Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

My Photo
Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Monday, December 31, 2012

"Sola Mia Papa" - The Fruit of the Reformation

Here is an excellent review of  the historical and scriptural evidence for the papacy and its location in Rome, Italy. Since the reformation, people have attempted to downplay the role of the papacy and the geographical city of Rome as the locus centrali of Christendom. Why? Because if there is no proof that Rome was the original location and seat of the "thing" called a papacy, you can then attempt to dismantle the belief that Christ instituted a physical, visible Church that happened to develop its locus in the center of the ancient world and remain there for 2000 years. (give or take a few decades when the papacy moved to Avignon)
   If there is no location for a papacy, then, maybe there was no papacy, and without a papacy..... one can become their own pope to fill the vacuum, which is essentially the ultimate consequence of the reformation. The ultimate fruit of Luther's new construct "Sola scriptura"  was the support and development of the doctrine of "Sola Mi Papa" which roughly translates into "I am my own pope."
Yes, I realize it's a bit an oversimplification, but at the end of the day or even at the end of 500 years, this is what you get when you separate the Church from the Scriptures. "Every plowboy can become his own pope" was a common saying in the days after 1517.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

"Sister Frostina"

Here's some novices from the Sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration having a little winter fun! These sisters have a great charism. See their mission statement below:

"We strive to direct ourselves completely toward Christ, so that we do not live for self, but rather love and serve Him in others."

Through our active participation in the Eucharistic celebration, we meet the Lord in Word and Sacrament. The Eucharistic Sacrifice is the center of our life; it strengthens and deepens our unity and forms us into a community renewed by Christ."

"We foster in a special way the continuous adoration of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament as a sign of our surrender, in thanksgiving, in atonement for sin, and in intercession for the needs of the Church, for our congregation and for the world."

Friday, December 28, 2012

Reading Scripture Through Our Own Interpretative Lens

“It is all too easy to read the traditional interpretations we have received from others into the text of Scripture. Then we may unwittingly transfer the authority of Scripture to our interpretations and invest them with a false, even an idolatrous, degree of certainty. Because traditions are re-shaped as they are passed on, after a while we may drift far from God’s Word while still insisting all our theological opinions are “biblical” and therefore true.”

Some theological opinions that people have read into scripture:

  • The belief that salvation is by faith alone (disregarding any role that works play in our eternal destiny)
  • The belief that the Bible is the only way in which God can share truth with his people
  • Accepting Jesus as "Savior and Lord" is how to be  "born-again"
  • Baptism is a symbolic public gesture to represent what has already occurred spiritually 
  • The Eucharist is symbolic and the bread and wine remain.... bread and wine.
  • Once you are "saved" you can't lose your salvation
  • The rapture is when Jesus returns and takes believers with him leaving unsaved behind
These are just a few examples of "traditional interpretations" received from others that have been read into the text of Scripture. However,  these traditional interpretations cannot be found 
in the writings of theologians, early Church fathers and the apostles themselves who wrote scripture under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit before the 16th century. So one must either believe that all those before the 16th century "got it wrong" which necessitates the belief that the Holy Spirit was unable to lead the Church in all truth or, there was a secret hidden group of persecuted true believers since John the Baptist who held to these above "traditions."  Or the other possibility is that those who hold these post reformation beliefs are guilty of "investing" scripture with their own tradition at the same time insisting they are all  "biblical."

Oh, yeah.... The author of the initial statement is none other than Dr. D.A. Carson , Protestant theologian. Sounds like he has been reading from the Church fathers:

 "...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. "   (St.Vincent of Lerins 5th Century)

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Today the universal Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Innocents. The Church recognizes these children slaughtered by Herod as the first martyrs for the faith.
     The feast of the Holy Innocents celebrated since the 6th century in the Catholic Church should inspire us to action to save innocent life that is being slaughtered in our generation. The holy innocents slaughtered by Herod died for (in place of) Christ. Wow! I never thought about it in those terms and when I read the Christmas story, tended to skip over that tragic event. Some historians believe that only a small number of children, perhaps less than twenty, were killed by Herod's soldiers. None the less, these innocent lives are honored by the Church because they faced the wrath of the sword so that the baby Jesus could escape unharmed until the time for His perfect sacrifice had come.
     St. Augustine referred to them as Infant Martyr Flowers "These then, whom Herod's cruelty tore as sucklings from their mothers' bosom, are justly hailed as "infant martyr flowers"; they were the Church's first blossoms, matured by the frost of persecution during the cold winter of unbelief."
      As with all feasts and devotional practices, the Church gives us these things as tools of sanctification and growth so we can more earnestly live our lives for Him. The purpose being that as our faith in Christ grows, our actions should also grow commensurately.
 Father, the Holy Innocents offered you praise by the death they suffered for Christ. May our lives bear witness to the faith we profess with our lips. During this cold winter of unbelief, let our lives and witness work for an end to this frost of persecution(abortion). We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pope Benedict's Urbi et Orbi Address

To the City and to the World:

Dear brothers and sisters! Kindness and truth, justice and peace have met; they have become incarnate in the child born of Mary in Bethlehem. That child is the Son of God; he is God appearing in history. His birth is a flowering of new life for all humanity. May every land become a good earth which receives and brings forth kindness and truth, justice and peace. Happy Christmas to all of you! For the rest of his message see here;

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

May the mystery and the wonder of the Incarnation never cease to amaze you on a daily basis when you contemplate and receive our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. With faith we believe God came to us as a baby born in Bethlehem and with that same faith we see him coming again to us in "our daily bread." He is truly the gift that keeps on giving!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Our Pope's Christmas Homily

Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Again and again the beauty of this Gospel touches our hearts: a beauty that is the splendour of truth. Again and again it astonishes us that God makes himself a child so that we may love him, so that we may dare to love him, and as a child trustingly lets himself be taken into our arms. It is as if God were saying: I know that my glory frightens you, and that you are trying to assert yourself in the face of my grandeur. So now I am coming to you as a child, so that you can accept me and love me.
I am also repeatedly struck by the Gospel writer’s almost casual remark that there was no room for them at the inn. Inevitably the question arises, what would happen if Mary and Joseph were to knock at my door. Would there be room for them? And then it occurs to us that Saint John takes up this seemingly chance comment about the lack of room at the inn, which drove the Holy Family into the stable; he explores it more deeply and arrives at the heart of the matter when he writes: "he came to his own home, and his own people received him not" (Jn 1:11). The great moral question of our attitude towards the homeless, towards refugees and migrants, takes on a deeper dimension: do we really have room for God when he seeks to enter under our roof? Do we have time and space for him? Do we not actually turn away God himself? We begin to do so when we have no time for him. The faster we can move, the more efficient our time-saving appliances become, the less time we have. And God? The question of God never seems urgent. Our time is already completely full. But matters go deeper still. Does God actually have a place in our thinking? Our process of thinking is structured in such a way that he simply ought not to exist. Even if he seems to knock at the door of our thinking, he has to be explained away. If thinking is to be taken seriously, it must be structured in such a way that the "God hypothesis" becomes superfluous. There is no room for him. Not even in our feelings and desires is there any room for him. We want ourselves. We want what we can seize hold of, we want happiness that is within our reach, we want our plans and purposes to succeed. We are so "full" of ourselves that there is no room left for God. And that means there is no room for others either, for children, for the poor, for the stranger. By reflecting on that one simple saying about the lack of room at the inn, we have come to see how much we need to listen to Saint Paul’s exhortation: "Be transformed by the renewal of your mind" (Rom 12:2). Paul speaks of renewal, the opening up of our intellect (nous), of the whole way we view the world and ourselves. The conversion that we need must truly reach into the depths of our relationship with reality. Let us ask the Lord that we may become vigilant for his presence, that we may hear how softly yet insistently he knocks at the door of our being and willing. Let us ask that we may make room for him within ourselves, that we may recognize him also in those through whom he speaks to us: children, the suffering, the abandoned, those who are excluded and the poor of this world.
There is another verse from the Christmas story on which I should like to reflect with you – the angels’ hymn of praise, which they sing out following the announcement of the new-born Saviour: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased." God is glorious. God is pure light, the radiance of truth and love. He is good. He is true goodness, goodness par excellence. The angels surrounding him begin by simply proclaiming the joy of seeing God’s glory. Their song radiates the joy that fills them. In their words, it is as if we were hearing the sounds of heaven. There is no question of attempting to understand the meaning of it all, but simply the overflowing happiness of seeing the pure splendour of God’s truth and love. We want to let this joy reach out and touch us: truth exists, pure goodness exists, pure light exists. God is good, and he is the supreme power above all powers. All this should simply make us joyful tonight, together with the angels and the shepherds.
Linked to God’s glory on high is peace on earth among men. Where God is not glorified, where he is forgotten or even denied, there is no peace either. Nowadays, though, widespread currents of thought assert the exact opposite: they say that religions, especially monotheism, are the cause of the violence and the wars in the world. If there is to be peace, humanity must first be liberated from them. Monotheism, belief in one God, is said to be arrogance, a cause of intolerance, because by its nature, with its claim to possess the sole truth, it seeks to impose itself on everyone. Now it is true that in the course of history, monotheism has served as a pretext for intolerance and violence. It is true that religion can become corrupted and hence opposed to its deepest essence, when people think they have to take God’s cause into their own hands, making God into their private property. We must be on the lookout for these distortions of the sacred. While there is no denying a certain misuse of religion in history, yet it is not true that denial of God would lead to peace. If God’s light is extinguished, man’s divine dignity is also extinguished. Then the human creature would cease to be God’s image, to which we must pay honour in every person, in the weak, in the stranger, in the poor. Then we would no longer all be brothers and sisters, children of the one Father, who belong to one another on account of that one Father. The kind of arrogant violence that then arises, the way man then despises and tramples upon man: we saw this in all its cruelty in the last century. Only if God’s light shines over man and within him, only if every single person is desired, known and loved by God is his dignity inviolable, however wretched his situation may be. On this Holy Night, God himself became man; as Isaiah prophesied, the child born here is "Emmanuel", God with us (Is 7:14). And down the centuries, while there has been misuse of religion, it is also true that forces of reconciliation and goodness have constantly sprung up from faith in the God who became man. Into the darkness of sin and violence, this faith has shone a bright ray of peace and goodness, which continues to shine.
So Christ is our peace, and he proclaimed peace to those far away and to those near at hand (cf. Eph 2:14, 17). How could we now do other than pray to him: Yes, Lord, proclaim peace today to us too, whether we are far away or near at hand. Grant also to us today that swords may be turned into ploughshares (Is 2:4), that instead of weapons for warfare, practical aid may be given to the suffering. Enlighten those who think they have to practise violence in your name, so that they may see the senselessness of violence and learn to recognize your true face. Help us to become people "with whom you are pleased" – people according to your image and thus people of peace.
Once the angels departed, the shepherds said to one another: Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened for us (cf. Lk 2:15). The shepherds went with haste to Bethlehem, the Evangelist tells us (cf. 2:16). A holy curiosity impelled them to see this child in a manger, who the angel had said was the Saviour, Christ the Lord. The great joy of which the angel spoke had touched their hearts and given them wings.
Let us go over to Bethlehem, says the Church’s liturgy to us today. Trans-eamus is what the Latin Bible says: let us go "across", daring to step beyond, to make the "transition" by which we step outside our habits of thought and habits of life, across the purely material world into the real one, across to the God who in his turn has come across to us. Let us ask the Lord to grant that we may overcome our limits, our world, to help us to encounter him, especially at the moment when he places himself into our hands and into our heart in the Holy Eucharist.
Let us go over to Bethlehem: as we say these words to one another, along with the shepherds, we should not only think of the great "crossing over" to the living God, but also of the actual town of Bethlehem and all those places where the Lord lived, ministered and suffered. Let us pray at this time for the people who live and suffer there today. Let us pray that there may be peace in that land. Let us pray that Israelis and Palestinians may be able to live their lives in the peace of the one God and in freedom. Let us also pray for the countries of the region, for Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and their neighbours: that there may be peace there, that Christians in those lands where our faith was born may be able to continue living there, that Christians and Muslims may build up their countries side by side in God’s peace.
The shepherds made haste. Holy curiosity and holy joy impelled them. In our case, it is probably not very often that we make haste for the things of God. God does not feature among the things that require haste. The things of God can wait, we think and we say. And yet he is the most important thing, ultimately the one truly important thing. Why should we not also be moved by curiosity to see more closely and to know what God has said to us? At this hour, let us ask him to touch our hearts with the holy curiosity and the holy joy of the shepherds, and thus let us go over joyfully to Bethlehem, to the Lord who today once more comes to meet us. Amen.
© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Last Day of the Novena for Sandy Hook

Even though this is the last day of our novena ( 9 day prayer) let us still continue to remember the families of Sandy Hook and all those touched by this horrendous event.

Lord Jesus, as we anticipate your coming, we pray for hope to be born again in the hearts of so many who lost loved ones. May your comfort and joy surround them and lift the despondency of their hearts. May the reality of your Incarnation give them hope that they will be reunited with their families.

Our Father....
Hail Mary....
Glory Be....

 In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Day 8 Novena (Prayer) for Sandy Hook

Dear Lord, as we contemplate the Blessed Mother who bore the Savior with a love beyond all telling, give strength and grace to all the mothers who lost their children through a violent and senseless act last week. Blessed Mother, you who experienced a soul pierced with a sword, we ask you to intercede for the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Massacre.

Our Father....
Hail Mary....
Glory Be....

 In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen

Saturday, December 22, 2012

"Nothing Says Christmas Like a Hammer Dulcimer"

Free Download of "The Holly and the Ivy"

This is a guitar and mandolin duet I recorded for my last track on the Just Yulin' Around CD. Originally I thought this song was secular, but I finally read the lyrics, and found they are a very moving portrayal of the gospel message using the holly and the ivy as a metaphor. Feel free to download here

God bless you and Merry ChristMass to all my faithful readers of Crossed The Tiber.

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.

Refrain : O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

The holly bears a blossom,
As white as any flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Saviour.

The holly bears a berry,
As red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good.

The holly bears a prickle,
As sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.

The holly bears a bark,
As bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all.

Mary's Role in Salvation History

This time of year, the Christian world once again takes a look at Mary's role in salvation. I always hope and pray that someone's heart will be open to understand Mary from the Catholic perspective  this time of year. Why is that so important? Because ultimately Mary leads us to her son and by proclaiming her immaculate state, we further glorify Christ. "What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ." (CC487)  God of the universe made Mary fit for the purpose of bringing the second person of the Trinity, in the flesh, to our world. From the Catechism:

          From among the descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of his Son. “Full of grace,” Mary is “the most excellent fruit of redemption” (SC 103): from the first instant of her conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin and she remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life.

    509      Mary is truly “Mother of God” since she is the mother of the eternal Son of God made man, who is God himself.

    510      Mary “remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to him, a virgin in carrying him, a virgin in nursing him at her breast, always a virgin” (St. Augustine, Serm. 186, 1: PL 38, 999): with her whole being she is “the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38).

    511      The Virgin Mary “cooperated through free faith and obedience in human salvation” (LG 56). She uttered her yes “in the name of all human nature” (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 30, 1). By her obedience she became the new Eve, mother of the living.

(Catholic Church. (2000). Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd Ed.) (128). Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference.)

Advent Wisdom from Our Papa

"Amid the distractions and superficiality of our world, may we learn - in faith, hope and love - to recognize and bear witness to His presence, radiating in our lives the light and joy which filled the stable of Bethlehem."  
Pope Benedict, December 12th.

Day 7 Novena (prayer) for Sandy Hook

Our Father, we ask for your mercy and grace on all those responders to the tragedy last week, especially the first responders at the school.  We pray for strength of heart and mind for them and healing. We pray for all the priests, pastors, and counselors who have the responsibility of caring for the survivors. Give them supernatural wisdom and empathy that only comes from you.

Our Father....
Hail Mary....
Glory Be....

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day 5 Novena (Prayer) For Sandy Hook

Dear Father, we pray for all the brothers and sisters of the victims who are now starting to realize that their siblings are not coming back. Would you grant their little hearts the strength to endure this   painful reality. Give their parents a special grace and wisdom to help them through this most difficult time.

Our Father....
Hail Mary....
Glory Be....

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Day 4 Novena (Prayer) for Sandy Hook

Lord Jesus, as the families of Newtown begin to bury their dead, grant your peace and supernatural presence to them in this, the hardest of moment of their life. Let them not give into despair, but to be encouraged that your coming into the world meant that death would lose its power and victory over us.

Our Father...
Hail Mary....
Glory be......

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day 3 Novena for Sandy Hook

Lord God, I can't even imagine the pain of losing one of my children, yet you loved us so much that you gave your only begotten son to suffer and die for us. Have mercy on all those who lost their children and loved ones.

"Our Father .....
Hail Mary....
Glory be....
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen."

Monday, December 17, 2012

The O Antiphons Begin Today!

The "O" Antiphons, An Ancient Advent Devotion

From as early as the fifth century, Christians have recited, chanted or prayed the "O" Antiphons as part of their evening vespers (prayers) in the octave before Christmas from December 17 to the 23. Each antiphon is from Isaiah's prophecy of the coming Messiah. They are preceded with the exclamation "Oh", hence the name, the "O" antiphons. The beautiful advent hymn, O Come, O Come Emmanuel annunciates each antiphon.

The following explanation is from Father William Saunders:

The importance of “O Antiphons” is twofold: Each one highlights a title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Also, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah. Let’s now look at each antiphon with just a sample of Isaiah’s related prophecies :

O Sapientia: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (11:2-3), and “Wonderful is His counsel and great is His wisdom.” (28:29).

O Adonai: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” (11:4-5); and “Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us.” (33:22).

O Radix Jesse: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” (11:1), and A On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.” (11:10). Remember also that Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).

O Clavis David: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” Isaiah had prophesied, AI will place the Key of the House of David on His shoulder; when he opens, no one will shut, when he shuts, no one will open.” (22:22), and “His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David’s throne, and over His kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.” (9:6).

O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.” (9:1).

O Rex Gentium: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” Isaiah had prophesied, “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” (9:5), and “He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” (2:4) .

O Emmanuel: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The Lord himself will give you this sign: the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”

(7:14). Remember “Emmanuel” means “God is with us.”

According to Professor Robert Greenberg of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose. If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one - Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia - the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come.” Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, “Tomorrow, I will come.” So the “O Antiphons” not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.

What wonderful tools our Church gives us to increase our devotion to Christ at this holy season!
(reposted from my blog from 2011)

Day 2 of Novena for Sandy Hook

Today is the second day of my personal novena for the victims and families of the Sandy Hook Massacre. Won't you join me in praying daily  until Christmas Day? Perhaps go to daily mass and offer up your Communion for the families.

Lord Jesus, hear the cries of the suffering families who have lost their children and parents and friends. Grant them the grace to see your face and experience your healing touch,  despite the darkness of evil that has visited them.

Our Father....
Hail Mary...
Glory Be....

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Novena For the Sandy Hook Families

In 9 days it will be Christmas. Today the Church celebrates Gaudete Sunday, which is a day to Rejoice in Christ based on the scripture reading for today Phil 4: "Rejoice in the Lord always." Even in the darkest of times and situations we still have reason to rejoice because Christ is coming and will ultimately make all wrongs right and dry all the tears and heal the brokenness of all the hearts who have been open to Him.

As we go through these last 9 days of Advent preparing for the Lord, let's take a moment each day to pray for the families and victims of the Connecticut massacre and dare I say, for the soul of the troubled shooter as well.  Since this time of year is focused on the Holy Family, it is all the more appropriate that we direct our prayers to the Blessed Mother, Saint Joseph her most chaste spouse and the Lord of course asking for their intercession for these families who lost their precious little ones.

Check out Renee's post on Gaudete Sunday here.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Our Lady of Guadalupe For Atheists and Protestants

The Universal Church recently celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe this week.  This feast remembers the appearance of Mary to a poor humble peasant 500 years ago. This is an article telling the story of the apparition of the Blessed Mother* in Mexico and the miraculous sign she left us:  the painted tilma which has not decayed in 500 years! The apparition of the Blessed Mother led to the mass conversion of a country and culture to Christianity and the end to child sacrifices.  No wonder this country has such a strong devotion the mother of our Lord.
   Not only is it helpful for atheists to see such evidence of an un-explainable phenomenon, but it may stimulate our non-Catholic Christian brethren to take another look at this faith that has so many miracles associated with its proclamation.

*Why do I call her blessed?  Not because I am worshiping her! Catholics worship God alone but we honor, venerate and bless Mary because Scripture tells us that "All generations will call me blessed."  I want to be a part of that generation that calls her blessed, don't you?

Pope Benedict Offers Prayers For Sandy Hook


"The Holy Father was promptly informed of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and he has asked me to convey his heartfelt grief and the assurance of this closeness in prayer to the victims and their families, and to all affected by the shocking event. In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy he asks God, our Father, to console all those who mourn and to sustain the entire community with the spiritual strength which triumphs over violence by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love."

Cardinal Tarcisio Berton,
Secretary of State

Friday, December 14, 2012

Catholic CD Top of the Billboard Charts!


Check out this article on the Advent at Ephesus CD. It was produced by a Catholic couple whose reversion to their Catholic faith lead them to abandon careers at the top of the entertainment industry, and pursue a higher calling.
  The recording of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, Advent At Ephesus has reached number one on the classical traditional category of the Billboard charts. This bumped the CD, Fifty Shades of Grey, the Classical Album , a compilation of classical music that the author of the erotic sado-masochistic best-selling novel listened to while writing her series. Thank the Lord that the recording of the daily chanting prayers of a cloistered group of authentic Catholic sisters can rise to number one in the charts. Maybe there's hope for this world after all.

Pray for the Victims of the Connecticut Massacre

Please pray for the victims and families of the Connecticut school shooting. The parish there is responding and priests have been at the scene today ministering to families. See the link here.

Eternal rest, grant unto them O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon them 
May they rest in peace Amen

May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Incarnation and Free Will

Photo: "God respects our freedom of will; he did not even enter this human order of ours without consulting a woman.  So neither does he elevate us to partake of his divine nature without our free consent."  Ven. Fulton J. Sheen

"God respects our freedom of will; he did not even enter this human order of ours without consulting a woman. So neither does he elevate us to partake of his divine nature without our free consent."

Ven. Fulton J. Sheen

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pope's First Tweet 12/12/12

Today on 12/12/12, the vicar of Christ on earth used the digital social media platform of this age, Twitter, to speak to the world. So appropriate that he chose this date to tweet, given he is a direct successor of the chief apostle of the Original Twelve, Saint Peter.

 "Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart."

In a short time, the pope's followers on Twitter zoomed to one million. Hopefully with 1.5 billion Catholics in the world, we should see that number climb exponentially.

Similarly, Pope Pius XI was the first pope to broadcast live on radio in 1931. In the 1920's he invited Marconi to build a broadcast station of the grounds of the Vatican and Vatican Radio was launched. See here how the Vatican Radio was used over the years to bless mankind in times of war and pestilence. In their position as vicar of Christ, the popes realize the tremendous responsibility and possibilities of proclaiming the gospel through the latest form of social communication.

May God use every available means of social media in this digital age to expand the his kingdom to bring as many to Heaven as possible.  After reading Jesus of Nazareth by our Holy Father, I can imagine it is no small challenge to fit the thoughts of this theological genius into 140 characters or less!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Who Do You Trust, the Vatican, Harold Camping or the Mayans?

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican's top astronomer has some assurances to offer: The world won't be ending in about two weeks, despite predictions to the contrary.

"The Rev. Jose Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, wrote in Wednesday's Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano that "it's not even worth discussing" doomsday scenarios based on the Mayan calendar that are flooding the Internet ahead of the purported Dec. 21 apocalypse.

Yes, Funes wrote, the universe is expanding and if some models are correct, will at one point "break away" — but not for billions of years. But he said Christians profoundly believe that "death can never have the last word."

The Mayan Long Count calendar begins in 3,114 B.C., marking time in roughly 394-year periods known as Baktuns. The Mayans wrote that the significant 13th Baktun ends Dec. 21."

Oh yes, as an aside, the Jesuit Vatican astronomers did not name their new telescope LUCIFER as the fundamentalists are spreading all over the internet. Check out the truth here.


"Unnatural Law" is Fully Funded!

The Blackstone Film Production Company announced today that they reached their goal of fundraising and will be able to begin to film "Unnatural Law," a documentary on what the Church teaches regarding homosexuality. Let's keep praying that this will help realign the "collective moral compass" of our society.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Today the Church observes a most solemn feast, the immaculate conception of Mary. God saw to it that she would not be stained (macula) with original sin because of her crucial role in salvation history. Just as the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament could not be touched by human hands (ie. sin) the ark of the New Covenant would not carry the stain of original sin.
God chose to use the grace obtained for her by her very own child's death on the cross and apply it to her at the moment of conception to redeem her.

  • How did God apply Jesus saving grace to Mary at her conception, when her son wouldn't die on the cross for another 33 years?  God can do anything and he is not limited by our linear conception of time.

  •  Did Mary need to be without sin? No, but the Church felt it was "fitting."

The Catechism states:

490 To become the mother of the Saviour, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.” The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace”.  In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God's grace.
491 Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin. 

  • Does this mean Mary is divine and to be worshiped?  No, only God is to be worshiped but it teaches us something about Christ and his divinity as well as gives us hope that someday we too will be full of grace and sinlessly perfect before God, as she is. There must be something very important about Jesus, that God would see fitting that he come into the world through a sinless virgin's fiat.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

A Pearl From Owen

"A convert / revert (to the Catholic faith) who has experienced what the world and or what non-Catholic Christianity, esp North American evangelicalism, has to offer says:
"no thanks, been there, done that and have several ragged I am looking for intimacy and a growing holiness with Christ through his sacraments given by his Church."
    That's the starting and central point. If true brotherhood and genuine community do not flow out of that they certainly are not going to be manufactured by some lesser means."

Owen Swain, former evangelical pastor, now Catholic artist, writer and catechist on commenting on the "fellowship and feeling-based experiences" of us former evangelicals.

Happy Feast of Saint Nicholas

Many of us know the story of this bishop of Myra (Asia Minor) in the early 4th century.
To save a poor man from losing his daughters to indentured servitude Bishop Nicholas threw bags of gold coins into the man's open window at night. This later developed into the fictional character known as Santa Claus, but it had its historic roots based on the heroic virtue of this great Catholic man.
   But little know that this bishop Nicholas was also present at the council of Nicea when the early Church was locked in a debate over the nature of God and Jesus. A heretical bishop named Arius proposed that Jesus was "like God" but not equal with God. Much of the church was starting to adhere to his teachings and it threatened the very unity of the Church and the political stability of the ancient Roman world.
Hence the council of Nicea was called to resolve this issue on the nature of God - One God in three persons each co-equal to the others. Bishop Nicholas was so incensed by Arius' insistence that Jesus wasn't God that he punched him out! As a result, Saint Nicholas spent the night in the local Nicean Hooskow but apologized for his behavior and was set free the next day. The end result of the Council was the enunciation of the Trinity, the Nicean Creed and the condemnation of the Arian heresy, due in part by the actions of this heroic Saint Nick!  (Initially the council anathematized both Arius and Nicholas but recanted for Saint Nicholas)

   Now if only there was a bishop like Saint Nicholas at the Diet of Worms. Luther may have ended up nursing a bloody nose and a black eye but the reformation may have never gotten off the ground. The Church would have remained without this painful schism leading to almost 30,000 protestant denominations today all claiming to have the truth based on their own interpretation of the bible.

From the Council:

"We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, that is, of the substance [ek tes ousias] of the Father, God of God, light of light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of the same substance with the Father [homoousion to patri], through whom all things were made both in heaven and on earth; who for us men and our salvation descended, was incarnate, and was made man, suffered and rose again the third day, ascended into heaven and cometh to judge the living and the dead. And in the Holy Ghost. Those who say: There was a time when He was not, and He was not before He was begotten; and that He was made out of nothing (ex ouk onton); or who maintain that He is of another hypostasis or another substance [than the Father], or that the Son of God is created, or mutable, or subject to change, [them] the Catholic Church anathematizes."

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

What The Church Teaches About Homosexuality

Father Hollowell is producing a 30 minute documentary that will be distributed free to explain the Church's teach on homosexuality. The Church is often maligned and misunderstood regarding its stance on homosexuality. Check out this link and see if you would be willing to contribute a few quid to this worthy endeavor.

"Just Yulin' Around" Christmas Music

You can download some great traditional yuletide tunes all performed on acoustic instruments.
I performed original arrangements of several classic Christmas hymns on different combinations of guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, bass, hammer dulcimer, accordion, fiddle, dobro, banjo and autoharp.
You can listen and get them here at iTunes.

Will You Be Home For Christmas?

I'll never forget that song by Bing Crosby. When I was a young teenager, my older brother packed his car up and drove to California and never came back. Though my parents had a difficult relationship with him, they loved him dearly and especially at Christmas, when that song came on the radio, my mother would begin to weep.
   This time of year is when many of us hearken back  to those times of our past life. Perhaps you are a former Catholic who for a number of reasons left the Church years ago due to a misunderstanding, fractured relationship etc. Many of us left the Church because we really didn't know Jesus and later found him outside the Church, never to go back.
     Advent is the time for a new start, and the Incarnation promises us the chance of a new life.
Why not step into a Church this year and attend mass at some point in this advent season. Ask God to open your heart to his graces and I know he will hear that prayer.
     Let every heart, prepare Him room- Find the confession times and receive absolution for your sins from Jesus through his priest so you can receive him, body, blood , soul and divinity in the Eucharist.  Make this your Christmas to come home!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Biblical Evidence for the Papacy

                                               (Photoshop pic courtesy of Patrick Vandapool)

Patrick Vandapool had recently conversed with a "bible Christian" and the gentleman wanted to know where in the bible does it support the concept of a Catholic papacy.  The first question is where in the bible does it say that the bible has to have all the answers, but that's a whole other discussion....

Check out this great post on the biblical evidence for the papacy. It is difficult to read the New Testament and not come away with the pre-eminence of Peter's role in the NT, even if you deny the papacy.  Peter is mentioned more times in the New Testament than any other apostle.
"Of Peter the most is known. Peter is mentioned 195 times, the rest of the other Apostles combined are only 130 times. The one mentioned next in frequency to Peter is John, to whom there are 29 references."  (Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

Monday, December 03, 2012

We Got Ourselves a Tweetin' Pope

On Dec 12th, Pope Benedict the 16th will begin tweeting. His twitter account at @Pontifex already has over 300,000 followers in less than 24 hours. Wouldn't Saint Peter have used twitter if it was available? (@Rockie).

   Pontifex, by the way, means "bridge" and the pope has stated that he hopes to reach out to all men and women of good will, not just Catholics. God bless our Holy Father!

The Rumors of My (Spiritual) Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Renee Lin over at Forget the Roads blog has a great post here regarding the outcome of the dire predictions and warnings she was given upon her entry into the Catholic Church ten years ago.
Fortunately,  the rumors of her spiritual death had been greatly exaggerated.

Check out this blog and if you have any Protestant Christian friends who likewise told you similar things, this may worth sharing in a charitable fashion.

PS while we are Twaining away here, consider this quote of the famed author:

“I have been educated to enmity toward everything that is Catholic, and sometimes, in consequence of this, I find it much easier to discover Catholic faults than Catholic virtues.”

The "Secret" Behind the Passion of the Christ

In 2004, I was an evangelical Christian attending a conservative, bible-centered Methodist Church with good preaching, warm fellowship, pro-life and many ministries to serve the poor. What was not to like?
Our pastor paid for tickets for all of us to see the Passion of the Christ as he thought it would encourage faith and be a great tool of evangelism. And it was! In the middle of the movie, I made a promise to Jesus I would surrender everything to Him, and the very next second an inner voice said "and part of that surrender is you will become Catholic" which was the most distasteful thing I could think of. My conversion quickly ensued. I have now spent the following 8 years, blogging, writing, speaking, performing and attempting to show others the beauty of this Church. I discovered He is here for us now, in the Eucharist.  Today I read a story about Jim Cavaziel who played Jesus in the Passion and how he asked the priest on the set to expose the Blessed Sacrament in the most crucial scenes of the movie. I now know  the secret of why this movie was so powerful to inspire conversions and reversions. See Jim Cavaziel's comment below:

"How could I help other people to increase their faith in Jesus? I realized that this can only happen if Jesus is present in me through the Eucharist, and so people would see Jesus through my life. When we were shooting the scene of the Last Supper, I had an inner pocket made in my clothes where I placed some relics of saints and a relic of Christ’s Cross. I had a strong desire for Jesus to be really present, and so I asked the priest to expose the Blessed Sacrament. At first, he did not want to do that, but I was persistent in asking, because I was positive that people would recognize Christ more, if I myself was looking at Him. The priest was standing with the Blessed Sacrament in his hands next to a cameraman, and together with him, he approached me. When people watch the movie and see a shimmer in my eyes, they are not aware that they really see Jesus, a reflection of the consecrated Host, in my eyes. The same was in the scene of the Crucifixion. The priest was there; he held the Blessed Sacrament in his hands, and I prayed all the time."

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Advent and The "Once Saved Always Saved Teaching"

Last evening's vigil mass began the season of Advent. The reading from the epistle to the Thessalonians encourages us to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus. The Lord then warns us (Luke 21) to avoid drunkenness and debauchery* and not to be obsessed with the cares of this life. We are commanded, not suggested, to be ready for the Lord's  second coming. Therefore, as a Catholic Christian, the advent season takes on a twofold purpose; celebrating his incarnation but also making sure we are ready when He comes again! Warning us, in no uncertain terms, that we need to "be vigilant at all times and pray that we have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man."

     As a Protestant, I didn't appreciate this second aspect of the season and I love the way the Church encourages Maranatha at this time of year.  Yes, advent encourages us to "prepare our hearts to make him room" this little babe born of the Virgin. But, at the same time we are exhorted by the Church to live lives worthy of our calling so we will be ready at the second coming.

 My final point is that the "once saved always saved" teaching cannot coincide with these readings of Scripture. Why would our Lord and Saint Paul encourage us to avoid sin and be blameless if our actions had no effect on where we are to spend eternity? Why keep our lamps trimmed and burning if there is no consequences of our behavior?

Advent season is a season of joy and renewed hope and yet another opportunity to avail ourselves of Christ's mercy and grace to live a life that will cause us to not be ashamed at His coming.

  *Our priest made a special point in his homily to mention that pornography is included in those warnings, which is not often preached about in Mass during advent!