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, October 31, 2013

NSA Spies on Peter, Why Not Other Denominations?

On the anniversary of the reformation, we find out that the NSA has been spying on the pope during the conclave and perhaps before as well. Despite the fact that there are multitudinous religious organizations to spy on, it brings me great comfort that even the secular society recognizes the Catholic church and deems it "relevant" enough to spy on. The Vatican says it's not worried because it has its own high-tech cutting edge methods of encrypting sensitive data- Latin scribbled on paper!
   Of course the NSA is denying these allegations, but this is from the same administration that said:
"You can keep your doctor."

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Catholic Gospel Project : A Tool for the New Evangelization

Check out this new program to help spread the gospel and assist in the New Evangelization. Aimee Cooper is an Evangelical to Catholic convert and I met her by way of her blog (Historical Christian) several years ago around the time I started blogging in 2006. She had a great writing style and a perspective as a convert that I enjoyed and appreciated.
   She has an MA in Catholic theology and has been working on this program for years and has been speaking and teaching in her diocese in Colorado. The program will be useful to individuals, RCIA, and parish groups interested in getting more involved in the New Evangelization.

 "In developing and testing these course components, she found it was not only equipping people to share the message more effectively than before, it was also feeding a deep spiritual hunger, by giving people the tools and training to enter into a deep, sacramental and prayerful encounter with Christ, both in the Eucharist, and in private immersion in prayer.

"I'm a former Evangelical. I was trained in door to door evangelization, in a very successful program that gave both a simple way of sharing the message, but also provided months-long training in how to share it. Maybe Catholics need something like that - and I have the opportunity to not just write a thesis paper, but to do a practical thesis project! Maybe that can be my project!" 

And the Catholic Gospel Project was born, begun as a thesis project during Aimee's final year at the Augustine Institute. Eight years and a ton of research, development and constant field testing later (not to mention money for all those theology books, sigh), Aimee is launching the program online in answer to the Church's call to use new media for evangelization, to make the material available to others and to test and develop online training and formation for people at a distance. "(cf. The Catholicgospelproject website)

Keep Aimee in your prayers as she gets through some technical issues in rolling out the program on line. She is aiming for Advent as the start date.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Primitive Church

       (Primitive cave painting from 20,000 years ago)  
The primitive church was often talked about when I was a new born-again believer. We learned that the early disciples prayed and worshiped in each other's houses and shared scripture, sang hymns just as we were doing in my friend's parents living room on Saturday nights. This was what we believed  was the way in which the early Christians worshiped. We figured, the closer we return to New Testament times, the more  likely the worship would be unadulterated and just the way God intended.

      But, then I read the writings of the Church Fathers such as Justin Martyr, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, Irenaeus etc. Just as cave paintings give us a unique snapshot of the life of primitive man, the writings of the Early Church Fathers proide a unique snapshot of what the worship life and times were for the early primitive church. These early Christians were writing extensively about the Church before the end of the 2nd century.  Ignatius of Antioch was a disciple of  Saint John and possibly Saint Peter! Turns out that the primitive Church worship was centered around a thing now known as the mass. (What? What about bible studies and prayer meetings?) These early Christians believed and wrote extensively that the Lord’s table was actually partaking in the true body and blood of Christ, not just a memorial meal. The belief in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist has been a part of Christian theology since the time of the apostles. It wasn’t until the 16th century that the reformers decided that Jesus was speaking symbolically when he said “Take and eat, this is my body.”
    When I discovered this truth, I had to make my way back to the true “primitive church.” In the Eucharist, celebrated daily in Catholic Churches throughout the world, one cannot get any closer to the breath of God than eating his real body and drinking his real blood. If Christians of good will want to be as close to the breath of God as possible, they will find that intimacy with Jesus in the Catholic Church.
       “Take care, then who belong to God and to Jesus Christ – they are with the bishop. And those who repent and come to the unity of the Church – they too shall be of God, and will be living according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren: if anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If any man walk about with strange doctrine, he cannot lie down with the passion. Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: for there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of His Blood; one altar, as there is one bishop with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons.” Ignatius of Antioch 110 AD

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Definition of "Cheap Grace"

"Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ."   -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 This was written over seventy years before Jefferson Bethke ("I hate religion fame") re-hashed the old heresy of trying to separate the Church from its sacraments.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Strange Protestant Sect, "AHA", Heckling Catholics at a Pro- Life March

The Abolish Human Abortion group says they are not pro-life, but abolitionists.They pray for an end to the pro-life movement. Here is some of their antics in Dallas Texas at a March for Life. The hecklers were telling the Catholics that one march and one sermon a year is not enough to end abortion. So sad they don't spend some time with Catholics to find out all that we do day in and day out all year long to save babies, support women in crisis pregnancies and fast and pray for an end to abortion.
     It is hard to understand why this AHA group is unable to see all the good that both Catholics and Protestants have done to fight abortion and support women. I suspect it has to do with their disdain for any religion/faith that doesn't match with their own personal interpretation of scripture.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Abolish Human Abortion Group Starting to Implode

I have written about the AHA group in the past attempting to point out their strong anti-Catholicism as a warning for innocent pro-lifers to avoid them. Basically, they are a loose association of evangelicals, with a strong hatred for Catholicism who have suddenly discovered that abortion is a grave evil (about 40 years too late I'm afraid). Here's a direct quote from one of the leaders fb page:

"We do not consider Catholics brothers in Christ or Christians at all. We will not seek unity with a Satanic religious system." 

Now that they have realized that being pro-life is an integral aspect of being a Christian, they have taken to criticizing and publicly maligning Catholics ( Protestants as well ) who don't share their particular kooky view of how to be pro-life. For example, calling woman who have aborted "murderers" to their face is a frequent tactic of theirs outside aborturaries.  They go to Catholic pro-life marches and use bull horns to ridicule and verbally attack marchers. They charge lots of money for merch with their insignias on it. (Not to mention using good ol' American advertising methods )

They have no specific church affiliation and thus are under no leadership or authority other than their own personal interpretation of Holy Scripture. They have defined for themselves what the gospel is and once again, this illustrates the bad fruit of sola scriptura. They are the "Westboro Baptists" of the pro-life movement and ultimately and sadly will go down in history as an odd and perverse group of misguided individuals who did more harm than good in trying to save babies. If only that youthful energy and enthusiasm could have been linked to the successful pro-life activities of the Catholic Church, rather than turning into screed preaching hate-mongers who resemble Jack Chick and Fred Phelps in their theology and methods.
  The good news is that even Protestant bloggers who share their particular theological bent are starting to pull away realizing the danger of association with the AHA group.
Check this post (Running Around Without Church) by Frank Turk of Pyromaniacs.
And this one (Why I no Longer Endorse Abolish Human Abortion) by Justin Edwards on Born To Reform.
And this one by Clinton Wilcox.
And this one by Ed Dingess

There's a Catholic fb group attempting to increase awareness of this troubling AHA group. Check them out here.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Shrine Hop to Flame Your Faith! (And gain a plenary indulgence too)

I live about 55 miles from Philadelphia, which has some wonderful Catholic shrines to visit. In just one day, you can visit four or five great places of Catholic history and devotion and venerate some cool relics too! Our parish recently chartered a bus for what we call our "Shrine Hop." On this trip we had the opportunity to visit the following shrines:

  • Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal-listen as a Vincentian priest gives you a history of the Miraculous Medal as well as a spiritually-encouraging message. Then self-tour the beautiful shrine with multiple opportunities to quietly pray. My favorite was being able to venerate the cloth from the chair where the Blessed Mother sat in her apparition to Saint Catherine Laboure.

  • National Shrine of Saint John Neuman - Listen to a talk given by a Redemptorist priest and go on a tour of the Church of Saint Peter in the Northern Liberties section of Philly. The best part? Kneel at the altar where Saint John Neuman's remains are exhibited under glass and ask for his intercession and venerate a first class relic (part of his body). Sit on the stone where he took his last breath as he expired right on the stoop of a house on the corner of 17th and Vine street! He died in his late forties, as a result of years of exhausting work preaching, teaching, traveling and being the bishop of the Philadelphia diocese, which in the 19th century comprised half of the state of Pennsylvania.
(St. John Neuman's remains)

  • National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia-Saint Rita is known as the saint for impossible causes. This was right on S. Broad Street a few blocks south of City Hall. I must have passed this fifty times when I lived in Philly, but never noticed it. Of course, Catholicism wasn't exactly on my radar at the time. At this shrine, you can venerate her relics as well as many other relics of other saints and my favorite one here: a splinter of the True Cross!  They also have priests of the Augustinian order who is happy to hear confessions. He gave me some great spiritual counseling as well!
    (Relic of the True Cross)

  •  Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception - We ended our trip by participating in the Divine Liturgy, an ancient Byzantine rite in full communion with the Catholic Church. Technically, this wasn't a shrine but it was beautiful to experience the chanted Byzantine liturgy and receive the body and blood of Christ with our Ukrainian Catholic brethren. They were separated from the Catholic Church until 1596, when they re-united with Rome. When Blessed John Paul 2 visited Philadelphia in 1979 this was one of his stops to encourage their unity with Rome. They also have a full-sized replica of the Shroud of Turin there, one of only 7 made from the original. We went to the front of the sanctuary before Mass (Divine Liturgy) and venerated the shroud. 
What a beautiful day we had seeing the treasures of our faith, hearing the stories of heroic virtue of the saints who went before us and witnessing the beauty of the churches our fore-fathers built in a major metropolitan area as a testament to their vibrant faith. When you find your faith flagging a bit, consider visiting a shrine and asking a saint to intercede for you and your intentions. Of course, the saints can intercede for you wherever and whenever, but shrines help us because they engage our senses with the physical and material things that God has blessed us with to draw our hearts and minds to heaven. And finally, an extra bonus in this Year of Faith:  touring the shrines can gain you a plenary indulgence, if you fulfill the requirements of the indulgence. What's not to love? Get thee to a shrine!