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, October 28, 2012

Feast of Saint Jude

Today we celebrate the heroic faith and virtue of Saint Jude Thaddeus, one of the original 12 apostles. He went to Mesopotamia, modern Iraq and helped establish many churches along with Saint Thomas.   He was martyred around 65 AD with a club or axe and hence his image is often portrayed holding a club. His remains were brought back to Rome where they remain below Saint Peter's to this day. He is the patron saint of particularly difficult and desperate situations based on his encouraging epistle to the Church that was undergoing perilous times in the first century.
    We just completed a novena to Saint Jude for a specific concern. We keep the candle* of Saint Jude on the table during the 9 days of prayer. This is a quiet reminder of the effectual and righteous prayers being said on our behalf.

  Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.  (Jude 1:24)

St. Jude, glorious Apostle, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor has caused you to be forgotten by many, but the true Church invokes you universally as the Patron of things despaired of; pray for me, that finally I may receive the consolations and the succor of Heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly (here make your request), and that I may bless God with the Elect throughout Eternity. Amen.

*Prayer candles can be had at many local supermarkets!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

3rd Largest Denomination in the US is Ex-Catholics

The 3rd largest denomination in the US is ex-Catholics, if they were considered a denomination. Sadly, many of them (like me) left never really understanding that Christ was truly in the Eucharist nor understood the grace available to them in the Sacraments. I have yet to find a Protestant (ex-Catholic) who believed in the real presence of Christ or understood their faith beyond a grade school catechetical level. As my friend Mike McCleary said recently: "Most ex-Catholics are kinda like someone who leaves the theater because they didn't like the font of the opening credits, and then tells everyone the movie was bad. For if they would have only stayed, they would never have left." During this Year of Faith, let us ask the intercession of Saint Francis DeSales to bring back those who have left the faith. Here is a link to a prayer card you can use to pray to Saint Francis DeSales.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

See This Movie! Restless Heart

Restless Heart Film
Tonight we saw Restless Heart, the life of Saint Augustine. It was a great movie and well worth going out of your way to see. It was not preachy or overtly evangelistic like the poorly produced 70's vintage Christian movies but definitely told a great story in a believable and compelling way. I loved the scenes when Augustine's father Patricius was converted on his deathbed. The bishop asked him if he believed in God, then baptized him in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I was a little ticked that he didn't say the sinner's prayer but figured it was just Hollywood artistic license gone awry. (Just kidding, they didn't have the sinner's prayer back then. People were converted the old bible way back then, by baptism for the forgiveness of sins)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Saints Be Praised- 7 New Ones!

Our Holy Father canonized 7 saints this weekend for their heroic virtue and exemplary witness to the faith. All 7 were active in evangelization and it is especially fitting that the Year of Faith be kicked off by these canonizations.  Of particular interest to me is Saint Kateri Tekawitha. She is a native American and lived in New York State. We visited her shrine last year.
Check out this article on the saints here.
   We all know Saints are not praised in the sense that we praise God. We thank God for the grace he gave them to live lives of heroic virtue. Catholics don't worship saints, but we certainly ask for them to pray for us since we know they are with the Lord in heaven, the way our Protestant brothers and sisters ask for prayers from those who they believe are close to the Lord, though still hear.
   Honestly, I prefer the prayers of someone who is close enough to God to whisper in His ear on my behalf, though I still ask for prayers from those still here on earth.
  "The fervent effectual prayer of  a righteous man availeth much."  And even more so when they are in heaven!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bible Surgery: Versectomies and Historectomies!

Find out how the reformers used "versectomies" to support their new doctrines.
See how Protestant refomers took verses out of historical Christian context to support their new found doctrines, also know as "historectomies."
Check out Renee Linn's very insightful post here.

Pope Warns of "Do It Yourself Religion"

The pope has started a series of talks specific for the Year of Faith during his weekly addresses. His talk this past Wednesday, October 17th, focused on the threat of "Do It Yourself Religion" which is the result of religious relativism. This can occur when Catholics pick and choose which teachings of the Church they wish to follow and also in Protestantism as well when the Christian takes a "Me and Jesus and My Interpretation of the Bible" approach to spirituality.  Either way, the result is  "My Religion" and not the faith that was handed down by the apostles.  Burger King Christianity if you will.

"Often Christians don't even know the central core of their own Catholic faith -- the creed -- thereby leaving room for a certain syncretism and religious relativism," Pope Benedict said.
"Without a clear idea of the faith's fundamental truths and the uniquely salvific nature of Christianity, "the risk of constructing a so-called 'do-it-yourself' religion is not remote today."

"Where do we find the essential formula of the faith? Where do we find the truths that have been faithfully handed down and make up the light of our daily life?" he asked.

He said the answer is the creed, or profession of faith, which needs to be better understood, reflected upon and integrated into one's life.

Christians need to "discover the profound link between the truths we profess in the creed and our daily life" so that these truths are allowed to transform the "deserts of modern-day life."

Prayer: Lord Jesus, lead me in your truth and guide me with your Holy Spirit through the Church you have built on Peter and the apostles. Give me the grace to avoid the temptation to decide for myself what is correct and necessary to believe. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Christianity Today Assumes Tabloid Status and Reveals It's Anti-Catholic Bigotry

Melissa Steffan, of Christianity Today writes an article that links a story claiming to expose an affair that a married Dinesh D'Souza is allegedly having with a young woman  he describes as his fiancee.
In case you have been out of town for a while, Dinesh D'Souza is a conservative political commentator, writer, former president of King's College, and responsible for the surprise box office hit,  2016 Obama's America.

    After presenting the initial "facts" in her article she mentions Calvinist theologian Carl Trueman's* perplexity that Dinesh would be hired as President of a Christian College when he is a.....C....Caaa.......Cattttth......Catholic! (Cue the eerie music and images of Chick tract priests with smell lines above their heads and stubbly unshaven faces)
   Can anyone help me understand why it is important to include in this article about a well-known Christian's alleged affair that he is a Catholic?  Why does the author need to point this out and get a quote from a Protestant theologian known for his strong anti-Catholic stance? I find it especially egregious since Dinesh has said himself he is not Catholic and has been attending Calvary Chapel in San Diego for 10 years with his evangelical wife Dixie for ten years before moving to NYC to take the position as President of an evangelical college.
    Oh yeah, it turns out, none of the above story is true. Dinesh has denied the story in toto. It turns out that there was a huge vendetta against him by folks at King's College who were not happy about his new position there. I won't be surprised if I see copies of Christianity Today in the magazine rack at the check-out of my local supermarket soon next to magazines with pictures of Elvis Alien Abductions.
We have enough scandals of our own and don't need to be falsely linked to another one.
(File under "Not so blatant Anti-Catholicism in the media")

*Here is the Calvinist theologian's assessment of the Catholic faith spoken of on the "Reformation 21" blog: " ground level Catholicism looks like benighted old biddies doing homage before an amputated and pickled tongue". (Carl Trueman)

With those kind of comments above, I think it is doubtful that the CT author would get a positive comment about Dinesh from Dr. Trueman , even though his statement was completely false since Dinesh is a Protestant! We should expect better from our Protestant brethren in the media, they certainly do of us.

Billy Graham No Longer Believes Mormonism Is A Cult

The Billy Graham association has removed Mormonism from "cult status" on their webpage. I suspect this was done for political expediency, not theological reasons. I am sure this will cause quite a stir among the evangelicals who associate themselves with Dr. Graham.
Perhaps fundamentalists will now remove Catholicism from "cult status" on their webpages since the VP candidate in their favored party is Catholic. One can only hope eh?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pope Benedict Channels Late CCM Artist Rich Mullins

It seems that our Holy Father may have been channeling Rich Mullins (late evangelical singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist) in his recent statement on the opening of the Synod on the New Evangelization.

"We cannot make the Church, we can only announce what [God] has done. The Church does not begin with our 'making,' but with the 'making' and 'speaking' of God.... The Apostles did not say, after a few meetings: now we want to make a church, and that by means of a constituent assembly they were going to draft a constitution. No, they prayed and in prayer they waited, because they knew that only God himself can create his Church, that God is the first agent: if God does not act, our things are only ours and are insufficient, and only God can testify that it is he who speaks and has spoken.... God is not only a past, because it is a true past that always carries in itself the present and the future. God has spoken means, 'He speaks.' ...At that time it was only on God's initiative that the Church could be born, that the Gospel could be known ... in the same way today only God can begin, we can only cooperate...."  (Pope Benedict 16th.)

Now listen to a line from Rich's famous song which he made from many of the words of the Creed:

And I believe what I believe 
Is what makes me what I am 
I did not make it, no it is making me 
It is the very truth of God and not 
The invention of any man

( cf. Rich Mullins Creed)

I think Rich was on to something big time. He was more Catholic than many of us will ever admit.

Feast of Saint Ignatius of Antioch

Today the Universal (Catholic) Church celebrates the life and heroic virtue of Saint Ignatius. He was born around 50 AD and was martyred for the faith in Rome between 98 and 117 AD.  His writings are instrumental in understanding some of the early beliefs of the early Christians just one generation after the apostles. Because he was a disciple of Saint John, the one whom Jesus loved, his writings, though not canonical, take on a deep and special significance for those who desire to understand the heart and mind of the Church so early in its beginnings. From his writings we know:

  •  The early Church was hierarchical and called "Catholic": 

"Take care to do all things in harmony with God, with the bishop presiding in the place of God, and with the presbyters in the place of the council of the apostles, and with the deacons, who are most dear to me, entrusted with the business of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father from the beginning and is at last made manifest" (Letter to the Magnesians 2, 6:1)

"Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful to baptize or give communion without the consent of the bishop. On the other hand, whatever has his approval is pleasing to God. Thus, whatever is done will be safe and valid."  (Letter to the Smyrnaeans )

  • The church believed and taught that Jesus was God: 

"There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first passible and then impassible, even Jesus Christ our Lord." (Letter to the Ephesians, ch. 7)

  • The early Christians believed as the apostle John must have taught Ignatius that the Eucharist was indeed the body and blood of Christ and not a symbol representation of the events of the Last Supper.  

"Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God ... They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes." (Letter to the Smyrnaeans)

To learn more about Saint Ignatius and the Eucharist see this story here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Catholics and a Personal Relationship With Jesus

Once again an evangelical-turned-Catholic realizes that Christ can be encountered in a much more personal way through the sacraments of the Church. This discovery is so cool and many converts have blogged about it before but I still love reading the posts from new converts. You can almost hear the Eureka moment, when the veil is lifted, the scales fall from our eyes, and we see Christ, truly substantially really present before our very own eyes as the disciples did on the Way to Emmaus, in the breaking of the bread, the Eucharist.
   Here is my recent post on getting a personal relationship with Jesus in the Mass.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Catechism For Catholic Voters

A Brief Catechism for Catholic Voters
Fr. Stephen F. Torraco, PhD  

1. Isn’t conscience the same as my own opinions and feelings? And doesn’t everyone have the right to his or her own conscience?

Conscience is NOT the same as your opinions or feelings. Conscience cannot be identical with your feelings because conscience is the activity of your intellect in judging the rightness or wrongness of your actions or omissions, past, present, or future, while your feelings come from another part of your soul and should be governed by your intellect and will. Conscience is not identical with your opinions because your intellect bases its judgment upon the natural moral law, which is inherent in your human nature and is identical with the Ten Commandments. Unlike the civil laws made by legislators, or the opinions that you hold, the natural moral law is not anything that you invent, but rather discover within yourself and is the governing norm of your conscience. In short, Conscience is the voice of truth within you, and your opinions need to be in harmony with that truth. As a Catholic, you have the benefit of the Church’s teaching authority or Magisterium endowed upon her by Christ. The Magisterium assists you and all people of good will in understanding the natural moral law as it relates to specific issues. As a Catholic, you have the obligation to be correctly informed and formed by the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium. As for your feelings, they need to be educated by virtue so as to be in harmony with conscience’s voice of truth. In this way, you will have a sound conscience, according to which we you will feel guilty when you are guilty, and feel morally upright when you are morally upright. We should strive to avoid the two opposite extremes of a lax conscience and a scrupulous conscience. Meeting the obligation of continually attending to this formation of conscience will increase the likelihood that, in the actual operation or activity of conscience, you will act with a certain conscience, which clearly perceives that a given concrete action is a good action that was rightly done or should be done. Being correctly informed and certain in the actual operation of conscience is the goal of the continuing formation of conscience. Otherwise put, you should strive to avoid being incorrectly informed and doubtful in the actual judgment of conscience about a particular action or omission. You should never act on a doubtful conscience.

2. Is it morally permissible to vote for all candidates of a single party?

This would depend on the positions held by the candidates of a single party. If any one or more of them held positions that were opposed to the natural moral law, then it would not be morally permissible to vote for all candidates of this one party. Your correctly informed conscience transcends the bounds of any one political party.

3. If I think that a pro-abortion candidate will, on balance, do much more for the culture of life than a pro-life candidate, why may I not vote for the pro-abortion candidate?

If a political candidate supported abortion, or any other moral evil, such as assisted suicide and euthanasia, for that matter, it would not be morally permissible for you to vote for that person. This is because, in voting for such a person, you would become an accomplice in the moral evil at issue. For this reason, moral evils such as abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are examples of a “disqualifying issue.” A disqualifying issue is one which is of such gravity and importance that it allows for no political maneuvering. It is an issue that strikes at the heart of the human person and is non-negotiable. A disqualifying issue is one of such enormity that by itself renders a candidate for office unacceptable regardless of his position on other matters. You must sacrifice your feelings on other issues because you know that you cannot participate in any way in an approval of a violent and evil violation of basic human rights. A candidate for office who supports abortion rights or any other moral evil has disqualified himself as a person that you can vote for. You do not have to vote for a person because he is pro-life. But you may not vote for any candidate who supports abortion rights. Key to understanding the point above about “disqualifying issues” is the distinction between policy and moral principle. On the one hand, there can be a legitimate variety of approaches to accomplishing a morally acceptable goal. For example, in a society’s effort to distribute the goods of health care to its citizens, there can be legitimate disagreement among citizens and political candidates alike as to whether this or that health care plan would most effectively accomplish society’s goal. In the pursuit of the best possible policy or strategy, technical as distinct (although not separate) from moral reason is operative. Technical reason is the kind of reasoning involved in arriving at the most efficient or effective result. On the other hand, no policy or strategy that is opposed to the moral principles of the natural law is morally acceptable. Thus, technical reason should always be subordinate to and normed by moral reason, the kind of reasoning that is the activity of conscience and that is based on the natural moral law.

4. If I have strong feelings or opinions in favor of a particular candidate, even if he is pro-abortion, why may I not vote for him?

As explained in question 1 above, neither your feelings nor your opinions are identical with your conscience. Neither your feelings nor your opinions can take the place of your conscience. Your feelings and opinions should be governed by your conscience. If the candidate about whom you have strong feelings or opinions is pro-abortion, then your feelings and opinions need to be corrected by your correctly informed conscience, which would tell you that it is wrong for you to allow your feelings and opinions to give lesser weight to the fact that the candidate supports a moral evil.

5. If I may not vote for a pro-abortion candidate, then should it not also be true that I can’t vote for a pro-capital punishment candidate?

It is not correct to think of abortion and capital punishment as the very same kind of moral issue. On the one hand, direct abortion is an intrinsic evil, and cannot be justified for any purpose or in any circumstances. On the other hand, the Church has always taught that it is the right and responsibility of the legitimate temporal authority to defend and preserve the common good, and more specifically to defend citizens against the aggressor. This defense against the aggressor may resort to the death penalty if no other means of defense is sufficient. The point here is that the death penalty is understood as an act of self-defense on the part of civil society. In more recent times, in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II has taught that the need for such self-defense to resort to the death penalty is “rare, if not virtually nonexistent.” Thus, while the Pope is saying that the burden of proving the need for the death penalty in specific cases should rest on the shoulders of the legitimate temporal authority, it remains true that the legitimate temporal authority alone has the authority to determine if and when a “rare” case arises that warrants the death penalty. Moreover, if such a rare case does arise and requires resorting to capital punishment, this societal act of self-defense would be a *morally good action* even if it does have the unintended and unavoidable evil effect of the death of the aggressor. Thus, unlike the case of abortion, it would be morally irresponsible to rule out all such “rare” possibilities a priori, just as it would be morally irresponsible to apply the death penalty indiscriminately.

6. If I think that a candidate who is pro-abortion has better ideas to serve the poor, and the pro-life candidate has bad ideas that will hurt the poor, why may I not vote for the candidate that has the better ideas for serving the poor?

Serving the poor is not only admirable, but also obligatory for Catholics as an exercise of solidarity. Solidarity has to do with the sharing of both spiritual and material goods, and with what the Church calls the preferential option for the poor. This preference means that we have the duty to give priority to helping those most needful, both materially and spiritually. Beginning in the family, solidarity extends to every human association, even to the international moral order. Based on the response to question 3 above, two important points must be made. First, when it comes to the matter of determining how social and economic policy can best serve the poor, there can be a legitimate variety of approaches proposed, and therefore legitimate disagreement among voters and candidates for office. Secondly, solidarity can never be at the price of embracing a “disqualifying issue.” Besides, when it comes to the unborn, abortion is a most grievous offense against solidarity, for the unborn are surely among society’s most needful. The right to life is a paramount issue because as Pope John Paul II says it is “the first right, on which all the others are based, and which cannot be recuperated once it is lost.” If a candidate for office refuses solidarity with the unborn, he has laid the ground for refusing solidarity with anyone.

7. If a candidate says that he is personally opposed to abortion but feels the need to vote for it under the circumstances, doesn’t this candidate’s personal opposition to abortion make it morally permissible for me to vote for him, especially if I think that his other views are the best for people, especially the poor?

A candidate for office who says that he is personally opposed to abortion but actually votes in favor of it is either fooling himself or trying to fool you. Outside of the rare case in which a hostage is forced against his will to perform evil actions with his captors, a person who carries out an evil action ¾ such as voting for abortion ¾ performs an immoral act, and his statement of personal opposition to the moral evil of abortion is either self-delusion or a lie. If you vote for such a candidate, you would be an accomplice in advancing the moral evil of abortion. Therefore, it is not morally permissible to vote for such a candidate for office, even, as explained in questions 3 and 6 above, you think that the candidate’s other views are best for the poor.

8. What if none of the candidates are completely pro-life?

As Pope John Paul II explains in his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), “…when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.” Logically, it follows from these words of the Pope that a voter may likewise vote for that candidate who will most likely limit the evils of abortion or any other moral evil at issue.

9. What if one leading candidate is anti-abortion except in the cases of rape or incest, another leading candidate is completely pro-abortion, and a trailing candidate, not likely to win, is completely anti-abortion. Would I be obliged to vote for the candidate not likely to win?

In such a case, the Catholic voter may clearly choose to vote for the candidate not likely to win. In addition, the Catholic voter may assess that voting for that candidate might only benefit the completely pro-abortion candidate, and, precisely for the purpose of curtailing the evil of abortion, decide to vote for the leading candidate that is anti-abortion but not perfectly so. This decision would be in keeping with the words of the Pope quoted in question 8 above.

10. What if all the candidates from whom I have to choose are pro-abortion? Do I have to abstain from voting at all? What do I do?

Obviously, one of these candidates is going to win the election. Thus, in this dilemma, you should do your best to judge which candidate would do the least moral harm. However, as explained in question 5 above, you should not place a candidate who is pro-capital punishment (and anti-abortion) in the same moral category as a candidate who is pro-abortion. Faced with such a set of candidates, there would be no moral dilemma, and the clear moral obligation would be to vote for the candidate who is pro-capital punishment, not necessarily because he is pro-capital punishment, but because he is anti-abortion.

11. Is not the Church’s stand that abortion must be illegal a bit of an exception? Does not the Church generally hold that government should restrict its legislation of morality significantly?

The Church’s teaching that abortion should be illegal is not an exception. St. Thomas Aquinas put it this way: “Wherefore human laws do not forbid all vices, from which the virtuous abstain, but only the more grievous vices, from which it is possible for the majority to abstain; and chiefly those that are to the hurt of others, without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained: thus human law prohibits murder, theft and such like.” [ emphasis added]. Abortion qualifies as a grievous vice that hurts others, and the lack of prohibition of this evil by society is something by which human society cannot be maintained. As Pope John Paul II has emphasized, the denial of the right to life, in principle, sets the stage, in principle, for the denial of all other rights.

12. What about elected officials who happen to be of the same party affiliation? Are they committing a sin by being in the same party, even if they don’t advocate pro-choice views? Are they guilty by association?

Being of the same political party as those who advocate pro-abortion is indeed a serious evil IF I belong to this political party IN ORDER TO ASSOCIATE MYSELF with that party’s advocacy of pro-abortion policies. However, it can also be true that being of such a political party has as its purpose to change the policies of the party. Of course, if this is the purpose, one would have to consider whether it is reasonable to think the political party’s policies can be changed. Assuming that it is reasonable to think so, then it would be morally justifiable to remain in that political party. Remaining in that political party cannot be instrumental in the advancing of pro-abortion policies (especially if I am busily striving to change the party’s policies) as can my VOTING for candidates or for a political party with a pro-abortion policy.

13. What about voting for a pro-abortion person for something like state treasurer, in which case the candidate would have no say on matters of life in the capacity of her duties, it just happens to be her personal position. This would not be a sin, right?

If someone were running for state treasurer and that candidate made it a point to state publicly that he was in favor of exterminating people over the age of 70, would you vote for him? The fact that the candidate has that evil in his mind tells you that there are easily other evils in his mind; and the fact that he would publicly state it is a danger signal. If personal character matters in a political candidate, and personal character involves the kind of thoughts a person harbors, then such a candidate who publicly states that he is in favor of the evil of exterminating people over the age of 70 - or children who are unborn - has also disqualified himself from receiving a Catholic’s vote. I would go further and say that such a candidate, in principle - in the light of the natural law - disqualifies himself from public office.

14. Is it a mortal sin to vote for a pro-abortion candidate?

Except in the case in which a voter is faced with all pro-abortion candidates (in which case, as explained in question 8 above, he or she strives to determine which of them would cause the let damage in this regard), a candidate that is pro-abortion disqualifies himself from receiving a Catholic’s vote. This is because being pro-abortion cannot simply be placed alongside the candidate's other positions on Medicare and unemployment, for example; and this is because abortion is intrinsically evil and cannot be morally justified for any reason or set of circumstances. To vote for such a candidate even with the knowledge that the candidate is pro-abortion is to become an accomplice in the moral evil of abortion. If the voter also knows this, then the voter sins mortally.

Stephen F. Torraco

Saturday, October 13, 2012

10 Ways Catholics Can Live the Year of Faith

Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, Wis., chairman of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, offers "10 Ways Catholics Can Live the Year of Faith," culled from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

1. Participate in Mass
The Year of Faith is meant to promote a personal encounter with Jesus. This occurs most immediately in the Eucharist. Regular Mass attendance strengthens one’s faith through the Scriptures, the Creed, other prayers, sacred music, the homily, receiving Communion and being part of a faith community.

2. Go to confession.
Catholics find strength and grow deeper in their faith through participation in the sacrament of penance and reconciliation. Confession urges people to turn back to God, express sorrow for falling short and open their lives to the power of God’s healing grace. It forgives the injuries of the past and provides strength for the future.

3. Learn about the lives of the saints.
The saints are timeless examples of how to live a Christian life, and they provide endless hope. Not only were they sinners who kept trying to grow closer to God, but they also exemplify ways a person can serve God: through teaching, missionary work, charity, prayer and simply striving to please God in the ordinary actions and decisions of daily life.

4. Read the Bible daily.
Scripture offers firsthand access to the word of God and tells the story of human salvation. Catholics — through lectio divina (prayerful reading of Scripture) or other methods — can become more attuned to the word of God. Either way, the Bible is a must for growth in the Year of Faith.

5. Read the documents of Vatican II.
The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) ushered in a great renewal of the Church. As the Church celebrates the 50th anniversary of this Council, Catholics reflect on how it influenced the Mass, the role of the laity, how the Church understands itself and its relationship with other Christians and non-Christians. To continue this renewal, Catholics must understand what the Council taught and how it enriches the lives of believers.

6. Study the Catechism.
Published exactly 30 years after the start of the Second Vatican Council, the Catechism of the Catholic Church covers the beliefs, moral teachings, prayer and sacraments of the Catholic Church in one volume. It’s a resource for growing in understanding of the faith. Another helpful resource is the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults.

7. Volunteer in the parish.
The Year of Faith can’t only be about study and reflection. The solid grounding of the Scriptures, the Council and the Catechism must translate into action. The parish is a great place to start, and each person’s gifts help build up the community. People are welcome as ministers of hospitality, liturgical musicians, lectors, catechists and in other roles in parish life.

8. Help those in need.
The Church urges Catholics to donate to charity and volunteer to help the poor during the Year of Faith. This means to personally encounter Christ in the poor, marginalized and vulnerable. Helping others brings Catholics face-to-face with Christ and offers an example for the rest of the world.

9. Invite a friend to Mass.
The Year of Faith may be global in its scope, focusing on a renewal of faith and evangelization for the whole Church, but real change occurs at the local level. A personal invitation can make all the difference to someone who has drifted from the faith or feels alienated from the Church. Everyone knows people like this, so everyone can extend a loving welcome.

10. Incorporate the Beatitudes into daily life.
The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) provide a rich blueprint for Christian living. Their wisdom can help all to be more humble, patient, just, transparent, loving, forgiving and free. It’s precisely the example of lived faith needed to draw people to the Church in the year ahead.
These guidelines are nothing more than our primary obligations as believing Catholics, but let us embrace them anew, amid this period of testing and trial.

Read more:

More From Porta Fidei

With the following words, Pope Benedict opened the Year of Faith with his motu propio "Porta Fidei"

"The “door of faith” (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime. It begins with baptism (cf. Rom 6:4), through which we can address God as Father, and it ends with the passage through death to eternal life, fruit of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, whose will it was, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, to draw those who believe in him into his own glory (cf. Jn 17:22). To profess faith in the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is to believe in one God who is Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8): the Father, who in the fullness of time sent his Son for our salvation; Jesus Christ, who in the mystery of his death and resurrection redeemed the world; the Holy Spirit, who leads the Church across the centuries as we await the Lord’s glorious return."

Friday, October 12, 2012

From the Door Of Faith

"We cannot accept that salt should become tasteless or the light be kept hidden (cf. Mt 5:13-16). The people of today can still experience the need to go to the well, like the Samaritan woman, in order to hear Jesus, who invites us to believe in him and to draw upon the source of living water welling up within him (cf. Jn 4:14). We must rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the word of God, faithfully handed down by the Church, and on the bread of life, offered as sustenance for his disciples (cf. Jn 6:51). Indeed, the teaching of Jesus still resounds in our day with the same power: “Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life” (Jn6:27). The question posed by his listeners is the same that we ask today: “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” (Jn 6:28). We know Jesus’ reply: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (Jn 6:29). Belief in Jesus Christ, then, is the way to arrive definitively at salvation.

Pope Benedict 16th on the opening of the Year of Faith, in his Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Baltimore Catechism and the Eucharist

In the Baltimore Catechism published over 100 years ago (1885), there is an excellent section on the Eucharist.

How do we know that it is possible to change one substance into another?

A. We know that it is possible to change one substance into another, because:

God changed water into blood during the plagues of Egypt.
Christ changed water into wine at the marriage of Cana.
Our own food is daily changed into the substance of our flesh and blood; and what God does gradually, He can also do instantly by an act of His will.

Ring in The Year of Faith!

Today starts the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict the 16th. Today the Church embarks on an effort to revitalize the faithful and call people back to a strong and vibrant faith in Christ the Savior. With the decline of Christianity and moral culture in Europe and America, there is no better time for the Church this year to hunker down and return to the roots of faith;  the bible, the Catechism and the documents of the Vatican 2 council.

In the midst of such a culture, the Catholic Church offers a message that is not its own, but comes from God's self-revelation in Jesus Christ two thousand years ago, yet is ever new and renewing as it is received, celebrated, lived, and contemplated today. The Church offers to all people the possibility of encountering the living God today and finding in him lasting meaning and hope.

    At 12 Noon on October 11, 2012, hundreds of Catholic churches and thousands of people across the United States will be joining together to ring in the first day of the Year of Faith. Every church is invited to take part.   Here is an online resource to find out more about how to participate in the Year of Faith.

    Not only can you renew your faith and share the gospel with others, but you can can obtain a plenary indulgence in the process! How cool is that?

From Pope Benedict on the Proclamation:  "The Year of Faith, from this perspective, is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Saviour of the world. In the mystery of his death and resurrection, God has revealed in its fullness the Love that saves and calls us to conversion of life through the forgiveness of sins (cf. Acts 5:31). For Saint Paul, this Love ushers us into a new life: “We were buried ... with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4). Through faith, this new life shapes the whole of human existence according to the radical new reality of the resurrection. To the extent that he freely cooperates, man’s thoughts and affections, mentality and conduct are slowly purified and transformed, on a journey that is never completely finished in this life. “Faith working through love” (Gal 5:6) becomes a new criterion of understanding and action that changes the whole of man’s life (cf. Rom 12:2; Col 3:9-10; Eph 4:20-29; 2 Cor 5:17).

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sin Never Justifies Schism

Here is a great response from Bryan Cross, former Calvinist, on Called to Communion.  He was responding to a commenter who declares that Catholicism can't possibly be the true church because of the sins of popes, priests, bishops and Catholics in general.  The commenter brought up exaggerated myths of the evil Church persecuting and killing "thousands and thousands" during the Inquisition as well as the priest sex abuse scandal. (there is no denying the fact that 4% of priests were involved in sexual abuse, but this number is no higher than that of clergy in other religious groups. The stain upon the Church for the next 500 years will not be the priest abusers but the bishops who hid them) In his response was one of the most eloquent arguments I have read to explain that the sinfulness of religious leaders never justifies schism.

"Perhaps we Catholic converts are not so ignorant of the sins of Catholic leaders as you imagine, not only sins committed in the centuries past, but even in our own lifetime. Perhaps we read about them in all their titillating and disgusting details, before we decided to become Catholic. Remember, we were Calvinists, not entirely unaware of our own depravity, and thus already inclined to think not only of fellow sinning Calvinists, but especially of sinning non-Calvinists, “there but for the grace of God go I.”

Perhaps, however, our becoming Catholic is not on account of ignorance of the sins of Catholics. Perhaps we have looked even deeper into history, and come to understand and believe that Christ founded only one Church, and gave none of us authority to start our own sect, and call it Christ’s Church. Perhaps we've recognized that even the one to whom Christ gave the keys of the Kingdom denied Him three times, and another to whom He gave authority to forgive and retain sins betrayed Him to death. Perhaps in this deeper history we have learned from St. Ignatius of Antioch, and come to understand that we are to do nothing apart from the bishop. Perhaps we came to understand through our study of the Donatist schism in the fourth century that sins by Catholic leaders, no matter how horrendous and disgraceful, never justify the sin of schism from the Church, or dispense us from our obligation to remain in communion with the bishop, praying for him and seeking to build up the Church under his authority. St. Chrysostom, himself a bishop, reportedly said that the floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops. Perhaps that sensibility is part of the very Catholic faith deeper in history than the sins of the middle ages. Perhaps we recognize and expect that there will be, as our Lord promised, tares of great evil mixed in with the wheat. But, as orthodox Catholics such as St. Chrysostom have always known, that gives us no authority to form a schism from the Church, or as St. Irenaeus put it, “assemble in unauthorized meetings.” Two wrongs don’t make a right. Sins by bishops do not justify departing from the Church Christ founded, and starting our own sect. They are the occasion, as in the face of persecution or suffering or death, in which Christ calls us to take up our cross and die. Those who choose euthanasia in the face of suffering, or abortion in the case of an unwanted pregnancy, or apostasy in the case of persecution, or schism in the case of sinful bishops, are forsaking the cross, and disobeying our Lord.

The attempt to ‘restart Catholicism’ is just what Protestantism is, and in the American spirit of independent entrepreneurship and disregard for tradition and history, denominationalism and independent sects proliferated into the thousands in the US in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and have now been exported from the US all over the world. The founders of these denominations and sects were typically well intended, but they were mere men, and the sects they founded are all destined to decline and fade into history. Many already have gone extinct. The Church Christ founded, however, has remained these two thousand years, and will endure until Christ returns. Maybe therefore our becoming Catholic is not because we are ignorant of the number and magnitude of sins Catholic leaders have committed; maybe it is because we have discovered that how we respond to such sins, whether by schism from the Church or fidelity to her, is part of the test Christ has placed before us in this life, and part of the cross to which we as Christians are called. The Church is Christ’s family, and there are sinners in this family, but that doesn't justify leaving the family and starting a new one. When one member suffers, we all suffer, precisely because starting a new family is not an option.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan"

Vatican Lucifer Telescope Again?

Yesterday I noticed a huge spike in visits to this blog, over a hundred more than usual and noted they were all going to my old post about the "Vatican telescope  named Lucifer." I dispelled this awful myth a couple of years ago, but it has now become an urban internet legend. Apparently there must have been some news again and people went to search google and found my site, which ranks about number three in the search. The truth behind this dark rumor can be found here. Cue the evil mysterious music....
   I take comfort in knowing that the Church continues to be attacked from within and without.

"Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake."

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Celebrate The Year of Faith! Read the Catechism

This catechism on line is powered by software designed by my friend and blogger Jeff Pinyan. He plays hammer dulcimer too!

The Infallible Knowledge of Some Protestants

Renee Linn has an excellent post up on Forget The Roads regarding the way in which some evangelicals, particularly the fundamental variety, interpret scripture. It's either their way or the highway, which sort of imparts an infallibility to their interpretation, without necessarily saying it.  See below:

"Evangelicals tend to lump Catholic teaching in with liberal theology and are convinced that only those of the Evangelical persuasion take the Bible at its word. The hypocrisy of this viewpoint became clear to me as I examined verses like 1 Peter 3:21– “Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you” – and Philippians 2:12 – “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” – verses which the Catholic Church takes quite literally, but which we as Evangelicals insisted on explaining away because they contradicted our beliefs. "It became apparent to me that Evangelical theology does not take the Scriptures more literally than Catholic theology. Despite our insistence that we Evangelicals were “the good guys” who stick to a literal understanding of Scripture, we told jokes about people who believe in the Real Presence. “They probably think God is a celestial chicken!” we would say, referring to a goofy literal interpretation of Psalm 91:4: “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.” In other words, if you as a Catholic or Orthodox Christian put John 6:22-71, Luke 22:19, and 1 Corinthians 11:29 together and come up with a literal understanding of the Real Presence, you are just too dumb to understand that some things in Scripture are meant to be taken figuratively. We had you in a box; if you didn't understand Scripture the way we understood it, you were damned one way or the other. If you didn't take literally what we took literally, you were a dastardly liberal. If you didn't take figuratively what we took figuratively, you were a superstitious Catholic. Only Evangelicals struck the right balance. This of course presupposed that we had infallible knowledge of what God meant to be taken literally in Holy Scripture and what God meant to be taken figuratively – and there’s the rub. No Evangelical pastor will tell you that he is rendered infallible when he preaches that the secret rapture can occur at any moment. No liberal theologian will tell you that he is rendered infallible when he writes books explaining that there is no hell. No Protestant (in his right mind) claims infallibility. Yet by stigmatizing or anathematizing anyone who takes literally what they take figuratively, or takes figuratively they take literally, both conservative and liberal Protestants are claiming that that they do have infallible knowledge of how Scripture is to be understood. And this has consequences."

See the full post here

Sunday, October 07, 2012

"La Petite Voie"

I have been working on this little tune for a couple months now. When I got to the point of naming it, I just kept thinking of Saint Therese and her simple, joyful little way of loving God and others. I didn't finish it in time for her feast day last week but here it is now; "La Petite Voie," the little way.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

The Church Needs An HIV Positive Saint

As a short-term medical missionary to Haiti for 15 years, I realize there is a fair likelihood that we are seeing a number of patients who are HIV positive but unaware of the infection. Some estimate that the percentage of HIV positive patients in Haiti is around 1.9 percent, but no one really knows for sure. A question came up recently regarding whether we should test every patient we see for HIV. If the patient tests positive, are we equipped as a short term mission team to deal with all the implications of that discovery?
    There is a disturbing practice, even among some Catholic health care workers, to promote the use of condoms as a preventative measure to limit the spread of the infection. However, our Holy Father has already expressed the teaching that condom use is not the answer to prevent HIV spread, and this has been supported by Harvard AIDS expert Dr. Edward Green. Using condoms may actually increase the spread of AIDS, and only abstinence has been proven truly effective in containing the virus.
         In a marriage where one of the partners is HIV positive, is it morally permissible to recommend condoms?  No, because the marital act is meant to be both procreative as well as unitive.  To separate those two aspects of the marital act is to go against a constant teaching of the Church, since the beginning. “The sexual act carried out with a condom cannot be considered a fully conjugal act as it has been voluntarily deprived of its intrinsic meanings.” (Father Perez-Soba) But isn't condom use in marriage going to prevent the transmission of HIV and prevent death? Not according to the studies by Dr. Edward Green, it may lessen the chances, but you still put your spouse at risk.
    So what's a married couple to do?  Sexual intimacy/openness to life is one of the goods of marriage, but not the only good. Sexual intimacy is not necessary for survival despite our cultures' insistence that it is. The only real option when a spouse is HIV positive is abstinence. See this article by Dr. May, professor of moral theology at John Paul 2 Institute, Catholic University.

        Abstinence in marriage takes heroic virtue and a strong and radical faith in Jesus Christ, but isn't that what we are all called to?  One of the ways that Catholics receive the grace to live this life of radical faith is through the intercession of the saints and the example of heroic virtue they provide for us. I hope that in the near future, we may see the canonization of an HIV positive individual, whose heroic virtue allowed them to live abstinently in marriage. Given the ongoing issue of HIV positivity in our world, the Church surely needs a saint who was HIV positive.

Fundamentalist to Atheist to Catholic

Here's an interesting story of a student, Joshua Horn, from Arizona State University who grew up as a fundamentalist Christian later to become an atheist in college. Here is an interview when he was president of the campus of the Secular Free Thought Society before his conversion. About two years later while reading the Litany of the Sacred Heart, he had a mystical conversion experience where Christ revealed himself to him and he believed.

 "I was actually kind of annoyed that it happened, and scared – not comforted in the least,” Horn says. “I didn’t want it, I didn’t think it was possible. It just happens, and you come out of it realizing that this obliges you to change your life and the entire course you thought it was taking immediately.”

The next day, he resigned his position as "top atheist" which caused a scandal among his colleagues at ASU, when he became Catholic. Joshua now volunteers at the Catholic Newman Center on campus counseling and encouraging others about the Catholic faith.
   The Holy Spirit blows where it will (Jn 3:8) and it is difficult  for us to comprehend the mystery of conversion. However, stories like these encourage us to persevere in daily prayer for conversions and to offer up our daily trials for the salvation of others. (Col 1: 24)

The Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, united substantially with the word of God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Divinity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father is well pleased, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, rich to all who invoke Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our sins, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, saturated with revilings, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, crushed for our iniquities, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, made obedient unto death, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord,
Lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
V. Jesus, meek and humble of Heart.
R. Make our hearts like unto Thine.

Let us pray

Almighty and everlasting God, look upon the Heart of Thy well-beloved Son and upon the acts of praise and satisfaction which He renders unto Thee in the name of sinners; and do Thou, in Thy great goodness, grant pardon to them who seek Thy mercy, in the name of the same Thy Son, Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, world without end.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Southern Baptists Struggle to Understand What They Believe

I missed this recent debacle back in May among our Baptist brethren. It seems that traditional southern Baptists are trying to re-articulate what it is they believe about salvation. After all these years, they are still debating whether Calvin was correct or Arminius was correct. (It appears that Calvin may be losing this debate.)
   Unfortunately for them, the perpiscuity of scripture is not bringing any clarity to this issue and the over 900 comments in their combox reveals quite a proof of this. How one is saved (soteriology) is a crucial theological issue and not one of the minor issues that as Christians we can politely agree to disagree about. If the bible operates correctly as their sole rule of faith why is there such a disparate view of such an important concept? Each person on each side of the issue uses hundreds of verses hurling them at the other, but the many verses from the bible are not causing them to come to an agreement.
    I take no joy in seeing the Protestant sects battling it out, but my hope is that in the midst of the battle, when there is a lull in the fighting, some may correctly conclude that the reformer's doctrine of sola scriptura is not working.  Sola Scriptura worked great to allow the reformers to break with the Church, but beyond the schism, its utility was severely limited. These ongoing vitriolic debates as seen in the combox almost 500 years after the reformation are clear proof of this.

The Value of Conversion Stories

The Supper at Emmaus by Rembrandt

Over at Called to Communion, the "naysayers" are starting to creep into the com box and disparage Jason Stellman for sharing his conversion story. One of the commenters says that "conversion stories are not enough." Another declares that Jason's story is "contradictory and hard to believe."  When I was a Protestant, we read about famous conversions and told our own conversion testimonies all the time! Yet, when a Protestant converts to Catholicism, we hear about how useless and un-important conversion stories are. I think there is definitely a double standard at work here. Most people of good will realize that the conversion story isn't a catechism. It is a starting point. They are like a door prize and are the device that will get many readers re-invigorated about their waning faith or get someone to stop by and take a look inside. Conversion stories also have the power to break "the implausibility paradigm" that so strongly prevents cross-communion conversion.
       I was a staunch anti-Catholic 9 years ago, having left the faith as a 14 year old and heard hundreds of conversion stories in the ensuing 31 years, hearing testimonies on a regular basis of how God drew people from darkness to light, etc. They were very encouraging. Now, fast-forward 30 years. When I heard stories that Protestant evangelical pastors were converting, I doubted that it could possibly be true.  (My implausibility paradigm kicked in) But then I watched the actual stories on the Journey Home (EWTN), read “Crossing the Tiber” by Steve Ray and others. I eventually came home into the arms of the Lord and His Church receiving His body and blood, real meat indeed, real drink.
         Did my journey end there? No, but it was the conversion stories that pried open a chink in my powerfully anti-Catholic suit of armor, which then allowed His Holy Spirit to do His work in my life.
When we have a “conversion fest” over another Catholic convert, it is not to be triumphalistic, nor should it ever be that way, but it accomplishes two things:
1) When published on-line with open com boxes, it encourages the new convert and lets him know that despite his tremendous personal, financial and emotional losses, he has just crossed the threshold to new joys and a new perspective on eternal things, the stuff that matters in life. He or she then finds a great number of others who have also made the same journey, and survived!
2) It encourages all the rest of us who are at different places on our journey to heaven to keep traveling towards the goal.

      When Saul of Tarsus, became a Christian, the early Church must have been overjoyed (once they got over their initial suspicions) and it made them realize this Jesus of Nazareth is even more powerful after his death and resurrection, to work such wonders in peoples' lives. That’s what a conversion story does, it allows us to marvel at the goodness of God and rejoice at his wondrous and mysterious power to change our hearts.  So, let us let Jason have his Way to Emmaus moment here (his eyes were opened in the breaking of the bread) without questioning his motives and attempting to devalue his experience.

Have any of you been blessed by reading conversion stories?

Here's my short list of conversion stories:

Rome Sweet Home  Scott Hahn
Crossing the Tiber   Steve Ray
Born Fundamentalist Born Again Catholic David Currie
My Life On The Rock   Jeff Cavins
Lead Kindly Light Thomas Howard
Surprised By Truth (11 stories) Patrick Madrid editor.
Return to Rome Francis Beckwith

Monday, October 01, 2012

Apologetics By The Numbers

  • Number of times the word "ALTAR" is found in the writings of the Early Church Fathers before the 6th century? Five hundred and forty five. 

  • Number of times the phrase "ALTAR CALL" is found in the same writings? Zero.

"Each One the Judge of His Own Belief"

Former American puritan pastor John Thayer in 1780's had these thoughts regarding the effect of sola scriptura he saw in his own life and experience. Below is the actual reprinted page from his book published in the very late 18th century. Same issues, have been occurring since the reformation when the reformers gave permission for each one to "be the judge of his own belief." Is the salvation of our eternal souls something we want to trust ourselves alone to get right? If Jesus intended this to be the case, why didn't he dictate the bible to his disciples and tell them to write everything down? Instead he told them he would build his Church on Peter and that the Holy Spirit would lead them in all truth through the Church.