Sunday, January 15, 2017

Dear Friend Dcn. Alex Jones, RIP

by Steve Ray on January 15, 2017

no_price_too_high_28386.1405464063.386.513__49407.1422421951.500.500I remember the call. The voice on the other end of the line said, “Are you Steve Ray?” I said, “Yes, why?” The voice said, “Of all the men in all the world I need to talk with you.”

In response I said, “Who are you and why do you need to speak with me?” I ended up meeting Alex Jones by phone that night. We had lunch together on the following Wednesday. As a Pentecostal preacher in Detroit Michigan he was studying the worship patterns of the early Church and was struck by the Church Fathers.

He had heard that I had converted from Evangelical Protestantism to the Catholic Church. He said he didn’t know anyone else who had done that and wanted to talk with me. (Read the story on Ignatius Insight).

pasted image 640x480That started a monthly meeting at Big Boy Restaurant in Southfield Michigan where he peppered me with questions for over a year of meetings. Every meeting was a delight. His sense of adventure, honesty and inquiry was a joy to me. He reminded me of a little kid at Christmas (a good thing said with all respect). He was so excited. He had a love for the truth and a dedication to follow the truth no matter what. That is why his book is entitled No Price Too High, and he did pay a big price to become Catholic.

Screen Shot 2017-01-15 at 8.04.56 PMHe brought his wife Donna to our house and she confronted my wife Janet who graciously and calmly answered her questions. I remember her saying she was so frustrated that Janet didn’t “fight back” but just loved Donna and calmly responded. Donna is a very precious soul and a genuine lady through and through. Her conversion brought us all great joy when she finally “Ah ha!” She saw it!

We became very good friends. My wife was Donna’s sponsor into the Catholic Church and I wrote the Preface to his book “No Price Too High.” My only regret is that our lives were both so busy that we have not seen much of them over the last few years. He was ministering to several parishes in Detroit and traveling the world speaking. You can see his website here. His short biography is here.

Screen Shot 2017-01-15 at 7.45.27 PMHe died in the grace of God as a deacon in the Catholic Church and I could not be prouder to have been his friend and brother in Christ. I look forward to spending time together in eternity. May God grant grace to his wife Donna and his three sons and their families.

For the DVD story of his conversion (in which I had the honor to introduce him) you can visit Nineveh’s Crossing or click on the image to the left.

I was told he had trouble breathing on Saturday. The doctors discovered he had no white blood cells, an indication he may have had a previously undetected leukemia. He had several heart attacks Saturday and died around 10:30 PM. I hope I am correct in all that but don’t know more. I’m told Donna and his family is all together and doing well in the Lord.

I don’t know the funeral arrangements or plans. When I find out I will update this page with the information.

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Dr. Ed Peters, Canon Lawyer wrote two days ago about the Maltese Disaster. The excellent article on The Catholic Thing

Here is his latest entitled “The Maltese Directive (allowing divorced and remarried easy access to Communion) Makes Answering the “Dubia” Urgent

When highly placed Italian prelates declare that “only a blind man cannot see” that confusion is the ecclesiastical order of the day, and that such confusion has as its fundamental source Pope Francis’Amoris laetitia, matters have reached crisis level. Catholics who have not followed the intense three-year debate over (among other things) admitting to holy Communion divorced-and-remarried Catholics who are living as married persons should stop reading this post and go get caught up on current events. But for those sufficiently aware of the doctrinal and disciplinary issues at stake I offer some observations in the wake of this weekend’s developments.

fileThe bishops of Malta, by declaring that divorced-and-remarried Catholics who are living as if they were married “cannot be precluded from participating in … the Eucharist” have done grave violence to the unbroken and unanimous ecclesiastical tradition barring such Catholics from reception of holy Communion without—and let me stress this, without—doing violence to the actual text of Francis’Amoris laetitia. That, folks, is the central problem.

Amoris does not—again, let me repeat, does not—declare ministers of holy Communion bound to give the sacrament to divorced-and-remarried Catholics living as if married. Francis’ phrasing in several key passages of Amoris is (I have argued) malleable enough to allow bishops such as Chaput and Sample to reiterate the traditional Eucharistic discipline or, as the Buenos Aires bishops did, simply to pass ambiguous criteria down to local pastors to sort as best they can.

muller-francis_medBut precisely because key passages of Amoris are also flexible enough to allow bishops to do as the Maltese have done and require Church ministers to distribute the Eucharist to Catholics who engage in “public and permanent adultery” (CCC 2384)—not to mention conferring absolution on penitents who express no purpose of amendment in regard to such conduct—all this, without doing violence to the actual text of Amoris, one cannot but agree with Cdl. Caffarra and others that this hitherto unimaginable sacramental disunity is rooted directly in Amoris laetitia.

This ability of Amoris simultaneously to sustain orthodox, non-committal, and heterodox interpretations in matters of the gravest ecclesiastical import is exactly why the Four Cardinal’s dubia so urgently need answering—if not by Francis himself (and no one can force Francis’ hand) then at least by Francis’ right-hand man in matters of faith and morals, Cdl Muller of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to whom the dubia was also (few seem to have noticed) addressed.

do922 amoris laetitiaOf course, the stakes involved in the dubia jumped dramatically over the weekend, not simply by the Maltese bishops making plain what sort of sacramental abuses Amoris could tolerate within its terms, but by the decision, taken at who-knows-what level, to publish the Maltese document in L’Ossevatore Romano, that “instrument for spreading the teachings of the successor of Peter.” Obviously the pope is not the editor of L’OR and it is possible that the decision to publish the Maltese document took Francis unawares. But insofar as L’OR is unquestionably the pope’s newspaper people will be watching to see whether, directly or indirectly, there appears some ‘distancing’ between Francis and the Maltese approach to sacraments for divorced-and-remarried Catholics.

I pray there does appear such papal distancing; I pray that the Maltese bishops repent of their failure to “exercise vigilance so that abuses do not creep into ecclesiastical discipline especially regarding …the celebration of the sacraments” (Canon 392 § 2); and I pray that the teachings of Christ and his Church penetrate our minds and hearts more deeply.

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