Our group in Ephesus last week

This is one of the most exciting trips we are taking. I am really excited.

If Christianity was born in Israel, it certainly grew up in Turkey! This is a trip to explore the biblical and early history sites in this amazing land.

Interactive Map of our pilgrimage here: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?hl=en&authuser=0&mid=zLK5sFge3d3c.kH-izcSqvA80

This makes Turkey, which was once called Asia Minor, the 2nd Holy Land. St. John was bishop of Ephesus and lived here with Mary. St. Paul established churches here, the first Eight Ecumenical Councils took place here and we will see all the locations. St. Paul was born in Turkey and we were first called Christians here in Antioch. And this is only the beginning…

Lunch in Turkey

Many people are afraid to travel to Turkey and visit Istanbul. We just returned from a trip to Turkey and all our 40 pilgrims were delighted with the friendliness, safety, cleanliness and beauty of the city. No one felt the least bit worried or afraid. Do not let an unfounded fear keep you from visiting this modern and sophisticated country which is very Western European. Plus, the food is out of this world delicious!

Click here to see the brochure

Join Steve & Janet Ray on a Jubilee Year of Mercy Pilgrimage to Turkey, the 2nd Holy Land, April 17- 28, 2016. Visit exotic Istanbul seeing the Blue Mosque (many Catholics have never been inside a mosque) and the magnificent Hagia Sophia (which was the largest church in the world for a thousand years). Celebrate Mass at the Cathedral of St. Esprit Church where Pope John XXIII was a priest for ten years. Join in the celebration of Mass at St. Anthony Padua Church before sailing for a dinner cruise between two continents on the Bosporus Straits.

We will stop in Nicea, the home of the First and Seventh Ecumenical Councils, where we received the Nicene Creed. Steve will give an impassioned talk on the divinity of Christ and the struggle to maintain orthodoxy.

Cable cars up to biblical Pergamum

The journey continues as you hear Steve speak about Pergamum (one of the Seven Churches of Revelation) and visit the “throne of Satan” (Rev. 2:13). Izmir (Smyrna) is one of the seven churches mentioned in Revelation. Learn about Bishop St. Polycarp, visiting the site of St. Polycarp’s martyrdom and where he and St. Ignatius of Antioch once met; celebrate Mass at St. Polycarp Church and hopefully see the relics.

Mary's House in Ephesus where we celebrate Mass

Drive to Ephesus, one of the Seven Churches of the Book of Revelation, and celebrate Mass at Mary’s House where Our Blessed Mother lived the later years of her life with St. John the Apostle. Enjoy an elegant outdoor lunch fit for royalty, followed by a demonstration of the famous art of Turkish carpet weaving at the Sultankoy Carpet Weaving Center. Then, time to venerate the tomb of the Beloved Apostle, St. John the Evangelist. We will also visit the tomb of St. John the apostle.

Mass and History of St. Nicholas in his city

Continue your pilgrimage by celebrating Mass in Sardis before stopping in Philadelphia, two of the Seven Churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation. See the tomb of St. Phillip, the Churches of Laodicea and Colossae, to which St. Paul wrote his letters of encouragement.

Stop in the town of Myrna, the town where St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) was bishop and see the Cathedral Church where he worked. Visit the town of Perge, where St. Paul preached upon arriving from Cyprus and where he was abandoned by St. Mark. Tour the Antalya Museum and see the St. Nicholas exhibit. This ends the main trip.

Wonders of Cappadocia

A 5-day extension is also available, during which you will celebrate Mass in Pisidian Antioch (Galatia), where St. Paul often stopped. See Cappadocia with its lunar-like landscape, which was home to early Christian monks during the pagan persecution in Asia Minor. Celebrate Mass in First Cave Church before proceeding to the Goreme Open Air Market to take in the remarkable frescoes of the early cave churches.

Steve at St. Paul's Well in his hometown of Tarsus

In Kaymakli, marvel at the Underground City, where the monks protected themselves from Arabic raids. In Tarsus, visit the foundations of the house where St. Paul lived and celebrate Mass at the Church of St. Paul. Stop in the city of Hatay (Antioch) where St. Peter and St. Paul met and the early “Followers of the Way” were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). Celebrate Mass in the Cave of St. Peter, the very first Christian Church, continuing to Hatay Archeologic Museum.  Your extension ends here in Hatay.

We hope you can join us for this exciting drive back through biblical and early Church history. You can see our website here and our brochure here. For more info or to register, contact Suzanne at sparran@ctscentral.net or (313) 744-2530 or toll-free 1-800-727-1999, ext.121.  

Video invitation and map



Syria, November 19, 2015: The head of the Syrian Catholic Church, Mar Ignace Youssif III Youan, has said the West has betrayed Syrians and caused an endless conflict in the country.

Speaking to Le Messenger, an Egpytian Catholic magazine, Youan spoke passionately about the “chaos” that Western governments have caused by ignoring the advice of Syrians, assuming that Assad’s regime could be destroyed in a few months, and now having faith in airstrikes as the answer when ISIS has thoroughly infiltrated Iraq, Syria and beyond.

“We Christians are not able to live in this chaos,” the Syrian Patriarch said. “The West has betrayed us.”

The patriarch accused Western governments of wanting to “perpetuate the endless conflict in Syria” and of having “betrayed the Christians of the East. We explained from the beginning that our situation was different from that of other nations in the region, they were not listened to. And now we mourn deaths over the past five years. ”

He described the current situation in Syria as “dramatic, and all the Syrian people are living in pain” as they are trapped under the regime of ISIS and other terrorist groups “who use Islam as an excuse to ‘purify’ areas under their control in the name of religion, and Muslim scholars who tell us that Islam is alien to these facts.

“It’s a shame that the West has abandoned Christians to this situation,” he said.

The patriarch said that terrorist groups, with financing from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the area, have thoroughly infiltrated Iraq and Syria, and there are now terrorists moving into Europe posing as refugees.

ISIS “have already infiltrated in European populations. For years they have received money, weapons and religious indoctrination from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, with the supervision of the West. To claim that the solution is to carry out air strikes [in Syria and Iraq] is a lie”, he said.

This is futile, he said, “because their supporters have infiltraded the population, they are financed and have access to weapons and religious indoctrination.”

- christian today


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Questions I Answered on Catholic Answers Live: Seven Rules for Dealing with Non-Catholic Family and Friends over the Holidays

November 25, 2015

This is always an interesting topic that floods the phone lines. I was on Catholic Answers Live Wednesday discussing how we as Catholics can relate to it influence our family and friends.  Ready to go! Holidays often caused tension and strife among families. How can we take the high road and be a positive influence for Jesus [...]

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Mary a Mediatrix? Isn’t there just One Mediator?

November 24, 2015

The Bible says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5). Yet Catholics refer to Mary as a Mediatrix (feminine form of the word mediator). So, isn’t that prima facie evidence that Catholics make up doctrines, worship Mary and disregard the Bible? [...]

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Jesse Romero Comments along with many others

November 23, 2015

Great time together. Jesse Romero and his wife were a lot of fun and a pleasure to work with. They are going to Guadalupe Mexico with us December 2016! Terry Barber is coming to Israel with us in 2016 too!  Enjoy the video! Check out our upcoming pilgrimages for 2016. Special trips are to Poland [...]

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Should This Baby Be Aborted? You Decide

November 23, 2015

In the United States, there are many situations in which abortions are recommended, even encouraged by family, counselors, medical personnel and even religious advisors. Sometimes an abortion is recommended because of difficult circumstances and other times simply for convenience. Here are four cases for you to consider. Should these babies be aborted? You decide! Four [...]

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Camels, Floating in Dead Sea, Jericho and Wading in the Jordan

November 22, 2015

Today we just send it 4,250 feet down from Jerusalem to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea which are both 1,250 feet below sea level, the lowest place on the face of the earth. We rode camels, floated in the Dead Sea, ate in Jericho, wandered through Qumran and waded in the Jordan River, [...]

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Bible Riddle: What Am I?

November 22, 2015

Since we will be here today, I thought this riddle appropriate! But, before you click the link, see if you can figure out this riddle :-) Write to me if you need help; click here to see the answer. Three times I have been divided doing what God had decided. Twice a garment was the [...]

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Mount Zion, Upper Room, Mary’s Last Days, Bishop of Jerusalem…

November 21, 2015

Another great day, perfect weather, safe and serene, deeply spiritual and a lot of fun. We had the great opportunity, as we do with all of our groups, to meet with the Bishop of Jerusalem. Here is a picture of our group with him at the Patriarchate. Mass at Gethsemane was VERY moving for everyone. [...]

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Mary and the Other Body of Christ; How Many People were in the Upper Room and Why?

November 21, 2015

The room was pretty full. It was warm but a gentle breeze was blowing—that would change. There was fear in the room. The Roman army was a thing to be feared, they had just crucified Jesus and it was a dangerous thing to associates of an executed criminal. They were also anxious about the promise. [...]

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Jesus came out of the Tomb for us this morning…

November 20, 2015

The alarm went off this morning at 3:15 and we began the Via Dolorosa at 4:00 AM. Why, are we crazy! Yes, crazy like a fox. We beat the crowds and pray the Stations with empty streets. It is also about continuity. We had Mass IN THE TOMB scheduled with the sunrise at 5:30 AM [...]

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Butt-prints in the Sand

November 20, 2015

One night I had a wondrous dream one set of footprints there was seen. The footprints of my precious Lord, but mine were not upon the shore. And then some stranger prints appeared and I asked the Lord: “What have we here?” The prints are large and round and neat but Lord they are too [...]

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Bethlehem was Wonderful! Nativity, Christmas Carols, Dancing and more

November 19, 2015

It was perfect weather, excited group, spiritual adventure full of laughs and prayers. Visited a new saint, danced with Christian young people, ate the Passover Lamb and had a GREAT DAY! Enjoy. BETHLEHEM HIGHLIGHTS FR. DAN’S HOMILY AT SHEPHERD’S FIELD

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The Bible out of Context: “Saved by Faith Alone”?

November 19, 2015

When reading the Bible devoid of its historical and textual context, there is no context except the context which any person might supply for it. or put otherwise, A text without a context is a pretext. I always get frustrated when self-proclaimed Bible students or teachers start pontificating about the meaning of the Bible and [...]

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Boat Ride on Galilee; Eat My Flesh spoken here; Up to Jerusalem!

November 18, 2015

Another great day in Israel. Safe, beautiful, biblically enriching; exciting, and fun with great Catholic friends celebrating the Faith. Enjoy! HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DAY FROM RIDE TO MASS AT CAPERNAUM THEN UP TO JERUSALEM    FR. GOOD’S HOMILY AT CAPERNAUM  

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