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.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Nashville Indie Musician Comes Home to The Church !

Today I got a message from _____, who is an evangelical singer-songwriter in Nashville. He first wrote to me via this blog in March of this year expressing an interest in the Catholic faith. This morning he was confirmed in the Catholic faith at the cathedral (seat of the bishop) in Nashville. I have reposted our private correspondence by his permission below.  Congratulations and welcome Home. We will keep you in our prayers. I look forward to hearing the entire story of your conversion.


Dr. Rentler!

I love your blog, "Crossed The Tiber". Thanks for being a faithful blogger! I am currently an evangelical Christian that has, for years, always felt a "spiritual" invitation to the Catholic Church. I've always been drawn to her thinkers, writers, theologians, monks, saints,etc...I've always written off these "tugs" as just an interest, mainly because of the perception that the Protestant Church has created of Catholics. I have always refused the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist, but now, I unexplainably find myself being drawn to it.

Recently, particularly during the beginning of this Lenten season, the urge to explore Catholicism has increased immensely. I am researching the Reformation more than ever and currently, I don't understand how the "protestants" pulled away from the Catholic church in the severity that they did. I understand that the Renaissance "awakened" our individuality, but am having trouble reconciling a departure of the original church over issues that would've been worked out over time.

For the first time in my life, I almost feel outside the faith by not attending Mass. Could you please recommend some good books about "crossing the Tiber"? Forgive me if you have recommended some on your blog in the past, but I recently just found it! Also, the wildcard in all of this is that my wife, though she is understanding of my draw to the Catholic Church, refuses to follow me to it! Any insight would be phenomenal !

Thanks for your time,


Dear ____:
Your letter was an answered prayer for me! You have helped confirm for
me that I should keep blogging. Sometimes, it seems like no one is out
there and I am making no impact then, I get a note from someone like
  It sounds like you are experiencing what  20th century Catholic
convert Chesterton wrote about:

"It is impossible to be just to the Catholic Church. The moment men
cease to pull against it they feel a tug towards it. The moment they
cease to shout it down they begin to listen to it with pleasure. The
moment they try to be fair to it they begin to be fond of it. But when
that affection has passed a certain point it begins to take on the
tragic and menacing grandeur of a great love affair."

Yes it's a tremendous love affair and doesn't end with reception into
the Church. I truly feel much closer to the Lord since becoming
Catholic and I was a fairly serious evangelical before.

There are many excellent books on conversion some more theological
others more experiential.  The books I found helpful were  "Crossing
the Tiber" by Steve Ray. It was so influential for me, I named my blog
after it!  He writes a book explaining why he decided to convert, it
is an excellent assistance to help anyone with an open mind to
understand the Catholic faith.

Scott Hahn's Rome Sweet Home is another great book with his testimony
of conversion and great theology explanations along the way.

The three book series "Surprised by Truth" edited by Patrick Madrid is
an amazing collection of short conversion stories by people of many
different faiths, evangelical, charismatic, reformed, pentecostal,
Anglican. Each story gives a different twist, but so many of the
stories resonated with me and further confirmed my decision to

Another excellent resource is Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic
by David Currie. If your funds are limited, I would start with this

Finally regarding your wife, I was in a similar but opposite
situation, my wife wanted to convert 5 years before I did and I
opposed it vehemently  "Christ can't possibly be the head of a church
of pedophiles" was what I actually said to her! 4 years later I was
bawling my eyes out in confession then receiving Christ in the
Eucharist!   So don't give up hope but I would definitely recommend
not pressuring or cajoling her. my wife was amazing in never nagging,
or trying to get me to read stuff, she actually prayed that God would
move my heart to let her convert, because she never believed I would
convert, yet 7 years later I have been blogging, facebooking and
singing about the Catholic Church.
You can read about it in my link to my conversion story on my blog on
the left hand side.

My wife  suggested a book called "When Only One Converts"  It gives
several stories and perspectives on Catholic conversion and the how
to's and how not to's of dealing with it.

May I have permission to print your letter anonymously on my blog?
Then I can respond as I did here and perhaps encourage other seekers?
if not I understand.  BTW, are you a musician? I googled your name and
the only ______ I found  is a musician in Nashville.

May God bless your journey, I will keep you and your wife in our
prayers. and if she isn't opposed, yes go to Mass, find some good
Catholics to chat with, and Lord willing when the time is right, He
will bring you in and then you can receive the Eucharist! You can
still go up the communion line for a blessing by the priest. Just fold
your arms across your chest when you reach him and he will pray a
blessing. It's not the same, but there is grace involved there because
of your honoring the Lord in the Eucharist as He is  right in front of
you, and his grace is there!

Please let me know of any questions or issues along the way, I will
always be here to help if I can be of assistance or perhaps direct you
to a site or resource that can,
In Christ
Russ Rentler
PS  search my blog for the key word "Eucharist" and you will find some
interesting articles.

Dr. Rentler,

Thanks for the quick reply!  I will most likely check out ALL the books you've recommended.  There is a fantastic Catholic book store close to me that I will use to locate these books while seeking the counsel of my local Church.

I'm glad my email encouraged you like your blog encouraged me.  The internet is very many people seem to "lurk" around.  Yes, I am the musician you found in Nashville.  I'm originally from Chicago, but my wife and I moved here after college so I could work on some music projects.  She's a social worker and we live life with our two dogs in an old ranch house in a really neat area of Nashville.  I understand how disheartened you feel at times with your blog.  Music is the same way.  Any art is, for that matter.  I'm currently working on a new project, but it gets pretty lonely between the "nibbles" of interest that people give us with our art!  Be encouraged.  I found your blog extremely fast while "googling" and am being continually blessed as I continue to explore it.  

You are more than welcome to use my email for your blog!  I love reading conversion stories and I think a lot of other people do too, so use it however you see fit.  Thanks for the insight regarding you and your wife when you were wrestling with her Catholic vision. My prayer life has deepened during this time of contemplation and I feel that I will be rooted regardless of what my wife is feeling...but I will do my best to follow your wife's example of being patient and gentle as our journey continues.

Thanks again for the wisdom of you and your blog.  It is comforting to know that what I'm experiencing has been experienced by others before.  We all stand on the shoulders of giants, but within the Catholic Church I feel it is even more so!

Keep blogging


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I pray that this wonderful person continues to be the Lord's instrument, particularly now as he has found His church!!! God bless him and thank you Russ for sharing this good news. Julie

July 30, 2012 8:36 AM  
Anonymous Christina said...

This is really awesome! Thanks for sharing. :)

July 30, 2012 10:46 PM  

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