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, June 21, 2014

Reason # 646 To Be Catholic: Morality and Doctrine Are Not Determined by Vote

Sadly, a branch of the Presbyterian Church has just decided to change the definition of marriage to accomodate the whims of this modern culture. It was decided by a vote.

  " The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted at its General Assembly on Thursday to change its constitution’s definition of marriage from “a man and a woman” to “two people,” and to allow its ministers to perform same-sex marriages where it is legal."

In Catholicism, issues of faith and morals remain without change protected by the magisterium (teaching authority of the Church) overseen by the pope and are not subject to change based on outside pressure from the culture.  Even if every denomination in the world decides to re-define marriage allowing for same sex unions, and the government demands it, the Catholic Church will not change, it cannot.  As GK Chesterton has said, I want a church that changes the culture, not a church that changes with the culture, and that is Reason # 646 to be Catholic.

Full Circle

My wife and I had the opportunity to give a witness talk and concert tonight at the Catholic Church I was baptized in. I also attended first grade in their Catholic school in 1964.  Just like Phil Keaggy has said: " Full Circle I have come!"
I am so thankful for the grace poured out on me in baptism in 1959 that has left its indelible mark on my soul, keeping me headed towards Him despite some long and painful detours due to my own stubbornness and hard-heart.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Feast of the Trinity and Sola Scriptura

Tomorrow the Universal Church celebrates the Holy Trinity, God in three persons, yet one substance. In 325 AD, almost half the Catholic bishops in the world were starting to believe that Jesus was not truly God, known as the Arian heresy, following the teachings of the heretic bishop Arius. The conflict was threatening the political stability of the Roman empire at the time. Constantine demanded the Catholic Church convene a council and decide once and for all the nature of Christ. The result was the Nicean Council of 325 AD and the Church that Christ established put down the heresy and clearly ennunciated the doctrine of the Trinity.
   What does this have to do with Sola Scriptura?  Interestingly, there was no cohesive canon of scripture and the bible as we now know it was not yet on the scene until 393 AD. So one can't use sola scriptura to derive the doctrine of the Trinity, when it was not yet know which gospels and epistles would make up the New Testament.  It was only the magisterium guided by the Holy Spirit that was able to correctly ennunciate the doctrine of the Trinity and squash this heresy. This is not to say that the gospels were not available, I am sure they were and were read from the pulpits each Sunday, however, the scripture alone did not sort out this controversy. A Church with the authority given to Peter and his successors was necessary.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pray for the Christians in Iraq

Please read this post from a Dominican priest in Mosul under attack by the Sunni militants. God please have mercy.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Happy Feast of Pentecost!

Today the Universal Church celebrates the Feast of Pentecost (from the Greek for 50th). The Feast of Pentecost has its roots in the Jewish feast of Shavout, the Festival of Weeks. The parallels between the Catholic faith and Judaism are amazing and the more one learns of Judaism the more one can see the foreshadowing of the Church that Jesus established. To think that Catholicism and Judaism are opposites is to miss out on a perspective that can truly enhance our understanding of our own faith. As our popes have told us, the Jews are our "elder brothers" in the faith and we will appreciate our faith all the more when we realize that Catholic Christianity is the tree sprung from the root of Judaism. Jewish converts to the faith often remark how much the Mass mirrors their services.   From a Jewish website on Pentecost we learn that:

"Shavu'ot, the Festival of Weeks, is the second of the three major festivals with both historical and agricultural significance (the other two are Passover and Sukkot)....Historically, it celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and is also known as Hag Matan Torateinu (the Festival of the Giving of Our Torah). The period from Passover to Shavu'ot is a time of great anticipation. We count each of the days from the second day of Passover to the day before Shavu'ot, 49 days or 7 full weeks, hence the name of the festival. See The Counting of the Omer. The counting reminds us of the important connection between Passover and Shavu'ot: Passover freed us physically from bondage, but the giving of the Torah on Shavu'ot redeemed us spiritually from our bondage to idolatry and immorality. Shavu'ot is also known as Pentecost, because it falls on the 50th day."

As Catholics, we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit, fifty days after the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord. Theologically it is said the Church was birthed at the moment Christ was pierced on the cross, but traditionally Pentecost is celebrated as the birth of the Church because of the empowerment that came upon Mary and the disciples to preach the gospel while praying the first novena.

BTW, I have discovered that a novena is not a "Catholic invention" but represents the nine day period of prayer that Christ instructed his disciples to commence in anticipation of the coming of the Holy Spirit. As a protestant, I thought a novena was some scary superstitious repetitous prayer but now I know that, once again, the Catholic Church was following scripture "to the T", as it always has!

Monday, June 02, 2014

Are Catholics Afraid They Will Lose Their Salvation?

A repost on a perennial topic.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Evangelical Protestant Churches Are "Alzheimer's Churches?"

I read a recent article about a conference that Evangelical churches are hosting to study the ways of the ancient church to help them to be re-vitalized. The conference is predicated on the notion that non-liturgical churches are more subject to secularization because they have no connection to their "historic core." At this two-day conference they will "explore how communion, the creeds, common prayer and other ancient practices can revitalize the modern evangelical church." The conference leader, Rev. Ed Gungor, notes the loss of evangelical's roots to the ancient church and its practices and creeds. The church "has not only forgotten its past but its identity as well", referring to it as an "Alzheimer's Church." He feels that this has led to a secularization of the Church and evangelicals have become "better Americans than Christians." He also speaks about the lack of unity among evangelicals and believes that a return to the ancient practices would "supercede" the political, economic and cultural differences that separate evangelicals.
    I believe that these Christian pastors are on to something big here. In a quest for unity and less secularization (more piety perhaps?) they want to pursue how the early Christians practiced their faith. Will they discover that the normative worship service of the early church was not a bible study and hymn sing, but a "breaking of the bread and the prayers" and receiving the actual body and blood of Christ?

"The Praxis Conference is an event designed to explore, collaborate, and discover how using the ancient practices of the historical church such as communion, creeds, and common prayer can actually manifest encounters with the Holy Spirit and resurrection in our local church communities."  (cf conference website)

A few years ago, the Emergent Movement was a similar attempt to recreate the early Church worship by a return to burning incense, icons, liturgy and return to the concept of sacraments. Some of the emergents actually became Orthodox and Catholic in their search. As hopeful as this sounds, just reading the creeds, participating in liturgy and placing a higher prority on the Lord's Table will not guarantee unity and purity of doctrine and less secularization, but it is a start.

Evangelicals who desire unity and purity of doctrine need to come into full union with the ancient church Christ built upon Peter and his successors. Only then will the fullness of the faith be experienced through the amazing grace that is poured out in the sacraments validly celebrated in a church in communion with the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic one.

As we approach the Feast of Pentecost, the birth of the Church, let us pray for this conference and in particular for Reverend Gungor, that the Holy Spirit will show them the path to the fullness of faith.  An interesting aside, Catholic musician and worship leader, Matt Maher, will be speaking on Eucharistic Liturgy.