First Day at Sea!

by Steve Ray on November 1, 2014

Here is the video from friday. We drove across Greece to our ship south of Athens and boarded and headed out to see.

The group that is cruise-only arrive before us and were greeting us as we entered the ship. Enjoy the video!


Robin writes: St Paul Pilgrimage – preface

I wanted to begin this blog with my conversion story. For some of you, you may stop reading here but I encourage you to continue. This is my second pilgrimage with Steve Ray and his wife Janet. I choose to travel with him because I would not be a Catholic today if it were not for him.

I was raised a Catholic but I never understood my faith; I thought it was boring. My best friend was a Lutheran so I started going to Protestant churches as a youth. I had stopped going to Mass when my father got tired of trying to wake up a young girl who feined sleep every Sunday morning.

I went to a weekend retreat with my friend and got “saved” around 12 years of age, and during my young adult years went to various churches, including Assembly of God. After I got married I took the kids to Sunday school, at times changing churches to find one I liked.

I drifted away from church throughout my life but returned to stay about 13 years ago. My drifting days were over and I knew I would always be a Christian. But I still could never find a church that I really felt was perfect for me, always trying to find the right sermon or right pastor to follow.

Several years ago I started a new job in an outpatient facility. I was pleased to find out that I shared in common an interest in religion with a co-worker. I asked him where he went to church, and he told me he was a Catholic. I was disappointed, and told him I was once a Catholic but left that church. He asked me why, and I mumbled something about Catholics worshipping Mary and praying to saints. “None of that is in the bible” I told him.

Well, was I in for a surprise!! He loved being a Catholic and for the next two years I worked there he invested much of his free time teaching me the truth; I had absolutely no knowledge of the beauty of the Catholic faith. In short, I learned that Christ appointed Peter the vicar of His church (the first Pope) when he named him Petros (Peter) and said “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” Matthew 16:18.

I learned that the Catholic church teaches both tradition and scripture because the bible wasn’t compiled for a few hundred years after Jesus was resurrected; in fact at least 60 years after Jesus left nothing was written down, which is why the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonians in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 “So then brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter”.

I learned that the Body and Blood is called the Eucharist and is not a symbol, but is transformed during the mass into the actual body and blood of Christ. Jesus states in John 6:52 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; ? he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. ?For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. ? He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him”.

When Jesus taught this to the disciples, many walked away disgusted. If he had meant it to be symbolic, He would have corrected himself and gone after them. Instead He turned to the remaining 12 disciples and said “will you leave also?” Which is when Peter said “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”. I wondered why no one in Protestant circles noticed this obvious passage?

When I questioned under what authority priests can hear confession and forgive sins, my friend had the answer for that too. He pointed out to me the words of Jesus to his apostles on Easter Sunday in John 20:22-23 “Peace be with you!” Then he breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained”. Confession is one of seven sacraments through which we receive God’s grace in the Catholic church.

He taught me many other things, more than I can write in this preface. That Catholics do not worship Mary, they simply revere her as the Mother of our Lord and we can pray for her intercession. Likewise we do not pray to saints in lieu of Christ, but we can and should ask a favorite saint to pray for us, which is no different than asking your friend to pray for you but much powerful because the saints are in heaven and “the prayers of a righteous man availeth much”.

Revelation even testifies to the fact that the saints are in heaven praying for us and that their prayers go up as incense before God ? Revelation 5:8 “And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints…”

I was leaving for the summer to spend it in Utah and my friend gave me Steve Ray’s book “Crossing the Tiber” which is his conversion story written to his parents. He and his wife Janet were evangelical Protestants and his Dad was a Baptist deacon. He had spent much of his adult life trying to convert Catholics to Protestantism, convinced they were going to burn in hell for their heresy. I took the book but I never intended to read it; I still wasn’t sold on this Catholic thing, although I was starting to have doubts in my heart.

I read that summer during my free time and after the intro I started crying, and cried through much of the book. He wrote the book to explain to his father why he had decided to join the Catholic Church, knowing how it would literally kill him. But after hours, days, months and years of studying the early church fathers he could not deny that the church Jesus founded was the Catholic church and that it is the only surviving religion dating back to Christ, virtually unchanged as taught by the apostles to their disciples, who are the early church fathers.

I could not believe that you could actually read their writings today (Jerome, Ignatius of Antioch and many more) and that all the writings confirm what the church teaches today about baptism, the Eucharist, Saints, the order of the Mass, the sacraments and more. I was astounded and also angry that the Protestant church had twisted the words of scripture to deny the truth. Even Martin Luther himself revered Mary and said at his death that it was not his desire to start a new religion or start schism.

So that is my story. I went to RCIA and was accepted into the church at Pentecost. I no longer have to search for a church, the mass is celebrated in every Catholic Church around the entire world with the same prayers and readings every day of the week. You can go to Mass daily if you wish; the doors are always welcoming you. In fact, the entire bible is cycled throughout a 3 year period so if you do the daily readings you will read the bible several times in you lifetime. Whoever said Catholics never read the bible?

Recently I was blessed to travel to the Holy Land with a Steve Ray pilgrimage where the origins of the Catholic Church cannot be denied and look forward to sharing this St Paul pilgrimage with you, where I will have the opportunity to see more holy sites and grow in my faith as I journey with fellow pilgrims following in the footprints of St Paul. Thank you to my family for allowing me to go on this journey and blessed be God forever.
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Heretic for Desiring Women’s Ordination?

by Steve Ray on October 31, 2014

Since, you asked, Walter, no, you are not a heretic, but…

by Dr. Edward Peters

Walter Sandell. … “I wonder if I’m a heretic for believing in, and supporting, the ordination of women. I would be a hypocrite if I kept silent about this issue …”

I don’t know (and it doesn’t matter) who
“Walter Sandell” is, but his pointed-yet-polite question (posted in a combox following Mary Ann Walsh’s recent unfocused essay in America) deserves a pointed-yet-polite (and of course, accurate) answer, so here it is: No, Walter, you are not a heretic for “believing in, and supporting, the ordination of women” but you do seem opposed to the teaching of the Church. That’s bad, to be sure, but it’s a different kind of bad.

In order to be a “heretic” one must, among other things, obstinately deny or doubt “some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith” (c. 751). Such truths are understood as being “contained in the word of God”, and as “divinely revealed”, and as pertaining “to the one deposit of faith” (c. 750 § 1). The point to grasp, though, is that heresy and the consequences of heresy (chiefly excommunication per c. 1364) arise only in the context of matters proposed for belief.

But the Church’s refusal to extend priestly ordination to women is not, at least not according to the flagship document dealing with this question, John Paul II ap. lit. Ordinatio sacerdotalis (1994), proposed as requiring that Catholics accord belief (credenda) to the assertion that “the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women”, but rather, as requiring that Catholics definitively hold (tenenda) that the Church has no such authority. The difference is important.

That the Church can impose for definitive adherence by the faithful some assertions that do not demand belief does not imply that some truths are “less true” than others, but rather, that some truths, though not revealed by God, are nevertheless so important for the support of revealed truths that they, too, must be able to be known and proclaimed with certainty. This notion of a “hierarchy of truths” is reflected in Canon 750—a norm that is just the tip of a magisterial iceberg—but, fascinating as exploring that might be, to answer Walter’s specific question about whether he is a heretic, one need only realize that the assertion in Ordinatio does not require belief and so its rejection cannot be “heresy”.

That said, though Walter would ‘walk’ on a heresy charge, he seems to reject a proposition that is “to be held definitively” and therefore he seems “opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church.” Thus, assuming satisfaction of some other canonical elements of the crime, Walter seems at risk of committing a delict punishable under Canon 1371, 1° not with excommunication, I grant, but still by a “just penalty”. Even in age in which one cannot imagine ecclesiastical authority taking action against him for having published his opposition to Church teaching in this area, Walter should reconsider his opposition to that teaching, and, at the very least, refrain from proclaiming it publicly.

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From Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano to Ferry across Adriatic Sea

October 30, 2014

Today we started early in the morning at Lanciano Italy at the stupendous Eucharistic miracle which took place in the 700s. A priest was doubting the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and God gave him a miracle which carries down to this day. When he held the host in his hand it turned [...]

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My Updated Article on Infant Baptism

October 29, 2014

Even among Evangelical Protestants there is much debate about Infant Baptism. My old Baptist tradition rejected it as a Catholic tradition of men. Dr. Francis Schaeffer, my favorite Evangelical Presbyterian theologian wrote a booklet entitled Infant Baptism in favor of the practice – my wife Janet was raised Presbyterian and baptized as an infant. It [...]

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Pope Up Close, Face of God Up Close: Pilgrimage Cruise Day 4

October 29, 2014

What an amazing day! Starting with a 5:00 AM wake up call so we could be the first ones in line to enter St. Peter’s Square for the General Audience with Pope Francis. And boy, did that pay off! All of our people got to see the Pope up close. It was a marvelous morning [...]

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Mass at Altar of St. John Paul II and more

October 28, 2014

Early Mass at Tomb of St. John Paul II then tour of St. Peter’s. Then we visit the sites related to St. Paul’s martyrdom and more. Enjoy!

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What My Grandpa Said About the Pope – A Boy’s Story

October 28, 2014

My grandpa is a nice old gentleman, with gray hair, and gold spectacles, and very fond of his little grandson Billy—that’s me. Grandpa and I often go out to walk together, that is, on fine days, because on cloudy days he never goes out of the house, but stays at home to keep “comfortable with [...]

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Rome Day 2: Hiking Tour thru Rome

October 27, 2014

Day Tour: we started with the drive through Rome to the Pantheon where we left everybody to scatter for lunch at all the excellent and delicious cafés in the area. After a tour of the Pantheon we visited the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva which houses the remains of St. Catherine of Siena and [...]

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Arrival Day in Rome for Spirit Catholic Radio

October 26, 2014

About 70 folks arrived today and about ten more tomorrow morning. We’re off to a great start with Sunday Mass at a Carmelite Monastery with the cloistered sisters. But tomorrow the real excitement begins when we start our tours and begin exploring the Eternal City.

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Encouraging Word from a New Convert

October 26, 2014

Mr Ray. I know you are a very busy man, so I will try to keep this brief. My name is Joshua Shearer. I’ve been a baptist all my life, but in this last year I have started to discern the Catholic faith. I am fully convinced that Catholicism holds the truth and am planning [...]

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Interview in Phoenix on My Conversion with The Catholic Conversation

October 25, 2014

While doing a parish mission at the Cathedral in Phoenix last month, I was invited by Phoenix Catholic Media to share my conversion story in a personal way with the hosts Steve Green, the cradle Catholic and his wife Becky the convert. It was a fast-paced dialog hitting on the some of the personal events [...]

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“11 Must-see Churches in Rome” Steve Ray quoted in Fox News Article

October 24, 2014

Since we leave for Rome today to pick up our 80 pilgrims for a pilgrimage through Italy, Greece and Turkey, I thought I would post this article so you can see some of the churches we will visit.  Here is the portion of the article in which I contributed. Teresa Tomeo also shares her favorite [...]

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Synod Surprise

October 22, 2014

Posted by MARK BRUMLEY on Tuesday Oct 21st, 2014 at 5:23 PM COMMENTARY ON SYNOD ON THE FAMILY Those expecting big changes in Catholic teaching in the final report of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family just encountered the “God of surprises,” to use Pope Francis’ expression. No big changes. Of course, the [...]

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A One-Hour Jaunt through the Rosary Sites

October 21, 2014

I recently did a one-hour radio show with Dina Maria Hale, host of KBVM in Portland Oregon. The title was “Mysteries of the Rosary: Then & Now.” We wanted to give everyone an idea of what the places were like at the time of Mary and Jesus, and what they are like today. We also [...]

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Update on Geocentrism Debunked

October 21, 2014

For those following the debate about whether the earth actually is the center of the universe with everything spinning around the earth, check out this latest update posted by my friend Dave Palm. You can read the whole thing here  Here are the introductory paragraphs: The New Geocentrists have been claiming for some time that [...]

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