Take a pilgrimage with Steve and Janet Ray!

Married 47 years today!

Today Janet and I celebrate 47 years of marriage. It was the best thing I ever did, along with us both becoming Catholic. Pictures before and now (2 babies added since the family picture 3 years ago).

New Pilgrimages for 2024: Check out “Lourdes & Fatima” and St. Augustine Florida

With Israel being closed for a while, we have added four exciting new pilgrimages for 2024. Check out the two for this April — one domestic and one in Europe.

St. Augustine Florida where Catholicism first arrived in America in 1565 — fifty years before the Protestant Pilgrims arrived! First parish, first parish Mass, first Marian Shrine in America. Learn our fascinating Catholic history.

We will renew baptismal vows in the first American baptismal font brought over from Spain.

Click on the brochure below to visit our interactive map, see the brochure and itinerary and watch the video of our last trip to St. Augustine.

Our second new trip in April is to Fatima, Santiago di Compostela, Loyola, Lourdes and more. We will travel through the lovely and quaint countrysides of Portugal, Spain and France.

We will celebrate Mass at the most sacred sites including the Miracle of the Sun in Fatima and the Grotto in Lourdes. We will join the evening processions at each Marian site. And there is a whole lot in between.

Click on the brochure below to visit our interactive map, see the brochure and itinerary and to watch the video of our last trip to Lourdes and Fatima.

Sad News from the Vatican – confusion and dismay

In the past few years I have avoided my old habits of tracking everything done by Pope Francis and matters in the Vatican and even among the bishops of the US. When I used to dwell upon these matters every day it only raised my blood pressure.

We must realize that Catholics who lived over a hundred years ago had no any idea what was going on in Rome. News traveled slowly. There was no internet or TV. Today, if the Pope sneezes, the whole world hears it. But in times past before the arrival of instant news and social media, Catholics lived their daily lives unaware of all the events and sordid details of Rome (or Washington, for that matter).

What did their Catholic lives consist of? Their lives revolved around their local family, community and parish. Maybe once in a lifetime they might meet their own bishop. But life was simple — Mass, family, prayer, hard work, care of the local needy and living a holy life.

But now the flood of details, both good and agonizing is shoved in our face all our waking hours. Once the news hits Catholics and non-Catholics from all sectors of Left and Right, Conservative and Progressive, honest and dishonest hit the social media outlets with opinions, railings, accusations and every form of opinion. Frankly, I have tried to avoid it.

Someone asked me today, “Why haven’t you posted anything about the latest news, especially about Bishop Strickland and Cardinal Burke?” The reason is because I have been preoccupied with other things: setting up new pilgrimages now that Israel is closed for the near future, babysitting and enjoying our 20 grandkids, working on my new book on Acts of the Apostles and removing a ton of leaves from our yard now that we live among a host of oak and maple trees. I am also keeping my blood pressure in check.

Even though I do “spout off” frequently on X (previously Twitter), I will say here in brief that I find the recent activities of the Pope to be distressing and unfortunate. The people he is appointing to high places says a lot, in line with the comment “appointments are policies’ or something like that. Also, allowing Fr. James Martin SJ and Fr. Marco Rupnik SJ to remain priests parading around in good standing while humiliating Msgr. Georg Gänswein, Bishop Strickland, Cardinal Raymond Burke and a host of others, all without personal contact or an explanation. Shameful and vindictive are two words that come to mind.

Most prelates and leaders of the Church are keeping their heads down, waiting out the clock. Being a bishop is not incongruous with being prudent. The confusion in the Church and the low moral among many is palpable. But I am still proud to be Catholic because it remains the Bride of Christ and it is He that is building the Church — with a view to the big picture and the long run He continues to draws straight with crooked lines. He winnows us all as time moves on.

There has never been a Golden Age of the Church. Every generation has had its turmoil, chaos, good and bad leaders, sin and goodness. Just look at St. Paul. If there was a time that should have been golden age, it was under his leadership. Yet, read 1 and 2 Corinthians and see the huge problems in “St. Paul’s Church”. Jesus is in charge of his Church, not me. I can read everything, argue with people, write endlessly, raise my blood pressure — but in the end, in practical terms, there is not a thing I can do to change the Pope, the Cardinals, the Vatican.

What I can do is pray and teach the truth in my small world of influence. I can encourage my kids and teach my grandkids. I can enjoy Mass and help build up my local parish and Catholic community, support Catholic Radio and other faithful Catholic news outlets (like EWTN, Ave Maria Radio, Catholic World Report and a host of other orthodox voices). I can enjoy writing, reading, praying, evangelizing, leading pilgrimages and encouraging the faithful to stay on board, love the Lord and serve his Church and people.

It is a great time to be Catholic and I am sure proud to be one!

It is time to enjoy Advent and to immerse ourselves in all that is good and holy, beautiful and lovely, pure and right.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8 )

This is not a time for lounging around drinking martinis. It is “all hands on deck”. Let’s set our minds on Christ and do what he asks us to do in our own little world of influence.

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

Older Posts

St. Paul Mediterranean Cruise
With our Israel partner and guide Amer
Our last Israel group Sept 30
High Mass at Christ's Tomb
Boat Ride on Galilee
Dinner overlooking Jerusalem
Steve's new book on Genesis
My new book has arrived!
What Grandparents do!
Fr. Dwight Longenecker and Me in Israel - JOIN US
Holy Land Part 2
15% Discount and Free Shipping
With Doug Keck at EWTN
Check out Catholic Bible Study Software
previous arrow
next arrow
Center an Image using text align center
steve video series
Center an Image using text align center
steve video series