This morning, I stumbled across this good piece from a Tyler, Texas newspaper, about the conversion phenomenon commonly known as "Crossing the Tiber" -- when Protestants become Catholic. With some prominent Americans -- including a presidential candidate -- among those who have crossed that river to Rome (symbolically, if not literally), the paper decided to investigate what it means.
They uncovered some rich conversion stories:
When Lori Harris, 49, tried to express what it meant to become a Catholic after being raised in the Church of God of Prophecy, she got tears in her eyes. The buoyant former missionary and home-school teacher was momentarily and uncharacteristically speechless.
"I can't explain it," she finally said in a high, squeaky voice as tears appeared. "I started taking communion as a kid. We even made the flat bread at home for use in our church."
But something was missing from her years as a Protestant Christian, she said. She turned to the Catholic Church and said she found "a deeper expression."
"I saw that through the Eucharist, the (Catholic) church was holding a form and holiness that Protestants simply do not," she said. "There was a deeper understanding of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross."
Mrs. Harris was the daughter of a nonbeliever who was "called to preach" upon conversion in his mid-20s. She was 5 years old.
"Daddy preached in Argo at a small church of about 50, and momma played the Gibson guitar at worship time," she said. "We had the gifts of the spirit, of course, at the church. We prayed for healing for everyone who came to us. We had a jar of (anointing) oil by the door at home for anybody who walked in with a need. We had no medicines at home. We believed in God to heal us. We believed in miracles. I still do. We kids sat in the pews until we fell asleep during late-night revival meetings. Church was our life."
After studying Catholicism for "about three years," she came to Catholicism in 2007. The "Tiber" was popularized by (R.R.) Reno in his book, "In The Ruins of the Church," explained Mrs. Harris.
"The Tiber River is in Rome, but it really means to the crossing over from Protestantism to Catholicism," she said. "I crossed the Tiber on Good Friday of 2007."
There's more, much more, so wander back to the link and continue. We who have grown up in the faith tend to forget just how meaningful it can be to those who are newly arrived. It's good to be reminded of that.
Posted by Deacon Greg Kandra