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.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Universality of Catholicism

"Although the present-day concepts of literacy have much to do with the 15th century invention of the movable type printing press, it was not until the Industrial Revolution of the mid-19th century that paper and books became financially affordable to all classes of industrialized society. Until then, only a small percentage of the population were literate as only wealthy individuals and institutions could afford the prohibitively expensive materials. Even today, the dearth of cheap paper and books is a barrier to universal literacy in some less-industrialized nations." (cf wikipedia search on "history of literacy")

This got me thinking about the Catholic faith and how it is so, so.... universal. The word universal means "including or covering all or a whole collectively or distributively without limit or exception; especially : available equitably to all members of a society. " One size fits all, if you will. Catholicism is literally universal because it is a faith that can fit any culture, with any rate of literacy or lack thereof. The ability of the Catholic Church to share the gospel has not been based (and is still not) on the availability of Bibles for individuals or a target audience that has acquired the skill to read and understand and interpret the scripture. As a matter of fact, 75% of the current time line of Christianity has already transpired without the availability of personal portable bibles (Printing press not being invented until the 1472)

Jesus is not willing that any should perish. His sacrifice on the cross and shedding of blood is way too precious to be reserved only for the literate or those of an average or above average intellect that could rationally understand all the tenets of salvation. Or even those who own a Bible*.

Therefore, it makes sense to me that God would start a religion that would be readily accessible to all regardless of intellect, culture, literacy etc or bible ownership. A "simpleton" can be washed clean of original sin through the sacrament of baptism, experience His grace through confession and the Eucharist and be received into heaven at the end of his/her life without ever actually cracking open a Bible. That is the way it was for almost 1500 years. Would God have waited 1500 years to unfold his manifold mysteries of salvation just to the generations that had ready access to the Bible and the ability to read and interpret it for themselves? No, He provided us a way back to the Father that was designed for all men, for all time, for every generation. Catholicism-truly a universal way.

*Does this mean that we should denigrate scripture and not study it? Far be it from me to imply that. St Jerome said in the 5th century, ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. But Jesus gave us a Church in which the scripture would be an integral part of it. The Mass not only includes large portions of scripture read out loud, but the entire liturgy is like a fine tapestry woven together with Scripture.



Blogger Geremia said...

The Church is also universal because it manifests a faith that accords with reason.

April 23, 2010 9:47 PM  
Blogger Geremia said...

...not to mention the God Who is Reason (Logos, the Word)

April 23, 2010 9:50 PM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

Why, I was just discussing Acts with my 6th graders. I point out that there was no New Testament for generations of Christians, yet the Church grew from a few hundred believers to tens of thousands because Jesus founded a visible Church with visible authority to make "whatever" decisions were necessary with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Even decisions such as authorizing a "New" Testament. Imagine that.

April 24, 2010 12:01 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Geremia: yes you are right
one of the hallmarks of Catholicism is that faith and reason are intertwined and not opposed to eachother. In some forms of non-Catholic christianity, reason is disdained!

April 24, 2010 3:20 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

that in itself is a sufficient proof that sola scriptura can't be true since the church flourished without bibles!

April 24, 2010 3:22 PM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

"sola scriptura can't be true since the church flourished without bibles!"

As my 6th graders learn, although I don't use the S.S. term.

April 24, 2010 7:23 PM  
Blogger Magister Christianus said...

The false division between faith and reason is one I have encountered numerous times. There is an arrogant assumption out there that so-called "simple faith" trumps reason. To be sure, Jesus chose some rather rough and unlettered people to be His first followers. But to use this as a the basis for an attack on reason itself, and from the supposed victory of this attack elevate ignorance to a place of virtue, is deeply perverted. I recently posted on the Regensburg Lecture, to which Geremia links. It is worth a read by everyone, Protestants and Catholics alike.

April 25, 2010 8:56 AM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

The unity and continuity of Faith & Reason is reflected in that of Body & Soul, Faith & Works, and Christ's Divinity & Humanity.

The Catholic worldview tends to understand ostensibly separate things as actually the same thing, but manifested through different media. For example, the body is a manifestation of the soul in the physical world.

April 25, 2010 2:06 PM  
Blogger NanaR said...


I found myself remembering this post this week as I was reading a blog discussion regarding homeschooling. The blog author is an evangelical Christian mother of 9 (soon to be 10) children, and I find her experiences and insights to be very interesting and inspiring at times.

On the homeschooling subject, though, the history of posts and comments showed that her strict sola scriptura approach coupled with her family's personal interpretation of scripture resulted in great controversy and division with other of her evangelical Christian friends. The current blog post is , with links in that post to three from 2007.

What became clear for me as I read her blog and the associated comments is this: the evangelical Christian outlook that she espouses is a very AMERICAN religion. She presupposes a literate (even learned) parent able to be the primary teacher of children presumably through high school age. And she categorically rejects the idea that any Christian would be "led" to put their child in public school. I find myself wondering if she ever thinks that a person might be "led" to become a medical doctor as yourself or an attorney such as our esteemed Supreme Court Justices. I expect that she would not want her daughters to pursue any such goals. I rather think that she would not even believe Saint Gianna to be a good-enough example of motherhood since she was a working mother (even though she gave her life for her child).

I am not defending the public school system. I think my blogger friend would be quite surprised to read what the very Catholic Hillaire Belloc has to say about public education. However, Belloc NEVER said that a parent who finds themselves required to send a child to public school is thereby sinning and fallen from the Grace of God (as this lady suggests). Belloc was recommending a Catholic education -- something I would dearly love to have for my grandson who lives with me, but a goal which has been unattainable until now.

With all our barnacles and rust, I am SO happy to be riding in the huge universal boat -- The Catholic Church. One scripture does not a doctrine make. The Lord is leading people to many vocations, some in marriage, some in celibacy, some even in PUBLIC EDUCATION.

TJ, I hope this is not inappropriate for your comment box. I just really felt moved to get it off my chest.



May 04, 2010 12:26 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Ruth-it was a great post and I appreciate it. The longer we are Catholic, the more I realize how much we have been spared and saved from. The sola scriptura mindset can make folks fairly narrow in their thinking and sadly leads to cults and cult-like mentality. When you are your own pope, anything goes as you are "lead by the spirit."
Thanks again for stopping by!

May 04, 2010 10:04 PM  

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