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, May 31, 2009

Pentecost Sunday

Today we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples in the upper room. After they obeyed Jesus with their novena (nine days of waiting and praying) in Jerusalem they received the Holy Spirit with great power. They started the last day of the novena hiding in a locked room and ended that day proclaiming the gospel with a boldness beyond anything anyone ever could imagine!
This was the birth of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, the very same one that continues 2000 years later and still proclaims the gospel with boldness to those who have ears to hear.
Pentecost Sunday is also a special anniversary for my wife Prodigal Daughter. Read her neat story on her blog posted today. Have a Happy Pentecost!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Our Back Yard at Night

We created a little grotto in the back yard and put the statue of the blessed Mother there. Home Depot has these little solar powered lights that have light sensors on them. When it gets dark the light shines on the statue of Mary. Kinda cool!
When I look out my window, I am reminded of the scripture where Mary says in Luke, "All generations will call me blessed." To call someone blessed means to speak well of their name. So the statue reminds me to speak well of her name, helping me to be part of the generation that calls her blessed. The statue is just an inanimate cast of cement with no life, power or mojo. But yet it reminds me of God's greatness in coming to earth through the flesh of one of us (Mary) and becoming one of us to redeem us. She was the first Christian and was there with all the disciples in the Upper Room as they waited for the Holy Spirit to come upon them.
Tomorrow we celebrate the Birthday of the Church-Pentecost!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Convert Alert

Check out Brooke's blog. Another couple jumps the Tiber.
Welcome Home Brooke and John!

Habemus Episcopus!

Yes, today we have a new bishop! The diocese announced yesterday that Pope Benedict 16th has chosen a new bishop to take over the reigns of the Allentown diocese in July when Bishop Edward Cullen retires. Monsignor John Barres is formerly the chancellor of the diocese of Wilmington and was the bishop's right hand man in that position. He has graduate degrees in theology as well as business and is a Princeton grad where he majored in English and was on the basketball team. Interestingly he was baptized by Bishop Fulton Sheen, who is being put forth for canonization.
His father and mother were former Moravian ministers who had converted to Catholicism and come from Bethlehem PA.(My college town) He has many Moravian relatives still in the local area. Inter-religious dialogue and ecumenism are going to be a priority for him.
Every bishop sets the tone of his bishopric by formulating a motto. His motto is going to be "Holiness and Mission." Sounds great to me!
As an aside, it's interesting that our local Allentown paper that is secular and known to be fairly anti-Catholic dedicated the headline and entire front page to this news. Despite, the attempts to marginalize the Church, the world still seems to be pretty interested in what the Catholic Church does. The choosing of a bishop goes back to the time of the Early Church and the concept that the apostolic mantel that will be layed on him during ordination can be traced back in an unbroken fashion to the original apostles still gives me chills! That's why it's called the Apostolic Church.

Let's pray for our new bishop. We look forward to the new evangelization that will come under the direction of this "JP2 priest."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

This morning in Mass we prayed for all those who gave their life for our freedom and the priest remarked how today is one American holiday you can say God bless America without being yelled at for using the "G" word.
I was thinking how today the secular world almost practices a form of the communion of the saints without realizing it. In towns, throughout the US, the heroes are honored for their sacrifice and graves are decorated with flowers and the names of the brave fallen heroes of small towns are read aloud. Now granted, most probably don't pray for the souls of those who have passed, but there is a palpable and important sense of connectedness we have with these fallen heroes who we choose to honor. In Catholicism, we are daily reminded in Mass that we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses or fallen heroes(martyrs and saints who lived lives of heroic virtue). The liturgy always mentions those of the first centuries of the faith who gave their lives in service of the Kingdom as we ask for their intercessions so we too may share in the kingdom of God on that final day. Since the early centuries of the CHurch, the graves of the martyrs were venerated and decorated with flowers and the remains of the dead were especially venerated.
This memorial day, we honor those specifically who gave their lives to protect the faith we practice and the way of life we are so privileged to share. But it won't hurt to offer up a couple prayers for the fallen who may still be in need of purification before they see Him face to face.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Haitian Catholic's Choir Practice

I am re-recording Jewel of the Caribbean for the new album with more instruments including cello, fretless bass, guitar and bouzouki. As I was working on it I started thinking about the brethren in St Simon Jude parish. I went through my videos from the recent trip and decided to share this one today. Incidentally, we just heard that they had tremendous rainstorms and several people were killed. Please keep praying for the folks in Haiti. The pastor of St. Simon Jude; who hosts our medical clinic, had his jeep half submerged in a swollen river but got it out in time!

After we returned from the clinic one evening, the choir from St. Simon and Jude parish was practicing at the rectory. Such joy in such suffering. This video (recorded in the dark) really captures the spirit of our brothers and sisters there.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Solemnity of the Ascension

Today the Universal Church celebrates the ascension of our Lord, 40 days after his resurrection.
This blessed event gives us hope that we too will join the Lord in heaven someday as as he now sits enthroned in heaven on the right hand of the Father. At the time however, his disciples must have been heartbroken as they watched him leave them for the last time after having spent 40 more days with him after the resurrection. So God sent his angel with a message to reassure them:
"Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven."
The Ascension starts the nine day period of tarrying and praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit known as Pentecost, the birthday of the Church! Based on this important event in salvation history the Catholic Church has developed a nine day pattern of intense prayer called a novena. The disciples obeying the Lord's words gathered together along with Mary in the upper room and waited and prayed for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The incarnational nature of the Catholic faith means that we still live out these events in salvation history. The feasts and solemnities of the Church are not just for a remembrance but to bring these events once again to the present. So throughout the world, the universal Church once again gathers together today to celebrate His ascension and begin the nine days of prayer asking God to again pour out his Spirit on us. This was not a once and done event!
You don't have to be Catholic to pray along with the universal Church in these next nine days!

Some may say, I don't have to be told by the Catholic Church when to pray for the Holy Spirit! My response is "When was the last time you did specifically pray for God to pour out His spirit on you?" If you are like me, you may benefit from the gentle nudging that Mother Church gives us to help live a fulfilling Christian life and to attain heaven, which is our goal.

We can all pray for His spirit to come upon us in a new way giving us the grace and power necessary to continue the gospel mission with which we have been entrusted. You can pray a novena with your own prayers but the Church has given us wonderful prayers through the centuries to use. Here's a link to a novena you an use.

O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Message of the Gospel

If the first Christians, St. Paul, St. Peter, St. Ignatius, St. Polycarp and St. Ireneaus had access to a printing press, do you think this would be the front page of their first gospel tract?

Close your eyes for a minute . Let's put ourselves back into those early days of the Old Time Religion. Let's imagine ourselves outside the coliseum as a vibrant enthusiastic new believer handed out these tracts to the boisterous crowd lining up to watch the festivities of the day.
I suspect the tract would tell the wondrous story of how God came to earth to suffer and die for us and rose again so we may never die. It would talk about the need to be baptised and repent for the forgiveness of our sins. It would tell of the need to offer up ourselves and our suffering to him in all the trials and tribulations of life. It would talk about conforming ourselves to his suffering and mortifying the flesh. It would tell about the opportunity to receive Christ in the "breaking of the bread." Finally it would conclude that the reader could enjoy eternal life with Christ if he endured until the end.

Now open your eyes.
How has the gospel message been changed since those early times? How has Christianity been molded to fit our affluent culture? How have the truths passed down through apostolic tradition been modified? Is the gospel message and the way of salvation based on the writings of Scripture and the Church Fathers recognizable in the "gospel" preached in our world today?

Compare and contrast.

Wisdom From John Paul 2 Regarding Our Current State of Affairs

"When a parliamentary or social majority decrees that it is legal, at least under certain conditions, to kill unborn human life, is it not really making a "tyrannical" decision with regard to the weakest and most defenseless of human beings? Everyone's conscience rightly rejects those crimes against humanity of which our century has had such sad experience. But would these crimes cease to be crimes if, instead of being committed by unscrupulous tyrants, they were legitimated by popular consensus?" (John Paul II Evangelium Vitae 70)

"Called to serve the people and the common good, [civil leaders] have a duty to make courageous choices in support of life, especially through legislative measures. In a democratic system, where laws and decisions are made on the basis of the consensus of many, the sense of personal responsibility in the consciences of individuals invested with authority may be weakened. But no one can ever renounce this responsibility, especially when he or she has a legislative or decision-making mandate, which calls that person to answer to God, to his or her own conscience and to the whole of society for choices which may be contrary to the common good…For this reason I urgently appeal once more to all political leaders not to pass laws which, by disregarding the dignity of the person, undermine the very fabric of society." (John Paul II Evangelium Vitae 90)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Obamination Graduation

Check out these two Notre Dame seniors who are boycotting their graduation because of the university's invitation to President Obama. Hopefully, these are the folks who are the future of the Catholic Church in America. It was cool to hear the gentleman talk about eucharistic adoration on FOX news.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Catholics , Coffee and the Communion of Saints

(The french press alongside my favorite coffee mug)
( un-roasted coffee is green and smells yuccky)

What does coffee have to do with Catholics? Nothing really, just wanted to post pics of my latest little project. (I know, I know I should be working on the new CD instead of playing with coffee...)
About a year and a half ago I got into using a french press to make coffee. Basically it's a method of making/brewing the coffee by pouring near-boiling water over the freshly ground coffee, then pressing a screen down through the mixture of grounds and water. This separates the grounds from the liquid without filtering out the volatile oils which contribute to the taste of the coffee. They say that paper filters often trap these oils, and drip filter coffee doesn't compare to the french press-made coffee. (So the theory goes)

So after researching the french press, I found websites that claim that fresh-roasted coffee tastes better than anything and that you haven't lived until you have tasted coffee freshly-roasted then ground, then pressed through your french press! But where to get freshly-roasted coffee? Forget Starbucks, besides the fact that they support planned parenthood, their coffee is not freshly roasted.

But it turns out you can buy green un-roasted coffee on-line and roast it yourself. So I found a company, CoffeeBeanDirect in Stockton NJ and had 5 lbs of decaf and caffeinated beans sent to my doorstep in a few days. So tonight, I roasted a pan of green coffee beans on our grill outside, cooled the beans, ground them and made my first carafe of fresh dark-roasted, ground and french-pressed coffee. The taste was surprisingly good for a first-timer with almost a hint of sweetness to it. The only problem, is that after I had made it, I realized I accidentally opened the caffeinated stuff from Guatemala vs the decaf beans from Costa Rica! So now I will be up till 4 AM thinking about the way things might have been. If I can't sleep, I have my trusty rosary stashed under my pillow and have more than enough issues to ask Mary to intercede for me about.

I wonder if there is a Saint Caffeine? I have written about him in my song "One-Eyed Grandma"
Actually, I did get to thinking and wondered if there was a patron saint of caffeine. (After all, we believe in the Communion of Saints, Right?) I did some googlin' and turns out there is! St. Drogo, the patron of coffee shop owners. This fact alone may have made me convert a lot sooner had I known about him. Gotta' love this Church.

  • Click Here For some more Klassic Tiber Jumper "Katholic Koffee" Posts.
  • Finally, if you don't want to roast your own, try Mystic Monk Coffee and you'll be supporting a great cause. We had their coffee for Christmas as a special treat. Truly out of this world.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Prodigal Daughter's Mother's Day

Though my wife, Deborah(PD) has no children of her own , she has been a true mother for my two boys for the past 13 Mother's Days. When their Mom had to leave to return home to the Father, the boys were so very young. God has been so merciful to me and my children to send us Deborah.
Read her thoughts from her blog today. God bless and Happy Mother's Day!

Prayer of Surrender

If we prayed this prayer daily with faith and sincerity , I believe it could change our lives. It was composed by Father Walter Ciszek, a Jesuit priest from Shenandoah, PA who dedicated his life to clandestine missionary work in the Soviet Union. He spent over 20 years imprisoned in Russia, 5 of which were in solitary confinement. His cause for canonization is being put forth by the Allentown Diocese.

Lord, Jesus Christ, I ask the grace to accept the sadness in my heart, as your will for me, in this moment. I offer it up, in union with your sufferings, for those who are in deepest need of your redeeming grace. I surrender myself to your Father’s will and I ask you to help me to move on to the next task that you have set for me.
Spirit of Christ, help me to enter into a deeper union with you. Lead me away from dwelling on the hurt I feel:
to thoughts of charity for those who need my love, to thoughts of compassion for those who need my care, and to thoughts of giving to those who need my help. As I give myself to you, help me to provide for the salvation of those who come to me in need.
May I find my healing in this giving.
May I always accept God’s will.
May I find my true self by living for others in a spirit of
sacrifice and suffering.
May I die more fully to myself, and live more fully in you. As I seek to surrender to the Father’s will, may I come to trust that he will do everything for me.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Victory of the Printing Press?

The Christian author of The Well Trained Mind, a guide to training children in the classical model of education had made this interesting quote: (cf the full article here)

"I want to suggest — classical educator that I am — that in our immense and proper regard for the Word of God, we have elevated words in general (books and the Christian print culture which grew out of the American publishing scene) to a wildly exaggerated place of respect. We have allowed publishers, writers, and curriculum authors an authority which is unmatched even by the authority of the local body of Christ. I am not suggesting that we somehow lower our view of Scripture, but I am suggesting that the victory of the printing press has not strengthened Christianity. If it had, wouldn't the church of Christ be stronger now than in the first century? Look at the fragmented, divisive, confrontational state of American Christianity; look at the hundreds of Bible versions that jostle for supremacy on bookstore shelves; look at the power which theologically bad books (from Left Behind to Chicken Soup for the Soul) exert over American Christians; look at the place that the Christian bookstore has assumed in determining the average Christian's view of marriage, material gain, and work. And then consider that the New Testament church flourished with a low literacy rate, with Scriptures that were not printed and thus had to be read aloud — and so were always read and interpreted within the context of the obedient, faithful, local, believing community. The church of Christ, not textbook writers, should be responsible for providing the central Christian story that must inform all true education. "

This writer has seen what Catholics have been saying since the reformation. It sounds like she has been reading Catholic apologetic arguments! The availability of the Bible provided by the printing press did not ultimately strengthen the Church. She makes the point that the New Testament Church flourished despite a low literacy rate and the absence of a personal New Testament for every believer. How did they get the Truth? She says: "The scriptures were read to them within the context of the obedient, faithful, local community." Catholics would phrase it more like this; "the Holy Scriptures were read to the faithful in the context of the Mass during the liturgy of the word and the homily was used to teach the the faithful about what they just heard." All within the context of the Church which is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15) Daily Mass attendance can provide an illiterate person with the entire bible in just three years.

This Christian author/educator goes on to say "The gospel is understood within a faithful believing community, not alone with one's Bible; and gospel-based education is formulated and applied within a faithful believing community, not alone with one's Bible and a copy of The Well-Trained Mind (or any other homeschooling book)."

It's thinking like this that may ultimately lead this writer to that ancient early Church. I pray she embraces what she finds.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Our Bishop Joins the Chorus!

I am very pleased that our bishop of Allentown Diocese has added his voice to the 61 other bishops that have spoken out against Notre Dame's invitation to President Obama. It is important because it sends a message to those inside and outside of the Church regarding the correct view of the sacredness of life. It will allow Catholics no wiggle room to claim to be fully Catholic and yet not supportive of the teachings of the Church.

Some feel this whole scandal is yet another stain against the Church. I see it as an opportunity to further promote the moral teachings of the Church to a country that has lost its moral compass. Again it is sad that our Catholic learning institutions have deviated so far from the Barc of Peter and the Church's distinctive teachings, but God has a way of "writing straight with crooked lines." I keep thinking of then Cardinal Ratzinger's statement just before his election that the Church may have to get smaller. I suspect that may include some Catholic institutions deciding they no longer want to remain within the fold.

"When there is a doubt about the meaning of a document of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, where does one find an authentic interpretation? A fundamental, canonical and theological principle states that it is found in the local bishop, who is the teacher and law-giver in his diocese."

"I stand in solidarity with my brother bishop and share the sentiments that he expressed in his letter," wrote Bishop Cullen. "As does he, I regret that this situation has taken place and call on the leadership at Notre Dame to face the issue squarely."

Monday, May 04, 2009

Twitter and Praise

The latest new cultural fad to find its way into some churches is "Twittering" during the worship service. This won't be happening in the Catholic Mass anytime soon thankfully. I can only respond by quoting Chesterton here:

"The Catholic Church is the only thing which saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age."

"I want a Church that changes the culture rather than is changed by the culture."

Friday, May 01, 2009

"Josephying" on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, the diligent and faithful earthly father of our Lord Jesus and most chaste spouse of our Blessed Mother( "All generations will call me blessed").
Our local Church is named after Saint Joseph the Worker and my middle name chosen by my Catholic parents is Joseph. My recording studio in the basement is St Joseph Studios. So that's a lot of "Josephying."

He is to be honored on this day because of the way in which he faithfully obeyed the Lord and cared for the two most important people in salvation history, Jesus and his human mother, Mary. Did Joseph feel the weight of the world on his shoulders as he worked in his carpenter shop hoping to make enough money to support his young wife and child. Did he fully understand the words of the angel who visited him to reassure him of his role? Or Simeon's prophetic words in the temple on his presentation? I suspect he did and because of his obedience to God and care of the Lord and His Mum, he has a special role as intercessor and patron of the Church and families. Today I asked him to intercede for my family in a special way, that we would experience more of God's love and grace in our lives.

I'm going down to the studio to finish up a few more tracks on the new CD tonight. I will glance up at the little statue of Joseph holding the child Jesus in his arms and say, "Hey Saint Joseph
thanks for your prayers, keep'm coming!" (Yeah, I know the statue can't hear me)