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, March 31, 2012

Reason #735 To Be Catholic: Public Worship Is All About Jesus

That is just one of my many Reasons To Be Catholic. I love the Mass so much because there is very little opportunity for individuals to inject his personal agenda, pride, spiritual mojo or whatever. Even the celebrant (Priest) is ordered by the liturgy and doesn't own it. The Mass is all about Jesus and the opportunity to unite ourselves and our sufferings to Him, offering ourselves to Him. This is reasonable worship*. It is not about how we look, or how we are made to feel or  how we "appear" to express our devotion to God in the eyes of others.

*I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.(Rom. 12;1)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fast and Pray for Religious Liberty

Today, the Catholic bishops of Pennsylvania have called for a day of prayer and fasting above and beyond the usual Friday abstinence. The purpose of this fast is to pray that the HHS mandate be overturned and that religious liberty will not be taken away from all Americans. Join with us to fast and pray today. Remember, this is not a Catholic issue or an issue about contraception. This is all about an egregious attack on our constitution and the religious liberties and rights of conscience that it protects. Here's the link to the Catholic bishop's site.

"Throughout history, Catholics in times of need have turned to God through prayer and fasting, as these practices allow us to grow closer to the Lord, inspire us to do His will and invoke His protection in answer to our prayers.

During the Fridays of Lent, the faithful are obliged to abstain from eating meat. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, Catholics are also asked to fast – eating only one full meal, and, if necessary, two much smaller meals – to aid our spiritual life. Recognizing the efficacy of prayer and fasting as well as the challenges we face in overcoming the recent attack on our religious freedom, we, the Bishops of Pennsylvania, request that all Catholics dedicate the regular Lenten Friday practice of prayer and abstinence as well as the additional practice of fasting on Friday, March 30, to the preservation of religious liberty. On that day, offer your sacrifice for the cause of religious liberty, that the Church may be granted the basic right to practice what she preaches, and for our political leaders, that their eyes may be opened to the rights of all Americans, including those of faith. We will join with the over 3 million Catholics in Pennsylvania to mark this day of prayer, fasting and abstinence for religious liberty."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Misconceptions About the Sacrament of Confession

Here's an excellent post by Fr. Paul Wharton on confession. Every Catholic should read this and share it with non-Catholic Christians, especially at this special time of year.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Anglican Communion Votes Down "Covenant"

Looks like the Anglican's have voted to reject a "covenant" or binding agreement to limit the theological wanderings of their 40 member churches. Sadly, this will lead to even further splintering of this communion with no central authority to guide their faith and morals. The Catholic Church already did this 1687 years ago in a sweltering hot summer in Nicea in 325 AD (Council of Nicea). It's a little "covenant" called the Creed. Which incidentally, was put together by the bishops of the Catholic Church a full 57 years before the bible as we now know it was put together and canonized by this same Church (Council of Rome 382 AD)  From the article linked above: 
"In fact, Williams had little more than the force of his own personality to try and win over skeptics. The archbishop of Canterbury has no power directly over Anglican churches — either to adopt his policies or to keep them from adopting their own.
Without a central core of acceptable behavior to unite the global communion, Williams warned of the risk of "piece-by-piece dissolution."

This is like Deja Vu all over again, but hopefully this will ultimately lead more Anglicans to come back to unity with the Church.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Catholic College Kids Serve the Poor

Here's a story about some Catholic college kids helping the poor on their Spring break. These kids are going to be the future of the Church! This is further evidence that the new "springtime of evangelization" is coming.  The best part is that the students themselves are the ones who will be changed by their direct encounter with Jesus in the poor and will take that back home with them to their families and friends. Very cool.

Bread of Heaven

Bread of Heaven by Russ Rentler

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Sisters Preaching It in Pittsburgh

                                             Religious Freedom Rally in Pittsburgh PA, 3/23/12

Sisters of  Reparation  to the Most Sacred Heart rally against the HHS mandate   (H/T Catholic Vote)
If you want to see the fruits of the New Evangelization check out these sisters. They are faithful to the Church and will bring many souls into the Kingdom by their apostolate and prayers. If you know of a young lady who you think may have a calling, tell them to look into these gals!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Allentown's Religious Freedom Rally

Here's the news story.

Hahn's Solo ! (Dr. Scott Hahn, that is)

I have always admired Dr. Hahn for his leaving everything in his life to follow Jesus into the Catholic Church. I have always enjoyed his teachings and writings about Scripture. I believe even he may someday be a Doctor of the Church. But after seeing his chops on a Fender Tele rocking with Matt Maher, I have a new found appreciation for this ex-reformed, now Catholic convert and world-renowned Catholic theologian and professor.

Religious Freedom Rally 3/23/12, Allentown, PA

Father Scott Ardinger of Bethlehem, PA telling it like it is!

First They Came For the Catholics...

Today in Allentown Pennsylvania, over 250 people gathered for the National Rally for Religious Freedom. This was a non-political, non-sectarian event  hosted and supported by all who wish to let the government know that we are opposed to the egregious attack on our religious liberties by the Obama HHS Mandate.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pious Union of Saint Joseph

On the solemnity of Saint Joseph this week, I "found" this organization that is a confraternity of priests, religious and the laity who pray for the sick and dying each day. Saint Joseph's feast day was a particularly difficult day at the nursing home. One of my patients was an elderly man in the end stages of dementia who was starting to actively die. Unfortunately his wife was very upset by the process and basically nagged me repeatedly to "hurry it up." First, it was: "just stop all his meds." Then it was: "please , please take off his oxygen, then it finally was, "can't you just give him more morphine now?"  The patient was completely comfortable with no signs of distress and was not suffering as best as I could tell. My heart was truly saddened as I tried to explain the process of dying and the indications for morphine and the physician's Hippocratic Oath that made me promise to not hasten a person's death.  Finally, I told her that this day was the feast of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of a happy death and I tried to comfort her by explaining that God was with her husband and through the prayers of Saint Joseph, he would take him to heaven shortly. (most likely requiring a purging first, which I didn't mention )
  My next patient was a not-so-elderly man suffering from metastatic liver cancer with a lung full of fluid with severe pain, weakness and shortness of breath. At this point, there is very little I can do except for pain control so I basically just sat and listened to him for a long time. He told me he had made his peace with God, but wondered why he had to suffer so. He was of the Jewish faith so I shared a bit about Job and tried my best to encourage him. I told him I would remember him in my prayers that evening and I left the room with him thanking me for talking with him.
  I went home that night burdened with the thought of how I can help these people even more than I already am. Because of medicare rules, they are not yet eligible for hospice, so they can't get the social and pastoral support they and their families really need, until they run out of medicare nursing days, and by that time they have already expired. (Actually, they can get hospice nurses but they would lose their medicare payment for the nursing home stay which is 499 dollars a day, and the family would have to pay!)
We do have three Catholic Churches nearby but the priests are already working as hard as they can and can't drop everything to get to my facility, though they often try.
   I was perusing the web when I got home and found the link above to the Pious Union of Saint Joseph. The sole purpose is to join with others to pray daily for the sick and the dying who will enter eternity that day. All you have to do to join the confraternity is to commit to praying this prayer daily:

"O St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus Christ and true spouse of the Virgin Mary, pray for us and for the suffering and dying of today."

I realized this is something I can do and I have joined the Pious Union of Saint Joseph to daily pray for the sick and dying. In general, I usually do pray daily as I walk into the nursing home but this will be a great help as I know the prayers of Saint Joseph are powerful and specific to this situation that I daily find myself in. Why not pray about joining yourself? The world is in need of prayers for those who no one is praying for and Christ has given us the precious Communion of Saints for just such a purpose.

"Never Leave Peter because of Judas."

"Never Leave Peter because of Judas."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More Thoughts on Jimmy Carter's New Theology

Magister from over at the Bedlam or Parnassus makes an excellent point when he says that you know something is wrong with someone's theology when commenter's on the HuffPo are even recognizing it.
From the combox at HuffPo:

"Sorry for you (bible) thumpers, Carter just gave the game up with one line:
"Every worshiper has to decide if and when they want those particular passages to apply to them and their lives."
After that, religion has no credibility since you can pick and choose what you want to follow."

Magister sums it all up with this statement:

 "Just as no one should take seriously such lunatic pronouncements, so people should not accept the random declarations of what this or that verse of the Bible really means when offered by just any Tom, Dick, or Jimmy.

Ah, if only there were some sort of, oh, I don't know, maybe a teaching authority within the body of the Church universal that could help here, a body of teachers (magistri), a magisterium, perhaps?"

(Full disclosure: Magister is not a Catholic, he is a reformed christian but thinks with the mind of the Church. )

Father Ciszek's Cause For Canonization Coming Closer to Reality

See this article about Father Ciszek, a priest from our diocese (Allentown) who may be beatified, the first step towards canonization.  Briefly, Fr. Ciszek was ministering in the Soviet Union when he was captured and imprisoned by the Russians for over 20 years in brutal conditions near the Arctic circle. I first heard of Father Ciszek when I read his Prayer of Surrender. It meant so much to me because it was a prayer asking God to help us unite our suffering to Christ's for the purpose of His body. This doctrine of redemptive suffering has really resonated with my wife and I and was what initially led Deborah to the Church. The prayer was so important to me, it inspired the composing of my song, The Offering.

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

Do the Baptists Need a Magisterium?

With Jimmy Carter's new book  about the Bible we see how his private interpretation of it gives him the right and authority to justify homosexual unions. No one in his denomination can tell him he is wrong! Why? Because he left Southern Baptists when they disagreed with his interpretation and joined another sect of baptists that allow for his interpretation.  " I’m a Baptist, and I believe that each congregation is autonomous and can govern its own affairs. So if a local Baptist church wants to accept gay members on an equal basis, which my church does by the way, then that is fine. If a church decides not to, then government laws shouldn’t require them to."    (By the way, the Catholic faith accepts "gay" members as well, they just don't condone the lifestyle or approve of homosexual unions)
   There's no arguing with former President Jimmy Carter when it comes to his interpretation of the Bible. This is how he believes God is leading him to interpret it. Once again, without a magisterium, an individual with his personal interpretation of the bible essentially becomes his own pope and magisterium. If you don't believe it, just look at the thousands of sects that all believe they each, individually have the most correct and accurate interpretation of scripture.

Our Lady of Lourdes and The Enlightenment

Check out this great post discussing how miracles , such as those at Lourdes, fly in the face of the "enlightenment" mentality of secular culture.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Solemnity of Saint Joseph

 Today the Universal Church celebrates the feast of Saint Joseph. It is a solemnity, the highest order of feasts because it celebrates one who is so important in salvation history. All solemnities are feasts but not all feasts are solemnities (Click here to understand the difference)  In today's Mass, a solemnity, we prayed the Creed as well as the Gloria, which are normally  only prayed for Sunday Mass.

Saint Joseph was the foster father of Jesus and descendant of King David and he is the patron saint of the whole Church as well as families and carpenters. He is also know as the patron saint of a Happy Death. Tradition has it that he died peacefully in the arms of Jesus and Mary. Thus we invoke his intercession for others as they approach their physical death that they too would be carried to God in the presence of Jesus and his mother Mary.

 Saint Joseph is my patron saint and I often ask him for his intercession. I was born at Saint Joseph's Hospital in NJ, my middle name is Joseph, and  now as a Catholic,  attend Saint Joseph the Worker  Catholic Church. I asked for Saint Joseph's intercession to sell my house in the beginning of an incredibly difficult real estate market 4 years ago and  God answered my prayers through his intercession.
                                                                A statue of Saint Joseph in my studio

I have named my studio St. Joseph Studios, as I can hear the bells of Saint Joseph in my home which is conveniently just down the street from the Church. In my last house, my studio was called Loud Train Studios (you can figure out why)

Here's a neat site with devotions to Saint Joseph.

Stairway From Heaven

Here's a unique story that tells of a lone carpenter who showed up at a monastery chapel in Sante Fe to construct a staircase using no nails or screws in the late 19th century.

Could Saint Joseph have built the staircase for these sisters who prayed a novena to Saint Joseph? Or perhaps it was just an itinerant carpenter who God moved to answer the sisters' prayers. On this Solemnity of Saint Joseph today, it's an interesting thought.  Saint Joseph pray for us.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Final Saint Patrick's Feast Day Offering- Morrison's Jig

Smells, Bells and the Book of Kells

 In honor of Saint Patrick's Feast Day celebrated by the Universal Church, I am re-posting a blog I wrote several years back illustrating the true nature of "Celtic Christianity."

Recently, there has been an interest in Celtic Culture spurred on by the Titanic and Braveheart movies and we have the influence of Celts in popular music and the Christian church too. There are numerous "Celtic worship" CD's available (I have several) and for a time, the sure way to score a hit on top 40 radio was to include the plaintive wail of the penny whistle, or the bleating sound of warm air being squeezed from a sheep's bladder under the armpit of a Scotsman. There have even been recent popular Christian books written describing early Celtic Christianity as innovative and vibrant and thoroughly distinct from the Roman Church. Unfortunately, their history is basically reconstructed because of a distinct anti-Catholic bias.

My question is this? Was Celtic Christianity as spread to Ireland by St. Patrick (under authority of Pope Celestine who sent him) truly similar to American Evangelical Christianity?

Meaning  was early Celtic faith non-sacramental, independent, and with the role of the Blessed Virgin relegated to a reading in Luke, Chapter 1 around Christmas time?

The Book of Kells is one of the most famous books in the history of the world and was completed in about 800 AD but may have been started 1-200 hundred years before. It was written in Latin, not to confuse the Celts, but because Latin was the language of scholars in all cultures and therefore was truly a universal way of communicating the written word. The Mass in Latin has been derided as a way of keeping the common man from understanding the gospels, but the reality is it is the language of Roman Culture which at one time ruled the entire ancient world.

The manuscript contains transcriptions of the four Gospels, lavishly illustrated and ornamented. It is the most elaborate manuscript of its kind to survive from the early Middle Ages and most Celtic iconography derives its inspiration from its pages.

The scribes and artists who created the Book were Columban monks who lived in a monastery on the remote island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland. The monastery was founded late in the sixth century by an Irish monk, St Colm Cille.

At the time the book was produced, Irish monks were renowned throughout the rest of Europe for their work as scribes and illustrators. These Irish monks practiced a monastic life but participated in the sacraments of the Church including the Blessed Sacrament as well as the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Interestingly, when missionaries from the continent came to Ireland, private confession was taken back to the rest of the Catholic Church and was instituted by Rome as the way to receive the sacrament. Prior to this confession and reconciliation was a public affair and the penitents had to confess their sins in front of the entire Church and the penance given often tooks months to perform! (Ouch!) Remembering of course, doing penance is not for the forgiveness of sins, only Jesus can forgive sins through the priest. Penance is making restitution for the temporal consequences of your sin, but I digress.

My main point was that Celtic Christianity was thoroughly Catholic in doctrine though there were definitely some variances which the Church corrected (See my this post)

The photo above is from the Book of Kells. Needless to say, they understood the role of Mary in salvation history. So the next time you hear the plaintive wail of the Northumbrian pipes and your heart waxes warm towards those good old days of Celtic Christianity, remember it was always smells (incense), bells (rung during the Consecration), and the Book of Kells (Gospels)!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Tomorrow we celebrate the heroic virtue and faith of Saint Patrick, a fifth century bishop, missionary and planter of Churches on the Emerald Isles.
In honor of St. Patrick I offer you my arrangement of Be Thou My Vision. I first heard this hymn sung in my previous evangelical church. I of course had no idea that the melody of this song was from the 6th century based on a song called Slaine written in honor of Saint Patrick. He defied the pagan king by lighting candles on Easter's Eve, knowing he was risking his life by openly celebrating the Resurrection. The king actually admired his moxy and did not imprison or kill him!
The melody has always been attractive to me and I released an arrangement of it played on a 1993 Martin D41 on Scarecrow's Lament CD. where you can down load it in most glorious stereo for 99 cents. All my guitar parts on each CD are recorded with two mics in XY pattern that are then widely panned on mixdown giving that full sound that fills your head, particularly with a good pair of headphones

Here's my live u tube version on a Martin 00015s in DADGAD (of course)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sleeping Giant-A Parody of All Along the Watchtower Concerning the HHS Debacle

Free down load!

Catholic Multi-Media Evangelization: Goodness Reigns Film School

"The purpose of the Goodness Reigns Film School is to empower Christians to spread the good news of Jesus Christ using video." Check out this u tube channel of this young Catholic who is obeying the Holy Father's call to cast out into the deep in the New Evangelization through film media

Protestant Seminary Ultimately Led to Catholic Conversion

Rebecca was a Methodist seminarian when she realized that she needed to find an absolute truth to escape the theological liberalism she was experiencing in seminary. The books she read that comforted her the most were written by Catholics. Here's her story at Why I'm Catholic.

"Have You Been Born-Again?" or How Calvin’s View of Salvation Destroyed His Doctrine of the Church”

 Dr. David Anders, Catholic convert from Calvinism has a great article over at Called to Communion. He points out the evolution of Calvinist theology over the past 450 years and how it has affected the relationship of the believer to the body of Christ.

"As a very young child, I believed that salvation came through recitation of a mantra: the sinner’s prayer. As I grew older, I learned to nuance this with a more thorough understanding of the doctrines of grace, justification, and election. Eventually, the question of sacraments arose. And then the relationship between assurance and the moral life. As I surveyed the Reformed tradition, I learned that there was literally no consistent way of framing these issues. As clear as I once thought salvation was, I learned that there was simply no universal Protestant answer to the question, “How do I get to Heaven.” Now I thank Heaven for the clarity of the Catholic Church." Dr. Anders

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

National Catholic Bible Conference Coming to Philadelphia!

This summer, the NCBC will be in Philly! Just 55 miles as the crow flies from where we live.
Converts from evangelical Protestantism, Dr. Scott Hahn, Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins along with Edward Sri and others will be presenting.

Chastity in America

With the current  attack on all things pure, good, and holy in our culture, the Catholic Church fights back at a grassroots level explaining the need for chastity of mind, heart and soul. This is a maligned and misunderstood concept and is not for singles only. We are to remain chaste in marriage as well. The Pure in Heart organization is providing the wherewithal for young people to stay pure in opposition to the  current our society is moving in.
Check out Seth DeMoor's interview with a gentleman from Pure in Heart apostolate.

 Pope Benedict recently encouraged the American Church on this very topic.
  "In this great pastoral effort there is an urgent need for the entire Christian community to recover an appreciation of the virtue of chastity. The integrating and liberating function of this virtue (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2338-2343) should be emphasized by a formation of the heart, which presents the Christian understanding of sexuality as a source of genuine freedom, happiness and the fulfillment of our fundamental and innate human vocation to love. It is not merely a question of presenting arguments, but of appealing to an integrated, consistent and uplifting vision of human sexuality. The richness of this vision is more sound and appealing than the permissive ideologies exalted in some quarters; these in fact constitute a powerful and destructive form of counter-catechesis for the young.
"Young people need to encounter the Church’s teaching in its integrity, challenging and counter-cultural as that teaching may be; more importantly, they need to see it embodied by faithful married couples who bear convincing witness to its truth."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Holy Painting!

David Garibaldi: Jesus Painting

Are There Born Again Catholics?

                                                             (a 2 or 3rd century baptism)

A reader asked me after reading my post "The Reason Why I Blog:"  

So does this mean you are a born again Catholic? Why are not all Catholics born again? Why are there different sects inside the Catholic church? Are all of them recognized by the pope?

My response was this:

Dear Dianna:

The long story is that I would suggest you read my conversion story, here.
The short answer is yes, I am born again, but the biblical definition of that is this:  I have been baptized by water into Christ, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, which is what the term Born Again has meant for almost 1800 years. In the first 18 centuries of Christianity, no one referred to someone as a "Born-again Christian". This term was used by fundamentalist Protestants to describe a personal spiritual re-awakening, but the New Testament as well as all the Christians for the most of Christendom defined born again as being baptized. You can read an excellent post on this here . The concept of asking Jesus to be your personal Lord and Savior making you "born again" is not biblical. Should we all ask Jesus to be our savior and invite Him into our hearts? Yes, absolutely, but that one-time affirmation doesn't guarantee that person a place in heaven. If he or she is born again through the waters of baptism which the bible says "saves you" and repents and lives a life pleasing to the Lord, they will ultimately attain heaven.

"Whereunto baptism being of the like form, now saveth you also: not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the examination of a good conscience towards God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
 (1 Peter) 

As Catholics we believe the sacrament of baptism is what ultimately saves us, assuming we cooperate with Christ and live a life pleasing to him, "so as to attain the goal, as Saint Paul hoped. But baptism isn't a irrevocable ticket to heaven if you choose to live like the devil! Neither is asking Jesus "to be your Lord and savior" in the Sinner's Prayer.

I was Catholic kid in the 60's and early 70's who was baptized as a baby, but as an adolescent was in a dark place spiritually, going to Mass but living like the devil. I had a conversion at a bible study where I did surrender my life to Jesus. At the time that was called being "born again", but it was really just a moment of surrender, which the Lord honored. Sadly, I left the Catholic Church because this group of Protestants were anti-Catholic and taught me many false and libelous things about the Church, which I should have looked into for myself. Thanks be to God, I returned to the Catholic faith 7 years ago.

Are there born again Catholics? All Catholics are born again meaning they have been baptized. Are all baptized Catholics living faithfully for Christ? Sadly the answer is no, not all, and this can be found in any protestant church as well. When I was a protestant, there were many who would say they had been saved and "born again" on a Sunday, but lived a very different life the rest of the week.
     I, as a physician, had many of these folks as patients, and unfortunately, being "born again" did not keep them from worldly vices, nor make them any better at paying their bills for my services than the "non-born again" patients. So my personal experience tells me that calling yourself a "born again Christian" doesn't always translate into someone who is truly attempting to live for Christ on a consistent basis.  I proved this in my own life by getting into some serious sin but still thinking I was on the path to heaven because I said a prayer at a bible study as a 14 year old kid. If I had died in my sins during some of those occasions, I am fairly certain I would not have found myself in heaven. Hypocrisy unfortunately comes in all shapes and sizes and is prevalent among all religions, Catholic and non-Catholic. People are people, and there is no guarantee that one group will behave any better than another. The Church is full of wheat and tares, the Lord tells us, and only at the end does He know and decide who ends up on the threshing floor to be tossed out and burned.  That being said though, I still maintain that being Catholic and receiving God's amazing grace through the sacraments is definitely the best formula for saintly living,  Catholics have a 2000 year track record of lives lived with heroic virtue based on their receiving all the grace He offers. Look at John Paul 2, Mother Teresa, St. Maximilian Kolbe,  St. Edith Benedicta Stein etc.

To answer your final question, there are no sects in the Catholic Church. We are all (theoretically, not always practically) in submission to the pope in Rome, meaning we trust that God leads and guides the Church through him. (We don't worship the pope, by the way) 

There are different rites within the Church, meaning some use a different liturgy- the byzantine rite, for instance, but we are all still Catholic. That is what it means to be Catholic=universal, all as one, believing the same doctrines. Catholicism by definition IS THE CHURCH Jesus started, and there are no sects within it. Hope this helps.

Here is another excellent answer to Are Catholics Born Again?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Christian Unity Banjo Opus

I don't think this is what Jesus had in mind when He prayed we would be one.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Quaerere Deum: To Seek God

A new film about the monastic life of a relatively new order, the monks of Norcia, started at the birthplace of St. Benedict. It is drawing vocations from around the world.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Sometimes The Bible is Hard to Understand

I love the Bible. I spent many hours as a young teen reading, quoting and thinking about the Scriptures. My favorite books were the Psalms because I could relate to David's struggles and his desire to seek after God. Granted, I wasn't running for my life, just trying to get good grades in calculus and figure out how to treat my girlfriend in a godly way in the 1970's. (and trying to figure out where in the Bible it said I had to cut my hair and stop playing the banjo as I was told by my pastor) I know the Holy Spirit of God inspired men to write the letters and stories later compiled as the Bible, but honestly, sometimes it's just plain HARD TO UNDERSTAND!

For example,  let's look at 1 Corinthians15:29? "Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?"
Now that's not clear, plain and straightforward to me, how bout' you? So much for the perspicuity of Scripture.  (Gee, I wonder why that verse never showed up in vacation bible school as memory verse of the week?) There are over 7 separate interpretations of this verse by protestant theologians. Does this verse means we should baptize people "in proxy" as the Mormons believe? Without a final authority to help steer their thinking, you could see why they could come up with that heresy based on a "plain" reading of this Scripture. Even St. Peter said some of Paul's writings were "hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction as they do other Scriptures." (2 Peter 3:16)

 Other people twist Paul's treatise on faith and the law to "prove" that good works have no value in the process of salvation. (Basically ignoring the Gospels and the Book of James) Folks tend to get in trouble reading the Bible when you exclude or ignore some verses/chapters to "proof text" your own novel theory or doctrine. Or when you remove entire books of the Bible that had been part of the sacred canon since the bible was compiled in the late fourth century by the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The same Church that produced the creed some 75 years before which once and for all settled the issue of the Trinity, which was being debated ferociously at the time. But I digress...
So I know am in pretty good company when I say some Scriptures are Hard to Understand.

   A recent combox discussion had a protestant saying : "Whoever has the best reasons and the least number of contradictions" has the right interpretation of scripture."  What he meant to say was; "whoever has an interpretation that agrees with mine or my denomination's, or pastor's is The Right Interpretation." The fact that in Luther's lifetime a book was published called 200 views of the Lord's Supper ("Ducentæ verborum, 'Hoc est corpus meum' interpretationes", Ingolstadt 1577) clearly illustrates that solo scripture is a bogus and unworkable construct and the bible is not, nor was ever meant to be self-interpretive. There is way too much riding on our eternal destiny to leave the interpretation up to ourselves alone.  Our protestant friends have been touting solo scriptura since the 16th century yet cannot agree among themselves what one must do to be saved based on their varied interpretations of their truncated bible. Even more disastrous is that many contemporary protestant churches are now espousing moral decadence using their own private interpretation of scripture. For example, the Presbyterian Church USA, ELCA Lutherans, many Anglicans, are supporting same-sex relationships and even ordaining practicing homosexuals based on their own interpretation of scripture outside any authority other than themselves.

I bring this up to support my ever strengthening belief in the Teaching Magisterium (office) of the Catholic Church. They guard the final interpretation of Scripture so even though we are encouraged by the Church to read and pray with Scripture, we won't be allowed to come up with a new and novel interpretation of a verse by our own "private interpretation." No matter how good it feels, or right it seems, or has the "evangelium"* on it, the Church does not allow me the option of discerning new and interesting doctrine from my own take on the Bible. As a rebellious teen, I berated my Catholic mom for telling me "You're not supposed to intoypet (yes, she said interpret like that in a New Joisey accent) the Bible yourself !"
Now I can really understand what she meant and why. Maybe if Luther listened to his Catholic Mom, we wouldn't be in this fine kettle of fish that we are in (30,000+ protestant sects). Oh well, my Mom has the last laugh now. Who would ever thought I would return to the Church that doesn't allow me to interpret the Bible on my own ?

*Luther's personal test of canonicity. He said the Epistle of Saint James didn't have the "evangelium on it" and was fit to be used to stoke his stove.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Irrational Beauty of Conversion

Here's a great article pointing to the high number of Catholic conversions in spite of the media's portrayal of the Church's faults.

How Do Some Protestants Explain Away the Catholic Faith?

 Renee Linn  presented a very compelling testimony as to what led her to convert in the blogpost here. Some may not read the whole story so I thought I would re-post one key part of her testimony. I think it is instructive when she reveals how as a Protestant, they were able to explain away Catholicism. She stated that "Protestant apologetics against Catholicism were based on a strategy of “downplaying, denigrating, distorting, and denying” key portions of the Catholic argument."

-We downplayed the importance of the writings of the early Christians. Since no Church Father agreed with us Baptists on the issues of justification by faith alone, sola Scriptura, once-saved/always saved, baptism, the Eucharist, church governance, etc., we ignored their writings. We downplayed Protestant disunity. We downplayed the importance of the question of the origin of the canon of Scripture, a question that can only be answered by recognizing the authority of the Church who discerned the canon.

- We denigrated the holiness of Catholic saints. While rightly proclaiming the fact that all of history is “His-story,” we were willfully blind to the “His-toric” importance of the lives of John Paul II and Mother Teresa, just to mention two examples. Although I have known several godly Protestants (most especially when I was associated with the Taiwan Missionary Fellowship), I know of no 20th- century Protestant examples of the saints that the Catholic faith produces. We also denigrated Protestant converts to Catholicism, routinely implying that no one without an ulterior motive would leave the “truth” of Evangelicalism for the errors of Rome.

- We distorted Catholic beliefs when we presented them, so that they would be easier to refute. The classic examples, of course, are the Protestant arguments against “Mary worship,” or “works-righteousness.” By raging against two Catholic doctrines which do not actually exist, Protestant apologists are able to turn their readers against a hypothetical evil, rather than addressing and refuting actual Catholic teaching.

- We denied the development of doctrine, the key to understanding why the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be proved from Scripture and yet is the valid interpretation of the teaching of the Apostles. As a Protestant, I was relying on development of doctrine as the basis of my Trinitarian beliefs, and yet ignorantly believed that “the Bible alone” was the basis of what I believed and practiced.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Pride and Prejudice: Impediments to Catholic Conversion

Despite the growing number of converts we are seeing coming into the Catholic faith, including some high-profile evangelical leaders and theologians, I still puzzle over why many people won't even give the Catholic faith a moment's consideration.  I was asking my wife this tonight and she looked at me and said: "Well, what was it that kept you from considering it when I was wishing to become Catholic for at least 5 years?"  Hmmm. I thought for a moment and quickly realized two things about myself. I was exceedingly prideful, unwilling to admit that I could possibly be wrong regarding my personal choice of what the Church should be. I chose churches based on what I thought a church should look and feel like based on my personal understanding of scripture and how that church "felt" to me.  I was unwilling to even consider the possibility that I was wrong about the Church I thumbed my nose at as a 14 year old kid! Saint Augustine defined pride as "the love of one's own excellence."  I was filled with my own sense of  excellence in choosing how I should pursue God in my life and even worse,(I am ashamed to admit), I didn't want to even consider that my wife could be correct!  Now I thank her on a regular basis for being open to God's leading because our conversion was the best thing that ever happened to us and our marriage.
  The second vice that keeps many away from considering the Catholic faith is prejudice. The definition of prejudice is "an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason."  I admit that my initial reaction towards Catholicism when my wife was considering returning to the Church was visceral, immediate and not very gentlemanly. I had an extremely unfavorable view of the Catholic faith based on a very poor understanding of it based on being a nominal Catholic growing up without much catechesis (teaching) or positive role-models.  I believe that this is very often a reason why people won't consider the Church. They have a very visceral emotional feeling that forms their opinion but it is very often not based on knowledge, significant thought or reason. Just looking at the many comments in my com box over the years proves this point fairly easily. 
     Archbishop Fulton Sheen once wrote; "There are certain psychological and spiritual conditions which are essential for the discovery of truth, and the most important of these is the virtue of humility. Humility is not a want of moral force; rather humility is a recognition of the truth about ourselves. To explore the Truth in all its complexity there must come moments when we confess ignorance, when we frankly admit that we were mistaken or bigoted or prejudiced."

These are the two things that prevent many Christians from considering the possibility that Catholicism is true. In my own case, I had significant amounts of both these vices running through me.  Would any of my non-Catholic readers be willing to consider that they too may be laboring under their own "Pride and Prejudice." Pray about it.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Baptist Bible Believer Comes into the Fullness of Faith in Catholicism

                                                      Thomas Road Baptist Church
Read this amazing conversion story by Renee Linn:

“The Bible says it…. I believe it…. that settles it!”

If Thomas Road Baptist Church had an unofficial mantra back in the 1990s, that probably would have been it.  Dr. Jerry Falwell was fond of saying that, and I enjoyed hearing it.  I took the Bible seriously, very seriously, and if Scripture made a pronouncement on any given issue, it seemed only reasonable to me to take those verses as literally as possible and to act upon them.  If a Christian couldn’t base his life on the Word of God, then what else was there?

One Sunday morning when Dr. Falwell proclaimed that “everything we believe and do here at Thomas Road comes straight from Scripture,” I took that seriously, too.  Everything we believe and do…. Everything?

My mind began to wander as some obvious exceptions to this bold pronouncement came to mind.  Asking people to receive Jesus Christ into their heart as their personal Lord and Savior?  I knew that Peter and Paul certainly had never read someone the “Four Spiritual Laws” and invited them to ask Jesus into their heart as their personal Lord and Savior.  “Repent and be baptized” was actually the approach taken by the Christians in the book of Acts.

Other discrepancies came to mind.  Altar calls – we had one every Sunday.  I really couldn’t imagine a first-century altar call.  Sunday school?  Unheard of in Bible times as far as I knew.

Not that I felt that this was important.  Asking someone to receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior was simply our way of helping the modern-day, semi-pagan, self-enthralled culture understand that one’s relationship with God must be personal – nothing wrong with that.  Certainly I could find nothing sinister in the Baptist practices of altar calls or Sunday School.   But I knew of at least one deeply held belief that I could not square with Scripture – the belief that children go to Heaven if they die below the age of reason.  I could find no verse in Scripture that taught this doctrine, yet it was the conviction of every Christian I knew, and I believed it myself.

“Everything we believe and do here at Thomas Road comes straight from Scripture….”  What I came away with that day was a new-found understanding of our Evangelical outlook on our beliefs.  We at Thomas Road were certain, despite the lack of any objective evidence, that our beliefs and practices all came straight from Scripture….

On the Richter scale of my soul, this incident was merely a 1.8.  But there had been other, more impressive tremors in the past, most notably when I was teaching overseas.  In the mid 1980s I taught English as a second language at a Christian college in Taiwan, and I was an honorary member of the Taiwan Missionary Fellowship (honorary in that I had not been sent by a missionary organization, yet was employed at a Christian school).  I loved my job, I loved my students, and I loved my fellow teachers. However, I was not interested in leading Bible studies as all my colleagues were doing, the reason being that I had no formal training in theology, and to me the Bible was not an easy book to understand.  I knew that different Christians understood various passages to mean different things.  I really didn’t want to take the responsibility of possibly teaching error to unsuspecting students.

A small group of students finally talked me into holding a weekly Bible study on the book of Acts.  I figured I couldn’t stray too far from the orthodox path in a book which basically details the history of the fledgling body of Christ.  I was also encouraged by the fact that the school library boasted three or four massive theological commentaries.  If I started to get in trouble, I reasoned, I could read what the experts had to say.  I was determined not to lead the students astray.

And we were fine, as long as we stayed in the book of Acts.   Unfortunately, we all enjoyed the Bible study so much that we decided to hold a second one.  I chose the book of 2 Corinthians for that study, a personal favorite, beginning as it does with Paul’s eloquent description of the comfort he received from “the God of all comfort.”  Studying that first chapter of 2 Corinthians, we all became enthusiastic about learning more on the topic of suffering.  We looked up other New Testament verses that deal with this subject.  Eventually we came to Colossians 1:24:

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. “


I will never forget those faces staring at mine in perfect trust, waiting for me to elucidate that verse to them.  I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions?  I wasn’t a theologian, but that verse appeared to be contradicting what I understood of the Christian faith.  I told the students that I would have to look into the subject, and that I would get back to them.

I spent a lot of time in the school library trying to better understand that verse.  Imagine my surprise when I realized that the Protestant theologians I was counting on to answer my question had questions themselves about this verse.  No one gave me an answer.  I knew and found reasonable that there are passages in Scripture that we don’t understand, but this verse seemed so straightforward.  I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions – there don’t seem to be too many ways to understand that.  The problem was that it contradicted our Protestant theology.  As a Protestant, you simply can’t say that when you suffer, you fill up in your flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions.  And yet, that’s what Paul said.  I was baffled, and I eventually had to tell the students that I just couldn’t account for the theological implications of that verse.  Another theological earthquake – 4.3 on my Richter scale.

I married while in Taiwan, and when my husband was accepted as a student at Liberty University, we moved to Virginia, joining Thomas Road Baptist Church.  I had never been a Baptist before, having been raised Methodist, and then attending Pentecostal, non-denominational, Lutheran and Presbyterian churches over the years.  But I liked the fact that Baptists were so bold about their faith, and I believed that all the Protestant denominations were merely different facets of the same beautiful gem of Christianity.  When my husband and I had children, they were “dedicated to the Lord” at Thomas Road, and later attended the Christian school affiliated with the church.

It was in Lynchburg that I first encountered the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  They came to our door telling us that we needed to reject conventional Christianity and embrace their belief system.  Since I had previously read the Koran and the Book of Mormon in an effort to better understand and evangelize Muslims and Latter-Day Saints, I decided to engage the Witnesses.  Two of them came to my house once a week for a year.  They presented their beliefs to me, and I presented mine to them.

Understanding their belief that Jesus is not God, it seemed to me that if I could prove to these ladies from Scripture the doctrine of the Trinity, they would be forced to accept the truth of the Christian belief system.  I bought The Doctrine of the Trinity by Dr. Harold Willmington, a Liberty professor who often spoke at Thomas Road.  The book was full to bursting with verses proving that Almighty God was the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  I could not wait to present this information to the Witnesses.

To my surprise, they sat patiently through my presentation as if biding their time.  Then, it was their turn.  The conversation went something like this:

JW #1:  “Let’s read John 17:3, Renée.  These are the words of Jesus: ‘Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.’”

JW#2 (smiling):  “The truth is right before your eyes. This is what the Bible teaches in a nutshell: There is only one true God.  Jesus Christ is the one sent by the only true God – he himself is not God.”

Me (stammering):  “I have never heard this verse explained that way before…..”

JW#2:  “Well, let’s hurry on to John 8:17, where Jesus chides the Pharisees when they claim that He appears as His own witness and therefore His testimony is not valid.  Jesus’ argument that His testimony is valid is based on the fact that there are two witnesses, ‘I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.’”

 Me (clueless):  “So what?”

JW#2: “So once again we see that Jesus and his Father are separate – therefore, Jesus cannot be God.”

Me:  “Well, yes, no one says that Jesus and the Father are one and the same… I mean, that they are the same – we believe that they are two Persons but both God!

JW#1:  “Renée, can you explain John 20:17?  Jesus is telling Mary Magdalene that He is returning ‘to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’  How can Jesus talk about ‘his Father’ and ‘his God’ if He is God?  And John 14: 1 – ‘Trust in God; trust also in me.’  That means Jehovah God and Jesus are two separate beings, right?”

Like rabbits out of a voluminous theological hat, the verses kept coming – 1 Timothy 5:21, 1 Timothy 2:5… verses that the Witnesses claim show that Jesus is not God.  And 1 Timothy 1:17 topped it all off:

“Now to the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.  Amen.”

 JW#1:  “Renée, do you take that verse literally?”

 Me: “Absolutely!  How else could I take it?”

JW#1 (smiling broadly): “You’ve just proved that Jesus cannot be God!  That verse tells us that God is eternal, immortal and invisible.  Yet as we all know:

1.  Jesus is not eternal – Proverbs 8:22 says concerning Jesus ‘Jehovah brought me forth as the first of his works!’  Colossians 1:15 tells us that Jesus is the ‘firstborn of all creation!’  In Hebrews 1:5 Jehovah God says to Jesus ‘Today I have become your Father!’  Revelation 3:14 calls Jesus ‘the beginning of the creation of God!’
2.  Jesus is not immortal – We don’t have to list all the Bible verses that tell us that Jesus died!  That means he was mortal!
3.  Jesus is obviously not invisible – and yet the Bible tells us that no one can see God and live!

 “So, Renée, according to I Timothy 1:17, which you say you agree with absolutely, there is only one God – and He is not Jesus!

Me (in desperation resorting to verse-slinging): “1 John 5:7!”

JW#1: “Mark 10:18!”

Me: “Titus 2:13!” 

JW#2: “John 14:28!”

Me: “John 10:30!”

JW#1: “1 Corinthians 8:6!”

 Me: “Matthew 28:19!!”

 JW#2: “1 Corinthians 11:3!!”

 Me: “John 5:18!!!”

 Both JWs in chorus: “Philippians 2:5-11!!!”

Fortunately, by this point it was time for them to leave.  I don’t know if they learned anything from that encounter, but I certainly did: While the case for the doctrine of the Trinity can certainly be made from Scripture, it cannot be proven from Scripture.  The verses the Witnesses showed me sounded like a reasonable alternative viewpoint.   I was horrified.  The doctrine of the Trinity is the core belief of Christianity – it tells us who God is.  How could it not be self-evident from Scripture alone?

7.9 on my theological Richter scale….

I providentially found a book called Jehovah’s Witnesses on Trial – The Testimony of the Early Church Fathers by a physician named Robert U. Finnerty.  I had never read anything written by a Christian in the centuries between the writing of the book of Revelation and the 95 Theses, but Dr. Finnerty advocated using the writings of these “church fathers” to witness to the Witnesses.  His reasoning was that:

“… the Bible, which can be a challenge to understand, is easily misinterpreted by those who rend its parts out of context to ‘prove’ their doctrinal presuppositions.  This approach has been raised to a fine art by the followers of Charles Russell…. The church fathers… make it clear that the deity of Christ was at the heart of the Christian faith, and their writings are more difficult to twist in support of erroneous theological formulations.”

I ran to the bookstore to buy a copy of the Apostolic Fathers, and scoured the writings of Ignatius of Antioch to find references to the deity of Christ.  To my delight there were plenty of them, and I shared them all with the ladies when they returned the following week.   Their printed materials instructed them that when Ignatius said “yes,” what he actually meant was “no,” and vice versa.   It was around this time that we decided to discontinue our weekly meetings.  To tell the truth, I had other fish to fry.  My husband had left, and though we did not divorce, I was raising our two children alone with no family in the area.

One day when substitute-teaching, a sixth grader asked me what Catholics believe.  My mind was a startling blank.  I mumbled something about Catholics believing a lot of things that aren’t in the Bible, and how we mustn’t do that – everything we believe and do must come straight from Scripture.  She seemed satisfied, but I wasn’t.  Had she asked me about Muslims or Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses, I could have given her an earful.  But I had never looked into Catholic beliefs.  It had simply never come up.

Deciding to remedy my knowledge deficit, I bought a book called Catholicism and Fundamentalism by a lawyer named Karl Keating.  The author was Catholic, and that suited me fine; I like to hear it “from the horse’s mouth.”  When I began reading the chapter on “The Holy Eucharist,” I could see that Mr. Keating was going to base his argument on John 6.  Not desirous of being deceived by a tricky Catholic lawyer, I decided to read my Bible first and his explanation of the text second.  It seemed to me that he would have to distort the text of John 6 to fit Catholic preconceptions, so I stuck with Scripture.  I picked up my NIV, found John 6, and began to read it, over and over.  This was of course not the first time I had read John 6; as an Evangelical I had read through the New Testament several times, but I was not finding what I thought I would find there.  Jesus states in John 6 quite clearly that He expects us to eat His body and drink His blood.  I knew the standard Protestant treatment of these verses (I had believed them all my life), but as I read the text I could not for the life of me see how anyone can claim that these verses should properly be taken figuratively rather than taken literally.  Why not take Jesus at His word?  After all, Jesus’ words are quite clear:

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.’ The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.  He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.’

Protestants would have us believe that the “eating and drinking” in these verses means “believing in Jesus” or “feasting on the Word of God,” but at that moment that approach to John 6 struck me as ludicrously weak.  I began to suspect that we Evangelicals might be doing exactly what we accused more liberal denominations of doing: reserving the right to take figuratively the parts of the Bible that we don’t believe….

This earthquake was off the scale.  And returning to Keating’s book, I was in for an aftershock.  Keating pointed out that the earliest Christians took John 6 literally, producing as proof a quote from Ignatius of Antioch, the same Ignatius I had begged the Jehovah’s Witnesses to accept as a reliable witness to the beliefs of the first Christians.  In this quote (written around 110 A.D.) Ignatius is talking about the Docetist heresy, the folks who believed Jesus didn’t really die in the flesh on the cross.  He writes:

“Now note well those who hold heretical opinions about the grace of Jesus Christ which came to us; note how contrary they are to the mind of God…. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they refuse to acknowledge that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins and which the Father by his goodness raised up.”

That was all it took.  I looked up from my reading and said to myself, “I have to start attending a church that takes John 6 literally.”  The Bible says it - I believe it – that settles it.

Actually, it wasn’t as easy as that.  It took months before I was brave enough to cross the threshold of a Catholic church, and months more before I got up the courage to enroll in RCIA.  All the while I was studying, dissecting Catholic doctrine, comparing Protestant explanations of the “errors of Romanism” to the actual beliefs of the Catholic Church.  I had done this before with Mormon beliefs and Jehovah’s Witness beliefs, and I had found the Protestant apologetic materials to be reliable guides.  However, this time a disturbing trend emerged.  The Protestant argument against a particular Catholic teaching would seem rock-solid at first glance.  But when I persevered in my investigation, the Catholic answer to the argument would make a great deal of sense, and many times the Protestant argument would completely fall apart.  I began to see that our Protestant apologetics against Catholicism were based on a strategy of “downplaying, denigrating, distorting, and denying” key portions of the Catholic argument.

-         We downplayed the importance of the writings of the early Christians.  Since no Church Father agreed with us Baptists on the issues of justification by faith alone, sola Scriptura, once-saved/always saved, baptism, the Eucharist, church governance, etc., we ignored their writings.  We downplayed Protestant  disunity.  We downplayed the importance of the question of the origin of the canon of Scripture, a question that can only be answered by recognizing the authority of the Church who discerned the canon.
-         We denigrated the holiness of Catholic saints.  While rightly proclaiming the fact that all of history is “His-story,” we were willfully blind to the “His-toric” importance of the lives of John Paul II and Mother Teresa, just to mention two examples.  Although I have known several godly Protestants (most especially when I was associated with the Taiwan Missionary Fellowship), I know of no 20th- century Protestant examples of the saints that the Catholic faith produces.  We also denigrated Protestant converts to Catholicism, routinely implying that no one without an ulterior motive would leave the “truth” of Evangelicalism for the errors of Rome.
-         We distorted Catholic beliefs when we presented them, so that they would be easier to refute.  The classic examples, of course, are the Protestant arguments against “Mary worship,” or “works-righteousness.”  By raging against two Catholic doctrines which do not actually exist, Protestant apologists are able to turn their readers against a hypothetical evil, rather than addressing and refuting actual Catholic teaching.
-         We denied the development of doctrine, the key to understanding why the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be proved from Scripture and yet is the valid interpretation of the teaching of the Apostles.  As a Protestant, I was relying on development of doctrine as the basis of my Trinitarian beliefs, and yet ignorantly believed that “the Bible alone” was the basis of what I believed and practiced.

I sadly came to realize that these “four D’s” added up to a fifth – deceit.  We were deceiving others in our arguments against the Church that Jesus established, and sadly, we had deceived ourselves as well.

Most Protestants investigating the Church never persevere past the initial Protestant arguments, taking them at face value and assuming that there is no Catholic answer to Protestant objections.  Protestants claim the high ground by advertising their belief system as “faithful to Scripture” and condemning Catholic theology as “unbiblical.”  Yet so very many Bible verses are “explained away” in the Protestant system rather than letting them say what they actually say, among them 1 Timothy 3:15,  John 17:20-21, Ephesians 4:11-13, 1 Corinthians 1:11-13, Luke 11:2, John 6: 25-70 (we claimed that “eating and drinking” actually mean “having faith”), Luke 22: 19, 1 Corinthians 11: 27-29, James 2:24, Philippians 2: 12-13 (if I had a dime for every time we explained these two verses away at Thomas Road….), Galatians 5:4-6, 1 Corinthians 13:13, Ephesians 2: 8-10, Matthew 25:31-46, John 15:1-10, II Timothy 2:19, Hebrews 5:9 (Calvin explained this verse away by claiming that “obedience” actually means “faith”), Hebrews 12:14, John 15: 1-5, 1 John 2:6, 1 John 3:10, 1 John 5:13 (how we twisted that verse!), Revelation 2-3 (the NIV actually translates “works” as “deeds” here, in order to avoid the obvious implication of the necessity of works), Revelation 19:6-8, Matthew 10:22, Hebrews 6:4-6, Colossians 1:24, Hebrews 3:14, Hebrews 10:26-27, Romans 11:22, Matthew 16:13-19 (again, many Protestants claim that it is Peter’s “faith” which Jesus referring to),  II Kings 13:21, Acts 19:11-12 (I found this passage especially distasteful – it sounded so Catholic!), John 20:22-23, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, 1 John 5:16-17, I Corinthians 11:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 2 Timothy 1:13-14, John 3:5-8, John 3:22-23, Mark 16:15-16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Titus 3:4-7, 1 Peter 3:21, Luke 1:46-49, Genesis 1:28, Psalm 127:3-5, Matthew 19: 6-9, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, Matthew 19:12, 1 Corinthians 7:32, Proverbs 3:5-6 (leaning on one’s own understanding was the basis for the formation of the Protestant denominations), Nehemiah 8:7-8,  and Acts 8:30-31.   The Bible says it – I believe it – that settles it!

I was reconciled to the Church at the Easter Vigil of 2003, bringing my two children into the Church with me.  They chose to continue attending their Baptist school, although we discussed that it might be hard for them when they identified themselves as Catholics.  And sometimes it has been hard.  My daughter has recently written about the joys and sorrows of being Catholic at a Baptist school in a guest blog at  One episode she did not recount was the time her high school teacher stopped her in the hallway to ask, “Shoshana, do you believe everything the Bible says?”

“Of course!” she answered.

“Then you’re a bad Catholic!” was his arch reply.

Funny, that’s the very reason her mom became Catholic.  The Bible says it – I believe it – that settles it!

Renée Lin works in Research at a medical practice in Central Virginia.

Idolatry of Worship

 DISCLAIMER:  This article may offend some Protestant Christians who have experienced worship of God in a contemporary service as a positive experience. I honor you for your desire to seek God and understand Him the best that you know how and have been brought up to believe.  This following post reflects my personal experience in the charismatic churches I was part of for over 30 years. It is my sincerest desire as you read this that you would be willing to consider the possibility that another equally valid worship of God can be experienced outside your comfort zone.

I have thought about this topic for probably over 20 years, at least 13 years before I even became Catholic.  I have blogged about it several times but this recent article in a Christian website prompted yet another blog post.
As a musician in a very tight  professional worship band for years, I wrestled with the idea that maybe I wasn't worshiping. Maybe I was performing. Even worse, maybe I was causing the congregation to get into the music by my loud pulsing bass lines, instead of truly being touched by God. Doubly worse, could we be confusing the presence of God with the emotional feeling one gets from being at a crowded concert with your favorite band?
    At one point in my tenure as a bass player I bought a wireless transmitter so I wasn't tethered to the space around my amplifier. Despite my normally shy nature, I was caught up in the moment and went into the mosh pit in front of the stage and starting jumping around (worshiping) with my bass. The congregation went wild!  Most likely because they never thought that  "the timid Russ Rentler" would carry on so, but many times since that moment, if the truth be told, I realized I was was just showing off. It had nothing to do with worship of the eternal God, instead it was all about me! Which is just as bad as idolatry. Under the guise of worship, I was jamming, and the congregants loved it.
    This article brings up the question about contemporary worship and whether "post-modern believers" are making an idol of the entertainment-like worship services, making it more about performing vs serving, especially as pertains to the musicians and worship leaders.  As I read the article, I wanted to yell; "Yes, Yes!" I have been thinking this for years and now someone other than myself is writing about it!
     For years before I became Catholic I had this gut feeling that something wasn't right about the increasing volume and intensity of the music at the churches I attended. I was not moved by it and often struggled with why I was playing music for a congregation when I myself didn't hardly "enter in" except for that exception above. Perhaps this is why the Catholic Mass made so much sense and immediately felt like home to me despite 31 years of charismatic-style worship services.

    There is no performance during Mass. As a matter of fact the Church doesn't allow any changes in the words of the Liturgy. There is no room for the priest to "show boat"  and the music is meant to support the responses and the musicians are not there to DRAW ATTENTION to themselves.  If the music is lousy and the cantor is off key, Jesus still becomes present and His Holy Spirit fills the place to the rafters and beyond. If the guitars are out of tune or the organist left his bifocals at home, Jesus is still made present and He is glorified.  If the priest or deacon's homily is nonsensical and difficult to follow, we are still  going to experience Christ in His fullness.  If I don't "feel" like worshiping, I can still participate in the sacrifice of the Mass and receive all the graces He has for me, regardless of my emotional state.
   Worship that is "in Spirit and Truth" should remain accessible to all, regardless of the age of the participants. When my previous churches leaders are in their 60's and 70's and the worship leaders are balding, grey and out of shape, will they still be able to bring down the Holy Spirit in the same fashion as when they were young, nimble and dare I say, better to look at?  Will the congregants as they age still be able to enter into worship when they become hearing impaired requiring hearing aides that often have to be turned off with excessively loud sounds as occurs in the typical contemporary worship service?  Will they be able to worship in the same fashion when they are arthritic and unable to move with the same flexibility as they did in their youth?
    The Church and its worship should be universal for all times and all people of all ages. I believe the Ancient Church founded on Peter and the apostles and its worship of God found in the Liturgy is timeless and will be here until the end of time. Will today's contemporary worship services, focused on the cult of youth and catering to this entertainment-driven, culture be here in 2000 years?

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Conversion Story of Lila Rose

As a young lady in her early twenties, Lila Rose has already accomplished more than most of us ever will in our lifetimes. At the age of 9 years old she became strongly pro-life and continues to this day. At 15 years of age she started which has been instrumental in exposing the criminal aspects of the abortion industry to the point that her actions have led to 61 million dollars being de-funded to Planned Parenthood.
She grew up as a devout Protestant but recently has converted to the Catholic faith. Her story in brief is found here.

Abby Johnson, former Episcopalian and former manager of a Planned Parenthood clinic recently converted after leaving her job and writing an expose of the abortion industry .

Norma McCorvey AKA as Jane Roe in Roe vs Wade, converted to evangelical Protestantism and subsequently completed her journey of faith when she converted to the Catholic faith several years ago.

 Bryan Kemper, former reformed evangelical and founder of Stand True , an international pro-life ministry, recently entered the Catholic faith this past year. His story was told on the Journey Home program one month ago.

Dave Armstrong, former evangelical, came to conversion as a result of spending time in jail with Catholics who were arrested at a protest at an abortion clinic.

There appears to be an interesting correlation that the more one becomes involved in pro-life activities, the closer they come to the Catholic Church. I suspect it is their exposure to the tremendous teachings of the Catholic Church regarding issues of life as well as interacting with many Catholics who are still the majority of those in pro-life ministry.