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.

Monday, January 30, 2012

What Do Larry Norman, Coffee and an Obelisk Have to Do With Incarnationality?

Ancient Egyptian Obelisk on st. Peter's Square

Tonight on the Journey Home, Dr. Peter Hoff, former Baptist, described  how the Church could take truth and goodness from any source,  outside the Church, and "baptize" and use it within the Church for the glory of God and the edification of the faithful. This has been a hallmark of Catholic Christianity from the early days when the Church would appropriate a heathen temple and sanctify it and use it for the worship of the triune God.
    This concept can be seen in the music, architecture and art of all of Christendom which takes the best of all sources that point to goodness, beauty and truth, because the Church recognizes that these are ultimately all from God.  This is quite a departure from the way in which I saw the world in my little evangelical blinders and took some time for me to get use to this. My world use to be very black and white. If it's not in the bible or doesn't have a bible verse associated with it, or doesn't say Jesus in some obvious way, it's no good and of no use. Hence, I stopped listening to music or appreciating anything that wasn't in the 1970's sub-culture of American-evangelical Christianity which shaped my vision of the world. Sadly, I isolated myself from much truth and goodness because of my failure to see the Creator's handiwork in the "secular" world.
   Ironically, this wonderful ability of Catholicism to incorporate the beauty and truth in the secular world is the very thing that it gets criticized for by those who need to see the "Jesus stamp" on something before it is approved and accepted.   Ultimately it all goes back to the paradigm which I have blogged repeatedly about before that non-Catholic Christianity often follows the  material/flesh=bad but invisible/ephemeral=good.  This is a flawed  view of the world that goes against the very essence of incarnationality. God took flesh and came into the world to redeem our flesh and the world. This redemption carries through to all of the material world. Thank God for the wisdom of the Catholic faith because it has allowed us to look at the world and say "it is good."  Heck, if it wasn't for a pope, we wouldn't have coffee because its from the Islamic world and was known as Satan's Drink!  I suspect Larry Norman was  influenced by this Catholic concept after reading Chesterton and it was reflected in his music. "Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?

Ex-Calvinist's Response to Calvinist Professors Commenting on Calvinist's Conversion to Catholic Faith

The men on Called to Communion respond to a podcast of the Westminster seminary on the "lure of Rome."
Very solid refutations!
Check it out here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Our Brokenness

My wife Deborah wrote something on her fb page that I want to share here today.

"The Scriptures talk about how God bind's up our wounds and heals our broken hearts.  I've heard many talks and read lots of writings about how we are "a broken people" and God wants to "make us whole."  I don't often feel broken.  Sometimes I feel sad and I don't know why.  Sometimes I get angry about little things for no reason.  But most of the time I go through my days amazed at how blessed I am and how few life wounds and battle weary scars I have.   Yet I've heard these words about brokenness so I've prayed "God, heal my brokenness, please show me where I am wounded." I have invited God to touch those places in my heart that I have kept hidden from him and even from myself.  Today, we decided to work on organizing our basement.  As I considered the daunting task ahead, I felt hesitant and slightly anxious at the thought of it but knew it had to be done in preparation for our heat pump coming on Thursday.  As we sorted through boxes of memorabilia, looked at old photos and documents, decorations, books and CD's my heart became heavier and heavier.  Each item had a memory, some very happy to be sure, but many represented dreams unfulfilled, time lost, relationships broken, and hopes not yet realized.  At the end of it all I came to one conclusion.  Oh how truly broken I am and how much I need God's healing touch to every cell of my wounded heart;  His breath on my cold bones, His gentle arms cradling that little girl inside who tried to be oh so strong only to hide her deepest hurt away in a box. So I remembered my prayers for healing and thought, "this time I'm not going to stuff that pain back in the box, nor give it away thinking that it will never return."  Instead I am giving my broken self to the only one I know who can put me back together, to the only one who's deepest longing is to make me whole.  This is my desire and my true joy so that the pure love with which He heals me can be poured out to all those He has given me the honor of sharing life with, to you my family and friends, to the stranger, the needy and to the broken.  Then maybe the next time there is a closet to clean or memories to unpack, I'll have a little more courage to jump right in and a little more joy about all that God has done to heal my own brokenness."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Christian Bookstores and Sola Scriptura

"If Protestants truly believed in the Bible Alone(sola scriptura),
then shouldn't "Christian" bookstores only be stocked with Bibles?" Michael McCleary, former evangelical, now Catholic convert asks.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bryan Kemper Pro-life Presbyterian Now Catholic

Bryan Kemper recently shared his conversion story on the Journey Home. Saved out of a horrendous drug addiction he found Jesus. 20 years later he found His Church through his associations with Catholics in the pro-life movement like Father Pavone, Lila Rose, Theresa Tomeo and others.  Check out his story:

An Evangelical Pastor Lauds Catholic Seminarians: "A Visit To Heaven"

Peter J Hamm, a worship leader and evangelical pastor in western PA spent sometime at Mount St. Mary's Catholic seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland last May, at the invitation of his brother, a Catholic seminarian. He wrote about it here. What a breath of fresh air to hear a Protestant say that Catholicism has been misrepresented and misunderstood by his fellow Christians! May God use Peter Hamm to help others re-consider the Catholic faith.

Monday, January 23, 2012

March For Life 2012

                                             A bonus was running into former Bob Jones graduate now Catholic priest, Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Deborah and I had the privilege of going with our parish to the March for Life again this year. Every seat on the chartered bus was packed with young and old and our pastor Monsignor Wargo, once again joined us. Needless to say, it was beautiful and moving to see the Church in action. Priests, nuns, seminarians, religious friars in their robes and sandals, Knights of Columbus all came out in the rain and cold to support the cause of Life and to protest the 1973 Roe Vs Wade decision. There were huge amounts of young people from  K-through college. These young people really "get it" since they are the generation that is missing 1/3 of their peers as the result of legal abortion. They themselves are only here now because their parents chose life. Continue to pray that our politicians and Americans in general will learn to respect the dignity of life from conception to natural death.  The Mass for today was a liturgy especially written by Blessed Pope John Paul 2 to pray for the realization of the sacredness of life.

here's a link about the March

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Both Sides Now

Reason #563 To Be Catholic; Losing A Priest Doesn't Shipwreck Our Faith

This weekend, one of our assistant priests announced that the bishop has called him to become administrator and pastor for a parish in a nearby city. He has become a bit of a  "favorite" because of his warm personality, charismatic preaching style and ability to relate to young people.  He's also a good confessor.  During his announcement he told the congregation that he will be fine and we will be fine. Why? Because "it's all about Jesus", he said. He reminded us that we still will receive the body and blood of Christ from the other priests and that the parish will do just fine without him.

In my near 7 years of being Catholic I have seen many priests we came to love move on, and guess what? The membership didn't decline, parishioners didn't "backslide" and most importantly, the Lord was still reserved in the tabernacle and the Real Presence of Jesus was made present in the sacrifice of every Mass. Did we feel sadness and miss the personality and friendship? Absolutely, but our faith was not tied up in the personal charism of this priest. We didn't need to move on and find another Catholic Church where we could find a priest with the same personality and style. Regardless of an individual priest's personality, charm, charism or teaching /preaching ability, the Church goes on through time and space carrying out the great commission and feeding the sheep as He commanded, even with less-than-charismatic priests.

As  Protestant Christians, we often felt the rug pulled out from us when the pastor left. Somehow, it wasn't going to be the same and the service would lose its ability to make us feel like it use to. In two of the former Protestant churches I was a member of, when the pastors left, there was often a falling out of membership and or a split where half the congregation would follow the old pastor.(Sadly in both cases, the pastors were involved in sexual immorality) In other churches I know of, the congregation never rebounded and one had to call the old pastor out of retirement because none of the new pastors could "measure up."  Sadly, this is because of the "cult of personality" which often forms around religious leaders and is what causes the fall of many sects and rise of new ones.  This is not a new phenomenon, because people are people and tend to create the "cult of personality."  Saint Paul  cautioned the Corinthians to not follow after this one or that one or even Paul himself, but Christ.  The Catholic Church has been successful for 2000 years and one of the reasons is that the growth and maturity of a parish comes from the grace in the sacraments and is not totally dependent on one individual pastor or priest alone. We will always love and miss Father Scott, but he reminded us of the bigger picture. Our faith is always "all about Jesus" and not the individual priest. This is just reason # 563 that I am thankful to be Catholic.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Yet Another Catholic/Biblical Response to "I Hate Relgion"

The Catholics keep putting it out there. Praise God for another great video.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Give Us Rest-A Requiem Mass in C

What does it mean that the # 2 album in the world right now borrows from the liturgy and theology of the Catholic requiem Mass? Would it surprise you that it is written and produced by an evangelical worship leader,  David Crowder?  Hmmm....Can anyone say "Rich Mullins pray for this guy!"
Check it out here

The World Without a Magisterium: "An everlasting pile of conundrums."

"It seems strange so many Christians think the Apostles fulfilled their commission by writing the New Testament, leaving behind them no successors, nor any need for successors, with the authority Our Lord had given themselves. It seems strange, for one reason, that it would mean only five of the Twelve had obeyed their Master…
It would seem strange for another reason- that the Church Christ founded would have been a teaching church only for a half-century or so, in all the centuries since merely a library.
Circumstances change and someone must have the authority to apply the teachings to the new circumstances; otherwise they end up as frustrations rather than teachings. Even in the doctrines themselves there are depths which the believing mind can explore, with all the danger of error but all the rich possibilities of development. With every operation of the unstagnant mind of man upon the truth, the question must arise, “What did Christ mean?” So it has proved. There is not a word uttered by Christ which has not met a number of diverse interpretations, some of them intelligent, some immensely attractive, but contradicting each other. How are we to know? It is not enough to have Our Lord’s words; the words themselves can only be a kind of talisman without the meaning. Without a teacher- to tell us, beyond the possibility of error, which of the various meanings is Christ’s- we should have no revelation but only an everlasting pile of conundrums." ~Frank Sheed, "Theology for Beginners"

Reformed Baptist Couple Find Their Way Home to the Catholic Church

Check out Katie's story here.
These folks wanted to follow Jesus wherever He led them, even at the cost of their livlihood. How many of us are that willing to give all to be obedient to His call?

The Best Response to Jefferson Bethke's New Non-Religion

Thank the Lord that the Catholic Church has taken the new social media by storm to combat the heresiarchs that continue to rise up.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Father Barron on 'Why I Hate Religion" Video

Father Robert Barron once again hits the nail on the head. He says that this "Jesus without religion" leads to an abstraction, not the real Jesus who is the incarnate Christ, who continues to make Himself known to us through the sacraments of the Church. You won't regret the 8 minutes to watch this:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

One More Proof of the Need For A Magisterium

The Why I Hate Religion video continues to be a dynamic example of  modern American Christianity without an anchor,  Christianity without roots,  Christianity without a history, Christianity without a brain- a theological decapitation, if you will. Yes, I understand what Jefferson Bethke is trying to say at some level. But guess what? Many of his co-non-religionists followers don't. If you read just a few of the comments on his fb page, he has encouraged an entire new generation of people who are very quick to adopt the "Outback Steakhouse Theology of Christianity" No Rules Just Right!  Some of the comments on his fb page will reveal the extent of this "rule-less" culture of Christianity. Jefferson has simply taken an age-old technique of mis-labeling  institutional Christianity (AKA The Church) in favor of a "all you need is Jesus" non-religion. In the process he has denigrated 2000 years of the Holy Spirit's action in the hearts and lives of holy and faithful men and women who in and through the Church change the course of peoples' lives. Bethke attempts to paint religious "rules" such as no divorce (which Jesus taught I might add)  as something "old school" by creating a false and misleading non-sequiturs. "Tells single moms God doesn't love them if they ever had a divorce...."  Huh? My religion doesn't do that. My religion opens homes for single unwed mothers and provides food, clothing and shelter for them (Mary's Shelter, Reading and Bethlehem, PA)
     Sincere Christians already know that one needs to have a relationship with Jesus, but historically that relationship with Christ never came at the cost of severing the head from the body. Jesus established His Church to be a visible, real, entity against which he promised to never let the gates of Hell prevail against. This Church is also known as the body of Christ, the scriptures tell us. One can't say to this body, "I have Jesus, therefore, I have no need of you!" St Cyprian in the third century (258 AD) said  that "He cannot have God as his Father who does not have the church for his Mother."  Obviously, the early Christians saw there was not to be a separation between believing in Jesus and being part of his Church, part of the Christian religion of which there was only one at the time.

Partly because of this emerging view of Christianity (we only need Jesus, not a messy bunch of restrictions), many American sects are poised precariously on the precipice of total theological relativism. One needs to look no further than the ELCA, the PCA the Methodists, the Anglicans, the new evangelicals (emergents) to realize this. They are voting out the "rules" of religion to keep up with the changing mores in our society, rather than trying to stand against them. 

Who can oppose these attacks on orthodoxy? Who can reel in the errant prophets? Who has the authority to get a hold of our latest hip YouTube Prophet and tell him he is wrong and hold him accountable? If his own church attempts to rein him in, guess what? He will go out and start a new religion, oops, I mean non-religion and the _____thousandth new protestant sect is born and history repeats itself again.  Without a magisterium, these churches that hold themselves separate from the Church of antiquity will continue to splinter and produce teachings that satisfy their itching ears but sadly bring no healing to their  soul.

 "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Conversion Story by Michael McCleary

I never tire of reading stories of lives changed by God's grace and seeing how He brings them into the Catholic faith. This story by Michael McCleary is a bittersweet  story of God pursuing a restless heart, in the way He always does.  Kudos to Michael for sharing a difficult but ultimately beautiful journey!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Lesson To The "I Hate Religion" Fellow

"Why I Hate Religion" A 3rd Century Heresy Rears Its Ugly Head...Again

"I hate Religion , but I love Jesus" is an old re-treaded heresy that actually has its roots in a movement in the 3rd century by a Catholic Christian named Montanus who believed God spoke to him directly with new prophecy and instruction. The Montanists felt they could forgive sins without the hierarchy of the Church and removed themselves from the authority of the Church that had been started by Jesus and the apostles. They called themselves the "spirituales" (spiritual ones) while everyone else was "carnal." Though the movement slowly faded out and was declared a heresy, this idea pops up every generation or so. The idea that one doesn't need anything but a personal relationship with Jesus creates a false and misleading dichotomy. Either you love Jesus=Good, or you are Religious=Bad. Christianity has been a hierarchical RELIGION (there I said it) since Jesus set up His Church built on Peter and his successors(later called Fathers/papas or popes).
In the 1970's this old rant re-appeared in evangelical contemporary Christian music artist's Scott Wesley Brown singing "There's no doubt about it, I just want to shout it. I'm not religious anymore, I just love the Lord."  (By the way, does anyone else think this tune is a bit similar to Garden Party?)

Clearly this young man, Jefferson Bethke, is passionate about his faith, but a passionate faith that divorces itself from the historical faith and good theology is a dangerous recipe for further heresy. He misunderstands what religion truly is. What does the bible say about religion? "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." James 1:27 So if scripture makes the conclusion that pure, true religion involves doing good and avoiding sin, why should we hate religion? There is no dichotomy between being religious and loving God. True religion manifests the love of God by doing good in this world, helping widows, orphans, unwed mothers, street people, hookers and bums.

This recent rant on YouTube has encouraged folks to say "yeah, I can keep sinning and I don't have to follow rules. As long as I love Jesus, I'm ok." And that, my friends, is Outback Steakhouse Christianity; "No Rules, Just Right." Much more popular than "unless your righteousness exceeds that of the pharisees, you won't enter the kingdom of God."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Yet Another Response to "I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus!

Keep it coming my brothers. You guys are amazing!

"Cue the Gregorian Chant"

Untitled from John Hollowell on Vimeo.

An Excellent Response to Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus video

Found this video  after coming home from mass this morning. A young Catholic responds to the claims made by the "I hate religion but love Jesus" guy. Check it out:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Infallibility and Protestantism

"I find it amusing that those who reject the Catholic claim of infallibility for the Pope and magisterium are absolutely positive THEIR interpretation of Scripture is the only correct one!" 
(Robert Schoneman on Catholics ARE Christians! fb group)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mega Church Pastor Streams Scenes From His Bedroom.....

You can't make this stuff up.

File under "What happens when you are your own pope."

Religion is Good

There's a video on utube that is called "Why I hate religion but love Jesus."  It's the typical fundamentalist screed aimed at the Catholic Church, and organized religion in general. It's more of the "Just Jesus and me" mentality that is ultimately going to sink evangelical Christianity. There are actually a few points that a Catholic could agree with but they are buried in a lot of righteous-sounding pablum.  Here's my response:

Second Anniversary of Haiti's Earthquake

Today marks the second anniversary of the quake in Port-Au-Prince that took the lives of over 300,000 souls in a few short moments.  I will remember my two friends in prayer today who lost their lives in the quake.
Sadly, I haven't seen major changes in the three trips I've taken since the quake. Some of the rubble is being removed but many people are still living in tattered tents that were never meant to be more than temporary.
Keep them in your prayers please.

Here is a litany for the people of Haiti:

Heavenly Father,
We know you love all of us and have given your only son Jesus for our salvation. The Haitian people have suffered greatly yet despite such suffering, never cease to praise your name and call on you for their salvation.
We pray first for the souls of those who died as a result of the earthquake. We pray that you bring their purification in purgatory to its completion and we offer our prayers and daily sufferings for them, so they may soon see you face to face.
Let us pray to the Lord… Lord Have Mercy
We pray for those survivors who continue to suffer from poverty, homelessness, malnutrition and the ravages of cholera.
Let us Pray to the Lord… Lord Have Mercy
Lord Jesus, give them strength to carry on, and bring peace and justice to their country.
Let us Pray to the Lord… Lord Have Mercy
Strengthen their hearts so they do not become bitter and give in to despair, and give them the grace to unite their suffering to yours.
Let us Pray to the Lord… Lord Have Mercy
Comfort the mothers of the dying children, and comfort the fathers who can't provide for their families,
Let us Pray to the Lord… Lord Have Mercy
Comfort the children and bring peace to those orphaned by the earthquake.
Let us Pray to the Lord… Lord Have Mercy
We ask that you provide daily bread to the Haitian people and move the hearts of men to continue to be generous and caring for Haiti.
Let us Pray to the Lord… Lord Have Mercy
Through the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel we ask for spiritual bondage to be broken and to cast into hell the demons that attempt to thwart your purposes for the people of Haiti.
We ask these things…. in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Over 200,000 Visitors Since 2006

My counter at the bottom of the blog home page just went over 200,000 this week. That makes about  33,333 visitors a year since I started blogging about my Catholic faith in 2006. Not impressive "super blogger" numbers but I am thankful that I still get many visits from all over the world everyday.

   Most popular searches that lead to this blog?

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Of Course We Pray to Mary and the Saints and You Should Too!

This is an excellent article explaining why Catholics pray to anyone other than God. It's from the Integrated Catholic Life website.
  1. Why do Catholics pray to Mary and the saints in heaven? Do we think they are gods? Does this mean that we worship them?
  2. Aren’t Mary and the Saints dead and doesn’t the bible teach us not to attempt to communicate with the dead?
  3. Isn’t Jesus the one mediator between God and man?
  4. Doesn’t Catholic prayer to the saints take away from Christ, especially as the one mediator between God and man?
Find the answers to these questions in the article.

"Religion is for Adults"

My neighbor is an orthodox Jew, the kind that take the sabbath seriously and wears a yarmulke everywhere. He and I love to converse over religion and politics and it turns out we are in agreement on many topics. We were talking about how to keep children in the faith and he mentioned that many people who leave their respective religions do it with a juvenile mindset, meaning they never learned about their religion past their adolescence.
   He said that no one should leave their faith that they are born into until they have completely studied it as an adult. "Religion is for adults" he said, meaning the understanding of the faith is best understood as an adult vs a 14 year old teenager. Was he implying that kids don't need to be catechized or taught the truths of their faith? No, absolutely not and he is doing the best possible job to ensure his young children are learning the rudiments of their Jewish faith including making sure they achieve their Bat Mitzvah.
   I thought about my own experience in leaving Catholicism as well as the experience of many other ex-Catholics I knew who left the Catholic faith. The overwhelming majority left the faith not ever truly practicing it, understanding it or embracing it and many, such as myself, left in our adolescence not reading about or learning the faith. Instead we learned against the faith from anti-Catholic tracts which were completely bias and packed with falsehoods about the faith, written by those who never intended to portray it in a fair light.
    Is it fair and honest to denigrate and move away from the Catholic faith with just an adolescent view of the Church? Many of us who left were Sunday only Catholics who received the sacraments in rote fashion but never embraced the faith and developed a deep relationship with Christ.  Armed with "an adult mindset" and tools for research readily available from non-biased sources, I wish that ex-Catholics would take another look at the faith they were born into before discarding it so easily with an adolescent perspective.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Richard Evans, Former AOG Pastor, Now Tiber Jumpin' Catholic

"I also discovered that there was now a new Catechism of the Catholic Church and wasted no time obtaining a copy. Digging into Church teaching, Bible in one hand and Catechism in the other, it finally dawned on me that, unlike what I had been led to believe during my many years as a Protestant, the Catholic Church did indeed teach correct and proper Christianity from the “top,” so to speak.  As earlier stated, I had always believed that there were Catholic Christians, but I assumed this was in spite of Rome, not because of her. Now I realized I had been wrong about this my entire adult life."

Read the whole story here.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Hauled Aboard the Ark – Conversion Story of Peter Kreeft

Hauled Aboard the Ark – Conversion Story of Peter Kreeft
The Coming Home Network/Peter Kreeft, PhD

I was born into a loving, believing community, a Protestant “mother church” (the Reformed Church) which, though it had not for me the fullness of the faith, had strong and genuine piety. I believed, mainly because of the good example of my parents and my church. The faith of my parents, Sunday School teachers, ministers, and relatives made a real difference to their lives, a difference big enough to compensate for many shortcomings. “Love covers a multitude of sins.”

I was taught what C. S. Lewis calls “mere Christianity,” essentially the Bible. But no one reads the Bible as an extraterrestrial or an angel; our church community provides the colored glasses through which we read, and the framework, or horizon, or limits within which we understand. My “glasses” were of Dutch Reformed Calvinist construction, and my limiting framework stopped very far short of anything “Catholic!” The Catholic Church was regarded with utmost suspicion. In the world of the forties and fifties in which I grew up, that suspicion may have been equally reciprocated by most Catholics. Each group believed that most of the other groups were probably on the road to hell. Christian ecumenism and understanding has made astonishing strides since then.

Dutch Calvinists, like most conservative Protestants, sincerely believed that Catholic-ism was not only heresy but idolatry; that Catholics worshipped the Church, the Pope, Mary, saints, images, and who knows what else; that the Church had added some inane “traditions of men” to the Word of God, traditions and doctrines that obviously contradicted it (how could they not see this? I wondered); and, most important of all, that Catholics believed “another gospel;” another religion, that they didn’t even know how to get to Heaven: they tried to pile up brownie points with God with their good works, trying to work their way in instead of trusting in Jesus as their Savior. They never read the Bible, obviously.

I was never taught to hate Catholics, but to pity them and to fear their errors. I learned a serious concern for truth that to this day I find sadly missing in many Catholic circles. The typical Calvinist anti-Catholic attitude I knew was not so much prejudice, judgment with no concern for evidence, but judgment based on apparent and false evidence: sincere mistakes rather than dishonest rationalizations.

Though I thought it pagan rather than Christian, the richness and mystery of Catholicism fascinated me—the dimensions which avant-garde liturgists have been dismantling since the Silly Sixties. (When God saw that the Church in America lacked persecutions, he sent them liturgists.)

The first independent idea about religion I ever remember thinking was a question I asked my father, an elder in the church, a good and wise and holy man. I was amazed that he couldn’t answer it. “Why do we Calvinists have the whole truth and no one else? We’re so few. How could God leave the rest of the world in error? Especially the rest of the Christian churches?” Since no good answer seemed forthcoming, I then came to the explosive conclusion that the truth about God was more mysterious—more wonderfully and uncomfortably mysterious—than anything any of us could ever fully comprehend. (Calvinists would not deny that, but they do not usually teach it either. They are strong on God’s “sovereignty,” but weak on the richness of God’s mystery.) That conviction, that the truth is always infinitely more than anyone can have, has not diminished. Not even all the infallible creeds are a container for all that is God.

I also realized at a very young age, obscurely but strongly, that the truth about God had to be far simpler than I had been taught, as well as far more complex and mysterious. I remember surprising my father with this realization (which was certainly because of God’s grace rather than my intelligence, for I was only about eight, I think): “Dad, everything we learn in church and everything in the Bible comes down to just one thing, doesn’t it? There’s only one thing we have to worry about, isn’t there?” “Why, no, I don’t see that. There are many things. What do you mean?” “I mean that all God wants us to do—all the time—is to ask Him what He wants us to do, and then do it. That covers everything, doesn’t it? Instead of asking ourselves, ask God!” Surprised, my father replied, “You know, you’re right!”

After eight years of public elementary school, my parents offered me a choice between two high schools: public or Christian (Calvinist), and I chose the latter, even though it meant leaving old friends. Eastern Christian High School was run by a sister denomination, the Christian Reformed Church. Asking myself now why I made that choice, I cannot say. Providence often works in obscurity. I was not a remarkably religious kid, and loved the New York Giants baseball team with considerable more passion and less guilt than I loved God.

I won an essay contest in high school with a meditation on Dostoyevski’s story “The Grand Inquisitor;” interpreted as an anti-Catholic, anti-authoritarian cautionary tale. The Church, like Communism, seemed a great, dark, totalitarian threat.

I then went to Calvin College, the Christian Reformed college which has such a great influence for its small size and provincial locale (Grand Rapids, Michigan) because it takes both its faith and its scholarship very seriously. I registered as a pre-seminary student because, though I did not think I was personally “called” by God to be a clergyman, I thought I might “give it a try.” I was deeply impressed by the caption under a picture of Christ on the cross: “This is what I did for thee. What will you do for Me?”

But in college I quickly fell in love with English, and then Philosophy, and thus twice changed my major. Both subjects were widening my appreciation of the history of Western civilization and therefore of things Catholic. The first serious doubt about my anti-Catholic beliefs was planted in my mind by my roommate, who was becoming an Anglican: “Why don’t Protestants pray to saints? There’s nothing wrong in you asking me to pray for you, is there? Why not ask the dead, then, if we believe they’re alive with God in Heaven, part of the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ that surrounds us (Hebrews 12)?” It was the first serious question I had absolutely no answer to, and that bothered me. I attended Anglican liturgy with my roommate and was enthralled by the same things that captivated Tom Howard and many others: not just the aesthetic beauty but the full-ness, the solidity, the moreness of it all.

I remember a church service I went to while at Calvin, in the Wealthy Street Baptist Temple (fundamentalist). I had never heard such faith and conviction, such joy in the music, such love of Jesus. I needed to focus my aroused love of God on an object. But God is invisible, and we are not angels. There was no religious object in the church. It was a bare, Protestant church; images were “idols.” I suddenly understood why Protestants were so subjectivistic: their love of God had no visible object to focus it. The living water welling up from within had no material riverbed, no shores, to direct its flow to the far divine sea. It rushed back upon itself and became a pool of froth.

Then I caught sight of a Catholic spy in the Protestant camp: a gold cross atop the pole of the church flag. Adoring Christ required using that symbol. The alternative was the froth. My gratitude to the Catholic Church for this one relic, this remnant, of her riches, was immense. For this good Protestant water to flow, there had to be Catholic aqueducts. To change the metaphor, I had been told that reliance on external things was a “crutch!” I now realized that I was a cripple. And I thanked the Catholic “hospital” (that’s what the Church is) for responding to my needs.

Perhaps, I thought, these good Protestant people could worship like angels, but I could not. Then I realized that they couldn’t either. Their ears were using crutches but not their eyes. They used beautiful hymns, for which I would gladly exchange the new, flat, unmusical, wimpy “liturgical responses” no one sings in our masses—their audible imagery is their crutch. I think that in Heaven, Protestants will teach Catholics to sing and Catholics will teach Protestants to dance and sculpt.

I developed a strong intellectual and aesthetic love for things medieval: Gregorian chant, Gothic architecture, Thomistic philosophy, illuminated manuscripts, etc. I felt vaguely guilty about it, for that was the Catholic era. I thought I could separate these legitimate cultural forms from the “dangerous” Catholic essence, as the modern Church separated the essence from these discarded forms. Yet I saw a natural connection.

Then one summer, on the beach at Ocean Grove, New Jersey, I read St. John of the Cross. I did not understand much of it, but I knew, with undeniable certainty, that here was reality, something as massive and positive as a mountain range. I felt as if I had just come out of a small, comfortable cave, in which I had lived all my life, and found that there was an unsuspected world outside of incredible dimensions. Above all, the dimensions were those of holiness, goodness, purity of heart, obedience to the first and greatest commandment, willing God’s will, the one absolute I had discovered, at the age of eight. I was very far from saintly, but that did not prevent me from fascinated admiration from afar; the valley dweller appreciates the height of the mountain more than the dweller on the foothills. I read other Catholic saints and mystics, and discovered the same reality there, however different the style (even St. Thérèse “The Little Flower”!) I felt sure it was the same reality I had learned to love from my parents and teachers, only a far deeper version of it. It did not seem alien and other. It was not another religion but the adult version of my own.

Then in a church history class at Calvin a professor gave me a way to investigate the claims of the Catholic Church on my own. The essential claim is historical: that Christ founded the Catholic Church, that there is historical continuity. If that were true, I would have to be a Catholic out of obedience to my one absolute, the will of my Lord. The teacher explained the Protestant belief. He said that Catholics accuse we who are Protestants of going back only to Luther and Calvin; but this is not true; we go back to Christ. Christ had never intended a Catholic-style Church, but a Protestant-style one. The Catholic additions to the simple, Protestant-style New Testament church had grown up gradually in the Middle Ages like barnacles on the hull of a ship, and the Protestant Reformers had merely scraped off the barnacles, the alien, pagan accretions. The Catholics, on the other hand, believed that Christ established the Church Catholic from the start, and that the doctrines and practices that Protestants saw as barnacles were, in fact, the very living and inseparable parts of the planks and beams of the ship.

I thought this made the Catholic claim empirically testable, and I wanted to test it because I was worried by this time about my dangerous interest in things Catholic. Half of me wanted to discover it was the true Church (that was the more adventurous half); the other half wanted to prove it false (that was the comfortable half). My adventurous half rejoiced when I discovered in the early Church such Catholic elements as the centrality of the Eucharist, the Real Presence, prayers to saints, devotion to Mary, an insistence on visible unity, and apostolic succession. Furthermore, the Church Fathers just “smelled” more Catholic than Protestant, especially St. Augustine, my personal favorite and a hero to most Protestants too. It seemed very obvious that if Augustine or Jerome or Ignatius of Antioch or Anthony of the Desert, or Justin Martyr, or Clement of Alexandria, or Athanasius were alive today they would be Catholics, not Protestants.

The issue of the Church’s historical roots was crucial to me, for the thing I had found in the Catholic Church and in no Protestant church was simply this: the massive historical fact that there she is, majestic and unsinkable. It was the same old seaworthy ship, the Noah’s ark that Jesus had commissioned. It was like discovering not an accurate picture of the ark, or even a real relic of its wood, but the whole ark itself, still sailing unscathed on the seas of history! It was like a fairy tale come true, like a “myth become fact;” to use C. S. Lewis’ formula for the Incarnation.

The parallel between Christ and Church, Incarnation and Church history, goes still further. I thought, just as Jesus made a claim about His identity that forces us into one of only two camps, His enemies or His worshippers, those who call Him liar and those who call Him Lord; so the Catholic Church’s claim to be the one true Church, the Church Christ founded, forces us to say either that this is the most arrogant, blasphemous and wicked claim imaginable, if it is not true, or else that she is just what she claims to be. Just as Jesus stood out as the absolute exception to all other human teachers in claiming to be more than human and more than a teacher, so the Catholic Church stood out above all other denominations in claiming to be not merely a denomination, but the Body of Christ incarnate, infallible, one, and holy, presenting the really present Christ in her Eucharist. I could never rest in a comfortable, respectable ecumenical halfway house of measured admiration from a distance. I had to shout either “Crucify her!” or “Hosanna!” if I could not love and believe her, honesty forced me to despise and fight her.

But I could not despise her. The beauty and sanctity and wisdom of her, like that of Christ, prevented me from calling her liar or lunatic, just as it prevented me from calling Christ that. But simple logic offered then one and only one other option: this must be the Church my Lord provided for me—my Lord, for me. So she had better become my Church if He is my Lord.

There were many strands in the rope that hauled me aboard the ark, though this one—the Church’s claim to be the one Church historically founded by Christ—was the central and deciding one. The book that more than any other decided it for me was Ronald Knox’s The Belief of Catholics. He and Chesterton “spoke with authority, and not as the scribes!” Even C. S. Lewis, the darling of Protestant Evangelicals, “smelled” Catholic most of the time. A recent book by a Calvinist author I went to high school with, John Beversluis, mercilessly tries to tear all Lewis’ arguments to shreds; but Lewis is left without a scratch and Beversluis comes out looking like an atheist. Lewis is the only author I ever have read whom I thought I could completely trust and completely understand. But he believed in Purgatory, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and not Total Depravity. He was no Calvinist. In fact, he was a medieval.

William Harry Jellema, the greatest teacher I ever knew, though a Calvinist, showed me what I can only call the Catholic vision of the history of philosophy, embracing the Greek and medieval tradition and the view of reason it assumed, a thick rather than a thin one. Technically this was “realism” (Aquinas) as vs. “nominalism” (Ockham and Luther). Commonsensically, it meant wisdom rather than mere logical consistency, insight rather than mere calculation. I saw Protestant theology as infected with shallow nominalism and Descartes’ narrow scientificization of reason.

A second and related difference is that Catholics, like their Greek and medieval teachers, still believed that reason was essentially reliable, not utterly untrustworthy because fallen. We make mistakes in using it, yes. There are “noetic effects of sin,” yes. But the instrument is reliable. Only our misuse of it is not.

This is connected with a third difference. For Catholics, reason is not just subjective but objective; reason is not our artificial little man-made rules for our own subjective thought processes or intersubjective communications, but a window on the world. And not just the material world, but form, order, objective truth. Reason was from God. All truth was God’s truth. When Plato or Socrates knew the truth, the logos, they knew Christ, unless John lies in chapter 1 of his gospel. I gave a chapel speech at Calvin calling Socrates a “common-grace Christian” and unwittingly scandalized the powers that be. They still remember it, 30 years later.

The only person who almost kept me Protestant was Kierkegaard. Not Calvin or Luther. Their denial of free will made human choice a sham game of predestined dice. Kierkegaard offered a brilliant, consistent alternative to Catholicism, but such a quirkily individualistic one, such a pessimistic and antirational one, that he was incompletely human. He could hold a candle to Augustine and Aquinas, I thought—the only Protestant thinker I ever found who could—but he was only the rebel in the ark, while they were the family, Noah’s sons.

But if Catholic dogma contradicted Scripture or itself at any point, I could not believe it. I explored all the cases of claimed contradiction and found each to he a Protestant misunderstanding. No matter how morally bad the Church had gotten in the Renaissance, it never taught heresy. I was impressed with its very hypocrisy: even when it didn’t raise its practice to its preaching, it never lowered its preaching to its practice. Hypocrisy, someone said, is the tribute vice pays to virtue.

I was impressed by the argument that “the Church wrote the Bible:” Christianity was preached by the Church before the New Testament was written—that is simply a historical fact. It is also a fact that the apostles wrote the New Testament and the Church canonized it, deciding which books were divinely inspired. I knew, from logic and common sense, that a cause can never be less than its effect. You can’t give what you don’t have. If the Church has no divine inspiration and no infallibility, no divine authority, then neither can the New Testament. Protestantism logically entails Modernism. I had to be either a Catholic or a Modernist. That decided it; that was like saying I had to be either a patriot or a traitor.

One afternoon I knelt alone in my room and prayed God would decide for me, for I am good at thinking but bad at acting, like Hamlet. Unexpectedly, I seemed to sense my heroes Augustine and Aquinas and thousands of other saints and sages calling out to me from the great ark, “Come aboard! We are really here. We still live. Join us. Here is the Body of Christ.” I said Yes. My intellect and feelings had long been conquered; the will is the last to surrender.

One crucial issue remained to be resolved: Justification by Faith, the central bone of contention of the Reformation. Luther was obviously right here: the doctrine is dearly taught in Romans and Galatians. If the Catholic Church teaches “another gospel” of salvation by works, then it teaches fundamental heresy. I found here however another case of misunderstanding. I read Aquinas’ Summa on grace, and the decrees of the Council of Trent, and found them just as strong on grace as Luther or Calvin. I was overjoyed to find that the Catholic Church had read the Bible too! At Heaven’s gate our entrance ticket, according to Scripture and Church dogma, is not our good works or our sincerity, but our faith, which glues us to Jesus. He saves us; we do not save ourselves. But I find, incredibly, that 9 out of 10 Catholics do not know this, the absolutely central, core, essential dogma of Christianity. Protestants are right: most Catholics do in fact believe a whole other religion. Well over 90% of students I have polled who have had 12 years of catechism classes, even Catholic high schools, say they expect to go to Heaven because they tried, or did their best, or had compassionate feelings to everyone, or were sincere. They hardly ever mention Jesus. Asked why they hope to be saved, they mention almost anything except the Savior. Who taught them? Who wrote their textbooks? These teachers have stolen from our precious children the most valuable thing in the world, the “pearl of great price;’ their faith. Jesus had some rather terrifying warnings about such things something about millstones.

Catholicism taught that we are saved by faith, by grace, by Christ, however few Catholics understood this. And Protestants taught that true faith necessarily produces good works. The fundamental issue of the Reformation is an argument between the roots and the blossoms on the same flower.

But though Luther did not neglect good works, he connected them to faith by only a thin and unreliable thread: human gratitude. In response to God’s great gift of salvation, which we accept by faith, we do good works out of gratitude, he taught. But gratitude is only a feeling, and dependent on the self. The Catholic connection between faith and works is a far stronger and more reliable one. I found it in C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, the best introduction to Christianity I have ever read. It is the ontological reality of we, supernatural life, sanctifying grace, God’s own life in the soul, which is received by faith and then itself produces good works. God comes in one end and out the other: the very same thing that comes in by faith (the life of God) goes out as works, through our free cooperation.

I was also dissatisfied with Luther’s teaching that justification was a legal fiction on God’s part rather than a real event in us; that God looks on the Christian in Christ, sees only Christ’s righteousness, and legally counts or imputes Christ’s righteousness as ours. I thought it had to be as Catholicism says, that God actually imparts Christ to us, in baptism and through faith (these two are usually together in the New Testament). Here I found the fundamentalists, especially the Baptists, more philosophically sound than the Calvinists and Lutherans. For me, their language, however sloganish and satirizable, is more accurate when they speak of “Receiving Christ as your personal Savior.”

Though my doubts were all resolved and the choice was made in 1959, my senior year at Calvin, actual membership came a year later, at Yale. My parents were horrified, and only gradually came to realize I had not lost my head or my soul, that Catholics were Christians, not pagans. It was very difficult, for I am a shy and soft-hearted sort, and almost nothing is worse for me than to hurt people I love. I think that I hurt almost as much as they did. But God marvelously binds up wounds.

I have been happy as a Catholic for many years now. The honeymoon faded, of course, but the marriage has deepened. Like all converts I ever have heard of, I was hauled aboard not by those Catholics who try to “sell” the church by conforming it to the spirit of the times by saying Catholics are just like everyone else, but by those who joyfully held out the ancient and orthodox faith in all its fullness and prophetic challenge to the world. The minimalists, who reduce miracles to myths, dogmas to opinions, laws to values, and the Body of Christ to a psycho-social club, have always elicited wrath, pity, or boredom from me. So has political partisanship masquerading as religion. I am happy as a child to follow Christ’s vicar on earth everywhere he leads. What he loves, I love; what he leaves, I leave; where he leads, I follow. For the Lord we both adore said to Peter his predecessor, “Who hears you, hears Me.” That is why I am a Catholic: because I am a Christian.

Source: “Hauled Aboard the Ark – The Spiritual Journey of Peter Kreeft” excerpt from "The Spiritual Journeys" published by the Daughters of St. Paul. Used with permission of the author.

Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and at the King’s College (Empire State Building), in New York City. He is a regular contributor to several Christian publications, is in wide demand as a speaker at conferences, and is the author of over 63 books including: "Handbook of Christian Apologetics", "Christianity for Modern Pagans" and "Fundamentals of the Faith".

Sunday, January 08, 2012

How Far Will You Go To Follow Jesus?

Epiphany Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, 
would you give us the eyes of faith of the Magi who recognized you as Lord and King
in the unlikely appearance of a little baby. As you did in the House of Bread (Bethlehem) give us the grace to see you in the unlikely appearances of bread and wine .

Photo  of the Altar of St. Joseph the Worker in Orefield, PA, (my home parish) during 
Eucharistic adoration. Note that Jesus is residing in the monstrance on the altar.

The Feast of Epiphany

Stars cross the sky,
wise men journey from pagan lands,
earth receives its Savior in a cave.
Let there be no one without a gift to offer,
no one without gratitude as we celebrate the salvation of the world,
the birthday of the human race.
Now it is no longer, “dust you are and to dust you shall return”, but,
“you are joined to heaven and into heaven you shall be taken up”.

St. Basil the Great (AD 330 – 379)

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Happy Feast of the Epiphany!

                                                             St Francis of Assisi Parish,    Allentown, PA

Why do Catholic Christians celebrate the Feast of Epiphany? I think the answer lies in the following reflection:

Epiphany means, in particular, the manifestation of the Savior to the Gentile world, in the person of the Magi. The way in which the Magi acted shows us the qualities that our faith ought to have. They were faithful to the inspiration of grace. They did not doubt nor stay to reason, but immediately began to carry out their decision. If we listen faithfully to the call of grace, we shall come to Christ, Who is the Life of our soul. The Church would have us associate ourselves with the adoration of the Magi and offer the infant God the gold of a life full of love and fidelity, the frankincense of a prayerful faith, the myrrh of our sorrows, tears, and sufferings which we unite to His own. When God makes the light of the Gospel shine in the sight of the pagans, or permits His Truth to be realized by those living in error, the Epiphany is renewed. The Epiphany is continued also in the faithful soul when her love of Christ becomes more fervent and steadfast, for then Christ begins to manifest Himself and lives in her by His Divine grace. While at Christmas we admire the union of Our Lord's Divinity with His humanity, at the Epiphany, we honor the spiritual union of our souls with Him. (cf this website)

Friday, January 06, 2012

Priest Miraculously Healed

When I was interviewed on the Journey Home Program on EWTN in 2007, I told the story of how my wife was diagnosed with an incurable and exceedingly rare lung cancer and the way in which we dealt with it by twisting scripture and trying to "claim our healing." At the time we had one 6 month old infant and I was in a very high powered and stressful medicine residency in Philadelphia. Some of the folks in our church convinced us that Jesus would heal my wife, as long as we believed and did not waver in our faith. Acting in faith, we conceived another child and continued to pursue the healing despite worsening x ray reports. To maintain this non-wavering faith in spite of the obvious progression of the cancer was a very hard and arduous task to continue for 8 years!

In spite of thousands of prayers and my fasting from Tuesday evenings to Thursday mornings for several years at a time, God called her home. Not our will but His. Jesus allowed us to share His cup of suffering in some small way, though we didn't realize it at the time because we did not understand the concept of redemptive suffering enunciated so clearly by Saint Paul in Scripture.

After the interview aired in December 2007, I received over 80 e-mails and one of them was from a Christian who asked why I don't believe that God can heal anymore. I gently explained that I certainly do believe God can supernaturally heal but in His timing if it is His will. As a matter of fact in Catholicism, a miracle is one of the ways that we are assured that a person has reached sainthood and is intercessing for us from heaven.

Here is a link to a story from a Catholic priest who was miraculously healed of paraplegia through the heavenly intercession of Blessed Father Seelos.
Catholicism has never ceased believing that God can do miracles, as dispensational protestant sects have. One of Saint Francis DeSales talking points to the Calvinists of Chablais in the 1600's was that the Catholic faith still had miracles occurring on a regular basis compare to the paucity of miracles in protestantism. The main miracle in Catholicism happens every day across the planet. The God of the universe comes to us in the appearances of bread and wine on every altar where the Holy Mass is validly celebrated. That's a miracle we can all experience!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

We Are The 99%

Monday, January 02, 2012

Now For Something Completely Different: Hang Drum Uke Duet

Over the Christmas break I was surfing utube music videos (which at times can be a perilous thing to do) and came upon this instrument called a hangdrum. It is newly invented percussion/melody instrument made in Sweden. The sound was mesmerizing and for a brief second thought it would be great to own one. It turns out that they are over 2000 dollars and you need to fly to Sweden to buy one and there is a waiting list a mile long. Enough said, I opened up my iPhone, searched the app store and found one and downloaded it for 99 cents!

So here's a song I wrote and recorded combining the hang drum iPhone app with my grandmother's 1917 Martin soprano ukulele. I thought they went together well, something old and something new etc... I call it Uke Hang Opus No. 3

Uke HangDrum Opus No. 3 by Russ Rentler

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Solemnity of Mary, The Mother of God

On January 1st, the Church celebrates the solemnity of Mary as the Mother of God. This day used to be the feast of the Circumcision of our Lord, but Pope Paul the 6th in 1974 changed it to the feast we celebrate today.   Calling Mary the Mother of God is first, scriptural and secondly, in keeping with how Mary was viewed by the Church from antiquity.

Pope Paul VI:

"In the revised arrangement of the Christmas season, we should all turn with one mind to the restored solemnity of the Mother of God. This feast was entered into the calendar in the liturgy of the city of Rome for the first day of January. The purpose of the celebration is to honor the role of Mary in the mystery of salvation and at the same time to sing the praises of the unique dignity thus coming to “the Holy Mother… through whom we have been given the gift of the Author of life.” This same solemnity also offers an excellent opportunity to renew the adoration rightfully to be shown to the newborn Prince of Peace, as we once again hear the good tidings of great joy and pray to God, through the intercession of the Queen of Peace, for the priceless gift of peace. Because of these considerations and the fact that the octave of Christmas coincides with a day of hope, New Year’s Day, we have assigned to it the observance of the World Day of Peace" (Paul VI, Marialis Cultus, Feb. 2, 1974, no.5).

 From the Scriptures:

The prophet Isaiah foretold that a virgin would conceive and bear a Son, and His name would be Emmanuel. Literally the word, also spelled Immanuel, means in Hebrew, “with us [is] God.” This is the explanation given by St. Matthew, when he described the event of Joseph’s angelic message: not to be afraid to take Mary as his lawful wife, after she was found to be with child (Mt. 1:23).

The evangelist Luke is equally clear. When Mary asks how she can become the Mother of the Messiah, the angel answers by telling her, “the Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you. And therefore also the Holy One who shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). What his disciple said was repeated by St. Paul, who told the Galatians, “God sent His Son, born of a woman” (Gal. 4:4).

Moreover, when Mary came to visit her cousin, Elizabeth’s first words were astonishment. The unborn John leapt in his mother’s womb for joy, and Elizabeth exclaimed, “And how have I deserved, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42).

The early Fathers of the Church were unanimous in venerating Mary as God’s Mother. Who could improve on the statement of St. Ignatius of Antioch, writing in his letter to the Ephesians, on his way to martyrdom in Rome? Says Ignatius, “Our God, Jesus Christ, was carried in Mary’s womb.” He was, according to Ignatius, “from the seed of David, it is true, but by the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:3).

Not surprisingly, by the third century, the Greek writers coined the name Theotokos (Theos = God, and tokos = mother) to describe the Mother of Jesus. And before the end of the fourth century, St. Gregory Nazianzus boldly declared, “If anyone does not recognize the Holy Mary as the Mother of God, he is separated from God” (Letter 101, 4). (cf Fr. John Hardon)

Luther Used Sacred Tradition to Defend The Eucharist

Who, but the devil, has granted such license of wresting the words of the holy Scripture? Who ever read in the Scriptures, that my body is the same as the sign of my body? or, that is is the same as it signifies? What language in the world ever spoke so? It is only then the devil, that imposes upon us by these fanatical men. Not one of the Fathers of the Church, though so numerous, ever spoke as the Sacramentarians: not one of them ever said, It is only bread and wine; or, the body and blood of Christ is not there present.
Surely, it is not credible, nor possible, since they often speak, and repeat their sentiments, that they should never (if they thought so) not so much as once, say, or let slip these words: It is bread only; or the body of Christ is not there, especially it being of great importance, that men should not be deceived. Certainly, in so many Fathers, and in so many writings, the negative might at least be found in one of them, had they thought the body and blood of Christ were not really present: but they are all of them unanimous.

Regarding the Eucharist he also said: "For it is dangerous and dreadful to hear or believe anything against the unanimous testimony, faith, and doctrine of the entire holy Christian Church, as it has been held unanimously in all the world up to this year 1500."

So when sola scriptura was no longer helping Luther resolve the issue of whether or not the Eucharist is indeed the body and blood of Christ, he resorted to the Church Fathers and their unanimous consent in upholding the belief in the Real Presence.

At the end of the day, either the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ (validly confected) or it is the doctrine of devils. Why would a small disparate group of reformers who broke away from the Church of the apostles be correct on this doctrine using their personal interpretation of scripture while all of Christendom for 1500 years stumbled around in the dreary cloud of doctrinal darkness believing a false and heterodox fable? It doesn't follow logic that the earliest Christians were incorrect about Eucharistic theology, (including those who were discipled by Jesus  himself ) but Zwingli and Bucer and Calvin got it right!

Renowned Protestant historian of the early Church J. N. D. Kelly, writes: "Eucharistic teaching, it should be understood at the outset, was in general unquestioningly realist, i.e., the consecrated bread and wine were taken to be, and were treated and designated as, the Savior’s body and blood" (Early Christian Doctrines, 440).