September 2005

Last Day of Pilgrimage

by Steve Ray on September 30, 2005

Last Day of our Pilgrimage

After a fascinating and and virtually perfect pilgrimage over the last 8 days, we concluded our pilgrimage today with dinner on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem during a beautiful sunset. This picture was taken of Charlie and Lori Anderberg as our group wound our way along the Via Dolorosa (the Way of Sorrows) following Jesus' footsteps on his way from Pilates courtyard to the crucifixion. This is the original Stations of the Cross.

I will be adding a lot more pictures over the next two weeks. Also, We have decided to reduce the size of next June's pilgrimage from 100 people to 50 since this pilgrimage was just the right size — so personal and intimate. Many lasting friendships were made. More later.

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Too Busy to Blog!!

by Steve Ray on September 29, 2005

Things are going EXTREMELY well with our pilgrimage to Israel! The 50 pilgrims are delightful, intelligent, enthusiastic, and extremely tough. We have visited all the sites in the Galilee region and just completed our second day in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. I am very proud of these marvelous folks.

I have been speaking on the bus between sites sharing my conversion story, information about the Holy Sites and the Bible. The Catholic faith just comes alive as you stand on the very ground where it all began. I have been way too busy to keep up with this blog since we are going about 18+ hours a day.

We woke up at 5 AM this morning to get everything ready for Mass INSIDE the Tomb of the Holy Sepulchre. Fr. Gerald Gawronski has been superb. He cried through the whole Mass this morning in the tomb. We just got back from Bethlehem and Ein Kerem where Mary visited Elizabeth and where John the Baptist was born.

Tomorrow we spend the day walking around the Old City, the Western Wall, and will have Mass at the birthplace of Mary — St. Ann's Church in Jerusalem. Then we go to Mount Zion in the afternoon.

I will hope to have time by the weekend to add more details with a number of pictures. God bless you all! Stay tuned!

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We’ve Arrived!

by Steve Ray on September 24, 2005


We’ve arrived!
We’ve arrived – in more ways than one. Not only did we arrive in Jerusalem yesterday, but when we got off the plane we received our official Guide Cards issued by the Ecclesiastical Authority in the Holy Land and the Commission of Christian Pilgrimages. We have arrived!

Usually these cards are only issued to clergy, but because of many visits to Israel, our close associates and friends here, our video/DVD project, and pilgrimage groups, they made an exception and issues us the cards. We were delighted!

These cards may not recognized by the Israeli Tourist establishment, but they are recognized by the Christians and all the Christian Holy Sites and they give us the permission and authority to guide groups in Israel. They also establish our credibility on many levels we were delighted to receive these cards and the authority and recognition they provide.

Catching up
Today we spent meeting contacts, agents and friends. We are preparing two future pilgrimages (June 2006 and September 2006) and two future video projects (David & Solomon in November 2005 and Elijah & Elisha in November 2006).

Our agent in Israel is Raji Khoury, a Christian Palestinian who is the best of men. He handles all our pilgrimage arrangements. We also met Fr. John Solana who is now head of the Vatican’s Notre Dame Center where we stay when we visit Jerusalem. Fr. John and I are working on a pilgrimage for Deacons and their wives in September 2006. You can learn more at my Pilgrimage webpage.

We also met our Jewish friend and guide Zvi Harpaz (as of 5/5/08  he is no longer a friend or our guide) to discuss the details of the current pilgrimage and to plan for the filming in November. We still have a few places to visit in preparation for the filming. On October 1 Zvi will take us into the Palestinian territory to explore the Wilderness of Ziph where David hid from King Saul. On October 2 another friend and guide, George Carmi, will take us into the West Bank to finalize the sites of Mizpah, Gibeah of Saul, Gibeon, Shiloh, Ramah, and Nebi Samwil.

We also visited our friend Miriam at the Christian Information Center and met with our great friend Fr. Adam Civu a scripture scholar from Uganda who has lived for 35 years in Jerusalem. Busy day!

Pool of Siloam and the City of David
I also took the long walk down to the Pool of Siloam where they have unearthed what appears to be the original pool during the time of Christ. However, some think it was the Pools of Solomon. You can see many pictures of this at www.bibleplaces.com but I am adding one picture here.

I met my Muslim Palestinian friend Ibrahim Siam at his antiquities shop at the Pool of Siloam. I purchased an ancient “sling stone” such as was used by David and others to fling from their slings. I will use this in our David video. I also bought a flint knife like the one that was used by Abraham to circumcise himself and his household. He is also finding me an ancient coin with a lyre on one side. A lyre is a small harp like the one David played.

Ibrahim also took me on a tour of the ruins of the City of David and the Pool of Gihon. I have investigated these sites a number of times in the past but he took me on a tour from a different angle and perspective.

Meeting our Group
Tomorrow morning we get up early, meet with a local family who wants to talk with us and then pack and leave to meet our group at the Ben Gurion Airport. The bus will pick us up at 2 PM and our guide Zvi will join us. We are VERY excited to meet all these new and excited Catholics. It is very calm in Israel and we look forward to a wonderful 9 days of Walking in the Footprints of Mary and Jesus.

More later. Stay tuned!

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We’re Off to Israel

September 22, 2005

We are leading a pilgrimage for 50 people following the Footprints of Mary and Jesus. Janet I leave today and arrive early to make sure things are ready for the group. We are VERY excited to our favorite holy sites with all these excited Catholics. If you are interested in joining us for future pilgrimages, visit [...]

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Samuel is Baptized

September 21, 2005

We had the pleasure of seeing another little pagan become a Christian last Saturday. Our new Grandson Samuel Tarcisius was baptized by Deacon Dan Foley in our parish in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I am very proud of my son Jesse and daughter-in-law Anna. By the way, the moment they stood up with Samuel, he filled [...]

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Sinner and Apostle

September 20, 2005

Wednesday is St. Matthew's Feast Day. He started out as a despised and hated tax collector. I wrote an article for those who want to learn more about this interesting sinner and apostle. “If looks could kill, he’d be dead. The Jews glared at Levi as he counted his coins. Tax collectors in Israel had [...]

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Catholics on the Court

September 19, 2005

Bush's nominee as next US Chief Justice, John Roberts, is a practicing Catholic. Peggy Noonan remarked yesterday on EWTN that some Democrats are now questioning whether Mr. Roberts, as a practicing Catholic, could sit on the US Supreme Court, because he might be "too conservative!" If John Roberts is confirmed, he will be the 4th [...]

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So, It’s Unconstitutional to Say the Pledge

September 17, 2005

Yesterday a stupid Federal Judge ruled it was unconstitutional to say the Pledge of Allegiance in schools because it contains the words “under God.“ So, what happens if a kid actually does say the Pledge of Allegiance, gets arrested and goes to court in front of the same stupid judge? He will have to hold up his [...]

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Seminarian Killed, others in bad condition

September 16, 2005

News Flash from my Friend Tim Staples: “I just received tragic news from a good friend in Kansas City, Kansas where I just did a conference some weeks ago and met three wonderful seminarians who were and are on fire for the faith. Those three seminarians that I met, along with another seminarian, were in [...]

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Samuel has Arrived!

September 14, 2005

My son Jesse and his wife Anna just had their 3rd delightful baby, our 4th grandson and our 5th grand child. He was born around 3:30 PM Wednesday, September 13. He weighed in at 8 lbs. 3 oz. and was 20.5 inches long. We are very proud! His name is Samuel Tarcisius. Both names are taken from [...]

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JJ & JJJ

September 13, 2005

  Here is Jerusalem Jones and his grandson Jerusalem Jones, Jr. (Steve Ray with his grandson Dominic). These are great hats called Tilley Hats and we use them for filming in the Middle East. I bought them for my grand kids too. You can see the Tilley Hat website at here, and you can read [...]

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Unusual Group of Catholics

September 10, 2005

Every once in a while I meet a group of marvelous Catholics who have made it a priority in their lives to learn more aboiut and to fall in love with Jesus and His Church. This is the calling of ALL Catholics and many us follow that call, but too often Catholics grow lethargic or take their [...]

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Heresy of Secularism

September 10, 2005

SECULARISM: A HIDDEN DANGERby Carlos Palad, Defensores Fidei Foundation, Philippines "To secularize" originally referred to the state's arbitrary appropriation of Church property. For this reason, we speak of the "secularization" of the vast Church-ruled lands in Germany in 1803, the "secularization" of Catholic schools and universities in Spain several times, etc. These historic roots of [...]

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Off to Rockford

September 3, 2005

We are off to Speak in Rockford Illinois at the: 3rd Annual North Central Catholic Family ConferenceDates: September 2-4, 2005Location: The ClockTower InnRockford, Illinois This Year's Conference Theme is:“Do This In Memory of Me“ For more information, click here.

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Helping the Church in Louisiana

September 1, 2005

The Windowon August 31, 2005A Catholic Look at Society, Culture and Politics   Deal W. Hudson In This Issue: Katrina Devastates Dioceses on Gulf Coast How you can help: You can contribute online at: http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/news/katrina.cfm. You can mail checks to: Catholic Charities USA 2005 Hurricane Relief Fund, P.O. Box 25168, Alexandria, VA 22313-9788. Or call: [...]

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