[Part Two of series; see here for Part One]
By Michael H. Brown
When we left off, we were speaking of Dr. Rob Rice, a Pentecostal minister who converted to Catholicism. That occurred five years ago this coming Easter. Before that, for 33 years, he was a healing minister in non-denominational churches — a gifted man who says he had seen hundreds, even “thousands,” of miraculous healings.
When his first wife died and he remarried, it was to a Catholic woman, and this eventually led to his conversion — and a continuation of the remarkable events. Those at his Pentecostal church wouldn’t accept his wife, and so he left and began exclusively attending Catholic Mass. About three months after resigning his church, he began feeling uncomfortable that he couldn’t receive Communion, and so he began his journey into Catholicism.
Still, Rice wasn’t convinced that Communion was really Christ’s actual Body and Blood. He looked upon it as symbolic. At the same time, he kept thinking of the biblical passage that we must eat His Body and drink His Blood. And also 1 Corinthians 11:23-33, where Jesus said “this is My Body, this is My Blood.”
“The Lord began dealing with me that this occurs when the Catholic priest consecrates,” he says. When he asked why a Protestant minister couldn’t do the same, he says, it was given to him that only a priest can do so because a priest is in the apostolic line of succession. “It’s because a priest is in that succession that he has the authority to pray over the bread and wine,” says Dr. Rice. “When Martin Luther was excommunicated in 1520, that broke the apostolic line of succession. Every Protestant denomination is a split from a split from a split. And they all stem from Luther.”
That doesn’t mean God isn’t in the Protestant community, notes Rice (he saw many miracles there himself; the Holy Spirit was present), although he maintains that there is no way that Protestants can have Communion that is anything more than symbolic.
But getting back to his story: it was after being a Catholic for about a year that Rice, a former truck driver and pastor of six churches, happened to encounter exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. “Now what is this?” thought the former minister, who still possessed a few anti-Catholic biases — and still had his doubts about the real Presence.
But they were to be dispelled that day. “As I sat there looking at the Blessed Sacrament, all of a sudden the face of Christ appeared to me in the center of the Blessed Sacrament,” he asserts. “I said, ‘All right, Lord, I get the picture!'”
Now — as a lay Catholic evangelist, when he and his wife conduct a healing service — the Blessed Sacrament is exposed and they drape a cloth around the base of the monstrance, hanging it over the front of the altar. “That cloth is to represent the hem of His garment,” says Dr. Rice, who travels across America conducting parish missions. “We pray a prayer of agreement with the person. It’s a simple prayer saying, ‘Father I agree with my sister in prayer. I ask You Lord to grant unto her the desires of her heart. Lord let Your healing virtue flow, in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,’ and I touch them on the cheeks and say, ‘Be healed, in Jesus’ Name.'”
Where his healing used to occur during Pentecostal services, now they occur before the Blessed Sacrament.
Rice sees the Catholic Church as a “sleeping giant.” “The longer I’m Catholic and the more I study it, the more I become absolutely convinced that the Catholic Church is awesome,” says the former Protestant. “The Catholic Church always has been the apostolic church — and we ought to be acting like it. Signs and wonders and miracles and everything that took place in the Church 2,000 years ago should be happening today, because the Church hasn’t changed. In Matthew Chapter 10 He called the apostles together and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out and heal all manner of sickness. In Mark 16 He says in My Name they shall cast out devils, speak with new tongues, take up serpents, they shall lay their hands upon the sick and they shall recover. In John 14:12: ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth in Me the things that I do, he shall do also.’
“The Catholic Church is the apostolic Church. If people would understand what the Catholic Church really is, people would not be leaving the Church to look for greener pastures. When people leave the Catholic Church, they go to the Pentecostal or charismatic churches because they’re looking for something that they’re not receiving at home. They need to study their Bible and their Catechism. If they were to study that and discover what our faith is really about, they would not be looking for greener pastures. And if our Protestant brothers and sisters knew the truth about the Catholic Church, they would no longer be Protestants.”
“On the day of Pentecost,” he continues, “when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the 120, there was not one person there from the First Assembly of God. There was not one there from Four Square Pentecostal Church of God. The ones who were there were the founders of the Catholic Church.”
In the two years that he has been conducting Catholic healing, Dr. Rice has logged 39 testimonies of people who had cancers that were healed, four blind who allegedly received their sight, and three who have come out of wheelchairs.
“I do everything I can now to lead people to the Eucharist for healing,” he says. “My main message is being healed through the Mass, because if Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist — which He is — and if Jesus is God — which He is — and if God can’t be separated from His power, which He can’t, then that same power that was available 2,000 years ago, that caused the blind to see and the deaf to hear and the lame to walk, that power that cast out devils, cleansed the lepers, and raised the dead, that power that spoke this entire universe into existence, is also present in the Holy Eucharist because Jesus is the Holy Eucharist.”
In fact Dr. Rice asserts that on one occasion there was an accident victim who was thought to have been dead for about an hour — declared so by the police, ambulance paramedics, and upon arrival at the emergency room — and “woke” after Dr. Rice’s visited his body at the hospital, put his hands on the man, and rebuked the “spirit of death.”
He says many remain ill because they are wrongfully and unworthily taking the Eucharist. Other reasons include unforgiveness in the heart — or simply because a healing is not yet in God’s plan or timing. “I believe that God can heal anybody of anything,” he says. “Believe me, there is nothing that God can’t do.”
Dr. Rice relates an incredible miracle that allegedly occurred at St. Paul’s Church in Damascus, Maryland. “What happened was that the priest asked my wife Anita if she would like to do the readings and me if I would like to serve the Precious Blood,” recounts the former pastor. “Well, when it came time to serve, there were about twenty people left in the line, and there was this young boy, maybe 12 or 13 years old, who came up to me. I went to serve him and there was probably an inch or an inch and a half of the Precious Blood still left in the cup, and this kid just chug-a-lugged it.
“I was looking at this empty cup, and I was mad. I said, ‘Lord, this isn’t right. Some of these people are going to want to receive you and they’re not going to be able to. Lord, could you see to it that everyone who wants to receive can?”
What happened next we submit for your own discernment.
“I saw this woman starting to walk towards me and I looked up at her, looked back at the cup, and there was this sip of the Precious Blood at the bottom of the cup!” says Dr. Rice. “I went ahead and served her and saw another woman walking towards me. I looked back at the cup, and there was another sip at the bottom. That happened seven times. Every person who wanted to receive the Precious Blood was able to receive it!”
At the cathedral in Venice, Florida, Dr. Rice says that the pastor dropped a Host without knowing it, as he was administering Communion to one of the servers. It fell out of the ciborium without his noticing it. “So when Anita and I went up to receive Communion, I leaned over to the priest and said, ‘Father, you dropped Jesus on the floor.’ He got this blank look on his face, just stunned, and I said, ‘May I have the privilege of rescuing Our Lord from the floor?’ and he said, ‘Yes, of course.’
“And so I went up to the sanctuary area, leaned over, and picked Jesus up off the floor, then went back down around the front of the altar and bowed before the altar and consumed the Eucharist. I went back to my seat and sat down and then knelt forward.
“When I did, a flood of the Presence of God hit me like I have never felt in my life. Never have I felt His Presence like that time. I was bouncing off the walls for three hours. It was just awesome.” And this former Pentecostal knows why: “When we consume the Holy Eucharist,” he says, “we are consuming the God Who spoke this entire universe into existence.”