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.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Passion of the Christ and Born Again, Again

Ten years ago today, the Passion of the Christ was released to the theaters. Very shortly after I saw the film with my wife and sons. In the movie, I surrendered to God in a way that I never had before. When I saw how much Jesus suffered for me graphically displayed, I knew I had to surrender. Surrender what? I had been a fairly devout Christian, daily bible reading, prayer, church, small groups, music ministry, etc. What did I need to surrender? I had already given my heart to Jesus as a 14 year old kid on a hot spring night in a friend's crowded living room. I had "sealed the deal" then, and shortly after left the Catholic Church being brainwashed with anti-Catholic literature and teachings. But 31 years later, in this dark movie theater with tears streaming down my face, the Holy Spirit was telling me I had to completely surrender in a way I never had before. An overpowering thought came to me: "You will surrender everything and become Catholic!" That was very strange, since the movie wasn't overtly proselytizing Catholicism. But for me, the one thing I had never surrendered was my pride. Would I be willing to reconsider the Catholic faith despite three decades of negative thoughts about the faith of my youth? I began to read about Catholicism and conversion stories. The most impressive was Steve Ray's Crossing the Tiber. When I discovered that the Catholic Church has always believed that Jesus is indeed in the Eucharist, and that the early Christians believed this, I knew I had to return. Jesus was right down my street, and I could worship Him and physically and spiritually receive Him! What a comfort and joy to know that He has always abided with us, not just spiritually but truly substantially present under the appearances of bread and wine. About three months after that, I returned to the Church after being an evangelical Protestant for 31 years. I have never regretted the decision and am thankful to God that he used Mel Gibson's movie to strangely melt my cold heart towards the Church my Lord and Savior gave us. It was like I was born again again!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Doctor Tells Story of Taking Care of Mother Theresa

This is a captivating story. You won't regret watching it.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Pope on The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession)

From his general audience on Feb 19th, Pope Francis exhorts the Church to go to confession.

“The Sacraments of Penance and Reconciliation [...] flow directly from the Paschal mystery,” he told pilgrims attending his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.

"In fact, the same evening of Easter the Lord appeared to the disciples, closed in the Cenacle, and, after addressing to them the greeting ‘Peace be with you’, he breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven.’”

This indication by Jesus, the Pope stressed, shows that the forgiveness of our sins is not gained through any strength of our own, rather it is a gift that springs from the heart of Christ Crucified and Risen.

Departing from his prepared statement, the Holy Father spoke on the reservations one might have to confessing their sins to a priest. “Someone may say: ‘I confess only to God.’ Yes, you can tell God: ‘Forgive me’, and say your sins,” he said. “But our sins are also against the brothers, against the Church, and for this it is necessary to ask forgiveness to the Church and to the brothers, in the person of the priest.”
The Holy Father also said that some may feel ashamed of confessing their sins. However, he noted, feeling shame for one’s sins is good because it humbles us.
"Do not be afraid of Confession!” he exclaimed. One who is in line to confess himself feels all these things - even shame - but then, when he finishes confessing, he leaves free, great, beautiful, forgiven, [...] happy. And this is the beauty of Confession.”
Concluding his catechesis, Pope Francis encouraged those who have not confessed, whether it be for two weeks or 40 years, to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation as soon as possible. “Jesus is there, and Jesus is much better than the priests, and Jesus receives you. He receives you with so much love. Be courageous, and go forward to Confession,” he said.
“To celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation means to be wrapped in a warm embrace.”

I say a hearty amen! The sacrament of reconciliation has been a life-changer for me and the grace I have received as a result of frequent confession has been abundant. Not only are your sins forgiven, but the Lord gives you grace to avoid sins in the future. What's not to love? Getting closer to Jesus through confessing your sins in accordance to scripture!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day From Pope Emeritus Benedict the 16th

From his first encyclical Deus Caritas: (God is Love)

"Nowadays Christianity of the past is often criticized as having been opposed to the body; and it is quite true that tendencies of this sort have always existed. Yet the contemporary way of exalting the body is deceptive. Eros, reduced to pure “sex”, has become a commodity, a mere “thing” to be bought and sold, or rather, man himself becomes a commodity. This is hardly man's great “yes” to the body. On the contrary, he now considers his body and his sexuality as the purely material part of himself, to be used and exploited at will. Nor does he see it as an arena for the exercise of his freedom, but as a mere object that he attempts, as he pleases, to make both enjoyable and harmless. Here we are actually dealing with a debasement of the human body: no longer is it integrated into our overall existential freedom; no longer is it a vital expression of our whole being, but it is more or less relegated to the purely biological sphere. The apparent exaltation of the body can quickly turn into a hatred of bodiliness. Christian faith, on the other hand, has always considered man a unity in duality, a reality in which spirit and matter compenetrate, and in which each is brought to a new nobility. True, eros tends to rise “in ecstasy” towards the Divine, to lead us beyond ourselves; yet for this very reason it calls for a path of ascent, renunciation, purification and healing."

Sunday, February 09, 2014

What Was Luther Right About?

On one of my last posts on Lutherism (Not Lutheranism) I quoted Dr. Luther in his response to Pope Leo upon discovering he was being officially excommunicated. One of his responses was this:
“If this bull* ( Papal Bull of excommunication) has come out in your name, then I will use the power which has been given me in baptism whereby I became a son of God and co-heir with Christ, established upon the rock against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. I call upon you to renounce your diabolical blasphemy and audacious impiety, and, if you will not, we shall all hold your seat as possessed and oppressed by Satan, the damned seat of Antichrist; in the name of Jesus Christ, whom you persecute."

Dr. Luther reveals in this statement that he indeed believed that baptism made him a son of God and co-heir with Christ! He believed that his infant baptism was regenerational as the Catholic Church has taught and believed since the early church came into being.

Therefore, if Luther believed that baptism made him a son of God and co-heir with Christ, why do many modern Christians reject baptismal regeneration and believe it is symbolic or something "covenantal?"
     The argument that is put forward is that Luther wasn't right about everything. "We don't follw Luther, we follow the Word of God."  But the reality is that Luther's new paradigm of sola scriptura was what every non-Catholic Christian follows and is a hallmark of their faith.
  How do we know Martin Luther was right when he came up with the other novel doctrines of faith alone, and scripture alone? (Of course Catholics believed we are saved by grace alone but we believe scripture when it teaches that our ultimate destiny is dependent on "what we did and didn't do" and we can't be saved by just faith alone) Could one of these other solas doctrines be wrong too?
    Was he wrong about his belief that the Eucharist was indeed the actual body and blood of Christ ?  There were several key doctrines that the founder of Protestantism held to that were distinctly Catholic. Yet soon after the reformation, one by one, Protestants picked and chose which doctrines they would hold to, which sacraments they could nullify, all based on their particular interpretation of scripture using Luther's principle of Sola Scriptura. Luther himself attempted to defend his belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist going back and using Sacred Tradition and the Church Fathers because his sola scriptura principle did not help resolve the debate with Zwingli and other reformers.

So at the end of the day, one must reflect, what was Martin Luther right about and how do we decide?
To my Protestant friends, how do you decide which of Luther's doctrines were correct?
 Hint:    The answer is not  "The doctrines that align with my interpretation or my pastor's interpretation of the Word of God."

* Bull didn't have the connotation that is now associated with it as in the excrement of a Bos Taurus ( male cattle).  It meant a solemn letter of proclamation from the pope and was sealed with a piece of lead with the image of Peter and Paul on it. This piece of embossed lead was called a bulla, which my medical latin tells me is a raised fluid filled lesion. The papal bull was a raised slug of lead so the letters sealed with the bulla came to be known as Bulls.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Call No Man Your Father.....Really?

As a young born-again Christian, I sneered at the "dumb Catholic Church" for calling priests "father". Didn't they read the bible? Of course not! Didn't they want to obey Scripture? No!  As a rebellious fourteen year old kid with an axe to grind against his parent's religion, it was "easy" for me to understand scripture (in the light of Chick tracts and such teaching) and turn it against the Church of my upbringing.
    Little did I know at that time that the Catholic Church existed a full 350 years before the New Testament was compiled and that this Church discerned which books and letters would ultimately end up in this book we now call the Bible.  Well, now that I got that off my chest, I wanted to bring attention to some great apologetics being done by Church of Christ- to- Catholic convert, Pat Vandapool.  Pat's blog posts are mostly aimed at Church of Christ folks but they apply very readily to all non-Catholic Christians, particularly the more fundamentalist sects. His writing style is like a cold splash of water in the face meant to wake up the reader to the reality of the logic presented to them. For those who argue that his style is not syrupy sweet, I suggest taking a look at Saint Francis DeSales' Catholic Controversy.
  Check Patrick out here.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Great Pope, Self the First

                                                    (channeling my inner Pope Selfie)
 I am going to describe an unfortunate phenomenon that I see, all too often, in the Catholic faith. I call this Lutherism, and no, I don't mean Lutheranism. Hence this post is not directed at our separated brethren the Lutherans or other Protestants.  Lutherism occurs when individuals in the Catholic faith, (assuming they have agreed to the tenets of the faith) believe that they know more than the pope and understand better than the magisterium the direction the Church should be going. Martin Luther began with the desire to correct the abuses of the Church but ultimately found himself outside of the Church Jesus started. It was his sincere belief that he alone knew better than the current pope and the magisterium of the Catholic Church.

"The wrath of God is coming upon the papists, the enemies of the cross of Christ, that all men should resist them. You then, Leo X, you cardinals and the rest of you at Rome, I tell you to your faces: “If this bull          ( Papal Bull of excommunication) has come out in your name, then I will use the power which has been given me in baptism whereby I became a son of God and co-heir with Christ, established upon the rock against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. I call upon you to renounce your diabolical blasphemy and audacious impiety, and, if you will not, we shall all hold your seat as possessed and oppressed by Satan, the damned seat of Antichrist; in the name of Jesus Christ, whom you persecute."

But ultimately the man who said these things at a more saner moment said this:
"I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals.
 I have within me the great pope, Self."

 And that my friends, is the heart and soul of Lutherism - Believing that we know better than the current pope while listening only to our inner pope, the Great Pope, Self the First!

Dear God, free us all from the "pope" inside us and let us happily submit our mind, will and emotions to the working of the Holy Spirit in this Church you started. Let this be our heart and mind, especially when we feel like we know better than our current pope.