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.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

'Tis The Season To Download Russ Rentler's "Just Yulin Around"

In the mid-nineties during a boiling hot summer, I recorded a CD of Christmas tunes called "Just Yulin Around." I used a home recording studio set up in my living room at the time and had to stop recording everytime my neighbor cranked up his lawnmower. Despite the frequent interruptions and non-seasonal temperatures out, I was able to record some classic Yuletide tunes with my own arrangements on a plethora of traditional American instruments including hammer dulcimer, guitar, banjo, accordion, mandolin, dobro, bass and autoharp. The original tracks were recorded on a multi-track cassette recorder and mixed and mastered at local recording studio in Pennsylvania. Give a listen and consider buying a few tracks. All proceeds go to support the Missionaries of the Poor in Cap Haitien, Haiti. Thanks and may the Lord give you a special sense of his presence during this holy season of Advent.
Russ Rentler: Just Yulin

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

For the Press and NARAL Who Think The Pope is Going to Make Abortion "OK"

From the pope's new Apostolic Exhortation "The Joy of Evangelization."

"Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defence of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be. Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, “every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the creator of the individual”.[176]

Do you think the press will read a bit of this 51,000 word exhortation. Nah. Someone will have to make a Twitter friendly version and break it down into tweets.  That would work out to about 364 tweets, basically one a day for a year!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Story of My Soul

Happy Feast of Christ the King today! At the end of the Church year, the universal Church celebrates Christ as our ruler, king and judge. God, please help me to be a loyal and obedient subject!

 On this feast day, I had some extra time and finished a studio version of my song "The Story of My Soul." It's a song that starts out about Mother Angelica but morphs into a theme of Saint Therese the Little Flower interceding from heaven for our conversion. She wanted to "spend her heaven doing good on earth" and I believe her prayers may have brought my wife and I back to the faith. Hope you enjoy.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Happy Feast of Saint Cecilia!

Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians. Saint Cecelia, pray for us that we would always make a sweet sound in the ears of our Lord, and lead others to Him with the beauty and truth of our faith expressed in music. Here's a little video montage I did a while back playing Lord of the Dance.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Big Picture - Love

Monday, November 18, 2013

Peter Bringing People Back Into the Barque

There is a news report here that suggests that since Pope Francis has been elected, certain countries such as Britain are seeing a surge in mass attendance (20% increase) and return to the confessional.   It's hard to know for sure given the main stream media's accuracy, but let's hope and pray that the Holy Spirit through Peter keeps bringing folks into the barque. Regardless of the criticism against Pope Francis by those inside and outside the Church, a return to the sacraments is always a sign of revival and can't be argued with.

The Barque of Peter is an ancient symbol of the Church  because as the first pope he was also a fisherman, now fishing for men.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Leader and Members Of "Abolish Human Abortion" Former Church Bombers

In 2007, three men in Burleson Texas were arrested and sent to Federal prison for attempting to blow up a church. They were members of a christian cult and used religious arguments in their justification for their actions. Two of these men, Jered Ragon and Michael Philip Plaisted Jr., are now involved in protesting against abortion as part of the Abolish Human Abortion group.  Ragon, who spent 15 months in federal prison is now the leader of a chapter of AHA in Burleson. (Red arrow in pic above) Here's the full article, excerpted below.

"Burleson police arrested two men Wednesday and one Thursday who cited religious beliefs in attempting to detonate a bomb at Victory Family Church in Burleson.

According to reports, the suspects — Dayton Lee Calaway, 19, of Burleson, Michael Philip Plaisted Jr., 18, of Burleson, Jered Michael Ragon, 18, of Burleson, and an underage boy — twice attempted to detonate the device before being interrupted by a deacon. Police discovered the device propped against the church door.

Although Burleson Police Cmdr. Chris Havens declined to elaborate on the bomb, he said it was a simple, homemade device, the plans for which could probably be easily found on the Internet. Had the device detonated it would have caused a substantial explosion and probably led to a fire in the church, he said.

Plaisted and Calaway implicated Ragon during interviews after their arrests, Burleson Detective Tom Catron said, and all three subsequently admitted to involvement in a religious group that made the bomb. Ragon voluntarily came in for questioning and was arrested then, police said.

Although the name of the group the three associate with is unknown, Havens said the men identified themselves as radical Christian activists who oppose government and organized religion.

“They said the act at the church was a test of the device itself and to get the attention of the community,” Havens said.

Group members share common beliefs about the demise of society, which they believe has become too focused on self-improvement and self-gratification and lost it’s focus on the glorification of God, police said. The group is attempting to wake up society by committing destructive acts, according to reports. Group members further believe there are too many denominations and churches, and there ought to be only one."

The group AHA that these two former church bombers belong to is extremely anti-Catholic and has made statements such as "Catholicism is a satanic religious system leading people to hell."  "The Churches in America have not failed to be Pro Life, they have failed to be Christian."

 Encourage your Catholic and Protestant friends who want to save babies to avoid these "radical Christian activists" who ultimately do much damage and division against the fight to save babies from this tragic American Holocaust. They apparently have decided that their church alone is Christian and they alone know the only effective way to end abortion.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New USCCB President From Allentown!

                               Blessed Pope John Paul 2 meets George Kurtz and Archbishop Joseph Kurtz

Since the Cross-the-Tiber blog originates from the diocese of Allentown, I thought it especially neat that the new president of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops was from this area and was a parish priest for over twenty years right here in the Valley. He had taken his brother who had Down' syndrome to live with him in the rectory of one of his parishes. That says a lot about this good priest. Here's a story about his brother.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day

Today, let us offer up our prayers for the living members of the US military who bravely sacrificed so much for our freedom. I was lucky I guess - I was too young for the Vietnam draft and too old for the Gulf Wars.
You can download my song "The Way Things Might Have Been" for free in honour of those who bravely serve to protect our country.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pray for the Philippines

Pray for the souls lost in the typhoon as well as the families left to grieve and start over.
Pray and then open your wallets. There is no better investment for your money right now than in saving lives. Here's a link to Catholic Relief Services where you can donate now.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

.....Worth a Thousand Words

Friday, November 08, 2013

Sarah Palin Says That Catholics Are Not Christians?

Sarah Palin was recently interviewed by USA Today regarding Rev. Billy Graham:  "His message transformed my mom's life,....In the 70s, she would tune into the Billy Graham crusades, televised. My mom was raised Catholic, and she ... was yearning for something more," she said. "His invitation for people to know that they could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ — my mom understood that from the way that he could articulate it. She became a Christian, led the rest of the family to Christ, and that I believe transformed our family."

Sarah, with all due respect, Catholics are Christians, as a matter of fact, they were the first Christians! Receiving Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is the most personal and intimate way of communing with Jesus this side of the veil. A person of her political stature should  be more astute in the way they articulate their faith. Does she realize that she essentially told twenty-five percent of the American population that they are not Christians?

Maybe one of the magazines that Sarah Palin told Katie Couric "I read all of 'em" was a Chick Tract.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Pope Francis and Mary, the Untier of Knots

At the start of the 18th century, a German artist painted a depiction of the Blessed Mother that came to be known as Mary the Undoer or Untier of Knots. Based on the writings of the 2nd century early Church father Irenaeus, Mary was called the "Untier of Knots" because the first Eve, tied the knot of disobedience, but Mary, the New Eve, untied the knot of disobedience with her "yes" to God. While our current Pope Francis was studying theology in Germany in the 1980's he discovered this devotion and the novena (nine days of prayer) associated with it. He brought it back to Argentina with him and it spread widely throughout his country. In 2006 I first heard of the devotion and later wrote a song that was inspired by Mary the Untier of Knots. So in honor of Pope Francis and his hand in spreading this wonderful devotion, here's my song: Untier Of Knots, (once again)

"Mary Untier of the Knots is Our Lady who unties all problems in life, and frees us from the deceptions the Devil bounds us to.” (Msgr. E. Garcia Aux. Bishop of Buenos Aires)

Catholicism and Miracles

After our appearance on the Journey Home program in 2007, I received an e mail from a person who assumed I didn't believe in God's power to heal anymore. Part of my reversion story involved the death of my first wife from a rare cancer. God chose to not heal her and began to open my heart and mind to the Catholic principle of redemptive suffering.  I wrote back explaining that the Church has always believed in miraculous healing and used documented healing as a way to assist in the canonization process of a saint.  I believe God still heals today, but in his time in his way at his choosing.  "Not my will, but thine."

 Here's a trailer for a new book on healing through the intercession of the saints.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Saturday Afternoon Confession - Dread and Love

In our diocese, most parishes have confessions on Saturday afternoon before the vigil mass.  For me, it is the most convenient time to go.  I must confess, I dread and love confession at the same time. I dread the human aspect of having to confess my sins to Jesus through a priest, but I can't argue since it is the biblical precedent which the Church has followed since its nascent days. After the resurrection, Jesus breathed on the disciples and gave them the power to forgive sins.
    I dread confessing my worst thoughts, actions and attitudes to another human being, however I also know that at the same time I am whispering in the ear of God. How can that be? Catholicism is incarnational, God uses the stuff of earth to bring about the grace from heaven. From a purely human perspective, I dread what the priest must think of me, yet I know he is graced from God to be a conduit and as such doesn't stand in judgment. Admittedly though, I can't always process the experience as I am doing here, while standing in line by the confessional.  Instead, after almost ten years, I still get anxious, praying to the saints for assistance to make a good confession, dreading the confession and hoping for it to be over, cause I'm still human.
    But I love confession too! I love the gentleness of the priest as he may offer some advice, and I love it just as much when he doesn't and just absolves my sins.  (I have never been yelled at in the confessional as Thomas Merton famously was.) After I pray my act of contrition, I love to and need to hear the words:  
"God, the Father of Mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
    I then leave the confessional feeling like the weight of the world has just been taken off my shoulders. And sometimes I don't feel anything, but I love knowing that I have just received the forgiveness bought for me on Calvary cleansing me from my sins and giving me more grace (supernatural power) to avoid sinning in the future.*  I love the feeling of a clean slate and a cleansed conscience.
   When GK Chesterton was asked why he became Catholic, he replied; "To get rid of my sins."
 I'll say Amen to that.

 *From personal experience, I can attest that there is a grace to avoid sin that I had not experienced before my reversion.

Friday, November 01, 2013

If Luther Prayed to the Saints, Why Don't We?

Every Protestant who celebrates the reformation on Halloween must ask himself the title question on the day after Reformation Day, All Saints Day.

Today we Catholics celebrate the wonderful communion of saints! What a blessing to discover that we have all these efficacious prayers of all those who have gone before us. Not only can I ask my friends on earth to pray for me to Jesus, I can ask my friends, the saints, in heaven to intercede for me before the throne of God. When I returned to the Church nine years ago and learned what the Communion of Saints actually means, it was like discovering a long lost family that has always been available to me.

"And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four {and} twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints." (Revelation 5)
 "And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer {it} with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. (4) And the smoke of the incense, {which came} with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand." (Rev 8)

 "I believe in the Communion of Saints" (Creed 325 AD)

 "When in his frailty, a man invokes the saints, he invokes Christ, and without fail he will reach Christ whenever he calls upon their names, for wherever they are, they are in Christ and Christ is in them, and their name in Christ's name and Christ's name in their name." (Martin Luther)

"You Catholics are idolaters and necromancers, there is only one mediator between God and man, Jesus! Dead people can't hear you!" (Modern-day Protestants)

 One then must ask: if the communion of saints was an accepted practice of the early church and accepted by the reformer Martin Luther, how do we now justify ignoring it?