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, December 31, 2011

Martin Luther and the Eucharist

"If a hundred thousand devils, together with all fanatics, should rush forward, crying, How can bread and wine be the body and blood of Christ? etc., I know that all spirits and scholars together are not as wise as is the Divine Majesty in His little finger. Now here stands the Word of Christ: Take, eat; this is My body; Drink ye all of it; this is the new testament in My blood, etc. Here we abide, and would like to see those who will constitute themselves His masters, and make it different from what He has spoken. It is true, indeed, that if you take away the Word or regard it without the words, you have nothing but mere bread and wine. But if the words remain with them, as they shall and must, then, in virtue of the same, it is truly the body and blood of Christ. For as the lips of Christ say and speak, so it is, as He can never lie or deceive."
(cf The Large Catechism of M. Luther)

 "And say to yourself: I am not commanded to investigate or to know how God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, or how the soul of Christ is in the sacrament.  For me it is enough to know that the Word which I hear and the body which I receive are truly the Word and the body of my Lord and God."  (M. Luther)

My question to my Protestant brothers and sisters is this:  If the founder of the reformation and the originator of the doctrines of faith alone, scripture alone, etc believed that the Lord's Supper was indeed the true body and blood of Christ, and not a symbol, what is the justification by which contemporary Protestants refute this belief?  If  you don't agree with Martin Luther regarding his views of baptism and the Eucharist, why do you agree with him regarding faith alone and scripture alone?  (Catholics of course believe in grace alone)  It seems to me that it is a glaring inconsistency.  If Luther is so completely wrong on this issue of the Eucharist (according to the beliefs of modern evangelical Protestants), why can't he possibly be wrong regarding his view of justification by faith alone, and his rejection of apostolic succession?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Why Adults Convert to Catholicism: It's a Symphony of Truth

George Weigel, biographer of Blessed John Paul 2 and Distinguished Senior Fellow Of Washington's Ethics and Policy Center has a recent post in the WAPO regarding the varied reasons for conversion highlighting some of the most illustrious converts in the past 200 years and their many reasons for crossing the Tiber.

"that men and women of intellect, culture, and accomplishment have found in Catholicism what Blessed John Paul II called the “symphony of truth.” That rich and complex symphony, and the harmonies it offers, is an attractive, compelling, and persuasive alternative to the fragmentation of modern and post-modern intellectual and cultural life, where little if anything fits together and much is cacophony."

 ".....But to return to where I began: you don’t have to be an intellectual to appreciate this “symphony of truth.” For Catholicism is, first of all, an encounter with a person, Jesus Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” [John 14.6]. And to meet that person is to meet the truth that makes all the other truths of our lives make sense."

See the whole article here.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Feast of Saint Thomas Becket

"Yet the Roman Church remains the head of all the churches and the source of Catholic teaching. Of this there can be no doubt. Everyone knows that the keys of the kingdom of heaven were given to Peter. Upon his faith and the teaching the whole fabric of the Church will continue to be be built until we all reach full maturity in Christ and attain to unity in faith and knowledge of the Son of God." (St. Thomas Becket)

Why Pray to Saints?


The following is an excellent response to this question that was just posted on Catholics Are Christians! fb page. It is written by Robert Schoeneman.

The key points are asking those in heaven to pray for us  is a practice rooted in Scripture and has been carried on by the Church since the beginning. So much so that when the Church decided to put together its "White Paper" on what it is that Catholics believe, they included this very topic known as the Communion of Saints.
One has to deny both history and Holy Scripture to claim that praying to saints is wrong.

“Why do Catholics pray to dead saints?”

This is a question that was posed to me some time ago by a Protestant. I would propose that Christians who have died in the faith are not dead. As Jesus told the Sadducees:

You err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be married, but shall be as the angels of God in heaven. And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken by God, saying to you:  I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.                                                Matthew 22:29-32, Douay-Rheims Version

The saints in Heaven are very much alive. Many Protestants will agree with this (only some groups, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists, teach the doctrine of ‘soul sleep’), but will disagree that we can ask them for their intercession, or that they can hear our prayers. To answer this, let’s look at Revelation 6:9-11:

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne;  they cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?" Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

This clearly shows that the saints are alive in heaven and that they are aware of events on earth, and also that the Last Judgment has not yet occurred (as they are asking when they will be avenged. We also see in the preceding chapter (Revelation 5:9) about the prayers of the saints being offered in heaven (boldface my emphasis):

And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

Protestants will quote 1 Timothy 2:5 about Jesus Christ being the “one mediator between God and men” as an objection to the intercession of the saints. It is true that no human being can open the gate to Heaven for us as Jesus did. But we see in the Bible that Jesus delegated authority to the Apostles and their successors, and as members of the Body of Christ, we are to pray for one another.

Protestants will agree that we are to pray for one another, but will ask, why not ask those who are still on earth to pray for us? Catholics certainly do ask their fellow Christians to pray for them, but we do not stop being a member of the Body of Christ when we die; instead we become more radically united with Christ (which is what the Catholic teaching on the Communion of Saints is all about). As the Apostle James says in 5:16 of his epistle, “the fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful” (NAB). Surely the prayers of those who have gone to Heaven and now see God face to face are very powerful.Another objection to praying to the saints is that it is necromancy, conjuring up the dead to foretell the future, which is forbidden in the Bible. However, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

2115 God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.
2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.
2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others - even if this were for the sake of restoring their health - are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another's credulity.

When we pray to the saints, we are not asking them to foretell the future, but simply asking them to intercede for us, and since they are still joined to the Body of Christ, we have confidence that they can hear and pray for us.

It should also be pointed out that “praying” is not the same as “worshiping”- that is reserved for God alone.  While the word “pray” commonly refers to making a request from a deity, it can also mean to “ask somebody for something, especially earnestly or with passion.”  This is how the word is used in older literature, like Shakespeare.

Chapter 11 of the Epistle to the Hebrews recounts the faithfulness of the heroes of the Old Testament. The author continues in Chapter 12:1 (boldface my emphasis):

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.

The sacred writer uses the image of an arena with crowds of cheering fans watching the action. As this passage shows, the saints are not simply passive in heaven, but actively rooting for us. As St Thérèse of Lisieux said before she died, "I want to spend my Heaven doing good on earth." Blessed Miguel Pro, the Mexican priest martyred by the Mexican Government in the ‘30s, wrote that he felt martyrdom would be his key to heaven, and if granted, told his friends that if he were allowed this favor, his friends should get their petitions ready, “because from heaven he would deal out favors as if they were a deck of cards.” This is the beautiful thing about the Catholic doctrine of praying to the saints, to have a whole family of holy men and women interceding for us and helping us on our journey to heaven. (Author Robert Schoeneman)

Christmas Is A Pagan Holiday..... Not!

Check out this article by former Bob Jones Bible College graduate turned Catholic priest, Father Dwight Longenecker. This is a great explanation to share with our fundamentalist brothers and sisters who are still stuck on the Jack Chick view of Catholicism, God have mercy!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Clouds" A New Hammer Dulcimer Tune.

I wrote this a few months ago. I am looking forward to adding some cello to it on my next CD.

Hammered Dulcimer Tune - Hawks and Eagles

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Today the Church celebrates the lives of those young children in Bethlehem who were slaughtered by order of Herod as he attempted to thwart the will of God and kill the King of Kings. (Matt 2:16-18) The Church has celebrated this feast since the 6th century and continues to this day to remind the faithful of the sacredness of  human life.  Despite this, 2000 years later,  parents willingly bring their children to the executioners sword (abortionist's suction curette), instead of being wrested out of their hands as in the days of Herod. By the Church's celebration of this feast, our minds and hearts are once again brought to contemplate the implications of the slaughter of innocent children who did nothing to deserve that violent fate.

Let us continue to pray and act to end the slaughter of the innocents that continues in our day through abortion. Pray for the parents of the unborn that God will open their eyes to see the value of the life that they have been entrusted with. Let us also continue to pray for those who have participated in abortion, parents, clinic employees and physicians. Let us pray for a just society that will provide for the needs of un-wed mothers and families.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The New Tascam IM2 Stereo Condenser for iPhone

I received a TASCAM IM2 microphone for my iPhone for Christmas from my dear wife Deborah. Here's my take on it so far:

This is a higher quality microphone than the one installed in the iPhone and uses the iPhone's battery to power it, since it is a condenser and needs phantom power.
My first impressions are that it is a much more "musical" mic, meaning it
captures the frequencies of my instruments better than the native mic. It is "warmer." It contains dual mics which allow it to record in stereo which the iPhone sadly lacks. You can also spin the direction of the microphones 180 degrees to "aim" at your sound source and capture the sound most accurately without picking up as much ambient
Unfortunately, there is a low frequency hum with the TASCAM mic that is quite noticeable with headphones. I will have to experiment a bit more to sort this out.
The native iPhone mic is a bit noisy itself, but more so on the high end frequencies and is a lot "hotter" mic. I actually had to turn down the gain on the input (on the software app) so it didn't overdrive the software. TASCAM gives free recording software that you download from iTunes. It's a nice little stereo recorder app that gives a direct link to Soundcloud so you can wirelessly up load your tracks as I did for this demonstration.

Ultimately I will probably use this mic for recording homilies at Mass non- obtrusively and adding stereo audio to my videos that I upload to u tube.

Here's the internal iPhone mic first:
Internal iphone mic.wav by Russ Rentler

Now here's the Tascam mic
Tascam IM 2 mic.wav by Russ Rentler

How The Catholic Church Built Western Civilization

Here is a thumb-nail sketch of the book by Thomas Woods

Happy Third Day of Christmas!

One of the neat things about being a Catholic Christian is that the celebration of our Lord's nativity goes on beyond the 25th of December! Such a momentous event in the history of mankind deserves more than just one day!

"The Church has also traditionally celebrated Christmas for 40 days, culminating on the Feast of the Presentation (Feb. 2). During this time, the birth of Christ is celebrated as one continuous festival. It is just as important to celebrate during the Christmas season as it is to prepare for Christ during Advent." (Cath

To continue the celebration, I am gifting my readers with another free download of one of my instrumental Christmas Carols. Download and enjoy! Merry Christmass!


Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Feast of Saint Stephen 12/26/11

Saint Stephen was the proto-martyr or first martyr of the early Church. A young man named Saul held the garments of those who stoned him to death. As he died he looked to heaven and forgave all those who were casting the stones, just as our Lord forgave those who had murdered Him, us included.
   The Catholic Church holds Saint Stephen up as a model of faith and heroic virtue so we would all face our martyrdoms in a similar fashion.

 Saint Stephen, we ask your intercession for the souls of all those who died for their faith in Nigeria on Christmas Day.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Live From the Vatican

You can watch Pope Benedict celebrate Holy ChristMass tonight at Midnight (Rome Time) which is in about 4 hours (based on EST).
  Here's the Link to the Vatican Media Player which is a live stream.

Also, he will give his Urbi et Orbi (To the City and To the World) Address, which one can gain an indulgence for just listening to it! Very cool!  How does he have the power to remove the temporal consequences for our sin? Through the power of the keys, binding and loosening as the gospels indicate. 

The Parallels Between the Incarnation and The Eucharist

 This is a little two act "playette" I wrote a few years ago.


The setting: A stable outside the forgotten little town of Bethlehem (House of Bread*). Shepherds and their families and kings from the east as well as a few other curious onlookers stare at a newborn wrapped in coarse linen in a feeding trough for animals. A bright star overhead illuminates the otherwise dark night.
Shepherd boy, while yawning, says to his father: “Just looks like a baby boy to me, can’t we go home now? I'm cold!”
Father to boy:Thomas, the angels in the field said something about a Savior. Let’s just stay awhile.”
Boy: How could a Savior and King look and.... yecch!… smell like a little baby? He looks just like any other baby to me!”
King from the Orient, kneeling before the makeshift crib says with a whisper: “Shhh, don’t you know the ancient prophecies? God would come to us, to live among us, through a virgin’s womb.
Balthasar looking at the Child then raising his eyes to heaven says: The God of Israel has chosen this night to redeem us. Our Savior and King has come to us as a little child.
33 years later.

Setting: Jerusalem at Passover. The city is buzzing with the noise of pilgrims and bristling under the Roman occupation.
At the meal of the Passover, Jesus surrounded by his companions prays the blessing. As he breaks the bread he stretches out his hand holding the bread saying:
“Take this and eat. This is my body….”
One of the twelve disciples leans over to another and says under his breath;
“How can this be? It looks just like any other piece of bread to me? How can He give us His body to eat?
The disciple whom Jesus loved said to him: "Thomas, don't you remember last year when he told us He would give us his body to eat and His blood to drink?
Then as supper was ended, Jesus took the cup and gave it to his disciples saying:
"This is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many…"


Just as Christ came to us in the improbable form of a human baby, He continues to abide with us in the equally preposterous “breaking of the bread.” God chose the common things of this world to reveal Himself. First a baby born in Bethlehem and then bread and common table wine. As we approach the Lord’s Table at Midnight Mass this Christmas Eve, our mind says, it just looks like a piece of bread but our heart says, "Jesus, bread of life, you have come to abide with me this night."

Check this link for scriptural references on the Eucharist.

Friday, December 23, 2011

"The RCC Isn't Going to Change It's Theologies" Says Protestant Pastor Robert Schuler

Rev. Robert Schuller, former pastor of the Crystal Cathedral speaks on the sale of his church building to Catholics: "The Roman Catholic Church isn't going to change its theologies," Schuller said. "I trust them." 
 The 85-year-old minister, who became the pivotal unifying force in the bankruptcy sale, said he has always respected the Roman Catholic faith and considers it the "mother church." Schuller also said he drew inspiration for his "Hour of Power" from Catholic Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, whose own popular TV show in the 1950s paved the way.
It is encouraging to see that a Protestant minister recognizes the staying power of Catholicism and the unchanging theology due to the "power of the keys" given to Peter and his successors. In this day and age when many major denominations are changing their moral theology to conform to the decaying morals of our society, a pastor of the protestant world recognizes this unchanging  "Mother Church."  Thank you Rev. Schuller.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Calvinist Leaves His Former Communion

Here's an exchange between a young lawyer who is leaving Calvinism for Catholicism and his pastor who is attempting to intercede.

Please pray for him, his wife and son as they make the sojourn across the Tiber. His depth of understanding of the Catholic faith is amazing so early into the journey and his response to his former pastor is a "tour de force" of solid Catholic apologetics particularly as it pertains to sola scriptura.

My Protestant pastor wrote:

[     ]

One more follow up based on our earlier conversation (Oct 7) and the previous emails included below.  I really want and need to talk with you.  Frankly, I have a responsibility, as an undershepherd of God called to tend the flock (which includes you and your family), to meet with you.  And I also have a desire to do so because of my love for you and your family.  My concern is for the spiritual well-being of your family, and I am trying to exercise my role as one called to lovingly tend to you.  So please reply to me quickly so that we can talk.

I'm trying to be careful but forceful about this.  We did agree together that we would meet again to talk about the issues surrounding your leaving.  You expressed a willingness to do this, and even to schedule a meeting with me, you, and [your wife] together at a later point.

In addition, that is really what you agreed to in your membership vows:
Do you promise to participate faithfully in this church's worship and service, to submit in the Lord to its government, and to heed its discipline, even in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life?

As I already mentioned, I am not so naive as to assume that the submission mentioned in that vow implies that you will always agree with and follow what the elders say.  Although it does commit you to listen to our instruction as it is based on the Scriptures and submit to God as he speaks through His Word.  And at minimum, you agreed by this vow to listen.  And that's what I'm asking -- that you will take the time to sit with me to talk and listen.

Please respond to me as soon as possible so that we can get together and talk.

God bless,

My Response Today:

Dear [Protestant Pastor],

I know this response is long overdue and I apologize.  The congregation has grieved over the loss of {  } and I regret not being paying able to visibly pay my respects, but I reasoned that my presence would only make the tragic event worse.  I still pray for his soul.

It's painful to write this letter over the holiday season, as well.  I appreciate the follow up and the prayers.  You are doing what you know is God's will.  Yet, I believe I am doing the will of God, too.  We both cannot be right.  You are praying that I either return to [your congregation] or another Protestant communion, but I am praying and asking for saintly intercession that the one holy Catholic and apostolic church receives me this Easter.  I am going to be doing penance for the mortal sins and rebellion I've been in for a long time.  At this point, I am a member on paper, but Vow #4 of the membership vows I took almost five years ago mean little to me.  If [your congregation] is not in communion with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and Archbishop (undershepherd) John Clayton Nienstedt, I can no longer submit to it in good conscience.

[Your session] was correct to point out that I have been struggling spiritually.  Yes, it's been a battle.  The problem I've been having is not just in the last six months or the last six years; it's the last 20 years.  I was baptized into the Catholic Church, received the Eucharist and Reconciliation.  But in my youth, my parents adopted an anti-Catholic, evangelical fundamentalist stance and I followed suit.  I bounced from congregation to congregation trying to figure out who had the most accurate biblical interpretation to the text.  Was it the Westminster divines, Mac Hammond, Doug Wilson, NT Wright, Joel Osteen, John Piper?  They all claim the same method of private interpretation-the believer's ultimate authority.  Under this method, it's every believer for himself.  At the end of the day. I could not see a principled difference to approaching scripture between a Rick Warren-fundamentalist or Peter Leithart-high church Protestant.  The question I should have been asking is not "What is the correct interpretation?" (for I am wholly incapable of finding it on my own) but "Who rightly has the authority to interpret scripture?".  Why is Catholicism not just an interpretation of scripture?  Not only does it have the authority to interpret scripture and make it binding upon its members, it assembled the canon we know as scripture today and declared the canon centuries ago.  The Church defined doctrinal truths through ecumenical councils and I see those as more than just interpretations or "advisory opinions but check scripture first".  The pillar and foundation of the truth, as stated in the epistle to Timothy, is the church, and not an invisible one that nobody can easily identify.  I just could not accept the notion of an invisible church with 50,000 manifestations all disagreeing and quarreling with each other on basic doctrines AND claiming Christ as head.  That is not what Jesus prayed for in John 17.  Christ came not to write a book but to start a church.  The Catholic Church is 2,000 years old and global.  There's a parish in every major metropolis and city in the United States.  It's united by a single earthly head.  That has to say something.  Christ wanted the church to be easily found and to be that city on a hill.  The Church was staring me in the face all along and I had been rejecting it.

You are probably wondering about my family.  [Wife] has authorized me to speak for her, and she is making the move to the Catholic Church with me out of her own free will. [Son] is not at the age of reason, but he is coming with us, too.  We do not see a need for additional meetings regarding this situation, for they have only succeeded in stirring negative emotions.

I really do love you and everyone there, and I have no ill will against anybody.  It's just that we will no longer worship together in the same manner as we have in the past.  I do not regard my time spent with the [denomination] in vain.  Unlike other denominations, it emphasizes a need for a visible church, sacraments and takes history into account when examining the faith.  The personal piety, love for the God's word, and devotion of its members are unmatched by any other denomination.  We have just reached different conclusions over where the church is.  I pray daily for the unification of Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox.  The call to join the Catholic Church is as much for you, your family and [your congregation] as it is for me.

Here are some of the resources I have consulted.  Some conversions are high profile, but many of them were Calvinist laypeople and ministers who made the move.  I'm not a lone ranger here:

Called to Communion: Reformation Meets Rome

Dr. Scott Hahn

Francis Beckwith

Have a Merry Christmas and happy new year!

Peace this season,

[   ]

The Priests

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Here's An Early Christmas Present to My Faithful Readers

My arrangement of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen on hammer dulcimer, mandolin and guitar, originally recorded on a vintageTascam 4 track cassette machine in the 1990's and mixed and mastered in a pro studio.

Download Here (Right click on hyperlink and select save)

Catholics Come Home For Christmas

The Catholics Come Home campaign is pulling out all the stops this Christmas and Advent season to bring American  Catholics  back to the Church. It has taken over 15 years but this organization has amassed 3.5 million dollars from the contributions of over 35,000 Catholics committed to seeing their lapsed Catholic neighbors and families return to the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
   It is estimated that 10 % of Americans are former Catholics. The Catholics Come Home folks have put together 30 second spots on major media markets that will air from Dec 16th -January 8th. It is estimated that 250 million potential viewers will see these short ads played on 60 Minutes,  NCIS and other prime time programs. This is probably the largest evangelization campaign the Church has taken part in in 2000 years!

See the Fox News story about the campaign here, and pray about sending a few quid to Catholics Come Home to support this most worthy and important endeavor.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The "O" Antiphons, An Ancient Advent Devotion

From as early as the fifth century, Christians have recited, chanted or prayed the "O" Antiphons as part of their evening vespers (prayers) in the octave before Christmas from December 17 to the 23. Each antiphon is from Isaiah's prophecy of the coming Messiah. They are preceded with the exclamation "Oh", hence the name, the "O" antiphons. The beautiful advent hymn, O Come, O Come Emmanuel annunciates each antiphon.

The following explanation is from Father William Saunders:

The importance of “O Antiphons” is twofold: Each one highlights a title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Also, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah. Let’s now look at each antiphon with just a sample of Isaiah’s related prophecies :

O Sapientia: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (11:2-3), and “Wonderful is His counsel and great is His wisdom.” (28:29).

O Adonai: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” (11:4-5); and “Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us.” (33:22).

O Radix Jesse: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” (11:1), and A On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.” (11:10). Remember also that Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).

O Clavis David: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” Isaiah had prophesied, AI will place the Key of the House of David on His shoulder; when he opens, no one will shut, when he shuts, no one will open.” (22:22), and “His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David’s throne, and over His kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.” (9:6).

O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.” (9:1).

O Rex Gentium: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” Isaiah had prophesied, “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” (9:5), and “He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” (2:4) .

O Emmanuel: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The Lord himself will give you this sign: the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”

(7:14). Remember “Emmanuel” means “God is with us.”

According to Professor Robert Greenberg of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose. If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one - Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia - the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come.” Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, “Tomorrow, I will come.” So the “O Antiphons” not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.

What wonderful tools our Church gives us to increase our devotion to Christ at this holy season!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

O Come O Come Emmanuel!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Contraception and Conversion-Interesting Bedfellows

Brianna and her husband recently crossed the Tiber. Once again, it was the Church's teaching on birth control that brought them over because it resonated with them, just as it did with Jason Workmaster and his wife in a previous recent blog post. Scott Hahn and his wife Kimberly conversion was also, due in part, to looking at the Catholic Church's teaching on this.

If Evangelical Protestants are honest, they must ask themselves how it is acceptable to ignore without a second thought, 2000 years of Christendom's teachings against contraception. Both Luther and Calvin condemned contraception yet their modern day followers insist that the use of artificial contraception is moral and acceptable. (This is once again the fruit of sola scriptura, when every individual can use his own private judgement based on scripture, or in this case, what is not clearly proscribed in scripture) Until 1930, all Protestant denominations were in line with the Catholic teaching against contraception.

Thank God for the recent teachings of Christopher West on John Paul 2's Theology of the Body. The effects of this teaching continue to reverberate from within the Church and are reaching those outside as well.

Father Ardinger's Sermon on Being Prepared For the Coming of the Lord

Father Ardinger's Sermon Tonight at Vigil Mass by Russ Rentler

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens RIP

What do you mean Rest in Peace? What the heck? He called Mother Teresa a "Fanatic Albanian Dwarf!" How could he possibly be in purgatory?(and thus ultimately bound for Heaven after being purified) Are Catholics universalists believing no one goes to hell? No, absolutely not. We certainly believe in hell and that it will indeed be populated by Catholics,Protestants,Jews, Muslims, atheists etc, but we know not to speculate on the eternal destiny of an individual's soul. We are told to pray for them, because in the moment of death, there is an opportunity, perhaps for that individual to repent and reach out to God. Often the Catholic doctrines of purgatory and baptism are derided because of the Lord's invitation for the thief on the cross to join Him in paradise that day. But it also opens the possibility that others could have an end-of-life thief on the cross experience themselves. Only God knows.
Catholicism is always hopeful.

One of the prayers we pray regularly at the end of each decade of the rosary is this one: Oh my Jesus, forgives us our sins and save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of your mercy. Tonight I'll offer up a decade for Christopher Hitchens.

Autoharps We Have Heard On High

An Evangelical Lawyer Converts to Catholicism

"The Church's position on artificial contraception made so much sense and was so consistent with everything I believed about God's love for us that I began to wonder how the Catholic Church explained its other doctrines that I'd always rejected. Thus began a years-long investigation of the teachings of the Catholic Church. What I discovered utterly surprised me. All of my Protestant assumptions and prejudices were completely wrong--whether the issue was the Mass, the other sacraments, the celibacy of the priesthood, the papacy, or (that ultimate stumbling block for many Protestants) the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God."

This is the story of Jason and his wife Nikki.(I have blogged about them before) They were received into the Church this past summer. His story is very compelling as he realizes that he couldn't and shouldn't be the arbiter of what are the correct doctrines to believe. When he read GK Chesterton's Orthodoxy, he knew his faith was not exactly what Chesterton was talking about, but he couldn't put his finger on it. Ultimately, the Church teachings on artificial contraception resonated with he and his wife and they looked to see what else this Church said about itself. You know where that lead.

He blogs at the Roman Road.

Once again,  I see many lawyers, doctors, philosophers and intellectuals converting to the faith once they discover what Catholicism says about itself, vs. what others say it's about.   Sure there are plenty of Catholics going the other way, but the majority of their stories reflect the fact that they had no idea about the faith they were leaving for Protestantism.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Perpiscuity of Scripture 1524


But now comes the objection, ‘What need of an interpreter, when Scripture is perfectly clear?’ If it is so clear, why have such distinguished men throughout so many centuries been blind, precisely in a matter of such importance, as Luther and his adherents want us to see it? If there is nothing obscure in Scripture, what need was there for prophecy in the apostles’ time? [1 Cor 12:28]. . . But let us grant, as indeed we must, the possibility that the spirit may reveal to some humble, unlearned individual what he has not revealed to many learned men . . . Yet if Paul, in his own age, when this gift of the spirit was flourishing, orders spirits to be tested whether they are of God [1 Cor 12:3; cf. 1 Jn 4:1], what ought we to do in this carnal age? And so, how shall we test the spirits? By learning? There are scholars on both sides. By behaviour? On both sides there are sinners . . . ‘What help in knowing the Spirit are a great many men?’ my opponents ask. ‘What help are a very few?’ I reply. . . . They ask, ‘In understanding the Scriptures, what use is an assembled synod, in which it may happen that no one has the Spirit?’ I reply, ‘What use are small private assemblies, where it is more probable that there is no one who has the Spirit?’ . . . People did not believe the apostles unless miracles had strengthened belief in their teaching. Nowadays anyone and everyone demands to be believed because he asserts that he has the evangelical spirit. . . . If, in the event of some disagreement over the meaning of Scripture, we quote the interpretation of the ancient orthodox authorities, they immediately sing out, ‘But they were only men.’ If asked by what means we can know what the true interpretation of Scripture is, seing that there are ‘only men’ on both sides, they reply, ‘By a sign from the Spirit.’ If you ask why the Spirit should be absent from those men, some of whom have been world-famous for their miracles, rather than from themselves, they reply as though there had been no gospel in the world these thirteen hundred years. If you demand of them a life worthy of the Spirit, they reply that they are justified by faith, not works. If you ask for miracles, they say that miracles have long ceased, and that there is no need of them now that the Scriptures are so clear. And if you then say that Scripture is not clear on this point, on which so many eminent men have apparently been blind, the circle is complete.

("Diatribe on Free Will" [1524], from: "Collected Works of Erasmus," Vol. 76: "Controversies", edited by Charles Trinkaus; translated by Peter Macardle and Clarence H. Miller; University of Toronto Press, 1999, pp. 17-19)

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A Christmas Story

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Father Barron is on The Today Show Tomorrow!

Fr. Robert Barron and his executive producer will be interviewed on the Today Show to discuss the amazing success of his new DVD series Catholicism. It has been seen on PBS stations across the country already and I suspect will become a staple of RCIA and Returning Catholic programs throughout the world.
If I had cable I'd watch it. Maybe someone will put it up on utube.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Another Conversion Story

This is the interesting story of David L. Gray's conversion to Catholicism from agnosticism to Protestantism to the Catholic faith.  The issue of competing denominations in Protestantism and Christ's words that we should be one ultimately led to his conversion. Check it out!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

In 1531, the Blessed Mother appeared to a poor Indian named Juan Diego with a message. The bishop at the time questioned Juan Diego and initially didn't believe him. Juan Diego returned to the site of the apparition and Mary asked him to take roses to the bishop in his tilma (cape) and present them to the bishop. He did just as he was told and when he opened up his tilma, he and the bishop saw a beautiful image of Our Lady imprinted on the cloth.
This quickly led to a major revival in Mexico and it is estimated that over 9 million native people came to trust in Christ as their savior and ended ritual infant sacrifice that was common at that time.
To this day the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has withstood almost 500 years of smoke, incense, humidity and a bomb attack which failed to destroy the image. The shrine is the most popular Marian shrine in the world with millions of pilgrims visiting each year.
Here in the diocese of Allentown, we have a National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Immaculate Conception BVM . There is a replica of the original image that my wife and I have been to and prayed in front of.(We didn't worship the image by the way, but used it as a focal point in asking Mary to pray for us) Mary is very close to Jesus, obviously, and she continues to tell the faithful to "do whatever He commands you." Celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe we see how God has continued to work through history via apparitions of Our Lady to bring men and women to Christ.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Free Down Load of Window in Heaven

This is a Christmas song I wrote about 14 years ago. It's on my Acoustic Minstrel CD. I added harmonies to it tonight and you can down load the new version for free. Merry Christmass!
Window in Heaven by Russ Rentler

Gaudete Sunday Rejoice!

Since the middle ages the third week of Advent is celebrated with the proclamation taken from the Latin Introit antiphon "Gaudete" based on St. Paul's letter to the Thessalonians, Rejoice always!
  Advent is considered a penitential season, like Lent. We are encouraged to take a spiritual inventory, making sure we are preparing Him room in our hearts. Most parishes provide extra opportunities for the sacrament of reconciliation and our parish has confession after every Mass. Long ago, the  faithful fasted, not feasted during advent!  So today we pass the midway point of advent and the Church gives us the opportunity to rejoice anticipating the coming of the Lord. The priest's vestments are brightly rose colored  instead of the dark purple during the other Sundays of advent. The third candle of the advent wreath lit is a bright rose distinguishing this Sunday from the others.

"The spirit of the Office and Liturgy all through Advent is one of expectation and preparation for the Christmas feast as well as for the second coming of Christ, and the penitential exercises suitable to that spirit are thus on Gaudete Sunday suspended, as were, for a while in order to symbolize that joy and gladness in the Promised Redemption which should never be absent from the heart of the faithful." (cf. NewAdvent)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Catholic Spirituality

The note below is based on a comment I placed on a Reformed Christian's (converting to Catholicism) blog in response to his post. This person felt that his motives were being questioned (by members of his old church) for joining the Catholic Church. Apparently in his old Protestant fellowship, he found it difficult to "keep up" with the constant activities that were necessary to be part of the "in crowd" of the "spiritual folks." A person's spirituality was being judged by their level of involvement in church activities and groups. He was suspect because of his less than complete involvement in all that was going on. The following is my response to encourage him.

"When I converted or reverted to the Catholic Church, I was accused of taking the "easy way out and back sliding." I think it is very hard for some of our Protestant brethren to reconcile our conversion to Catholicism because it puts them on the defensive, almost by definition. They don't know how to deal with it so they make a judgement about your spiritual state: Something MUST be wrong with you!
But, God knows our hearts and no one but He can judge our motives. Little do those know who judged me that being Catholic has really helped me to be a faithful Christian, much more so than when I was an evangelical. It's not a pejorative statement, it's the reality I have experienced in my own life. Just ask my wife, but I digress.

I suspect that in a matter of time after your conversion and several visits to the confessional followed by multiple opportunities to partake of the Eucharist, you will be changed beyond what you ever thought was possible. There is real grace in the sacraments to free us from sin and self-will etc.
And the beautiful thing is  this: There are innumerable ways to express your spirituality as a Catholic Christian and you will not be judged by whichever mode you choose. If going to mass once a week and praying at home is your thing, praise God. If daily mass including adoration, prayer before the Eucharist is your spirituality, praise God! If going to weekly bible studies, prayer groups retreats, etc, is your style, praise God. But, if you tend to be more contemplative like my wife and I, (we try to attend daily mass which is right down the street, and don't tend to join too many groups and studies) that's ok too, praise God! We are much less "active" in fellowship groups, night-time activities at Church etc, yet have been more in love with Christ than ever in our lives!
   As a Catholic Christian, you don't have to fear that you will be judged by your level of activity or involvement. Generally speaking it's not in the DNA of Catholics to do that, partly because Catholic theology has never used one's level of activity as a barometer for spirituality. Sure there will always be Martha and Mary scenarios, but I have not experienced any sense of judgement from anyone in my almost 8 years of being in the Catholic faith.
One of the most refreshing things to find out about the Church is that there are as many modes and expression of spirituality as there are people. That is why there are so many different charisms behind different orders of religious such as Dominican, Franciscan, Carmelite etc.
God knows our nature and if we aren't the joining-type that likes the constant steady hoopla we experienced as Protestants, He has the Church just for us!

The Wanderer Comes Home

"The last 18 years, going through different denominations, there was always something missing and incomplete. Now, I know it’s the Eucharist, the fullness of the Faith, the communion of saints, the beauty of Truth. I was missing 2,000 years of family history and rich tradition." (Full story here)

About 7 years after my born again experience, I was listening to Christian radio in Jersey around 1980 when I  heard this awesome song, The Truth Will Set You Free by Dion. His voice was so plaintive and the lyrics were so good. At first, I didn't make the connection that this was the famous Dion of the Belmont's who also wrote the huge hit Abraham, Martin and John. When I found out he was a born-again Christian I was very excited and looked forward to more of his new material. The years came and went and most contemporary Christian music became over-produced over-hyped and lost its appeal on me. I was spending all my time studying in med school and residency and essentially stopped listening to CCM.  I forgot all about Dion and his music.

Fast forward to 2007. I am now Catholic for 3 years and watching EWTN's the Journey Home and tune in to see Dion Dimucci is telling his story of returning to the Catholic faith to 8 million potential viewers!  Ah, Mr. Dimucci! I am right there with you!  It was a great story  and he continues to write and record.
Here's a recent live acoustic version of The Truth  Shall Set You Free. Praise God, Dion, it certainly has.

Pachelbel's Canon in D

Friday, December 09, 2011

Clip From The Greatest Miracle

Review of the Movie, The Great Miracle

A 3D animated movie about the Catholic Mass has hit the big screen in limited distribution. My wife and I were lucky enough to live near where it was playing.
It was fitting that the movie is released on the feast day of Saint Juan Diego and right before before the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe because it was written and produced by Dos Corazones Productions , a Mexican film production company.

Here's my review of The Great Miracle . This was a well-done 3D animated movie, the purpose of which, was to allow the viewers to really understand what is going on during the Catholic mass. The concept of the mass being a sacrifice has been somewhat under-emphasized in the past 40 years of American Catholicism, but this movie helps the viewer to see the mass is really all about Christ's sacrifice (not re-crucifying him) but re-presenting His sacrifice to the Father and our participation by offering up our sorrows, joys, fears, tears and petitions in union with His offering to the Father. I don't want to spoil it, but let me say this, there is more solid theology packed into this movie than what many of us had absorbed in years of CCD in the 60's and 70's.
There are some scenes of demons and purgatory that the youngest viewers could find scary but I doubt it is beyond anything most kids have seen these days. The beauty and power of the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist is highlighted as well as the role of our Blessed Mother as a powerful intercessor.

My wife said this movie should be a pre-requisite for any child about to receive their first Holy Communion. I say that anyone interested in what the Catholic mass is about should see it and all Catholics who want to re-vitalize their faith should see it. So a big thumbs up from me for The Great Miracle! On its opening night in the Allentown area, we were the only two people in the theater. By the end of this weekend I hope and pray that will change.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Pope Uses Sony Tablet to Light the World's Largest Tree

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The Greatest Miracle! Animated Movie About The Mass!

Coming to a theater near you! This new release is a 3D animated movie telling the story of three individuals whose lives are impacted by the Mass. It is amazing that a Catholic movie can get this wide distribution. See the NCR review here

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Father Ardinger's Homily On the Immaculate Conception Tonight

Immaculate Conception by Father Scott Ardinger by Russ Rentler

Solemnity of The Immaculate Conception 12/8/2011

 This is a re-post of an old post I wrote on the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, an often mis-understood concept, by Catholics and Protestants alike. The question I like to ask is:
"Why wouldn't you want the Mother of God to be born without the stain of original sin?" or "Why is it so important that you believe that the woman chosen by God to bring the savior to our world have original sin.?"

I recently heard that a song I wrote called Joseph's Blues was played by the associate pastor of my old evangelical church as a part of his advent sermon. My song described Joseph's initial human reaction to Mary's pregnancy (before the angel spoke to him). So I went to the website of the church and listened to the podcast of the sermon (yes, I admit it stoked my ego a bit to hear my song played in front of my old congregation.) The pastor focused his message on the Virgin Birth but then touched on the Immaculate Conception. He said that Pope Pius IX in 1854 invented this doctrine and it had not been present in the first to fourth centuries of the early church. His implication was that Catholics make up new doctrines as they go along. (Which interestingly, is what I was incorrectly taught in my new found days after being born again)

I am posting this today to give a brief apologetic of this misunderstood aspect of Catholicism . When the pope defined the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception as dogma in 1854, he was not creating a new doctrine. As a matter of fact, in the very context of the pronouncement, Pope Pius IX explains carefully and repeatedly that this belief had been held by the early church fathers and was not a new and novel conception (no pun intended). So the doctrine was not new, but the dogmatization of it was. Before 1854, as a Catholic, you weren't bound to accept this doctrine, though the majority of the faithful did. After the dogma was pronounced, as a Catholic you were obligated to accept this ancient doctrine. The Church often dogmatized it's teachings as a way of clarification or to combat heterodox teaching. The Nicean Creed annunciating the doctrine of the Trinity, did not "make up the doctrine", but merely stated it as dogma to stem the rising tide of Arianism. To be a Catholic Christian in the early fourth century, you needed to adhere to the tenets of the creed, if you wanted to consider yourself part of the universal(Catholic) church.

David MacDonald gives a nice summary of this in his website Catholic Bridge:

"How come it took Catholics 1800 years to decide Mary was conceived without sin?
The Immaculate Conception was defined as a pious belief in 1453 and declared a doctrine by Pope Pius in 1854. But we must realize that the Church does not make something Dogma out of thin air. It is made Dogma after many centuries of careful considerations. For instance the Trinity took 300 years to turn into Dogma. The New Testament itself took 400 years. We Catholics are not in a rush to cement doctrine. We take our time.

This belief was a part of the early Church and has always been held as a pious belief by the faithful. We didn't just pull this stuff out of thin air. In fact Martin Luther, the father of the reform spoke about it 300 years before it became Dogma. The early Church father were talking about a millennium before that. Here is what some the greatest Christians were saying over 1600 years ago.

It becomes you to be mindful of us, as you stand near Him who granted you all graces, for you are the Mother of God and our Queen. Help us for the sake of the King, the Lord God Master Who was born of you. For this reason you are called 'full of Grace'..." (373 A.D., St. Athanasius)

Blessed Virgin, immaculate and pure you are the sinless Mother of your Son, the mighty Lord of the universe. You are holy and inviolate, the hope of the hopeless and sinful; we sing your praises. We praise you as full of every grace, for you bore the God-Man. We all venerate you; we invoke you and implore your aid...Holy and immaculate our intercessor and advocate at the hour of death and are holy in the sight of God, to Whom be honor and glory, majesty, and power forever (373 A.D., St. Ephrem of Edessa)

You alone and your Mother are more beautiful than the others; for here is no blemish in you, nor any stains upon your Mother. (St. Ephraim, Nisibene Hymns, 27:8, 370 AD) "

So clearly before the end of the fourth century, the early church was describing their belief in the sinlessness of Mary, which the reformers held to as well (at least early on in their writings.)  If all believers of the first 1500 years of Christendom believed that Mary was conceived without original sin, why do some non-Catholics maintain a belief contrary to their own reformers and all those before them?

Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic

His book was one of the first ones(Crossing The Tiber was the first) I read after I realized that I had to surrender and return to the Catholic faith. I couldn't put it down!

The Impact of The New Evangelization

Check out Catholics Come Home recent stats regarding the return of Catholics to the faith.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Christianity = Catholicism. Catholicism = Christianity

This blog-post below is from my friend George over at the Convert Journal blog. He is a former Lutheran who converted to the Catholic faith a few years back. He does an amazing review of the first
400 years of Christianity. If you are in a hurry I will give you the lowdown; The early Christians were under the authority of one bishop who was eventually headquartered in Rome. These early Christians celebrated the Mass as their formal worship service and prayed for the souls of the departed as well as asked the martyrs to intercede for them. As early as 107 AD, these Christians referred to themselves as the universal (catholic) church and  are one and the same as the church of today known as the Catholic Church, sharing the same doctrines without change. These same early Christians under the guidance of the Holy Spirit discerned the current canon of scripture which was unchallenged until the reformation. (Saint Jerome initially disagreed with the current canon but submitted his private judgement to the Church and eventually concurred with Pope Damasus regarding the inclusion of the deuterocanonical books into the canon of Scripture.)

"One of the most bizarre positions I have ever heard is that Catholics are not Christians. Fortunately, it is a minority viewpoint but it shows just how extreme some in the Protestant schism have gone.
Our Holy Father would put this much better, but the hard truth is this: the Catholic Church IS the Christian Church and has been since our Lord Jesus Christ instituted it. Protestants are not outside of that Church but part of it, although sadly not in full communion. Yes, Protestants are partially Catholic and upon that rests their salvation.
Christianity = Catholicism. Catholicism = Christianity. This is the Church of the Apostles. The early Church Fathers (after 100) would have identified themselves as Catholic, not followers of various heresies that have long since died out. The beliefs they had in the real presence in the Eucharist, our form of liturgical worship in the Mass, the Communion of Saints, veneration of Mary the Mother of God, Sacred Tradition, apostolic succession, the offices of deacon / priest / bishop, the primacy of Peter, sacraments, opposition to abortion and homosexuality, marriage for life and much, much more all remain in the Catholic Church today. Whereas in the various Protestant communities, supposedly (and ironically) founded to remove corruption, many of these ancient beliefs are gone.
Many Protestants identify with the Church Fathers but have a fuzzy concept of the Church in their time and their beliefs. The early Church Fathers were not Anglicans, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc. After all, these communities (with different beliefs from each other) did not exist until over a millennia later (after the first 3/4 of Christian history).
Look at the timeline below. It is just the first 400 years in the history of the Catholic Church, a/k/a Christianity.
  • 0 – Christmas. The word is derived from Middle English Christemasse and Old English Cristes mæsse; Cristes is from Greek Christos (“Christ”) and masse from Latin missa (“holy mass”). Christmas literally means “Crist’s Mass.”
  • 33 – The Last Supper (the first Holy Eucharist) followed by the death and resurrection of our Lord.
  • 51 – The Council of Jerusalem.
  • 67 – Martyrdom of St. Peter, the first pope. St. Linus succeeds him as the second pope.
  • 69 – Fall of Jerusalem.
  • 76 – St. Anacletus (Cletus) becomes pope.
  • 88 – St. Clement I becomes pope. During his pontificate, he issues a letter to the Corinthians, urging them to submit themselves to lawful religious authority. He writes “Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry.”
  • 96 – The Didache is written. It is the first Catholic Catechism. It describes the liturgy of the Mass, the requirement for confession before receiving the Eucharist and even the prohibition against abortion.
  • 97 – St. Evaristus becomes pope.
  • c100 – Death of St. John, the last apostle ending the period of Public Revelation.
  • 100 – Birth of St. Justin Martyr, a Church Father. In his writings, he bears witness to a number of Catholic doctrines. In one famous passage, he describes the Order of the Mass.
  • 105 – St. Alexander I becomes pope.
  • 107-117 – Martyrdom of St. Ignatius of Antioch, apostolic Father and bishop. Theodoret, the Church historian says he was consecrated bishop by St. Peter, who was at first bishop of Antioch before going to Rome. It was during the journey to Rome that he wrote his famous letters about the early Church. His writings are the first known to use the term “Catholic” to differentiate the Christian Church from heresies of that time.
  • 115 – St. Sixtus I becomes pope.
  • 125 – St. Telesphorus becomes pope.
  • 136 – St. Hyginus becomes pope.
  • 140 – St. Pius I becomes pope.
  • 144 – Marcion of Pontus is excommunicated for heresy. He believed the God of the Old Testament was a different God.
  • 155 – St. Anicetus becomes pope.
  • 156 – Martyrdom of St. Polycarp, a disciple of St. John the apostle.
  • 160 – Birth of Tertullian, a Church Father.
  • 166 – St. Soter becomes pope.
  • 175 – St. Eleutherius becomes pope.
  • 177 – St. Irenaeus of Lyons, writes Against All Heresies, a work of apologetics refuting Gnosticism, which claimed salvation through an esoteric knowledge. Irenaeus argues that this belief counters the universal tradition handed down from the apostles, and that the bishops are the successors of the apostles who have the authority to transmit Revelation. To make his point, he lists the succession of popes beginning with Peter.
  • 189 – St. Victor I becomes pope.
  • 189 – Pope Victor ordered Bishop Polycrates of Ephesus to call a synod for which the bishops of Proconsular Asia refused to attend resulting in their excommunication. St. Irenaues protested this action as too harsh, but did not say the pope had overstepped his authority. This is the first record of an episcopal council in the post-apostolic age.
  • 199 – St. Zephyrinus becomes pope.
  • 200 – Death of St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Church Father and bishop.
  • 208 – The first record of prayers for the dead in the writings of the Church Fathers. Tertullian writes that a good widow prays for her dead husband’s soul in On Monogamy.
  • 217 – St. Callistus I becomes pope.
  • 220 – Pope St. Callistus I excommunicates Sabellius, a priest who taught that the Son of God did not exist before the Incarnation, and that God exists in three “modes” but not in three persons, therefore the Son and the Father suffered at the passion.
  • 222 – St. Urban I becomes pope.
  • 230 – St. Pontain becomes pope.
  • 235 – St. Anterus becomes pope (for only 40 days).
  • 236 – St. Fabian becomes pope. When it came time to elect a new pope, the assembly put forward several names of prominent people, but a dove rested on Fabian’s head, whom no one had considered for the office. The assembly took it as a sign of divine favour and selected him as the new pope.
  • 250 – The devotion to martyrs, once a more private practice, becomes widespread after the Decian persection due to the great numbers of martyrs it produced.
  • 251 – Council of Cartage under St. Cyprian allows those who lapsed during the persecution to be readmitted after a period of penance.
  • 251 – St. Cornelius becomes pope.
  • 253 – St. Lucius I becomes pope.
  • 253 – The death of Origen of Alexandria, a Church Father.
  • 254 – St. Stephen I becomes pope. He is the first pope known to have specifically invoked Matt. 16:18 as evidence for the authority of the Chair of Peter.
  • 256 – Pope St. Stephen I upholds the baptisms administered by heretics.
  • 257 – St. Sixtus II becomes pope. He was arrested very shortly after his election and beheaded for his faith.
  • 258 – Martyrdom of St. Cyprian of Carthage. In his writings, he defended the primacy of Peter as the source of unity in the Church. He remained the foremost Latin writer until Jerome.
  • 260 – St. Dionysius becomes pope.
  • 265 – Three councils held at this time in Antioch condemn Paul of Samosata, bishop of Antioch, for his heretical teachings on the relationship of God the Father and God the Son. He maintained that Jesus the man was distinct from the Logos and became the Son of God through adoption because of his merits, and that God is only One Person. His teachings were a pre-cursor to the Arianist heresies of the fourth century and beyond.
  • 269 – St. Felix I becomes pope.
  • 270 – Death of St. Gregory of Neocaesarea, a/k/a the Wonderworker and Thaumaturgus, a Church Father and bishop.
  • 275 – St. Eutychian becomes pope.
  • 283 – St. Caius becomes pope.
  • 296 – St. Marcellinus becomes pope.
  • 297 – Birth of St. Athanasius, Doctor of the Church. Archbishop of Alexandria. He was a staunch defender of the Divinity of Jesus Christ against Arianism, and was exiled sevral times for his orthodoxy.
  • 305 – The Council of Elvira, Spain approves the first canon imposing clerical celibacy.
  • 306 – Birth of St. Ephraem the Syrian, Doctor of the Church. Known as the Harp of the Holy Spirit. Author of the Nisibene Hymns, some of which are Marian.
  • 308 – St. Marcellus I becomes pope.
  • 309 – St. Eusebius becomes pope.
  • 311 – St. Miltiades becomes pope.
  • 312 – Constantine defeats the Emperor Maxentius at the battle of the Milvian Bridge. The night before the battle, Constantine has a vision of a cross in the sky and the words “In this sign you shall conquer.” After the victory, Constantine orders that the cross be put on the soldiers’ shields and standards. Once Constantine enters Rome, he offers the Lateran Palace to the Pope as a residence.
  • 314 – St. Sylvester I becomes pope.
  • 315 – Birth of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Doctor of the Church. He fought Arianism in the East.
  • 315 – Birth of St. Hilary of Poitiers, Doctor of the Church.
  • 318 – Beginnings of the Arianist controversy. Arius taught that the Father and the Son were not of the same substance, and therefore the latter was inferior; and that the Word (Logos) is a creature and that the Holy Spirit is a creature of the Logos.
  • 325 – The Council of Nicea. Presided by Emperor Constantine and Hosius of Cordoba. Pope St. Sylvester I sends papal legates, being too old to make the journery from Rome. Many of the bishops in attendance had been physically injured in the persecutions of previous decades. The Council defines trinitarian belief in God. The Father and God the Son are declared of the same substance against the teachings of Arius.
  • 329 – Birth of St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church and father of Eastern monasticism. He was the first to draw up a rule of life and he developed the concept of the novitiate.
  • 330 – Building of first St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome (it was re-built in 1506).
  • 330 – Birth of St. Gregory Nanzianzus, Doctor of the Church. One of the Cappadocian Fathers.
  • 336 – St. Marcus becomes pope.
  • 336 – The earliest record of the celebration of Christmas in Rome.
  • 337 – St. Julius I becomes pope.
  • 340 – Birth of St. Ambrose of Milan, one of the four traditional Latin Doctors of the Church. He baptized St. Augustine. He fought the Arian heresy in the West and promoted consecrated virginity.
  • 343 – Birth of St. Jerome, one of the four traditional Doctors of the Latin Church. He translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek texts into Latin and produced the first authoritative translation, the Vulgate. At that time, Latin was still a vernacular language.
  • 347 – Birth of St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church and Bishop of Constantinople. He is the foremost Greek Doctor of the Church, known especially for his homilies on Scripture.
  • 352 – Liberius becomes pope. He was the first pope not to become a (cannonized) Saint.
  • 354 – Birth of St. Augustine of Hippo, Doctor of the Church.
  • 360 – Scrolls begin to be replaced by books.
  • 366 – St. Damasus I becomes pope. He is most famous for compelling St. Jerome to undertake a faithful translation of the Scriptures, the version known as the Vulgate.
  • 376 – Birth of St. Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444), Doctor of the Church. Opposed Nestorianism.
  • 379 – Theodosius, a devout Catholic, becomes the Eastern Roman Emperor. For the first time in half a century, the State would favour Catholicism over Arianism. Theodosius is the first emperor to legislate against heresy. The churches of heretics are to be confiscated and handed over to the Catholic Church.
  • 381 – The First Council of Constantinople. Presided by Pope Damasus and Emperor Theodosius I. It proclaimed the divinity of the Holy Spirit.
  • 382 – Pope St. Damasus I issued the Decree of Damasus officially setting the 46 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books of the Holy Bible. Before this time, various canons of scripture were used by different bishops. Pope St. Damasus I (the 37th Catholic pope) established the Holy Bible.
  • 383 – Roman legions begin to leave Britain. British Christians gradually disconnected from Rome until St. Augustine of Canterbury re-introduces the faith in 590.
  • 384 – St. Siricius becomes pope.
  • 386 – St. Ambrose refuses to hand over a church to the Arian sect when ordered to do so by the Emperor. In a sermon he says a famous phrase ” The emperor is within the Church, and not above the Church.” He says of the Arians: ” it has been the crime of the Arians, the crime which stamps them as the worst of all heretics, that “they were willing to surrender to Caesar the right to rule the Church.” The Emperor backs down.
  • 393 – Birth of Theodoret of Cyrus, Church Father, bishop and historian. He opposed St. Cyril of Alexandria in the Nestorian controversy, but he eventually submitted to the Council of Ephesus on the matter.
  • 397 – The Council of Carthage formally accepts St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate Bible (which remains the unchanged, official Catholic translation to this day).
  • 397 – Death of St. Martin of Tours. He was the first saint honoured for his asceticism, not for martyrdom, and whose prayers were invoked in liturgy. He is considered the founder of monasticism in the West.
  • 399 – St. Anastasius I becomes pope.
  • 401 – St. Innocent I becomes pope."

Photos From November Haiti Medical Mission

                             Smoking trash, sewage and who knows what on the side of the street
                                           The tent camps are now permanent dwellings
                       A 90 year old who pointed to heaven when asked how she lived so long!
                                    A proud mother with her two children in my "exam room"
                         Dr. Shalaby performs some minor surgery on a sebaceous cyst
                                   Haitian patients patiently waiting for up to 8 hours to be seen
                                                     Severe impetigo untreated for weeks
                           The end of Mass at the Sisters of Charity (Mother Theresa's order)
 Dr. Marc Shalaby-internist, Yours Truly internist/geriatrician, and Dr. Dave Meehan-pediatrics
                                Unpacking and repacking toothpaste and brushes before the clinic starts
                                                   The sign outside Fr. Andrew's rectory

                                                    More tent cities everywhere in PAP
                                                                 mountains above PAP