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, June 30, 2012

Contraception and Protestantism

In the video below, Michael Voris takes issue with Dr Albert Moehler's recent conclusion that it is permissible to use contraception as long as one doesn't buy into the "contraceptive mentality." (The bodily pleasure of intercourse separated from the possibility of creating new life) Though this video focuses on contraception it really is illustrative of the fatal flaw of Protestantism: Each person decides for themselves what is correct regarding faith and morals based on their own or their pastor's interpretation of scripture. Questions for my non-Catholic readers:

 1) If contraception has been banned since the beginning of Christendom and soundly condemned by the reformers Calvin and Luther, why has it become permissible after 1930 when the Anglican's voted to allow it in "special circumstances only?" Can a majority vote make something not a sin?
 2) Using the bible alone, can you come up with a reason why you can contracept when 1900 years of Christianity forbade its use?
3) If Dr. Moehler, head of the Southern Baptists says that the contraceptive mentality is evil, why does your church/denomination encourage contraception? My issue here is not to harp on contraception but to point out the danger that is inherent in a theology based on the personal interpretation of the bible. As an aside- Do some Catholics contracept? Yes, many do, but that doesn't and won't ever change the teaching of the Church regarding contraception. In Protestantism, every denomination changed their view of contraception to accommodate the changing mores of society. Despite bad bishops, liberal priests, errant theologians, the teachings of the Church cannot and will not ever change.

Our New Chapel is Finished!

Our parish, Saint Joseph the Worker in Orefield, Pennsylvania has just completed construction on the new Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. I will have pics to follow after Monday. We will have a wonderful new place to experience Jesus in daily adoration.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Happy Anniversary Pope Benedict!

Today the pope celebrates the 61st year of his ordination to holy orders in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. How fitting that this humble priest and academic theologian should celebrate his ordination to the priesthood on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, pillars of the Church.
Here is a song I wrote to commemorate the election of Pope Benedict XVI to the papacy. This reluctant pope who wished only to retire to read, study, write and play piano nonetheless said, "I will be your humble servant in the vineyard of the Lord" in his 8th decade!

Pope Benedict's Homily on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

29 JUNE 2012
Your Eminences,
Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We are gathered around the altar for our solemn celebration of Saints Peter and Paul, the principal Patrons of the Church of Rome.
Present with us today are the Metropolitan Archbishops appointed during the past year, who have just received the Pallium, and to them I extend a particular and affectionate greeting.
Also present is an eminent Delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, sent by His Holiness Bartholomaios I, and I welcome them with fraternal and heartfelt gratitude. In an ecumenical spirit, I am also pleased to greet and to thank the Choir of Westminster Abbey, who are providing the music for this liturgy alongside the Cappella Sistina. I also greet the Ambassadors and civil Authorities present. I am grateful to all of you for your presence and your prayers.
In front of Saint Peter’s Basilica, as is well known, there are two imposing statues of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, easily recognizable by their respective attributes: the keys in the hand of Peter and the sword held by Paul.
Likewise, at the main entrance to the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, there are depictions of scenes from the life and the martyrdom of these two pillars of the Church.
Saints Peter and Paul. They had conflicts, but became true brothers in the faith and models for all Christian believers
Christian tradition has always considered Saint Peter and Saint Paul to be inseparable:indeed, together, they represent the whole Gospel of Christ.
In Rome, their bond as brothers in the faith came to acquire a particular significance. Indeed, the Christian community of this City considered them a kind of counterbalance to the mythical Romulus and Remus, the two brothers held to be the founders of Rome.
A further parallel comes to mind, still on the theme of brothers: whereas the first biblical pair of brothers demonstrate the effects of sin, as Cain kills Abel, yet Peter and Paul, much as they differ from one another in human terms and notwithstanding the conflicts that arose in their relationship, illustrate a new way of being brothers, lived according to the Gospel, an authentic way made possible by the grace of Christ’s Gospel working within them.
Only by following Jesus does one arrive at this new brotherhood: this is the first and fundamental message that today’s solemnity presents to each one of us, the importance of which is mirrored in the pursuit of full communion, so earnestly desired by the ecumenical Patriarch and the Bishop of Rome, as indeed by all Christians.
In the passage from Saint Matthew’s Gospel that we have just heard, Peter makes his own confession of faith in Jesus, acknowledging him as Messiah and Son of God. He does so in the name of the other Apostles too.
In reply, the Lord reveals to him the mission that he intends to assign to him, that of being the “rock”, the visible foundation on which the entire spiritual edifice of the Church is built (cf. Mt 16:16-19).
But in what sense is Peter the rock? How is he to exercise this prerogative, which naturally he did not receive for his own sake?
The account given by the evangelist Matthew tells us first of all that the acknowledgment of Jesus’ identity made by Simon in the name of the Twelve did not come “through flesh and blood”, that is, through his human capacities, but through a particular revelation from God the Father.
By contrast, immediately afterwards, as Jesus foretells his passion, death and resurrection, Simon Peter reacts on the basis of “flesh and blood”: he “began to rebuke him, saying, this shall never happen to you” (16:22). And Jesus in turn replied: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me …” (16:23).
The disciple who, through God’s gift, was able to become a solid rock, here shows himself for what he is in his human weakness: a stone along the path, a stone on which men can stumble – in Greek, skandalon.
Here we see the tension that exists between the gift that comes from the Lord and human capacities; and in this scene between Jesus and Simon Peter we see anticipated in some sense the drama of the history of the papacy itself, characterized by the joint presence of these two elements: on the one hand, because of the light and the strength that come from on high, the papacy constitutes the foundation of the Church during its pilgrimage through history; on the other hand, across the centuries, human weakness is also evident, which can only be transformed through openness to God’s action.
And in today’s Gospel there emerges powerfully the clear promise made by Jesus: “the gates of the underworld”, that is, the forces of evil, will not prevail, “non praevalebunt”.
One is reminded of the account of the call of the prophet Jeremiah, to whom the Lord said, when entrusting him with his mission: “Behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you!” (Jer 1:18-19).
In truth, the promise that Jesus makes to Peter is even greater than those made to the prophets of old: they, indeed, were threatened only by human enemies, whereas Peter will have to be defended from the “gates of the underworld”, from the destructive power of evil.
Jeremiah receives a promise that affects him as a person and his prophetic ministry; Peter receives assurances concerning the future of the Church, the new community founded by Jesus Christ, which extends to all of history, far beyond the personal existence of Peter himself.
Let us move on now to the symbol of the keys, which we heard about in the Gospel. It echoes the oracle of the prophet Isaiah concerning the steward Eliakim, of whom it was said: “And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open” (Is 22:22).
The key represents authority over the house of David. And in the Gospel there is another saying of Jesus addressed to the scribes and the Pharisees, whom the Lord reproaches for shutting off the kingdom of heaven from people (cf. Mt 23:13).
This saying also helps us to understand the promise made to Peter: to him, inasmuch as he is the faithful steward of Christ’s message, it belongs to open the gate of the Kingdom of Heaven, and to judge whether to admit or to refuse (cf. Rev 3:7). Hence the two images – that of the keys and that of binding and loosing – express similar meanings which reinforce one another. The expression “binding and loosing” forms part of rabbinical language and refers on the one hand to doctrinal decisions, and on the other hand to disciplinary power, that is, the faculty to impose and to lift excommunication. The parallelism “on earth … in the heavens” guarantees that Peter’s decisions in the exercise of this ecclesial function are valid in the eyes of God.
In Chapter 18 of Matthew’s Gospel, dedicated to the life of the ecclesial community, we find another saying of Jesus addressed to the disciples: “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt 18:18). Saint John, in his account of the appearance of the risen Christ in the midst of the Apostles on Easter evening, recounts these words of the Lord: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven: if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20:22-23). In the light of these parallels, it appears clearly that the authority of loosing and binding consists in the power to remit sins. And this grace, which defuses the powers of chaos and evil, is at the heart of the Church’s ministry.
The Church is not a community of the perfect, but a community of sinners, obliged to recognize their need for God’s love, their need to be purified through the Cross of Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ sayings concerning the authority of Peter and the Apostles make it clear that God’s power is love, the love that shines forth from Calvary. Hence we can also understand why, in the Gospel account, Peter’s confession of faith is immediately followed by the first prediction of the Passion: through his death, Jesus conquered the powers of the underworld, with his blood he poured out over the world an immense flood of mercy, which cleanses the whole of humanity in its healing waters.
Dear brothers and sisters, as I mentioned at the beginning, the iconographic tradition represents Saint Paul with a sword, and we know that this was the instrument with which he was killed. Yet as we read the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles, we discover that the image of the sword refers to his entire mission of evangelization. For example, when he felt death approaching, he wrote to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight” (2 Tim 4:7). This was certainly not the battle of a military commander but that of a herald of the Word of God, faithful to Christ and to his Church, to which he gave himself completely. And that is why the Lord gave him the crown of glory and placed him, together with Peter, as a pillar in the spiritual edifice of the Church.
Dear Metropolitan Archbishops, the Pallium that I have conferred on you will always remind you that you have been constituted in and for the great mystery of communion that is the Church, the spiritual edifice built upon Christ as the cornerstone, while in its earthly and historical dimension, it is built on the rock of Peter. Inspired by this conviction, we know that together we are all cooperators of the truth, which as we know is one and “symphonic”, and requires from each of us and from our communities a constant commitment to conversion to the one Lord in the grace of the one Spirit. May the Holy Mother of God guide and accompany us always along the path of faith and charity. Queen of Apostles, pray for us! Amen.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Young People Rebelling Against Contraception

Young Catholic blogger Marc Barnes has launched a website that exposes the myths of artificial contraception and offers an alternative. If more young people could get the straight scoop regarding the extremely negative effects of the Pill, we would have much healthier generations to come. The incidence of breast cancer, heart disease and stroke in younger women has skyrocketed since the widespread use of estrogen-based contraception, but the MSM as well as the scientific community ignores the data.

Bread of Heaven Makes Best of New Catholic Music 2012

Soli Deo Gloria! My new song Bread of Heaven will be included in Rockin' Romans Best of New Catholic Music 2012. All proceeds from the sale of this CD will go to our Haiti Medical Mission. It will be available on iTunes and 

Feast of Saint Irenaeus - Witness of the Early Church's Beliefs

In the middle of the 2nd century lived a Catholic priest, bishop and missionary named Irenaeus. He was a disciple of Saint Polycarp who was a disciple of Saint John, who laid his head upon our Lord's breast at the Last Supper. These are Saint Irenaeus writings against the heresy of the gnostics.

"If our flesh is not saved, then the Lord has not redeemed us with his blood, the eucharistic chalice does not make us sharers in his blood, and the bread we break does not make us sharers in his body.
There can be no blood without veins, flesh and the rest of the human substance, and this the Word of God actually became: it was with his own blood that he redeemed us.
As the Apostle says: In him, through his blood, we have been redeemed, our sins have been forgiven.
We are his members and we are nourished by creatures, which is his gift to us, for it is he who causes the sun to rise and the rain to fall.
He declared that the chalice, which comes from his creation, was his blood, and he makes it the nourishment of our blood.
He affirmed that the bread, which comes from his creation, was his body, and he makes it the nourishment of our body.
When the chalice we mix and the bread we bake receive the word of God, the eucharistic elements become the body and blood of Christ, by which our bodies live and grow.
How then can it be said that flesh belonging to the Lord’s own body and nourished by his body and blood is incapable of receiving God’s gift of eternal life?
Saint Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians that we are members of his body, of his flesh and bones.
He is not speaking of some spiritual and incorporeal kind of man, for spirits do not have flesh and bones.
He is speaking of a real human body composed of flesh, sinews and bones, nourished by the chalice of Christ’s blood and receiving growth from the bread which is his body.
The slip of a vine planted in the ground bears fruit at the proper time. The grain of wheat falls into the ground and decays only to be raised up again and multiplied by the Spirit of God who sustains all things.
The Wisdom of God places these things at the service of man and when they receive God’s word they become the eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ.
In the same way our bodies, which have been nourished by the eucharist, will be buried in the earth and will decay, but they will rise again at the appointed time, for the Word of God will raise them up to the glory of God the Father.
Then the Father will clothe our mortal nature in immortality and freely endow our corruptible nature with incorruptibility, for God’s power is shown most perfectly in weakness."

A Test of Fire

The "Test of Fire" Video, how it came to be, how it's going viral. Read it here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

St. Cyril of Alexandria 444 AD

St. Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, fought with his pen and his eloquence against the Nestorians. He presided in the name of Pope Celestine at the great Council of Ephesus, where the heresy of Nestorius was condemned, and he successfully defended the truth concerning the Mother of God and our Savior in His twofold nature of God and Man. He died in 444.” (1962 Roman Missal)

     Today the Catholic Church celebrates the heroic virtue of Saint Cyril of Alexandria from the fifth century. He was a bishop at the Council of Ephesus that proclaimed dogmatically that Mary was indeed the mother of God. This was done not to exalt the blessed mother, but to further promote the correct nature of who Jesus is, both God and man joined together in the hypostatic union. Not only did his persuasive arguments at the Council of Ephesus lead to the death knell for the Nestorian heresy, but he was also a staunch defender of the Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist.
     Below we see a letter approved by the Council of Ephesus that proves  that the early Church taught that communion was indeed a sacrifice and was the very flesh of Jesus. There is no possibility that the Church taught a symbolic view of the Eucharist from these statements as Protestant Early Church Theologian JD Kelly attests.

  Letter to Nestorius approved by Council referencing the True Presence:

 "Proclaiming the death according to the flesh of the only begotten Son of GOD, that is JESUS CHRIST, and confessing His resurrection from the dead and ascent into Heaven, we celebrate the bloodless sacrifice in our churches; and thus approach the mystic blessings, and are sanctified by partaking of the holy flesh and the precious blood of Christ the Savior of us all. And we receive it, not as common flesh (GOD forbid), nor as the flesh of a man sanctified and associated with the Word according to the unity of merit, or as having a divine indwelling, but as really the life-giving and very flesh of the Word Himself."

 Letter to Calosyrius, Bishop of Arsinoë, referencing the True Presence: 

 "I hear that they say that the sacramental consecration does not avail for hallowing if a portion of it be kept to another day. In saying so they are crazy. For Christ is not altered, nor will His holy body be changed; but by the power of the consecration the life-giving grace still remain in it."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Ultimate Bible Church-The Catholic Church

Why are we the ultimate Bible Church?

1. Our Apostles who started the Catholic Church were infallibly inspired to write the Scriptures.
2. Their successor Bishops were lead into ALL Truth discerning which Gospels and letters actually were inspired from those that were not.
3. We called the newer scriptures the New Testament and when we combined the Old and the New we named this combined collection the Bible.
4. Worship is offered 7 days a week, where scripture is read and sang 7 days a week.
5. We have kept the Bible from error creeping into it for 2000 years.
6. Our Mass is almost 80% scripture based.
7. The Bible is properly interpreted by our church because Christ promised His Apostles and their appointed successors that the Holy Spirit would lead them into ALL Truth. How much Truth? ALL TRUTH!

RISE UP Catholic faithful because the Bible is our book!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Anglican Parish Becomes Catholic

In Towson Maryland this weekend, an entire Anglican parish came into communion with the Catholic faith under the Anglican Ordinariate. The Anglican church began as a result of a king choosing immorality over the truth. He beheaded Saint Thomas More for not approving of his divorce. Also on this past Sunday, we celebrated the feast of Saint John the Baptist who was also beheaded for speaking the truth to another king for who choose immorality over truth.

 "Liberal stances by Anglican leaders, particularly Episcopalians, have driven some clergy and members to the Roman Catholic Church. But Meeks, who studied to become a Catholic priest as a young man, speaks not of rejection but of reunification — becoming one with the "authentic apostolic authority" of the church that dates back 2,000 years."

"Most of us come from a church that could literally not say what it believed," sait Steenson, a former Episcopal bishop. "What is remarkable about the church you are joining is you will never be left in doubt again."

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Lord of the Strings

HHS MANDATE = End of Our Religious Freedom

The HHS Mandate is a threat to religious freedom. This is not a womens' health, abortion, contraception or just a Catholics' issue. Americans of all religions or no religion at all are about to lose their freedom and the constitutional right to obey their conscience.
Let's recall the life and virtue of Saint's Thomas More and John Fisher who were willing to obey their conscience rather than the king.

Thank God for Protestants like Eric Metaxas who made this video and are willing to join with the Universal Church in the fight to prevent the loss of religious liberty.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Luther's Actions Disproved Sola Fide!

Catholics often use Saint James to illustrate the role our works/behaviors have in determining our ultimate destiny. Catholics don't believe we work our way to heaven but by His grace we cooperate with Christ through faith working through love. The scripture tells us  that faith without works is dead and we are not saved by faith alone. Though there are many other examples in scripture which also illustrate this we often use James to help our Protestant brothers see that scripture clearly does not support the novel concept of sola fide, proposed by Martin Luther and subsequently taken up by the other reformers.
      But wait!  The Protestants claim that James 2 really doesn't mean that "we are not saved by faith alone." Instead, they claim that James was talking about a different kind of faith. A "non saving" faith is one explanation they use: "When James says: “Can faith save him?” his meaning is “Can the faith which he says he has save him?” that is, faith which is dead and produces no works; for that is the faith clearly* intended here, as it appears from what follows. To make the meaning more evident, Macknight renders the sentence thus, — “Can this faith save him?” that is, the faith that has not works." (Commentary on the Epistle of James by John Calvin)

      Here is my point in all of this:  I believe Luther knew exactly what Saint James was talking about. I suspect Luther exegeted this verse exactly the same way the Church had for over a thousand years. Luther took this verse at its face value and concluded that these verses in chapter 2 would contradict his new theology of sola fide. He didn't attempt to make it say the opposite of the "plain reading" of scripture as some of the reformers did. Instead, he took an easier route: "Let's throw Jimmy in the stove!" So he criticized the book of James and  attempted to remove it from the canon of the NT.  Luther claimed James was an "epistle of straw" and meant to be cast into the stove because it lacked "the nature of the gospel."
      By these actions and comments we can see that Luther knew sola fide wasn't scriptural and wouldn't fly with that pesky epistle of straw hanging around the back of the bible. His attempt to discredit the epistle of Saint James and remove it is an indisputable proof of this. In his heart of hearts he knew that James was clearly saying that faith without works is dead, but this troublesome "Saint Jimmy" clearly repudiated one of the keystones of his sola system. He would have none of that. Thus we have on record his actions of attempting to remove Saint James thus proving that even Luther himself felt his doctrine of sola fide was  un-supported by Scripture. Why else would he have tried to remove Saint James' epistle from the canon?

"Many sweat to reconcile St. Paul and St. James, but in vain. 'Faith justifies' and 'faith does not justify' contradict each other flatly. If any one can harmonize them I will give him my doctor's hood and let him call me a fool."  -DrLuther 1520

"Saint Paul and Saint James never contradict themselves. One focused on mosaic law, the other on the good behavior that was needed to accompany a proclamation of faith. Clearly Luther was wrong about his sola system by misunderstanding this. If anyone can't see this I will give him my stethoscope and let him call himself a fool." -Dr. Rentler 2012

Fortnight For Freedom

For the next two weeks from June 21st until July 4th the Catholic Church in the United States is sponsoring a 2 week period of prayer and fasting for religious freedom in our country. This prayer vigil will start on the vigil of the feast of Saint's Thomas More and John Fisher, both beheaded for their religious beliefs in 17th century England and will conclude on July 4th, the birthday of our freedom as a nation. The current administration has pursued and ongoing attack on religious freedom and the Church is calling us to do what Christians have done for 2000 years- fast and pray and cry for God's mercy. Check with your local diocese to find out what activities they will be having and make a commitment to fast and pray. People of all faiths are encouraged to join their prayers with ours as we plead with God for our rights of religious liberty to not be stolen from us.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Another OPC Pastor Crosses The Tiber

Check out the conversion story of Jason Stewart here.

Jason earned his Master of Divinity from Mid-America Reformed Seminary (Dyer, IN) in 2005, and subsequently served for five and a half years as pastor of Trinity OPC in eastern Pennsylvania. Jason and Cindy currently live in Rockford, IL, and have four children. He is completing a two year course of study with the Diocese of Rockford’s Diaconal Program.

"Cindy and I became Catholic because we came to see that the Catholic Church is the Church established by Jesus Christ. That is the reason. In truth, this reason should be the basic motivation for anyone seeking full communion with or remaining within the Catholic Church. All the thousands of otherwise good and important reasons for being Catholic pale in comparison with this fundamental truth of her divine origin. You see, if she is that City whose founder and builder is God, then we must live within her walls."

The Holy Spirit Leads the Church in All Truth

Did not Christ promise that He would send the Holy Spirit to teach us all truth? 

He did not promise that the Holy Spirit would teach each individual separately. If every individual were under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, all who read Scripture sincerely should come to the same conclusion. But they do not. The frightful chaos as to the meaning of Scripture is proof positive that the Holy Spirit has not chosen this way of leading men to the truth. It is blasphemy to say that the Holy Spirit does not know His own mind, and that He deliberately leads men into contradictory notions. Christ promised to preserve His Church as a Church by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the only Church which shows signs of having been preserved is the consistent Catholic Church. The individual is guided by the Holy Spirit to a certain extent in the ways of holiness, but in the knowledge of revealed truth he is to be guided by the Catholic Church which Christ sent to teach all nations. 

(Cf Radio Replies)

Atheist Blogger Comes Home to the Church!

Check out Leah's last post for her Patheos blog on the "atheist portal."
Go on over and give her a hearty Catholic Welcome Home and keep her in your prayers. Conversion is a journey that starts with baptism and regeneration, but it doesn't end there!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Radio Replies From The Golden Age of Catholic Apologetics

Two priests in the early part of the 20th century had a heart for evangelization and apologetics. One priest, Father Rumble was a convert to the faith from Protestantism and had a radio program  in Australia where he would answer questions about the Catholic faith. Unbeknownst to him, Father Carty, a Catholic priest in Minnesota, was doing street preaching and handing out tracts and literature including a printed version of Father Rumble's radio program questions.
Father Carty contacted Father Rumble and they collaborated and produced an American version of Radio Replies and it went on to become so successful they published 3 volumes. Though the two priests never actually met in real life, their apologetic work continues to be available in book form as well as online for free.
  Check out this link to Radio Replies.  You will find very solid answers to many of the common questions about the faith.

What Is Really Dangerous to Christianity?

"The wildest absurdities have resulted from the theory of private interpretation of Scripture, and if it is not dangerous to Christianity to have a new pretended Christian Church arising every ten years from some mad-cap reading of an isolated text, I would like to know your idea of what is really dangerous to Christianity."  From Radio Replies by  Fathers Carty and Rumble 1930.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Sacred Heart of Jesus

Today is the Solemnity of  The Sacred Heart of Jesus 

As a young kid my Mom purchased the above picture for the bedroom I shared with my brother. I grew up with it, never understanding what it meant. I thought it was some kitschy Catholic representation of a Jesus I was slowly drifting from as I approached adolescence. Forty years later I understand that picture represented the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Inflamed with love for me and pierced for my transgressions.

Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Arising sometime in the 11th or 12th century, the devotion to the Sacred Heat of Jesus was practiced by the Benedictine and perhaps Cistercian monastic orders. From an outsider's point of view, a devotion like this is unusual and perhaps difficult to understand. Here is what I have come to understand about the Sacred Heart of Jesus: The heart through the ages has always represented the center and source of all love.  The heart of Christ is a symbolic emblem of His love for man and the wound in His sacred heart represents the unmatchable sacrifice He offered to the Father on our behalf. So when we speak about a devotion centered on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we are focusing on the tremendous love and sacrifice of our Lord, and not an anatomical, physiologically functioning organ, we know as the human heart. Is Jesus' heart (meaning precious love and sacrifice for us) sacred? I say yes, absolutely, and can imagine no one would consider his sacrificial love for us anything but sacred!

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a mystic of the 17th century, had a vision from the Lord that encouraged devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This, like all apparitions, was not immediately approved by the Church, but the Church studied the theology behind this devotion and with time it  has been approved and promoted. Lives have been changed from this devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Not magic or superstition, but pure love and adoration directed to that One whose heart was pierced for love of each one of us. That's what the devotion to the Sacred Heart is all about.

....Only the Heart of Christ who knows the depths of his Father's love could reveal to us the abyss of his mercy in so simple and beautiful a way ----From the Catechism. P:1439
The prayer of the Church venerates and honors the Heart of Jesus just as it invokes his most holy name. It adores the incarnate Word and his Heart which, out of love for men, he allowed to be pierced by our sins. Christian prayer loves to follow the way of the cross in the Savior's steps.-- From the Catechism. P: 2669
"From the depth of my nothingness, I prostrate myself before Thee, O Most Sacred, Divine and Adorable Heart of Jesus, to pay Thee all the homage of love, praise and adoration in my power."   St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Click here for a more in depth look at the Devotion to the Sacred Heart by Fr. Hardon

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Young Evangelicals Moving Away From the Culture Wars

Here is an interesting article in the American Spectator suggesting that today's young evangelicals are moving away from fighting the culture wars. Old evangelicalism fought against abortion and same sex marriage. But now,  young evangelical blogger Rachel Evans writes:

”We are tired of the culture wars,” she explained in a recent interview. “We are tired of politics.” Lamenting the church’s preoccupation with “shame and guilt,” she urged evangelicals to reconsider their opposition to same-sex unions."

In answering the question, Why am I Catholic?  One of Gilbert Chesterton's answers was : "It is the only thing that frees a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Did Jason Stellman Deny the Gospel?

We hear so much about the gospel. But do we really even know what the gospel is? In 2000 years I am afraid that we have lost sight of what the gospel is.  Jason Stellman, Reformed pastor, has decided to leave the protestant communion and is considering a leap across the Tiber to the Catholic faith. Immediately, the blogosphere became inflamed with comments from his former co-religionists like these: "Jason Stellman has denied the gospel." He has walked away from the gospel." "Perhaps he never understood the message of the gospel." Reading these comments helped me to conclude that, sadly, there may actually be many people today who have no clue what the gospel is.

Saint Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians what the gospel is:    15:1 Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, 15:2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 15:3 For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 15:4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, 15:5 and that he appeared to Cephas(Peter), then to the twelve…4

So it appears from scripture that the gospel message which we should receive and stand on and hold firmly to is this: Jesus died for our sins, was buried, raised on the 3rd day and appeared to Peter and then the rest of the disciples. Did Jason Stellman deny that? Not that I could see. He even states he still loves Jesus and I assume he still believes he died for his sins and rose from the dead and appeared to Peter and the others.  That is the gospel and Jason Stellman has not denied that. I suspect that those who insist that Pastor Stellman denied the gospel actually are those who may believe another gospel which Saint Paul warned us about. (Galatians 1)

(As an aside, Saint Paul makes it crystal clear that one must hold to the gospel message firmly less they believe in vain. He was not a Once Saved Always Saved proponent.)

What Jason Stellman has done is to disagree with a theological school of thought developed 1600 years after the gospel was first passed on by the apostles and their successors. He no longer holds to the suppositions of this school of theology and according to them has denied what they think the gospel is. But in reality, he has not denied the gospel at all  if your definition is based on the plain reading of scripture.  If Pastor Stellman does come home to Rome, he will be asked if he believes all that the Church teaches at the vigil Mass. If he says "yes," then each Sunday at Mass he will stand with the faithful and pray the 1700 year old creed which is a recapitulation of....The Gospel!

Dr. Scott Hahn and Father Barron Discuss Scripture. Liturgy and Covenant

"The bible consists of 73 books compiled by the bishops for the Liturgy."

Welcome Home Anthony!

Here is the blog of Anthony, former southern baptist seminarian who recently left seminary upon his realization that Christ was calling him to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. His conversion story was initially released anonymously on Devin Rose's blog here.
  It's always so much fun to watch a new convert discover the truth bit by bit. There's always a constant sense of smacking your forehead and saying "I could have had a V8" (in a spiritual sense of course).
Wander over and give a hearty Catholic bloggers welcome!
   Thank you Lord for Anthony. Grant him peace and strength as he makes the transition into the Catholic faith. Bless his testimony so that others will be drawn to see the Church with new eyes through the writings on his blog.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Advice For the New Convert to Catholicism: Don't Join the Dreaded Liturgy Police

Devin Rose has a good post about some tips for the new Catholic convert. I added my own based on personal experience with the DLLP. These are the Dreaded Local Liturgy Police. These are a select group of Catholics, usually converts, who spent their lives as protestants looking for the perfect Church. Bingo! They found it! But then.......see below.

My suggestion to new converts, particularly from evangelical protestant expressions is this: DON”T BECOME A PART OF THE DREADED LOCAL LITURGY POLICE! (DLLP) I can’t emphasize this enough as I have seen good solid evangelicals become good solid Catholics because protestantism wasn’t enough, but then before you know it, basic Catholicism wasn’t enough, so then they sought the tridentine mass (which is fine) but then before you know it, the novus ordo mass is barely licit and most Catholics in this parish are "sheeple" and the "bishop in my diocese are so liberal" and "Vatican 2 may or may not have been a valid council." This then leads to…sedesville, (sedevacantism) where the Church is not the Church and you have appointed yourself to know which popes are the valid ones…. this ultimately leads back to protesting, again, a full circle. Remember folks, we tolerated and lived in heresy and schism for years with no sacraments, no Jesus in the Eucharist, no confession, heretical teaching and preaching. Now we waltz into the Catholic Church that Jesus started and demand instant liturgical /musical/communal perfection? Yes the Church is Christ’s bride, but she is often not without spot or wrinkle and it is usually not the convert's or revert's vocation to correct the 2000 year old Church and make her see it their way. Remember good Dr.  Luther who started out with the right heart but things went badly, very badly, very quickly when he decided he knew more than the pope. The Church is full of wheat and tares Jesus tells us. Just try not to be a tare yourself.
      I would encourage you to be extremely thankful for God opening your eyes to the Truth and when you genuflect deeply toward the tabernacle before and after every Mass, thank God for the wonder of His coming to us in the flesh, under the appearances of simple bread and wine, and realizing He lets us consume Him and we are consumed by Him….Even when the sermon stunk, the music was lousy and some of the priests gestures were not particularly reverent, or meeting your expectations.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Feast of Saint Ephrem

Today the Universal Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Ephrem. A doctor of the Church, he was born in 306 in modern day Turkey. He was a deacon and never aspired to the priesthood. He was known as the "Harp of the Holy Spirit" and wrote many early hymns rich with the theology and beliefs of the Christians at the time. For those who deny the Eucharist and baptismal regeneration, these are difficult words to explain away. Though not canonical scripture, the writings of the early Christians help us to see the faith as it was lived and expressed.

  "In your sacrament we daily embrace you and receive you into our bodies; make us worthy to experience the resurrection for which we hope. We have had your treasure hidden within us ever since we received baptismal grace; it grows ever richer at your sacramental table. Teach us to find our joy in your favor! Lord, we have within us your memorial, received at your spiritual table; let us possess it in its full reality when all things shall be made new.” 

 *The Eucharist is a sacrament received daily. (Our Daily Bread)
 *The early Christians did not assume they were making it into heaven. They prayed to be worthy of the resurrection for which they hoped.
*Baptism gave them initial grace which grows by experiencing the sacraments.
*They will experience Christ in full reality at the resurrection.

 Clearly, the theology in Saint Ephrem's writings from the early fourth century was unmistakably Catholic.

Catholic Musician Picked For Glenn Beck's Event

I am not a huge fan of Glenn Beck. I am disappointed because of the way he has misrepresented Catholicism and Catholic history on multiple occasions in the past. Always the ex-Catholic to malign the Catholic Church (as I did once)! But yesterday he announced that Matt Maher's song will be the theme song for his Restoring Love event this summer. Matt Maher is one of the hottest artists in the Contemporary Christian Music scene right now and is also a solid on-fire Catholic. How he gets the gigs is a wonder to me, but I am thankful that he is getting this kind of exposure.

Upsy Daisy Angel Again

I recently was asked if a Vacation Bible school could use my song for their program this year. They needed it in a different key so I hastily re-recorded it in B flat. The original is available on iTunes Way To Emmaus but you can down load this version here free on soundcloud. This was written in 1975 after we thought the pastor's kid saw an angel on a camping trip. May have just been too many S'mores.

View From Assisi

One of my readers, Rodrigo and his family, are making a pilgrimage across Italy and have sent me some new pics of his visit to Assisi. Thanks Rodrigo for sharing your love for Jesus and His Church with us!

Friday, June 08, 2012

The Early Church Hated Denominations

Saint Cyprian of Carthage wrote an entire treastise on the Unity of the Church, because even early on, there were attempts by the enemy to divide the faithful. The unity of the Church was so important to the early Christians that the bishops incorporated the concept in the early creeds. "I believe in One , Holy , Catholic and Apostolic Church." Note Church, not churches. The unity of one shepherd, one flock was integral to the faith since the beginning. In Corinth, Saint Paul rebuked the faithful for attempting to denominate as Dr. Kreeft points out in my earlier post.

"Nor let any deceive themselves by a futile interpretation, in respect of the Lord having said, Wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20 Corrupters and false interpreters of the Gospel quote the last words, and lay aside the former ones, remembering part, and craftily suppressing part: as they themselves are separated from the Church, so they cut off the substance of one section. For the Lord, when He would urge unanimity and peace upon His disciples, said, I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth touching anything that you shall ask, it shall be given you by my Father which is in heaven. For wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, I am with them; showing that most is given, not to the multitude, but to the unanimity of those that pray. If, He says, two of you shall agree on earth: He placed agreement first; He has made the concord of peace a prerequisite; He taught that we should agree firmly and faithfully. But how can he agree with any one who does not agree with the booty of the Church itself, and with the universal brotherhood? How can two or three be assembled together in Christ's name, who, it is evident, are separated from Christ and from His Gospel? For we have not withdrawn from them, but they from us; and since heresies and schisms have risen subsequently, from their establishment for themselves of diverse places of worship, they have forsaken the Head and Source of the truth. "

" Who, then, is so wicked and faithless, who is so insane with the madness of discord, that either he should believe that the unity of God can be divided, or should dare to rend it— the garment of the Lord— the Church of Christ? He Himself in His Gospel warns us, and teaches, saying, And there shall be one flock and one shepherd. John 10:16 And does any one believe that in one place there can be either many shepherds or many flocks? The Apostle Paul, moreover, urging upon us this same unity, beseeches and exhorts, saving, I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you; but that you be joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10 And again, he says, Forbearing one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3 Do you think that you can stand and live if you withdraw from the Church, building for yourself other homes and a different dwelling, when it is said to Rahab, in whom was prefigured the Church, Your father, and your mother, and your brethren, and all the house of your father, you shall gather unto you into your house; and it shall come to pass, whosoever shall go abroad beyond the door of your house, his blood shall be upon his own head?"

Jesus Never Wanted Denominations (and Still Doesn't)

"Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one." "I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."

Thursday, June 07, 2012

St Paul Hated Denominations!

“If you read the first three chapters of first Corinthians, you will see that denominationalism was not just a scandal, but absolutely unthinkable and intolerable to Saint Paul because denominationalism is not the multiplying of a sub-division of an organization, it’s the amputation of limbs from an organism.”
--Peter Kreeft PhD, (Professor at Boston University and convert to Catholicism from Dutch Reformed)

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

View From Rome

One of my readers sent me some pics from a recent trip to the Vatican. Thanks Rodrigo! Thanks be to God for giving us the Church guided by Peter and his successors. 

Another Reformed Pastor Crossing the Tiber

Pastor Jason Stellman from Exile Presbyterian Church in Woodinville, Washington (Home of Mackie Mixers , btw) has decided to leave the reformed confession. Though he hasn't explicitly said yet, it's fairly obvious he is coming home to the Catholic faith. He has spent a fair amount of time on the Called to Communion blog and one of the comments on his post indicate he has been visiting with well-known Catholic convert/apologist/blogger Mark Shea.
   Stellman has been a member of Calvary Chapel until becoming reformed then going to Westminster Seminary in California receiving his M.Div. He also has written two books and is a blogger. He also spent time in Africa and eastern Europe as a missionary.

"I have begun to doubt whether the Bible alone can be said to be our only infallible authority for faith and practice, and despite my efforts (and those of others) to dispel these doubts, they have only become more pronounced. In my own reading of the New Testament, the believer is never instructed to consult Scripture alone in order to adjudicate disputes or determine matters of doctrine (one obvious reason for this is that the early church existed at a time when the 27-book New Testament had either not been begun, completed, or recognized as canonical). The picture the New Testament paints is one in which the ordained leadership of the visible church gathers to bind and loose in Jesus’ Name and with his authority, with the Old Testament Scriptures being called upon as witnesses to the apostles’ and elders’ message (Matt. 18:18-19; Acts 15:6-29), with no indication in Scripture that such ecclesiastical authority was to cease and eventually give way to Sola Scriptura (meaning that the doctrine fails its own test). Moreover, unless the church’s interpretation of Scripture is divinely protected from error at least under certain conditions, then what we call the “orthodox” understanding of doctrines like the Trinity or the hypostatic union is reduced to mere fallible human opinion. I have searched long and hard, but have found no solution within the Sola Scriptura paradigm to this devastating conclusion." 

Do pray for Jason and his family as this represents not only a loss of family and friends but of his livelihood. Given the intense vitriol and hateful invectives and accusations leveled at him on his blog from his reformed brethren (up to 312 comments so far) it would do him some good to give him a Hearty Catholic Welcome home! So if you can hold your nose, wander over to his comment box and deposit some love to balance the hate from his co-religionists.

(This reminds me of a few years ago when James White linked my blog. I had over 700 comments in less than 24 hours, many calling me names that rhymed with prostrate.)

Monday, June 04, 2012

The CDF Lowers the Hammer on Dissident Nun

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, formerly known as the Office of the Inquisition, has just lowered the boom on Sister Farley. She was teaching that masturbation, divorce and practiced homosexuality are morally neutral activities. Using the keys of Peter given to the Church by our Lord himself, the Church corrects and reproves those who stray, in the hopes that they will repent and seek to come once again into orthodoxy. See the article here.Pray for Sister Farley that the Lord will touch her heart and return to the faith.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Bible Minus Authority = Bad Theology

Bible Authority = 200 interpretations of the Eucharist within 100 years of the reformation
Bible - Authority = rejection of sacramental grace
Bible - Authority = permissible divorce
Bible - Authority = contraception
Bible - Authority = novel doctrines
Bible - Authority = thousands and thousands of divergent Christian sects
Bible - Authority = redefinition of marriage
Bible - Authority = rejection of 2000 years of Christian history
Bible - Authority = snake handling, refusal of blood transfusions, refusing insulin etc leading to death

 Anyone else see why we need an infallible teaching authority to lead us in all truth? We need The Church built on Peter, not just the bible alone with our own personal interpretation. Do the math!

In the 5th century Saint Vincent of Lerins said this about using the bible alone as source of all truth, without Sacred Tradition (Authority):

"I have often then inquired earnestly and attentively of very many men eminent for sanctity and learning, how and by what sure and so to speak universal rule I may be able to distinguish the truth of Catholic faith from the falsehood of heretical pravity; and I have always, and in almost every instance, received an answer to this effect: That whether I or any one else should wish to detect the frauds and avoid the snares of heretics as they rise, and to continue sound and complete in the Catholic faith, we must, the Lord helping, fortify our own belief in two ways; first, by the authority of the Divine Law, and then, by the Tradition of the Catholic Church.

 But here some one perhaps will ask, Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of the Church’s interpretation? For this reason,—because, owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters. For Novatian expounds it one way, Sabellius another, Donatus another, Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, another, Photinus, Apollinaris, Priscillian, another, Iovinian, Pelagius, Celestius, another, lastly, Nestorius another. Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Reasons for Leaving the Catholic Faith

‎I recently read a post on Authentic Catholicism blog by Steven Thomas describing why people leave the faith. "The bare bones of it, they leave (the Catholic faith) because they do not believe Jesus Christ Himself in his splendor is offering Himself up in an unbloody manner for His beloved. They leave God to have coffee, sing songs, and talk about God." I would like to clarify and say that those who leave the Church were not necessarily looking for those things. Most, were like me, who did not have a personal relationship with Jesus and thus did not know or care about what was transpiring on the altar. We were living in the dark. Then we found the Lord Jesus and often, it was in a church or fellowship outside of the Catholic faith. Suddenly, everything was so new, different and appealing; the songs, the coffee hour, the fellowship and the highly charged positive emotions associated with our new found faith. We looked back at that "Old Catholic Church" and saw ritual, rote, and routines and still did not see Jesus in the "breaking of the bread." Had I known He was truly there and my eyes were opened, I would have forsaken the warm fellowship, positive worship experiences and yes, even the coffee, and high-tailed it back to the place where I could meet and eat God.