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, October 31, 2009

I Left The Catholic Church Because....

I have a new blog I am launching called I Left The Catholic Church Because...
I am interested in hearing the stories of those who have left the Church and continue to remain in another ecclesial community or none at all. I know the reasons why I left but would like to see why others did also.

Should Protestants Confess Their Sins?

I have had a poll open on my sidebar for several weeks asking whether we converts confessed our sins on a regular basis to Jesus before we were Catholic. The results are "in" and are as follows. 21% said "Yes , daily."
14% said "Yes, on an as needed basis."
64% said "No just when I thought about it."

So the majority of us converts (64%) did not regularly confess our sins to the Lord before our conversion. Therefore, what was the mechanism or procedure for us to advance in holiness(sanctification) without confessing our sins?
The scriptures plainly tell us that we should confess our sins. Does confessing sins actually have anything to do with the process of sanctification? Why did Jesus talk about it if it was not necessary for believers to do this? What was I thinking as one who was in the 64% group above? Did I think I was forgiven at the Cross and therefore it was "all under the Blood?" I am not sure why I felt like I had a "free pass" to not regularly confess my sins.

The Scriptural basis for confession can be found here: John Salza's Scripture Catholic:

Some Lutherans and Anglicans still practice confession to their pastors though it is not widely done, but in my 30 year experience as an evangelical it was rare. Yes, there were "altar calls" and re-comittment services, but there was rarely a teaching on confessing your sins or examining your conscience. I had heard a teaching once that we should "keep short accounts with God" but there really was no imperative or perceived need to regularly confess our sins to God.
I now see this as a major loss to Protestantism when they removed the sacrament of reconciliation from their doctrines.

"The origin and establishment of private Confession lies in the fact that Christ Himself placed His Absolution into the hands of His Christian people with the command that they should absolve one another of their sins . So any heart that feels it sinfulness and desires consolation has here a sure refuge when he hears God's Word and makes the discovery that God through a human being looses and absolves him from his sins.

Furthermore, we strongly urge people not to despise a blessing that in view of our great need is so priceless. So we teach what a splendid, precious, and comforting thing Confession is.However, if you want to despise it and proudly continue without Confession, then we must draw the conclusion that you are no Christian and should not enjoy the Sacrament either. For you despise what no Christian should despise. In that way you make it so that you cannot have forgiveness of your sins. This is a sure sign that you also despise the Gospel."
(Dr. Martin Luther, Book of Concord)

So in 1529, even Luther was still admonishing Christians to participate in the sacrament of confession. By what authority did I decide 500 years later, that I can do just fine without this sacrament that had been given by Christ to his Church? How did I ignore these Scriptures and the ancient tradition of the Church that even the first reformer to break from the Church insisted on ?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Children of Their Own Age

The Swedish Lutheran Church is now capitulating to the pressures of the modern age by mandating that all Lutheran parishes must conduct homosexual marriage ceremonies.
It is so unfortunate that many of the protestant denominations are going down this path. Despite the many stains and scandals upon her 2000 year history, the Catholic Church cannot and will not change to accommodate the changing mores of society.

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

Thursday, October 29, 2009

USCCB on Healthcare Reform

The USCCB is sending an e mail to every parish in the US this weekend to be read and/or placed in the bulletin. They will be encouraging every Catholic to let congress know they will not support healthcare reform if it involves the taking of innocent life(tax payers funding the abortion industry)
I am so thankful for this valiant effort on behalf of the USCCB. Let us pray that it makes the difference.
Check out the story here

A Convert's Story

After 5 years of being back in the Catholic Church, I still get moved by reading stories of conversion. I recently found this blog by Jim and he has been blogging about his conversion/reversion for a couple of years now.
Here's a quote from his conversion story that could have been my own:

"It has been a real joy to start off this new year as a Catholic once again. Words cannot express the joy I have had since I returned. The completeness one feels is overwhelming. I look back on my days in fundamentalism now as a fading memory of a child. I don’t know if others have felt this way who have returned to the Church. I felt like what I had before was only a ‘50%’ Christianity. I look back on it like an adult looks back on the errors and mistakes of adolescence. God has restored so many things in my life.
I feel like I’ve finally grown up and became adult.
What a joy it is to receive the Eucharist knowing it is the Body and Blood of Christ. What joy it is to WORSHIP once again the way God intended. What a joy it is to go to a priest and confess my sins and know they are forgiven. What a joy it is to pray to our Lady who loves us and prays for us daily. What a joy it is to know there is an old German fellow in Rome who watches over our souls and one whom I can call a brother in Christ. What a joy it is to be part of a Church that is 2000 years old.
If non-Catholics knew how wonderful it is to be a Catholic, they would flock to it in droves.
I pray to our Lady for more converts.

Can I hear an AMEN brothus and sistas?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Just In Case They Forgot...

Pope Benedict reminded biblical scholars that the Church holds the ultimate key to the interpretation of Scripture. Got to love this Holy Father. Check it out here.
"If exegesis also wishes to be theology, it must recognise that faith in the Church is that form of 'sympathy' without which the Bible remains a closed book. Tradition does not close access to Scripture, but it opens it. Furthermore it is the Church, in her institutions, that has the decisive word in the interpretation of Scripture. It is, in fact, the Church that is entrusted with the task of authentically interpreting the Word of God as written and transmitted, exercising her authority in the name of Jesus Christ".

Monday, October 26, 2009

Alan Creech Rosary

Check out my recent gift of an Alan Creech-made Rosary.
Thanks Alan! It will be perfect for my drive to and from work which is pretty short but long enough for two or three decades .

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Some Autumn Pics

Debate on Physician Assisted Suicide

Tomorrow night, 10/26/09 at 8 PM, a debate I participated in on the topic of legalizing Physician Assisted Suicide in Pennsylvania will be broadcast on WFMZ TV Channel 69. If you are out of our viewing area, which is northeastern PA, you can catch the online version at the archives here afterwards.
Since we were debating a senator and a local journalist known for his negative view of religion, I needed to make my argument based on natural law and common sense and kept hearkening to what a doctor is meant to be and do based on the Hippocratic Oath. I haven't seen the show myself yet so I hope they didn't edit out the "good parts." Thanks to all my blogger friends for your prayers during the taping.

Friday, October 23, 2009

"Good Without God?"

“History has demonstrated the absurdities to which man descends when he excludes God from the horizon of his choices and actions. “ Pope Benedict 16th

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Eucharistic Belief: An "Oil That Will Penetrate the Bones"

St. Augustine said this regarding belief in the Eucharist:

For certain things in the scriptures were seeming hard, while they were obscure; when explained, they have been softened. For even the first heresy in the disciples of Christ, as it were from the hardness of His discourse. For when He said, ‘Except a man shall have eaten My flesh and shall have drunk My blood, he shall not have life in himself:’ they, not understanding, said to one another, ‘Hard is this discourse, who can hear it?’ Saying that, ‘Hard is this discourse,’ they separated from Him: He remained with the others, the twelve. When they had intimated to Him, that by His discourse they had been scandalized, ‘Will ye also,’ He saith, ‘choose to go?’ Then Peter: ‘Thou hast the Word of life eternal: to whom shall we go?’ Attend, we beseech you, and ye little ones learn godliness. Did Peter by any means at that time understand the secret of that discourse of the Lord? Not yet he understood: but that good were the words which he understood not, godly he believed. Therefore if hard is a discourse, and not yet is understood, be it hard to an ungodly man, but to thee be it by godliness softened: for whenever it is solved, it both will become for thee oil, and even unto the bones will penetrate.”

Jesus becoming apparent to me in the breaking of the bread(the Eucharist) was a reality that was indeed like an oil penetrated my dry and dusty bones(spiritually speaking).

A Few Anglican to Catholic Thoughts

As I posted yesterday, Pope Benedict is creating a new pathway to allow Anglicans to convert to Catholicism. This is in response to the many requests that they have had over the past few years by Anglicans desiring orthodoxy.
I was perusing some Anglican blogs regarding this to get a sense of how they are perceiving this.
One American Anglican bishop said something to the effect of "This really isn't a good idea, because there was a reformation you know."
But, the reality is that Anglicanism was not the result of the reformation, though it certainly aided and abetted the process. King Henry now had a template to follow based on Luther's break from the Church in Germany. Anglicanism, however, was the result of one individual's desire to break away from the authority of the seat of Peter for a moral reason, not a doctrinal one. Earlier in his life, King Henry, the "founder" of the Anglican Church actually wrote a treatise against Martin Luther and the Reformation in which he defended the teachings of Catholicism. He was commended by the Pope for his work.

So the only true reason originally for the creation of Anglicanism was an authority issue , not a doctrinal one. So 400 years later, the rift is being healed by those once again submitting to the authority of the pope. Let's hope and pray that other denominations will see the benefit that papal authority has had on maintaining orthodoxy. It will be harder for others though because of doctrinal issues in addition to authority issues. But I have been saying for the past 5 years, once you accept apostolic succession and the authority Christ has given the church in the successors of Peter, the doctrinal issues seem to fall into place quite nicely.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Anglicans Invited to Cross the Tiber En Masse

Pope Benedict has created a new pathway for Anglicans to come home to the Catholic Church and yet still maintain their distinctive liturgy and spirituality. The import of this move should not be under-estimated as Pope Benedict seeks to unify the body of Christ as much as he can during his tenure as chief shepherd. Lord willing, this will lead other communions to re-consider why they are not united with the Catholic Church.
Here's a few links on this news.
Lifesite News

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Feast of Saint Luke

Today the Catholic Church celebrates St. Luke described as the beloved physician by St. Paul.

His gospel above all others focuses on the merciful kindness of Jesus to the poor, the afflicted and sinners. Some believe that his attention to detail as a result of his physician's training no doubt impacted the detailed completeness of his account. He reports on Jesus' birth and childhood in a way that has led scholars to the conclusion that he was in direct communication with Mary as he wrote his gospel. "His mother stored up all these things in her heart."
(Lk 2:51)

Today at the Cathedral in Allentown (the bishop's Church) we had a mass celebrated by the bishop himself for all physicians and healthcare workers in the diocese. This mass on the feast of St Luke is often celebrated in other diocese throughout the world and is called "The White Mass" because the health care workers will often don their lab coats for the mass. We didn't do that this morning but the health care workers who attended were blessed to hear a homily by the bishop directed to physicians.
At the end of the Mass, the president of our local guild of the Catholic Medical Association lead us all in a pledge to serve Christ and His Church through our healing ministry as physicians.
Once I became Catholic, I was amazed by the resources the Church provides to its physicians as promulgated in many encyclicals down through the years. In particular, Evangelium Vitae is superb in providing the most comprehensive guidelines for us to follow as health care providers.
As a physician dealing with end-of life scenarios on a daily basis, I am very thankful for the wisdom God has given us through the Catholic Church.

St Luke, pray for us as we strive to obey Christ and minister to all those He has entrusted to our care.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Eaglesmere, Pennsylvania

Eagles-mere is a tourist town located in the Endless Mountains of Sullivan County that we have gone to for years. It is a quaint little town called the "Town that Time Forgot." All these years we have been there and only recently noticed a little Catholic Church on the edge of town called St Francis of Assisi. We had the chance to go to Mass there and here are the pics below. It is a mission Church, meaning they only have Mass during the summer so we were blessed to hit it at the last Mass of the season! Wherever the sun sets in this world, you will find a Catholic Church.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

More Tiber Hopping

Here's an interesting article commenting on the increasing number of young American evangelicals jumping the Tiber.

Some Thoughts on The Sacrifice of the Mass

I was reading the last chapter of Jeff Pinyan's new book, Praying the Mass, where he quoted from Mediator Dei, Pope Pius 12th's encyclical on the liturgy. The pope was encouraging the faithful to present themselves to God along with the Eucharistic sacrifice. While the priest, by virtue of his holy orders, has the singular privilege of offering the un-bloody sacrifice to God, we too offer ourselves to God in union with Jesus sacrifice in the Eucharist. "Nor should Christians forget to offer themselves, their cares, their sorrows, their distress and their necessities in union with their divine Savior upon the Cross." These are the spiritual sacrifices we can offer up that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.(1 Pet. 2:5)
Thinking of the Mass this way really invites and necessitates our participation. It moves us from observer to active participant, which is what is intended by the liturgy. Perhaps those who say they don't get anything out of going to Mass are not allowing themselves to participate in the sacrifice that is being offered. You have to give to get.

Is the Sacrifice of the Mass a medieval invention of the Catholic Church? Reading the writings of the Early Church would prove it is not:

"Assemble on the Lord’s day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one. Anyone who has a difference with his fellow is not to take part with you until he has been reconciled, so as to avoid any profanation of your sacrifice [Matt. 5:23–24]. For this is the offering of which the Lord has said, ‘Everywhere and always bring me a sacrifice that is undefiled, for I am a great king, says the Lord, and my name is the wonder of nations’ [Mal. 1:11, 14]" (Didache A.D. 70).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Come Let Us Go Into The House Of the Lord

Over the Labor Day weekend, we were able to get away for a couple of days to one of our favorite spots in northeastern PA, Sullivan County. Before we were Catholic, if we were away on a Sunday, we didn't attempt to find a church because we would likely not find one that shared the same theology we did, or had the same style of worship. One of the many "fringe benefits" of being Catholic is the ability to almost always find a Mass some where in the vicinity of where you are traveling to. The concept of the universality of the Church really starts to make an impression on you when you travel. Here's some pics from a beautiful Church in a small town called Dushore. In particular I loved the way Holy Scripture is held in a prominent place in the front of the sanctuary


Monday, October 12, 2009

Some Reviews of the New CD

Mike Aquilina's review
Jeff Pinyan's review
Grapevine's review

Thank You Lord!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Little Tid-Bit From The Catechism of the Council of Trent

Not only did the Council of Trent in the mid 16th century seek to reform the Church as well as re-state Catholic doctrine, they also produced a pretty fine catechism(teaching) for use by parish priests to educate the faithful under their watch. The great thing is that the contents of this catechism are as valid today as they were 500 years ago with no "re-invention" of doctrine in light of "modern enlightenment." This is a concrete example of the deposit of faith being handed down from one generation to the next and being protected and preserved by the charism of the Holy Spirit on the Church.

"The first thing is ever to recollect that all Christian knowledge is reduced to one single head, or rather, to use the words of the Apostle, this is eternal life: That they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. A teacher in the Church should, therefore, use his best endeavours that the faithful earnestly desire to know Jesus Christ, and him crucified, that they be firmly convinced, and with the most heartfelt piety and devotion believe, that there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved, for he is the propitiation for our sins."
(cf. the intro to the Catechism of the Council of Trent)

Here's the Link to the Catechism of Trent

Concert for Haiti 10/10/09

For all our friends in the blogosphere who couldn't make the concert, here's a clip of Hypertension Blues (kidney physiology meets Old Testament theology). My son Benjamin joined me on the fretless bass. Due to the generosity of the folks there, we raised 2,542 dollars for medicine and supplies for our upcoming medical mission to Port-A-Prince. Thank you Lord Jesus and all my blogger friends who supported this effort.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Selection of a Pope. Divine or Human Process?

My friend Magister brought up an interesting question. From the perspective of a Christianity today article, the pope's selection process appears more like a selection of a CEO than the choosing of the successor of Peter, the vicar of Christ on earth. Below is our conversation.

Tiber...I know this comment does not exactly relate to this post, but I wanted to ask your thoughts on something.

I followed the link from the Commentary section of the website The Catholic Thing for the article "Benedict XVI: an Evangelical view" and found the following opening paragraph:

"When Pope John Paul II died in 2005, much successor speculation focused on the global South, where the Roman Catholic Church continues to grow. By elevating a cardinal from Africa or South America, Rome could have highlighted a success story. Instead, the church reached into the heart of secular Europe for Pope Benedict XVI from Germany. His selection sent a clear message: Rome will not give up on Europe without a fight."

It was always my understanding that God directed through divine inspiration the selection of a pope. I remember being quite frustrated at the time of Pope Benedict's election that so many...nay, nearly all...were talking about this as if it were no different from appointing a CEO of a major corporation. The opening paragraph in this Christianity Today article is no different, suggesting that any papal election has more to do with geography and politics than the will of God.

So which is it?

Thanks as always!

October 07, 2009 4:30 PM


Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Dear Magister:
I think your answer may actually be in your question;
"It was always my understanding that God directed through divine inspiration the selection of a pope."

Despite the rumblings and "papabile" comments by both Catholic and non-Catholic commentators during a papal conclave, the ancient process is divinely inspired and we trust that God uses the process as human and imperfect as it is, in giving us the next shepherd in the shoes of that original fisherman Peter.
Folks like to say "the Church needs some one from the African continent, or someone younger from S. America or another third world country", yet at the end of the day, God knows and decides who should be the best successor.
We think of the 11 disciples sitting distraught after the defection and betrayal of Judas, knowing they had to pick a successor. They did something so human and secular- They cast lots!
Catholicism is this mysterious intersection of the human and the divine. The incarnation continues to make his presence and way known to men , through men!
So when the sideline quaterbacks begin to comment about the papal selection as if it is a CEO selection process, the difference is that there is a hand bigger than all of us that ultimately is involved in the process. He draws straight with crooked lines throughout salvation history.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Thanks for all the prayers for the debate. It went much better than I expected and I was much bolder and vocal than is characteristic for me. Believe it or not, in real non-blogger life, I am painfully shy and introverted. Prodigal Daughter and I prayed a rosary before the taping and I had all your prayers as well as those of the Allentown Diocese. My pastor layed hands on me and prayed for me after evening Mass last night as well which was very cool.

Now, that's over, whew, I'm getting ready for Saturday's CD Release Concert for the Benefit of the Haiti Medical Mission.
That means re-stringing and tuning up way too many guitars and other assorted instruments.

If you can guess how many strings are in my living room pictured above (not including the piano or the instruments in the cases) I'll send you a free Way To Emmaus CD. (E mail me at dobrodoc1 at gmail dot com)

Thanks again, God bless you all.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Physician Assisted Suicide Debate

On Wednesday morning at 9: 45 AM, I and another pro-life physician will be participating in a debate with PA senator Daylin Leach who co-sponsored the Death With Dignity Act and a Allentown journalist who is a supporter of Jack Kevorkian as well as assisted suicide.
The show, Business Matters will later be broadcast on WFMZ TV . We ask for your prayers for wisdom and grace to address our opponents with a spirit of charity. Based on the columns by this journalist who has written about me and my opposition to Physician Assisted Suicide , I don't suspect this will be a gentlemanly chat. But we shall see.

Keep us in prayer my friends, thanks.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Responding to Anti-Catholic E-Mails

I recently got an another e mail from my evangelical friend pointing me to that recent video by Michael Voris on Real Catholic TV showing how the USCCB has been financially supporting some pretty nefarious causes, or at least uber-liberal organizations that , upon deeper probing, have been found to contribute to Planned Parenthood and other causes that are in direct opposition to the Church and it's teachings. (I was already aware of this connection and have chosen not to financially support the USCCB collection a few years ago.)
After 5 years, I have not left the Catholic faith after my umpteenth e mailing about a gambling priest or a pedophile or Mother Teresa's supposed abandonment of faith etc etc. I joined the Church in 2004 just when the priest scandals were finally starting to move from page one to page two of our local paper so if that didn't deter me from converting, I don't suspect the e mail campaign from my friend will either.
I have decided that for every negative e-mail I receive about the Church, I will respond with a positive story or video about the Church. I don't really think it will change my friend's view of Catholicism but it may cause someone on his e mailing list to think a bit. You never know who could be touched and what the Holy Spirit could use.
I just responded with the Epic by Catholics Come Home which is a professionally made video that is absolutely beautiful in its simplicity and elegance.

"but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;"

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Way to Emmaus Now Available on CD Baby

The new CD is now up on CD BABY. COM
You can obtain digital downloads of the individual songs for just 99 cents or download the whole CD.
If you want the real CD you can get it there too. All proceeds go for the Haiti Medical Mission this November 14-21. If you already have the CD, log in and post a comment about what you think of the CD. Thanks so much.