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.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Determination of the Canon from Renee Lin

Here below Renee explains how confused the reformers and modern Protestant theologians are when discussing the Apocrypha. Sadly, it becomes obvious that a stubborn prejudice against the Catholic faith disables these individuals from doing careful research. Instead they repeat the mistakes that previous anti-Catholic theologians have espoused. I read some of these authors as a Protestant, but now am surprised and ashamed to admit they were not being academically honest.  
Reevaluating the Evidence

Here is Part 12 of my series on the canon of Scripture; Part One can be found here. Sit down with our Protestant hero as he investigates the Apocrypha from a new angle. What did the early Christians believe about the Apocrypha? But first, he reviews the importance of having trustworthy, reliable sources when doing research!

You can hear the old hoot owl calling from your neighbor's shed as you spread your research material out all over your dining room table. You place a large amount of paper within arm's reach of your chair, and you sharpen several pencils. "Alrighty!" you think to yourself, "Time to find out what the first Christians believed."

You survey all the books at your disposal, trying to decide where to begin. Loraine Boettner's book, one of the first you checked when researching the Apocrypha, lies near your left hand. You frown. The material in Boettner's book was not exactly helpful, you recall. It was Boettner's crack about the "14 or 15 books" of the Apocrypha that started the whole mess. Boettner lists I and 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Azariah as Apocryphal books which were not included in Catholic Bibles – he, however, includes the Prayer of Manasseh as if he believes that book is in the Catholic version of the Bible (it was included in Luther's Apocrypha – it was apparently one of Luther's favorite prayers – but it was left out of the Catholic Bible). Boettner even manages to misspell "Bel" in the Apocryphal "book" of "Bell (sic) and the Dragon!"

But The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict let you down as well. Josh McDowell doesn't seem to have researched the subject of the Apocrypha very thoroughly – which upsets you since you have only spent one afternoon on the subject yourself, and yet apparently you already know more than he does. McDowell's list of Apocryphal books includes I and 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh, not mentioning anywhere that while these are not included in Catholic Bibles, they were included in many Protestant Bibles. Does McDowell even know that? He embarrasses himself when writing about the canonization of the New Testament books:

Since this time (the fourth century A.D.) there has been no serious questioning of the twenty-seven accepted books of the New Testament by either Roman Catholics, Protestants, or the Eastern Orthodox Church.

No serious questioning??? No serious questioning??? There was over one hundred years of serious questioning! Bibles were printed that labeled certain books of Scripture "Apocryphal NT"!!! It's hard to find a single major Reformer whose opinion of the canon of the New Testament agrees with the canon we have today!

What nonsense!

McDowell also cites Geisler and Nix's General Introduction to the Bible as a source for his information. You know Geisler and Nix as the authors of an assertion which now seems highly questionable:

The Council of Trent was the first official proclamation of the Roman Catholic Church on the Apocrypha, and it came a millennium and a half after the books were written, in an obvious polemical action against Protestantism. Furthermore, the addition of books that support 'salvation by works' and 'prayers for the dead' at this time (1546), only twenty-nine years after Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses, is highly suspect.

The addition of books??? How exactly, you ask yourself, can the Catholics be accused of adding books to their Bible when those books were already in every Bible from the fourth century on down to the time of Luther??? No way – the truth is, the Reformers (eventually) removed those books from their Bibles. You can prove that! Really, it's not like you're pro-Catholic or anything, but fair's fair! For over a thousand years the world had a Bible that included the Apocryphal books intermingled among the real ones! Then Luther came along and segregated them. They were finally removed from English Bibles much later.

You read in W.O.E Oesterley's Introduction to the Books of the Apocrypha that Trent added no books to the Bible, but rather:

It was when the Reformers rejected the Apocrypha, that the Council of Trent re-affirmed the canonicity of the books, and added the anathema clause to their decree.

Loraine Boettner said basically the same thing as Geisler and Nix, didn't he? "Apocryphal books added to the Bible by the Council of Trent – 1546." That's another strike against him. You note that Boettner, when discussing the "Protestant Attitude Toward the Bible" mentions not one word about the mind-boggling confusion over the disputed books of the New Testament. The Reformers, as far as Boettner is concerned, could do no wrong. He seems far more interested in painting the "Romanists" with a black brush. Flipping through his book, it seems to be something of an extended rant…. You set Boettner's book aside – surely you can find something more balanced.

Gee, how can an author not even get the basic subject matter down correctly? It's sad to think that so-called "experts" can be refuted by a layperson who has spent one afternoon in a library with a bunch of Bible encyclopedias! In fact, you are feeling a little disgruntled about the whole "cover-up" of the Protestant use of the Apocrypha and disagreement over the New Testament books. Okay, maybe not exactly a cover-up – you can find the whole history of it in Bible encyclopedias, but it sure is hard to find any mention of it at Protestant websites or in the popular literature that you buy at the local Christian bookstore! Everyone acts as if it never happened, leaving the average Protestant with the impression that Protestants at the time of the Reformation just "knew" which books belonged in the canon and which didn't, and that it was the benighted Catholics who added spurious books to their Bible. You've even found a website online where you can view an English translation of Luther's Bible – with the Apocryphal books nowhere to be found! And yet you read in your reference books that the printing of Luther's Old Testament was actually delayed because he was ill and had not yet finished translating the Apocryphal books! The Hebrew version of the Old Testament that Luther used for translation purposes did not include the Apocryphal books, but apparently Martin Luther did not consider his Bible to be complete without them, even if he did think of them as second-class reading.

It's really irritating when you find out that someone you were counting on didn't do their homework! From now on you'll view the "popular authors" and websites with a jaundiced eye….

So, what can you find out about the subject of the Bible of the early Christians? Is there anything in all those books on your table that would help?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Personal Experience With the Health and Wealth Gospel

A "faith and prosperity" Christian recently posted a link on "Catholics Are Christians!" fb group regarding his mega-church and extolling the wonderful teachings of his pastor Joseph Prince. Joseph Prince is the "Joel Osteen" of the Orient and derives his teachings from the heretical Tulsa preachers like Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. This led to several exchanges where I attempted to get this dear brother to think about why he believed what he believed and how did he know his theology was correct.  I did not get him to see my perspective but it did open some old wounds that I personally experienced from my eight-year foray into the health and prosperity teachings while I was a Protestant. (I pray I was not too harsh responding to him.)
     For the sake of some of my readers who don't know my story, I have excerpted sections from my story of conversion below. I would like to illustrate how the Faith and Prosperity teachings and our adherence to them robbed my wife and I of the one thing we needed the most: Truth, and the grace to carry the cross our Lord graciously and lovingly handed us. My wife was diagnosed with a rare lung cancer at 28 years of age while still nursing a 6 month old. Here's my story:

My wife of three years was diagnosed with an extremely rare in-operable lung cancer when she was 28. At the time I was an intern in an extremely grueling internal medicine residency in Philadelphia's inner city and we had a 6 month old child she was still nursing. There were only thirty other recorded cases in the world's medical literature. She was told there was no cure or treatment but she may possibly remain without symptoms for a time before dying but it was eventually uniformly fatal. We were bolstered by a loving group of folks from our charismatic church who shared with us that "God can heal if you only have enough faith." We embraced this theology whole-heartedly and pursued her healing for the next 8 years. We attended healing meetings, exorcisms, fasting and prayer and I began fasting Tuesday evenings to Thursday mornings for several years to obtain her healing from God. We sought out nationally known charismatic preachers with healing ministries and had several exorcisms performed on our house and ourselves.

We were blessed with another boy a few years later. We coped with life by never talking about the possibility of her dying. We lived as if she would be healed. The problem with this was that it took an enormous amount of energy to muster this "faith talk" all the time and it was taking its toll on our marriage. Rather than confronting problems in our relationship, we would put them aside and continue to press for the healing. Seeking her healing became the focus of our lives and as a result, we were in denial about all the other problems that occur in any marriage, cancer notwithstanding. For me, it felt like a constant "sword of Damocles" hanging over my head for 8 of the 11 years we were married, but I could not tell my wife my true feelings. Most of my close friends were believing that her healing was forthcoming and I could not open up to them about how I really felt. Once I tried to tell a close friend how absolutely terrified and sad I was and he kindly said, "Don't worry, she will be healed." I appreciated his vote of confidence but I needed someone to share my pain and fear with. This was one of the most intensely lonely and difficult periods in my life. I took solace in knowing that Christ would never leave me or forsake us despite the fact that we were truly walking in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I could not share Scriptures with my wife or others about the valley of the shadow of death because it would be "doubting the healing."I started to secretly take comfort in the Scriptures that said "Not my will but thine" and God gave me His reassurance that He would be with us, whether my wife lived or died. I could not share this with her and instead would read aloud to her the Scriptures that said "By His stripes we are healed." We would both lay awake night after night with her in agony and me holding back tears as I watched her die. I just wanted to hold her and say "I love you and hate to see you go through this but we will be okay because He will carry us through this." I longed to just be able to tell her how I felt about our life together but I couldn't because she would have interpreted that as "losing faith." Instead of having precious discussions about our children, our families, our Lord and His love, we listened to "faith preacher" tapes over and over again throughout the night. This bad theology we embraced ended up hurting us terribly and denied us the ability to be honest with ourselves, our children and our God.
     We were reading books and tracts about healing that were from an off-shoot of the charismatic movement called the Faith and Prosperity Preachers. Centered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, these teachers taught that Jesus heals everyone and if you don't get healed it must be your lack of faith. I realize now this actually was a twisted form of Christian Science and had its roots in one of the heresies dealt with by the early church. (Gnosticism)

About 4 months before she died, I had a distinct impression that God was telling me that the time was very short and she would die soon. It may have just been my medical instincts seeing her become more irritable and short of breath. At this time she was taking huge amounts of over the counter ibuprofen to deal with the pain but would not admit that she was in pain. We long ago both agreed to not pursue further diagnostic tests since they wouldn't "build our faith." About 4 weeks before she died, she was becoming severely ill and short of breath. We heard of a missionary with a healing ministry that was flying in from Africa who had been purported to raise people from the dead. Despite the worse ice and snow storm of that horrible winter of 93-94, I drove with her and my pastor and a friend in a van to Richmond Virginia to see if she could be healed through the ministry of this faith healer.
      The level of compassion that my church showed for us was beyond description and I will never forget the love and that was displayed for my wife and I at this time. The folks risked their lives to drive my wife over 250 miles on the eve of one of the worst storms of the season because they believed God would heal her. They also knew this is what she wanted as well. We saw many tractor trailers jack-knifed and cars that had skidded off the road on the way down. It turned out that the healer couldn't fly in due to the weather and we sadly drove all the way back taking almost two days for a six hour trip. At one point we were stuck in traffic for about 10 hours due to the storm. She was in absolute agony in the jostling van as we ran over potholes and ice on the highway. We stopped intermittently so I could give her injections of a powerful narcotic to relief her screams of agony.

        Shortly after this trip, my wife did pass away leaving me with a 4 and 7 year old who did not even realize she was sick since we never told them. I was devastated knowing that our faith did not give her the peace that was promised. Not because God didn't make it available, but we chose to mis-interpret the Scriptures. I knew, even as she was dying, that this theology was wrong and it denied the ability for us to even have an honest conversation about her dying. If there was ever a reason to not believe in private interpretation of Scripture, this was it. The Word of God wrongly applied and twisted out of context can be a cruel taskmaster.
( I want to make it clear to all the readers at this point, my wife and I willingly embraced and sought out this teaching and our charismatic church encouraged us in it, but we did not feel like this doctrine was forced on us. We chose it !)

      No one could give me an answer for why she died if she had such faith and many young people from our church were devastated. Two days after my wife died I received a phone call and a familiar voice that I hadn't heard for years was on the line. My Catholic friend from college, now an ordained Catholic priest heard that my wife died and tracked me down. I will never forget when I asked him why she had to suffer so much, and he said that "Jesus gives us the privilege of sharing his suffering." Father E. told me that Jesus stretched his arms out on the cross and said to my wife, "Sue, you come up with me and share my suffering." He then quoted St. Paul when he talked about completing in his body the suffering of Christ. (Colossians 1:23) I couldn't argue since it was Scripture and it was the only thing that gave me comfort in those difficult months after she died. I had never heard a Protestant talk about that verse and somehow missed it in all my years of personal Bible study. My theology didn't allow for suffering but this Scripture given to me by a Catholic priest made more sense than anything I had heard or experienced in the past 12 years. Since Christ our Redeemer had suffered should we too not be willing to take His yoke upon us and experience suffering? The Catholics call this "redemptive suffering' and it resonates with all of human experience.
    For the rest of the story of how I eventually came into the Catholic Church see my personal testimony on the left sidebar, but suffice it to say, I am living proof of why these faith and prosperity teachings are so damaging.

Jesus, my Lord and God, thank you so much for redeeming us by your suffering and redeeming suffering for us!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas

Today the Church honors the heroic faith and virtue of Saint Thomas Aquinas. His love for Jesus in the Eucharist was so evident by his theology as well as his hymn writing.  He helped the Church in the middle ages understand the mystery of the sacrament of the Eucharist and his Summa Theologica continues to be studied in Catholic and non-Catholic seminaries.
   In honour of this great man of God and saint that can intercede for us, once again I offer a free download of "Bread of Heaven,"  which was included on the 2012 Rocking Roman's Best of Catholic Music CD.

Catholic TV On The Internet

Check out this internet portal for free streaming of Catholic TV programs including EWTN and Vatican broadcasts.

Another Reformed Christian Crossed the Tiber

Here is a post from a reformed Protestant who reverted to the Catholic faith about two years ago. Casey Chalk left Catholicism for evangelicalism when he was 8 years old. He had attended a reformed seminary but started to question sola scriptura and the reformed understanding of the formation of the canon, which is often the path to the Catholic Church.
In this post he discusses Chris Castaldo's book Holy Ground, which I have reviewed here.

"I came to realize that no Christian can possibly approach Scripture without a host of predetermined data points that inform his or her interpretation. There can be no “Scripture alone,” because our interpretive lens will be inherently defined by the sermons we’ve heard, books we’ve read, or theological concepts we’ve been taught. The Reformed Christian, in essence, believes in Scripture plus whatever interpretations he inherits from Calvin plus Warfield plus Bavinck plus whomever has informed his interpretive paradigm. The same can be said for the Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, and even Catholic. However, only the Catholic’s interpretive paradigm allows him to reply to such a charge by saying “yes, exactly, that IS how I interpret Scripture; how could I do any other?”

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Anti-Marianism: Satan's Revenge

                                            (a Mary statue depicting her stepping on Satan)
      One of the hardest issues for evangelical Protestants to come to grips with in their Crossing the Tiber (conversion to Catholicism) is Marian devotion. For some reason, as evangelical and fundamentalist Protestants we were schooled in many myths and fables about what Catholics believe about Mary. Some were quite awful!  Why attack the Mother of God, when scripture alone clearly refers to her with such honor and reverence? Holy Scripture even tells us that "All generations will call her blessed." To bless someone is to speak well of them and certainly the Church has fulfilled this, but sadly the post-reformation Christians, (myself included up until 8 years ago) have not. Unfortunately they have taken to doing the opposite of what Scripture states.
      Hey, if an angel sent from God hails her as full of grace, Saint Elizabeth asks who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? and Saint John is given Mary at the foot of the cross by Jesus, and later in his life writes of her in Revelation as the Queen of Heaven, am I to just reject all that?  Should I say: "who am I that the Mother of my Lord come to me now? Get lost, you are just a random Jewish virgin!" When the early Christian theologians wrote of honoring Mary and asking for her intercession, should I just ignore their writings and assume that 1600 years later we have a clearer and more accurate view of her with the passage of time?

"We fly to your patronage,
O holy Mother of God,
despise not our petitions
in our necessities,
but deliver us from all dangers.
O ever glorious and blessed Virgin."

Holy smokes! That prayer was written in 250 AD even before Constantine made the early Church a pagan institution while the real Christians went into hiding .(just kidding)

   So why is there such perturbation about Mary? I think it's something other than a sincere desire to worship God alone and a desire to defend Jesus from anything or anyone that would "steal glory from Him." I suspect there is something a little more sinister behind it. Listen to what JP 2 said:

 In Genesis, we read;  "I will put enmity," the woman is placed in the first place in a certain sense: "I will put enmity between you and the woman." Not: "between you and the man," but precisely "between you and the woman." Commentators from the earliest times emphasize that we have here an important parallelism. The tempter "the ancient serpent ”according to Genesis 3:4, first addressed the woman, and through her obtained his victory. In his turn the Lord God, in announcing the Redeemer, makes the woman the first "enemy" of the prince of darkness. In a certain sense, she should be the first beneficiary of the definitive covenant, in which the powers of evil will be overcome by the Messiah, her Son ("her offspring").
(Cf. The General Audience of Blessed Pope John Paul 2 12/17/86)

   Perhaps the anti-Marianism that has developed is partly a result of Satan's feeble attempts to exact his revenge on "the woman" whose offspring (Jesus) crushed his head* and he now continues to try to bruise his (and her) heel. I believe this may explain the unusually exaggerated and visceral reaction many folks have to Marian devotion.

 "I will make you enemies of each other; you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. It will crush your head and you will strike its heel" (Gen 3:15).

 *Two ancient translations, the Latin Vulgate (revised by St. Jerome) and the ancient Coptic version  read, “She shall crush your head.”

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Who Will Speak Up For the Little Ones?

March for Life 2013

We got back last night from the March for Life in Washington DC. Our parish rented a bus and it was almost completely filled with parishioners including our pastor who braved the cold with us to march.
   As always it was bittersweet, but even  more so this year with Nellie Gray's noticeable absence, She was the founder of the March for Life 40 years ago and organized and participated in it every year, even into her 80's. There was a moving video memorial to her shown on the Jumbotrons and a group of Eastern Orthodox bishops and priests chanted a prayer for her that was beautiful. A great surprise was to check my twitter account and find that our holy father, Pope Benedict tweeted us an encouraging tweet.
       The high point for me was seeing the incredible number of young people in the crowd of marchers. I started marching about 8 years ago and it seems to me that the demographic of the marchers is really shifting to the young, which is excellent. The portion of the program on the Mall has been shortened in length and there was less politicians and more young people spoke from the podium. Sadly, there were few minority speakers as they had in the past and it is the minorities in this country that are being selected out by Planned Parenthood for abortions. Margaret Sanger's original intention for Planned Parenthood has come to fruition.* The other point that I have to make is that, though all religions are invited to the March for Life as a truly ecumenical event, the majority of the crowd appear to be Catholic based on the parish banners and universities represented. Let's hope if that if abortion continues in this country, our Protestant brethren will  join with us to speak out against this holocaust.
*Even though African Americans are only 12.6% of the population, they received 30% of the 1.2 million abortions in 2008 (latest available statistics), killing 360,000 Black babies at a rate of nearly 1,000 per day.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Pope App and Jack Chick's Latest Tract

Great news for Catholic iPhone users! The Vatican has just released an app that will allow us to keep in touch with events at the Vatican as well as any news releases regarding Pope Benedict, including recent statements, travel itinerary, etc. There is also a feature that will allow the user to view six webcams that will give live real time images from the Eternal City. There is even alerts that can be enabled that will come across your screen on your phone with the latest news from the Vatican. Just think, when the pope declares a new dogma, you will be the first to know!
I am excited that our Holy Father has chosen to engage the world through all aspects of the new digital media that is now available. Wouldn't Saint Peter and his successors have loved this! Actually they are well aware already but I digress.
    Yet I can see Jack Chick and his coreligionists seeing a conspiracy in all of this. Remember Jack Chick believes that the Vatican has a super-computer with the names of all the protestants on it, run by the evil Jesuits. Yikes! Now the pope and his power-hungry curia can send out their missives to the mindless Catholic automatons who have ship-wrecked their faith to follow a false gospel. The Vatican can now directly communicate with every Catholic in real time. Assuming of course that every Catholic has an iPhone (the Droid version won't be out till February) I was able to get a pre-release copy of Chick's upcoming tract here:

   But seriously, Let us give thanks to the Lord that the pope is taking full advantage of the latest in social media and mobile digital platforms to promote the gospel and keep Jack and folks like him in your prayers. Saint Francis DeSales pray for them!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

40th Anniversary of Roe vs Wade

For many Americans born after January 22, 1973, abortion is just another aspect of who we are as a culture. But the folks born after this date should thank their mom and dad for not aborting them as a third of their generation were not as fortunate. After so many years of legalized murder of the unborn, people have stopped believing its wrong, or see no need to oppose it. But there are still a fair amount of Americans who believe that abortion is wrong. Friday is the annual March For Life in Washington DC. It may be the largest group to meet there yet, given the gravity of the situation of having the most pro-abortion president yet and his recent HHS mandate attacking the Catholic faith. The most beautiful thing is seeing how many at the March are young people who will be the future of this country and provide the votes to support pro-life politicans.
    The fight against abortion may seem hopeless at times but there are many signs that things are  turning around. One half of abortion clinics in the US have closed and crisis pregnancy centers out-number abortuarys 3:1.  (See the full story in this article in National Catholic Register .) Many workers in the abortion industry are having conversions and becoming outspoken advocates for life.
So on Friday we will keep marching, praying and letting the government know the pro-life movement is not going away any time soon. Keep the unborn and their mom's in your prayers.
Pictures from the March to follow.

Monday, January 21, 2013

What I Wish Obama Said Today

Please feel free to copy image and pass around the interwebs on your blogs, twitter, fb, etc.

Pearls From The Catechism of the Catholic Church

‎The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men.” But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men.453 He calls his disciples to “take up [their] cross and follow [him],” for “Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that [we] should follow in his steps.” In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries.This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering.

Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.

Martin Luther King Jr. Marching With Catholic Priests

Martin Luther King Jr. was used by God to promote justice for the African Americans. His niece, Alveda King is working tirelessly with Priests for Life to bring Justice to the Unborn.
If Catholicism is a cult, why in the world is the Catholic Church always on the forefront of the battle for justice for the oppressed both in and out of the womb? If Catholicism is a false heretical religion, why are the majority of marchers in Washington DC every year for 40 years Catholics? If your own church pays little attention to the issues of life, I hope that should cause some thought and contemplation.

Pres. Obama: " If we can save just one child..."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The New Evangelization

Father Barron's new series trailer:

Reason # 805 to Be Catholic: No Gnosticism Required

This is an unusual reason to be Catholic but let me explain. Gnosticism was a collection of sects that basically held to a belief that salvation is from knowledge. One had to gain an intellectual understanding or "revelation" of a particular "gnosis" or knowledge, without which they couldn't be saved. If you didn't "know," then you weren't going to "go." (to heaven)
   At evening Mass last Tuesday, I noticed a young boy about 10 years old in the front row of the chapel with his mom. He was wearing a communion robe and was talking loudly and moving about throughout the introductory prayers and scripture readings. His very patient mom would hold him tightly to her and gently shoosh him, which only helped momentarily.  It became apparent that this child had a severe intellectual disability, or perhaps a pervasive developmental disorder (autism) or other such developmental delay.
   Before the homily, our pastor explained that this young man would be receiving the Lord tonight for the first time in the Eucharist. This is also known as The First Holy Communion. He asked us to pray for him on this very special night. After the Eucharistic Liturgy was completed, the mom stood up with her child holding him close to her side.The priest gently said; "Body of Christ" and gave the boy the body and blood of our Lord for the first time. In that moment this young child received God - body, blood, soul and divinity. If you closed your eyes, you could almost see the angels peering gingerly over his shoulders with wonderment and awe.
   How can this be? Did this child understand everything that just transpired? Did he complete his catechism training before this First Communion? Was the pastor sure he had full knowledge of the Eucharist and its meaning?  There's a fairly good chance the answer is no, but yet in the Catholic faith one is not required to have a secret knowledge of complex doctrines nor complete understanding of the faith. The grace of God is available to all through the sacraments that Christ gave the Church regardless of intellectual ability or understanding. What does the Lord require of his disciples? Only faith like a child.
   As I have said before, Catholicism is truly universal. It is a religion that can challenge the intellect of Saint Thomas Aquinas and Blaise Pascal but at the same time be equally accessible to the simple. No gnosticism required and that, my friends, is another reason to be Catholic.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Beginning of the End of Evangelical Christianity

                                                      (Pastor Steve Chalke on the R)

It was bound to happen, it was just a matter of time. Every denomination that splits off from the Church Jesus started begins to capitulate to to the morality of the society they find themselves in.
It started with Luther and others loosening the moral restriction regarding marriage and divorce and continued to the modern day Anglicans, Lutherans and Presbyterians declaring (by vote) that homosexuality is no longer sinful. With only the paradigm of sola scriptura to guide them, they will always fall off the edge of the earth morally when attempting to navigate the changing mores of society using the bible alone (or their interpretation of it.)
   The evangelicals (the Christian sect I was affiliated with) now have caved. I knew it was coming and I saw it in the way they embraced contraception. If sex isn't meant for procreation, then certainly one can see how this can logically lead to sex that needn't be restricted to opposite sex partners.
      Steve Chalke, a prominent Baptist and evangelical Christian from the UK has just come out in favor of same sex relationships.  (Ironically, this same week, 1000 Catholic priests in the UK wrote a letter to their politicians asking them to vote against the same-sex marriage proposal in parliment.)

 Here is an example of Pastor Steve Chalke's twisted hermeneutics where he allows modern culture  to dictate to him how scripture should be interpreted:  "Most Christians are properly wary of using the story of God’s judgement on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) which is now widely understood to be about the indulgence, indifference to others and social injustice of their inhabitants, rather than a proof text against homosexuality."

He uses his interpretation of the bible to justify his position and yet even admits that the bible alone cannot solve this dilemma: "A key challenge the Church faces – which often goes unrecognised – is that the Bible does not provide the final answer to a whole number of issues to do with inclusion with which Christians have subsequently wrestled."

So even though he uses a modern hermeneutic (interpretive method) to tell us that the bible really doesn't say what we think it seems to be saying (homosexuality is sinful), he clearly understands that scripture alone isn't going to help his argument.

I am sure many evangelicals are going to argue with Pastor Steve Chalke regarding his latest article, and rightfully so, yet there already is a growing number of evangelicals who are starting to change their morality to fit the current culture, and this, sadly, is the beginning of the end of Evangelical Christianity.

Chesterton said : "We do not want, as the newspapers say, a Church that will move with the world. We want a Church that will move the world."

The only Church that will be left unmoved is the Catholic Church which never changes its stance on faith and morals.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rebuilding the Church in Haiti

This past Saturday marked the anniversary of the "troma" in Haiti, the earthquake taking the lives of 250,000 people. There has been a fair amount of rebuilding, but over 300,000 still live in tents and temporary housing.  Here's a story on the Catholic Church's efforts to rebuild in Haiti. Catholics donated 85 million dollars in the parishes across the US immediately after the quake and the majority of the funds were distributed to Catholic Relief Services and the rest given to parishes directly to assist with rebuilding the Church infrastructure. Much work was also done by small groups from the US churches who went down to assist at a local level including the Haiti Medical Mission Team from Saint Joseph the Worker, my home parish.
    Speaking of Haiti, in March a small group of us from our parish are going to Cap Haitien to work with the Missionaries of the Poor.  Though Cap Haitien was spared from the earthquake, the ongoing grinding poverty is still beyond comprehension. We will assist medically in their facility for elderly and disabled as well as the orphanage and new AIDS hospice. We will be bringing medications and supplies to assist the brothers in their care of the poorest of the poor.  If you would like to contribute financially to this effort contact me at dobrodoc1 (at) geee mail dot com. Please keep the Haitian people in your prayers. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Pearls From The Catechism #2

I am in the process of reading the Catechism in a year as a challenge from our Holy Father in this Year of Faith. The daily reminders from Flocknote and Jeff Pinyan have been great. (see the signup in the left side bar) Here is a little pearl I read recently:

The Church following the apostles teaches that Christ died for all men without exception. "There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer." (Cf the Council of Quiercy)  

Saturday, January 05, 2013

St. Vincent of Lerins and Heresy Again

Dr. Bryan Cross has a great piece at Called To Communion on Saint Vincent of Lerins method of determining heresy. I have quoted from Saint Vincent before as he makes it historically clear that the principle of "sola scriptura" was not the accepted standard for determining doctrine in the 5th century. As you will see from Bryan's article and my previous posts, Saint Lerins shows us that the Church uses both Sacred Tradition together with Holy Scripture to determine what teachings are orthodox and devoid of error, not just man-made personal interpretation of Sacred Scripture. It has always been enlightening to me to realize that the Church defended the doctrine of the Trinity in (325 AD) even before the New Testament was canonized (382 AD). This proved that scripture alone could not settle the Aryan heresy threatening to split the Church, because they weren't even decided at that point which circulating epistles and books were Scripture!

Keep in mind: "Almost every heresy that has disturbed the unity of the Church has been advocated by men who appealed to Scripture in confirmation of the doctrines they taught."
(James Dodds- Protestant theologian)

Thursday, January 03, 2013

When Did The Catholic Church Get It's Name?

Based on my early bible study teachers and large nearly toxic doses of Chick Tracts, I learned at the impressionable age of 14 years old that the Catholic Church started sometime after Constantine "made a deal with the devil" to mix paganism with Christianity and labeled the now befouled and derailed religion "Catholic." This apparently occurred in the 4th century while the "True Christian Church" went underground.  Yes, I believed this and now I am kind of embarrassed to admit I was so gullible. I even went through Western Civilization class in college still holding to my uber fundamentalist nonsensical beliefs.
     Fast forward 31 years and I am sitting in my bedroom in a town called Emmaus, Pennsylvania reading a book by Steven Ray called Crossing the Tiber. He describes how the Church was first called Catholic in 110 AD in the writings of the Early Church fathers, ( I lived 45 years and never heard of any church fathers, except maybe for Augustine, but he was Protestant I was told.)
I was flabbergasted that this group of early believers that loved Jesus and were being persecuted for their faith were Catholics which = Christian. Any other splinter groups claiming to be Christian had to prove their succession from an apostle. If they had no succession, they were not Catholic, and thus the faith was safely kept pure from the many heretical sects springing up claiming to be Christian.

James Akin does a great short talk on this in the video below:

"Wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church"
(St Ignatius Letter to  Smyrna, 110 AD)