'he watches for your souls, as one that shall give account to God.' In like manner, let all reverence the deacons as an appointment of Jesus Christ, and the bishop as Jesus Christ, who is the Son of the Father, and the presbyters as the Sanhedrin of God, and assembly of the apostles. Apart from these, there is no Church. See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. He who honors the bishop has been honored by God; he who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop, does [in reality] serve the devil. Give ye heed to the bishop, that God also may give heed to you. Be ye subject to the bishop, to the presbyters, and to the deacons.” St. Ignatius of Antioch, "Epistle to the Smyrnaeans," c. 105 A.D.

May 17, 2012 7:46 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

"The church of God that sojourns at Smyrna, to the church of God sojourning in Philomelium - and to all of the congregations of the holy and Catholic Church in every place." St. Polycarp, "The Martyrdom of St. Polycarp," c. 135 A.D.

"Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior of our souls, the Governor of our bodies, and the Shepherd of the Catholic Church throughout the world." St. Polycarp, "The Martyrdom Of St. Polycarp," c. 135 A.D.

"The house of God is one, and there can be no salvation to anyone except in the church." St. Cyprian of Carthage, "Letter 61," c. 250 A.D.

"There is no salvation outside of the church." St. Cyprian of Carthage, "Letter 72," c. 250 A.D.

"The Catholic church is one." St. Victorinus, "Against Arius," c. 280 A.D.

"It is called Catholic then because it extends over all the world, from one end of the Earth to the other; and because it teaches universally and completely one end and all the doctrines which ought to come to men's knowledge, concerning things both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly; and because it brings into subjection to godliness and the whole race of mankind, governors and governed, learned and unlearned; and because it universally treats and heals the whole class of sins, which are committed by soul and body, and possesses in itself every form of virtue which is named, both in deeds and words, and in every kind of spiritual gifts." St. Cyril of Jerusalem, "Catechetical Lectures," c. 350 A.D.

"Let us note that the very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, was preached by the Apostles, and was preserved by the Fathers. On this was the Church founded; and if anyone departs from this, he neither is nor any longer ought to be called a Christian." St. Athanasius, "Four Letters to Serapion of Thmuisc," c. 360 A.D.

May 17, 2012 7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure Russ Rentler we can discuss things if you want. How about by sending your e-mail to me. Here is mine:
nothing was meant badly by my Typical catholic expression outside of what I said - just a typical response -
no need to get upset.

August 15, 2012 10:42 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

Dear Ron:
yes let's discuss, but let's do it here on-line so others may benefit from the conversation. Please abide by the guidelines I outlined above. No statements such as the "Church is a deception." You need to use the Catholic Catechism, to show the readers why you believe the Church is wrong. There is no debating someone if they insist on straw man argumentation.

August 17, 2012 8:22 AM  

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