February 2006

We’re Done; Too Short!

by Steve Ray on February 27, 2006

For new pictures of our trip, click here and scroll to the bottom.
Listen to Steve and Teresa Tomeo discuss this pilgrimage on Ave Maria, EWTN & Siruis Radio at 9 AM, Wednesday March 1. 

We just finished our pilgrimage and we head for the Tel Aviv airport tomorrow morning (Tuesday). Everyone had a wonderful time saying things like "it was life-changing" and "I never even thought of the safety issue since everything was so great" and "'we want to come back but only with Steve and Janet." It was truly a remarkable time!

This was called a FAM TRIP which stands for familiarization. We brought over priests, an important deacon named Ray Egan, Teresa Tomeo from Ave Maria Radio, Mary Elkins who is Jim Caveziel's manager and other wonderful Catholics who are interested in organizing pilgrimages to the Holy Land and using us as their guides. John Hale our Travel Agent from Corporate Travel helped subsidize the trip and joined us himself — really great guy! 

Our plane leaves at 5:30 AM and arrives home late Tuesday. We will be exhausted for a few days. But I will catch up here with other fun and informative and important stuff right away.

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David/Solomon Approved!

by Steve Ray on February 27, 2006

Great News! After two years in production Ignatius Press has given final approval to our David & Solomon: Expanding the Kingdom with high praise. They said it was loaded with information and maybe the best one yet. It is now on its way to the replicator for making copies and packaging. We hope to have it in the stores by mid-March. Thank you Lord! Thank you Ignatius! Thank you crew and all those who buy the series to provide the revenue to produce more of them. Now we are on to The Apostolic Fathers: Handing on the Faith.

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Couldn’t Keep Up!

by Steve Ray on February 26, 2006

I had very good intentions. I was determined to post a daily blog to describe our pilgrimage here in Israel. Janet and I are guiding a very small and intimate group through the Holy Land and I wanted to give a daily update of our journeys, but after long arduous days of walking and walking, talking and talking by the time night rolls around — crash! Plus, internet connections are not always available.

We are with a marvelous group of Catholics who love the Lord and want to see the Holy Land. Many of them were afraid to come but now they are amazed at how safe and delightful it is here in Israel They will no longer allow CNN to shape the view of the world — especially the Holy Land. There are tens of thousands of Christians visiting the Holy Land and all perfectly safe and enjoying their pilgrimages. We have two priests, a sister, a deacon, John Hale our travel agent, Teresa Tomeo of Ave Maria and EWTN radio, Mary Elkins (mamager for Jim Caveziel) and other wonderful folks. I have too little time to mention them all and their delightful attributes. But they have ALL endeared themselves to us.

We arrived in Jerusalem and spent the exciting day seeing everything in Bethlehem. I introduced the pilgrims to my friends and with great emotion toured the Church of the Nativity where Our Lord was born. Then to Shepherd’s Field where the angels sang “Glory in the highest!” We visited a Christian shop where we purchased olive wood products and antiquities and then ate lunch at St. George’s Restaurant in Manger Square in the heart of Bethlehem. Everyone had their pictures taken with Palestinian policeman. It was a great morning.

Then on to Ein Kerem where John the Baptist was born and where Mary visited Elizabeth. We had Mass in the Church of the Visitation.

On Thursday we had Mass on Golgotha in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the very place where Jesus was nailed to the cross and crucified. Then we went to Mount Scopus to look out over the Jordan Valley to the mountains of Jordan on the other side. I gave a 15 minute overview of the Bible from Adam to the early Church.

Then on to the Mount of Olives to visit the very spot Jesus ascended into heaven — the Chapel of the Ascension. After everyone rode the camel I specially arranged, we visit the Church of Pater Noster where Jesus taught the disciple to pray the “Our Father” after which we visited Dominus Flavit where Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Then to the Garden of Gethsemane.

After a wonderful lunch (every one is eating way too much and enjoying all the Middle Eastern food) we went to Mount Zion to visit the Upper Room, the Tomb of David, the Church of the Dormition (where we talked a long time about Mary and her Assumption into heaven from that very place). The Church of Gallicantu was next where Peter denied Christ and where Jesus was tried by Caiaphas and imprisoned over Holy Thursday.

Friday took us to Mass at the birthplace of Mary at the Church of St. Ann. Our two priests — Fr. Fraser and Fr. Burr — are marvelous young men from Taylor and Dearborn parishes. Deacon Egan from Atlanta is not only a tremendous blessing, but he is an absolute riot! These are marvelous men to make us all proud of our Catholic faith — and what a blessing to lead them through the Holy Land. I love these guys! I also love Sister Margaret who has been a joyful and fun addition to this pilgrimage.

But I got off track — After Mass we visited Bethsaida where Jesus healed the crippled man in John 5. What can be more emotional and wrenching that walking the Via Dolorosa carrying the cross along the path where Jesus carried his cross to Golgotha. With tears and joy we prayed our way through the crowded streets, tripping over trash and small children, praying amidst the hustle and bustle of Old Jerusalem and singing over the cry of merchants and tractors and other street noises. But, this was JUST what it was like the day Jesus struggled through these streets.

We ended up in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where I took everyone on a tour of the major sites inside this Church which is my favorite church in the world (yes, even St. Peters in Rome). Then we ate a delicious lunch in the Old City near the Jaffa Gate.

Once on the bus we headed through the Judean Wilderness for a wonderful swim — no, I mean “float“ — in the Dead Sea. Our drive through the Jordan Valley up to Galilee took about 2 hours and then we renewed our baptism in the Jordan River right next to a small fishing boat that just came in off the sea. We watched them unload all their fish.

We stayed in the gorgeous Pilgerhaus Hotel on the shore of Galilee and went to a ritzy Arabic restaurant compliments of my agent in Israel — Raji Khoury and his wife and daughter. Here we all laughed as most of the pilgrims smoked away on the water pipe and ate more delicious food than you could believe.

The next day found us at the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount before heading up to the Lebanese border to the farthest point in Israel to visit Caesarea Philippi (Mt 16:13-20). On the bus ride I gave my talk “Peter: the Rock, the Keys and the Chair” before showing it all to the pilgrims LIVE.

We drove through the Golan Heights looking out of Lebanon and Syria. We talked a bit of politics along the way and arrived for a time of prayer and exploration at the Primacy of Peter where Jesus appointed Peter as the shepherd of his sheep (Jn 21:15-17) and then to Tabgha where Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes. Then we visited the 1st century boat recently discovered on the shores near Capernaum and then took a real boat for a 45 minute ride on the Sea of Galilee — what fun!

Then Mass at St. Peter’ House in Capernaum where Jesus lived during his three-year ministry and then I explained all about Capernaum and discussed the Eucharist in the very synagogue Jesus told us to “eat his flesh“ and “drink his blood.“ We stayed at the Scot’s Hotel in Tiberius and ate at Janet and my favorite restaurant in Israel — Aberge Shulamit.

Now I am caught up to today. We arrived in Nazareth. Then Fr. Burr led us in a Mass in front of the Grotto of the Annunciation. We visited all the sites in Nazareth including the Church of St. Joseph over the home of the Holy Family and the ancient synagogue where Jesus worshiped as a child and where he revealed who he was in Luke 5 while reading from the scroll of Isaiah.

The married couples all renewed their wedding vows in Cana before lunch on the mountain overlooking Nazareth. Then to another mountain — Mount Tabor where Jesus was transfigured. I gave a talk on the parallels between Mount Tabor and Mount Sinai where Moses received the Law. We visited the Diamond Factory and then back to the Scot’s Hotel for a few hours free for shopping or napping before a delicious dinner! It is at this time that I am writing this entry on by blog.

Tomorrow we go to the Jordan River again so everyone can collect bottles of Jordan River water to bring home and then to the ancient archaeological site of Tel Megiddo — from which we get the word Armageddon. It is here that King Solomon fortified the walls and built the huge gates which we will see tomorrow.

Then on to Caesarea where Peter baptized the Roman Centurion Cornelius and where Paul embarked in chains on this journey as a prisoner to Rome. It was the great Roman sea port on the Mediterranean Sea which gave the access to Judea. We will then have Mass in Joppa (old city in Tel Aviv) and see where Peter stayed with Simon the Tanner and where Jonah set sail for Ninevah. After dinner and a few hours of sleep we will fly out of Tel Aviv for home.

Whew! There! I finally caught up. But there are so many other interesting things to post and so much I had to leave out. There is never a shortage of things to blog about and I can’t wait to get caught us this week when I get home.

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Chair of Moses – Chair of Peter

February 21, 2006

Chair of Moses – Chair of PeterInterview with Steve Ray and Teresa TomeoAve Maria RadioTuesday, February 21, 9-10 AM ESTFor pictures and descriptions to accompany the show, click here.

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Wi-fi Up High

February 21, 2006

This is a first for me! I am high above the Atlantic Ocean at this very minute working on the Internet through a Wi-fi Hotspot on the Lufthansa jetliner. This is incredible! I get to update my blog, answer e-mail and surf my favorite sites. Technology is amazing! Janet and I have always flown Northwest [...]

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Holy Land and Holy Sites

February 20, 2006

Holy Ground – Holy Land   Do We Know the Actual Holy Sites? Our Schedule this week in the Holy Land To Join Our June Pilgrimage

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The Eunuch & Bible Study Opportunities

February 20, 2006

He loved the Hebrew Scriptures and read them faithfully. He knew they were the words of God. He not only read the scroll at home, but he even pondered them when bumping along desert roads in his chariot. He read Moses and the prophets and he puzzled over what it all meant. His chariot had [...]

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IT’S DONE!

February 16, 2006

It is 3:15 PM Phoenix time and we JUST finished David & Solomon: Expanding the Kingdom!!  Janet and I might be a bit biased but we think it is quite beautiful, fast-paced, catechetical, and very fun. After Joe Reynolds (who is just marvelous at this stuff) does some minor tweaking and sound leveling, it goes to Ignatius [...]

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Throwing Stones Then and Now

February 13, 2006

How interesting! We are editing our David & Solomon documenary here in Phoenix. While working on the scene where I demonstrate how young David used a sling to throw a stone at Goliath, I noticed that the Israeli Haaretz internet news showed a Palestinian slinging a stone just like it was done 3,000 years ago. The sling was [...]

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Gotta Love this Pope

February 12, 2006

"The Habemus Papam music video" (5.7 MB – MPEG video format*) Produced by Karen Heiby. This video file may be privately distributed but not modified. If you enjoyed it, visit the American Papist and let the Karen know your appreciation! The original "Habemus Papam" mp3 soundtrack used in this video is available here. *If you [...]

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On the Road Again-Get Ready

February 11, 2006

We are packing to jump on another plane this afternoon — this time to Phoenix. We will be putting the last few touches on our documentary David & Solomon: Expanding the Kingdom. Be ready for lions, giants, donkeys, sheep, slings and stones, caves, waterfalls, and pagan idols. We are very pleased with the way it [...]

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Revised Ignatius Catholic Bible

February 11, 2006

Ignatius Press just released a revised edition of their popular Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition. You can read about it here and also read Jimmy Akin's comments.

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Deep In Scripture – Steve Joins Marcus Grodi

February 9, 2006

Steve will join Marcus Grodi Wednesday, February 15 from 2-3 PM EST to discuss John 3:1-5: What Does Jesus Mean by “You must be born again.“  For more info, click here or on the pictures below. The new website for this remarkable Bible Study radio show is www.DeepInScripture.com. (Below is a picture of Steve in Rome showing [...]

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Good News for Detroit – for the World!

February 8, 2006

The good news for Detroit was not the Super Bowl — the good news is the long overdue retirement of a rebellious, “progressive“ and very confused bishop — Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit. Why he was not censured or removed years ago is a mystery to me. As Deal Hudson says in his “The Window” [...]

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Islam a Religion of Peace? Really?

February 8, 2006

Check out Jimmy Akin's blog for an excellent article on the Muhammad cartoons and the recent Muslim riots — along with pictures, Nice job Jimmy!

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Make Sure to See “The Passion of Bernadette”

February 8, 2006

Don't Miss Your Chance to Be at a National Premiere for THE PASSION OF BERNADETTE! Ignatius Press is hosting an unprecedented nationwide premiere of a film on the inspiring life and death of St. Bernadette Soubirous, The Passion of Bernadette. Ignatius is working together with some 65 Catholic parishes, schools and universities across the country [...]

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