We must admit that the Catholic Church today is the same organization with unbroken continuity with that organization (Church) started in the 1st century. A reading of the Apostolic Fathers, the hinge figures between the Apostles and the later 1st and  2nd century, makes that clear.

The question is whether at some point the one visible, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church lost its legitimacy, thereby releasing the faithful to leave and start rival churches and communities.

Of course, if Jesus started the Catholic Church, we (and He) would expect it to continue until His 2nd Coming at the end of time. If it fails to the point of illegitimacy then His promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against it was a lie or He was not competent enough to keep His promise.

I think the conclusion should be obvious. Protests against Jesus’ Church are not legitimate, nor are churches set up to rival it.

Is the Church perfect? No, because I joined it and I am a member. I know my own sins.  Even if the Church was perfect before 1994 when we joined, it certainly wasn’t afterwards. There was never a Golden Age (just read St. Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians). The Church is always reforming and always in need of reform because it is full of people like me. It is not only a haven for saints but also a hospital for sinners

Jesus said He would build His Church — not “churches.” Jesus prayed that His followers would be perfected in [visible] unity which is now quite visibly gone (except in the still unified universal Catholic Church). The Catholic Church has never lost its legitimacy and the faithful are not released to start rival communities or to join them. This was Luther’s great sin of schism.

“Throughout history, many splinter groups claimed the name “Church”, but as Cyril of Jerusalem said in 350, ‘And if ever you are visiting in cities, do not inquire simply where the House of the Lord is,—for the others, the sects of the impious, attempt to call their dens the Houses of the Lord,—nor ask merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the name peculiar to this holy Church, the Mother of us all, which is the Spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God’.(Catechetical Lectures 18, 26, in Jurgens, Faith of the Early Fathers, 1:359).” (Crossing the Tiber, pg. 70).


joseph10Today is the Feast day of St. Joseph the Worker!

There are some pictures of Joseph I don’t appreciate so much. They present him almost as soft, effeminate like he just came out of a beauty parlor. It appears he never worked in the real world and has not a wrinkle on his clothes or a speck of dirt on his hands and feet.

I understand why artists paint Joseph this way and why churches have statues and images of the flowery, dainty, “European” Joseph with his fair hair. It is because art tries to reveal the inner qualities. This soft art tries to show the righteousness, holiness, kindness and love of a man who cared so deeply for God and his family.

308f4d06baa56b279ed41a7a1b86e31eBut Joseph was anything but a fair-haired, effeminate man with soft skin. Joseph was a manly man. His hands were calloused, his face was brown and creased from the sun, his arms and legs were like iron from walking, lifting and working. Quite the opposite of how he is often portrayed.

We are told that Joseph was a carpenter. The word for carpenter in the Greek of the New Testament is tekton which means one who works with hard materials like wood, stone or metal. 

In short Joseph was a laborer, a redneck, a rock mason. Someone had to quarry the rocks near Nazareth; someone had to chisel them with hammers to shape them for walls, houses, etc. Most historians believe Joseph and Jesus were construction workers helping build the city of Sepphoris.

You see here a few of my favorite pictures of St. Joseph, probably better representing the way he and Jesus really looked. Rough hands, brown face, tussled hair, coarse clothing and dusty feet. Imagine a construction worker, a farmer in the field, a lumberjack or a ditch digger.

tissot-the-anxiety-of-saint-joseph-737x587x72When I first showed this picture of Jesus standing in the wood shavings and dust to a friend with a devotion to St. Joseph he was scandalized. He shouted, “That is NOT St. Joseph!” He had been meditating on the soft, effeminate Joseph, not the rugged working Joseph of the rustic town of Nazareth.

Nazareth was a backwater village with a network of about 25 caves. Very rustic living – no plumbing, no showers, to toilets, no refrigerators, microwaves, washing machines or air conditioners. How would such a life affect you? (In the picture to the right you can see Mary arriving from the well with a jug of water on her head.)

St. Joseph was a manly man and so was Jesus. They give us a good example of masculine men, working hard for their family. They demonstrated the dignity of hard work and the dignity of family life (CCC 533).

St. Joseph the Worker, pray for us!

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Does God Pick the Pope? by Jimmy Akin

DoesGodPickthePope-e1520967085851“When Pope Benedict was elected in 2005, I was overjoyed.As much as I loved John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger spoke to me in a special way, and I was thrilled when he became pope.

I was puzzled, though, by the way people began announcing him as “God’s choice” and speaking as if—in every conclave—the Holy Spirit himself selects the pope.

It’s customary for people to speak that way in the jubilation that occurs whenever a new people is elected.

I knew that, but this was the first conclave I witnessed as an adult, and as a Catholic, and I hadn’t experienced it first hand.

That kind of language is understandable as a way of building confidence for the new pontificate, but is it literally true?

Does the Holy Spirit really select the best possible man for the job, or is it a form of pious hyperbole?

130227151945-01-pope-0227-horizontal-large-galleryCommon Sense

Common sense would suggest the latter. The cardinals in a conclave certainly invoke the Holy Spirit and seek his guidance, but he does not override their free will.

We’ve had some really bad popes in the history of the Church, and not just ones like Peter who made mistakes and then repented.

We’ve had some genuinely bad actors in the papacy (for example, Benedict IX, who reigned three different times between 1032 and 1048).

So in what sense can the election of a pope be said to be God’s will?

Divine Providence

Everything that happens in history takes place under God’s providential care.

By his omnipotence, God could stop any event from occurring, and so if something happens, it’s because God allows it.

The election of a pope thus can be said to be God’s will in the sense that any historical event can.

In this broad sense, however, the fact that something is God’s will does not guarantee that he approves of it.

It may be God’s will to allow a man to commit adultery, but that doesn’t mean he approves of the adultery.

Is the election of a pope in accord with God’s will only in this minimal sense or does it involve something greater?

Divine Guidance

While God does not override human free will, he does offer guidance. Jesus gave the Church certain promises in this regard, stating:

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth (John 16:13).


Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age (Matt. 28:20).

God has thus promised to give the Church his guidance. He has also promised it to individuals:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him (James 1:5).

If an individual man seeks God’s guidance, he can count on it being given. This does not mean it will be easy to hear or understand, or that the man will act on it, but it does mean that God will offer his assistance in some way.

Similarly, when the college of cardinals seeks God’s guidance in a conclave, they can be confident he will give it. Indeed, given the weightiness of the decision facing the cardinals and the implications it will have for the entire Church, they can expect he will provide even greater guidance.

This does not guarantee that the guidance will be easy to hear or understand, or that the cardinals will act on it, but it does mean that God’s assistance will be provided.

By presuming the discernment and good will of the cardinals, we may presume the man they elect was chosen in accord with God’s guidance and thus that his election was God’s will in a greater way than if God merely allowed it.

merlin_131618630_0d1d7ad7-0fa1-4021-bd20-1221f21ad866-master768A Marriage Analogy

We should be careful about assuming that there is only one correct choice for pope, for the process of selecting a pope is similar to the process of selecting a spouse.

Pop culture sometimes promotes the idea that everyone has a soul mate—a single, best individual that they should marry—but the reality is more complex.

Each marriage prospect has different strengths and weaknesses, and depending on who you choose, your marriage will unfold in different ways. But that doesn’t mean there is a single, best candidate you must find.

Even if there is, identifying that person with confidence cannot be humanly accomplished, given the number of factors and the number of unknowns in play.

Similarly, candidates for the papacy have different strengths and weaknesses. Depending on who the cardinals choose, the next papacy will unfold in different ways. But there may not be a single, best choice—or one that is humanly knowable.

463416006_wide-76d348e063e8cf373b6b6c1ffc284c7d62581e32-s900-c85After the Choice is Made

Once a selection has been made, however, a new mode of divine will comes into play.

In the case of a marriage, once you exchange vows, it is God’s will that you treat that person as your spouse.

The realm of possibilities that existed before has now reduced to a single person, and that person is your divinely ordained spouse. He ordained that you be spouses in the moment the vows were exchanged, and “what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matt. 19:6).

It’s now your job to make the marriage work, not to worry about what-ifs and might-have-beens.

Similarly, when a man accepts his election as pope, he becomes the divinely ordained pope, and it’s now everyone’s job in the Church to support him in the various ways that are appropriate to their station and to make the papacy work.

Spouses are not perfect, and neither are popes. Just as every marriage has challenges and requires work, so does every papacy.

Cardinal Ratzinger’s Views

When he was still a cardinal, Benedict XVI acknowledged the fact that cardinals can elect sub-optimal popes in an interview with German television back in 1997.

When asked whether the Holy Spirit is responsible for the election of a pope, he said:

I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the pope. . . . I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined (John Allen, The Rise of Benedict XVI, 6).

He continued:

There are too many contrary instances of popes the Holy Spirit obviously would not have picked!

Similarly, in his final address to the college of cardinals, Pope Benedict stated:

Before I say goodbye to each one of you personally, I would like to tell you that I shall continue to be close to you with my prayers, especially in these coming days, that you may be completely docile to the action of the Holy Spirit in the election of the new pope. May the Lord show you the one whom he wants.

Benedict’s prayer that they will be docile to the Holy Spirit indicates the possibility that they will not be docile

GroupthinkImplications for the Future

Nobody knows when the next conclave will be, but we can draw several implications from all this.

First, we can be confident from the fact that the cardinals seek God’s guidance that he will give it to them, as he has promised.

Second, even if they make a sub-optimal choice, we can be confident that God will ultimately bring good out of it, for “in everything God works for good with those who love him” (Rom. 8:28; cf. CCC 311).

Third, we need to pray. We need to pray now that good cardinals will be chosen, and when they meet in conclave, we need to pray that they will earnestly seek and heed God’s guidance.”

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Two Seats have opened up on our April Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

March 14, 2018

Our April Holy Land trip has been sold out for months but a couple just had to drop out so two seats are open but will go fast. If you know anyone interested call (866) 468-1420 or visit http://www.footprintsofgodpilgrimages.com/pilgrimage/holy-land-wi…

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My Intro Speech for Elijah and Elisha Premier

March 13, 2018

I didn’t know that my brother was recording this but now I’m glad he did. I’m happy for the tribute I gave to my 96 year old mother at the beginning. She was proud and pleased We thanked Joe Reynolds and Skyline Productions  and the conclusion after the movie.

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Virtual Pilgrimage Podcast

March 12, 2018

I recently gave talks at the Lansing Men’s Conference in Michigan. The Director of Evangelization asked me for an interview which I read away agreed to. He wanted to talk about pilgrimages and the effect it has on people and what we do and more. Here’s what he wrote… “We just posted our “Armchair Catholic” […]

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World premiere of new “Footprints of God” film on March 9th in Canton, Michigan

March 7, 2018

Host and creator Steve Ray will present and discuss Elijah & Elisha: Conscience of the Kingdom, the ninth film in the popular series from Ignatius Press. March 2, 2018 CWR Staff The Dispatch 2Print Steve Ray, host and producer of the “Footprints of God” series, in Jordan overlooking the Holy Land. (Photo: www.footprintsofgodpilgrimages.com) Steve Ray is best known as […]

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Vatican Releases New Document on Salvation — Good Read!

March 6, 2018

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has released a new document–which it does not do too often. It was written by the head of the congregation Archbishops Luis Ladaria at the request of Pope Francis. It addresses two problematic tendencies in the modern world that relate to the heresies of Gnosticism and Pelagianism. Jimmy […]

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“Encouraging ministers to give holy Communion to divorced-and-civilly-remarried Catholics”?

March 5, 2018

Luke 16:18  “Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” Thus says Our Lord Jesus. Some Church leaders today seem to be contradicting His words and the Laws of the Church. Canon Lawyer Ed Peters comments on new developments: “A […]

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Premier Showing of our New Movie “Elijah & Elisha, Conscience of the Kingdom” – Join Us!

March 1, 2018

World Premier of ELIJAH & ELISHA: CONSCIENCE OF THE KINGDOM Friday, March 9, 2018 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. St. John Neumann Catholic Church, 44800 Warren Road, Canton, MI 48187 TICKETS: $5.00 per person at www.EventBrite.com (Money goes to fund our next movie Doctors of the Church and the Seminarians at Sacred Heart Seminary. […]

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Update on the Opening of the Holy Sepulchre but Warning it is Not Over

February 28, 2018

Statement on Municipal threats and the discriminatory “Church Lands Bill” The heads of Churches in charge of the Holy Sepulcher and the Status Quo governing the various Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem, are following with great concern the systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land, in flagrant violation of […]

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The Jordan Peterson Phenomenon – I Stand Up to Applaud Him!!

February 28, 2018

There is a lot of buzz going around about the Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson who is defying the Canadian government and the tyranny of the lunatic Left. I stand up to applaud him! Here is an article in Catholic World Report written by Bishop Robert Barron. Barron introduces this eloquent, courageous and very bright man. […]

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Holy Sepulchre Church Closed over Taxation Dispute with Israel

February 27, 2018

As many of you already know, last week the major Christian groups within the Holy Sepulchre and the Patriarch of Jerusalem decided to close the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as a protest against the punitive taxes and confiscatory collection process being imposed by Israel through the municipality of Jerusalem. Closing the Church is a great burden […]

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EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo is Under Attack – even it seems from the Vatican

February 26, 2018

A number of good Catholic journalist and newscasters are speaking out about what is going on with the Vatican. Raymond Arroyo is one of them. “Raymond Arroyo is a New York Times bestselling author, journalist and a producer. He is the news director and lead anchor of EWTN News, the news division of the Eternal […]

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Major biblical discovery: Archaeologists may have found the Prophet Isaiah’s ‘signature’

February 23, 2018

 By James Rogers | Fox News The seal mark discovered in Jerusalem (Eilat Mazar/Biblical Archaeological Society) Archaeologists in Israel say that they have found a clay seal mark that may bear the signature of the Biblical Prophet Isaiah. The 2,700-year-old stamped clay artifact was found during an excavation at the foot of the southern wall […]

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St. Polycarp’s name does not mean “many fish”

February 23, 2018

Today is the Feast Day of the Great Bishop and Saint Polycarp on February 23. When we converted to the Catholic Church my son Jesse chose St. Polycarp as his patron saint because of his great heroism. We filmed the whole life of St. Polycarp on location. I feel like I know him. The name Polycarp […]

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