downloadSoon it will be Ascension Thursday. The Ascension always falls on a Thursday, 40 days after Resurrection Sunday. Then 9 days of praying in the Upper Room (1st Novena) and on the 50th day from the Resurrection the Holy Spirit fell on Pentecost. Pentecost means “the fiftieth day.”

One of our past pilgrims wrote to me expressing an apparent contradiction in the Bible about what I had said in Israel. The wording in the two verses below is what caused the confusion.

Acts 1:12  “[After the Ascension] they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away.”

Luke 24:50–51  “Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven.”

So, did Jesus ascend into heaven from the Mount of Olives or from Bethany?

IMG_7997On pilgrimages, I take my groups to the top of the Mount of Olives to the Church of Pater Noster (the “Our Father”) where Jesus taught his disciples to pray in “the Grotto of the Teaching” — a cave beneath the front of the church. It is here that the oldest traditions inform us that Jesus was raised into heaven. Here Constantine built a church in the early 300’s. Here we celebrate Jesus’ departure and pray the Rosary’s 2nd Glorious Mystery of the Ascension.

There is a Muslim mosque five minute’s walk away (called the Chapel of the Ascension) that most Protestants visit but I don’t patronize Muslim sites and don’t accept this as the authentic place of the Ascension.

No one knows the exact square inches where his feet left the ground. But the Church of Pater Noster has the oldest tradition, is on the Mount of Olives and very near Bethany.

If we had had the time, and there was not the big wall separating Jerusalem from Bethany like it does Jerusalem from Bethlehem, in a few minutes we could walk into Bethany from the top of the Mount of Olives. We used to walk people there to go into the tomb of Lazarus. That is how close Bethany is to the top of the Mount of Olives.

However, I can’t do that with groups anymore because of the big wall that keeps us from walking from the Mount of Olives into Bethany.

Bethany is on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives about 2 miles from Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley. At the time of Jesus there was nothing on the Mount of Olives but olive trees (even until the late 1800’s, see picture black and white picture from about 1900). If you left from Jerusalem, heading to the Mount of Olives, it was perceived you were headed to Bethany.

 The picture shows that even until the turn of the 20th century there was nothing outside the old walls of Jerusalem. That meant there was just trees and open space between Jerusalem and Bethany. Bethany, though not seen on this map, was on the Eastern slope of the mount.

The other two maps show the proximity of Bethany, the the top of the Mount of Olives and the short distance from the walled city of Jerusalem. Luke wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.  He obviously saw no contradiction in referring to both places as the general location of Christ’s ascension.

It is easily explained this way. First, some suggest that he went as far as Bethany to say good-bye to the family he loved – Lazarus, Mary and Martha, then came back to the top of the mount and departed to heaven. However, there is no need to stretch things that far. Being on the eastern slope of the mount, Bethany is virtually on the Mount of Olives, especially from the perspective of Jerusalem.

If someone asks me where I’m from, I always say “Detroit.” But those who have been to my house know I really live 40 miles east of Detroit in Ypsilanti. But since no one knows where Ypsilanti is – I say “Detroit.”

If there is nothing but trees and bare land on the Mount of Olives and you’re heading east from Jerusalem, people would say you are going to Bethany. Jesus left Jerusalem and went over toward Bethany to ascend into heaven.

So if the geography is understood there is no conflict. Scripture can be trusted.


Letter sent to our St. Augustine Florida Pilgrims

by Steve Ray on April 22, 2021

This letter went out on April 21. Looking forward to the trip!!

Dear Footprints of God Pilgrim,

We are very much looking forward to serving you on a great American pilgrimage exploring the roots of faith right here in the new land! Steve and Janet are excited to lead you through these extraordinary sites. You are blessed to have a terrific priest from the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Fr. Kevin Peek, Chaplain for the National Guard as your chaplain who will celebrate daily Mass. Steve has also invited Dr. Mary Soha, M.D. who is the Vice-postulator for the Martyrs of La Florida and Chair for the Canonical Coronation of Our Lady of La Leche to be the keynote speaker at the Welcome Dinner. Also assisting from Corporate Travel is Rachelle De La Cruz, a resident of Florida who knows the area well. Together the team will ensure a deeply faith forming experience and a lot of fun!

We have worked with our suppliers to ensure your health and safety while on pilgrimage. Florida Governor DeSantis has announced that Florida is in Phase Three which allows bars and restaurants to open at 100% capacity, removes the social distancing requirement at gyms and health clubs, and declares that no local government may assess penalties or fines to those who choose not to wear a mask. Neither Corporate Travel nor Footprints of God will require any passenger to wear a mask while on this pilgrimage.

Individual restaurants, churches and places of business may require a mask. Also, while masks must be worn when on public transportation, they are not required on privately chartered motor coaches and we will not be requiring any pilgrim to wear a mask while on our privately chartered motorcoach transportation. We have reserved a big motor coach with 56 seats, and there are only 25 passengers on the pilgrimage, so plenty of room to spread out.  The motor coach company will be cleaning their coach each evening with bleach wipes, will spray their seats with Lysol, and have antibacterial available as you board.

We regret that Fr. Frank Pavone will be unable to join us as he prepares for a medical procedure. Fr. Frank sends his regrets and says that he is healthy and well but has to undergo a routine procedure with a full and fast recovery anticipated. Please keep Father in your prayers.

Many thanks for the opportunity to pilgrimage together here in the USA! We are all looking forward!

God bless,


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Questions Covered:

  • 13:18 – Why is the sacrifice of the mass so important to Catholics? 
  • 20:09 – How would Steve respond to non-Catholics who say “keep doing this in remembrance of me not in sacrifice of me” from Corinthian’s 11:24? 
  • 30:55 – What is the difference between the consecration of the bread versus the wine. For instance, when the priest holds up the host and says, “this is my body which will be given up for you and for many,” why is that different from when the wine is held up and he says, “this is my blood given up for you?” 
  • 34:31 – Why do many parishes not offer the cup to drink during communion, and how is that scriptural according to John 6 
  • 41:13 – Does Steve have any suggestions on how to teach children on the sacrifice of the mass? 
  • 46:34 – How can we as Catholics, who accept Jesus in the holy sacrifice of the mass as our lord and savior, be able to evangelize our secular and Pagan world by being tabernacles of his presence? 
  • 49:27 – Steve, how have we separated from our Protestant brothers and sisters over the sacrifice of the mass and how can we help them understand the truth of the consecration? 


Flying to Family Conference May 1: Cardinal Pell & Bishop Strickland too

April 20, 2021

You can join the conference in person in Irvine Texas, or join the conference virtually. My talk will be on St. Joseph: Manly Man & Chosen Father. CATHOLIC FAMILY CONFERENCE  Cardinal George Pell and Bishop Joseph Strickland are two of several speakers who will give talks on May 1 at the second annual Catholic Family Conference […]

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Three New Pilgrimage Offerings: 2 Domestic and 1 New International

April 16, 2021

We have added three new pilgrimages for 2021.  Do you know where the Catholic Church first started in the USA? The first Mass, the first Shrine and more? It was in St. Augustine Florida. Join us for a very historical pilgrimage, renewal of baptismal vows, some great meals and an afternoon to enjoy the Atlantic […]

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Why Didn’t Jesus Speak Out Against Homosexuality – Does that mean He approved?

April 15, 2021

How do I defend the Catholic Faith on issues such as abortion, same sex marriage or LGBT when some claim it’s acceptable because Jesus never mentioned those particular issues by name? First, silence does not imply consent. We have very FEW words of Jesus over his 3 years of ministry. He is “silent” on a […]

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Why Can’t I Identify as the Opposite Sex or Change my Age?

April 15, 2021
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Listening to God Conference: Join for Free

April 12, 2021

I will be joining Teresa Tomeo and about 50 others in this unique conference on how to listen to God. I will be sharing in a live discussion with Teresa and Jeff Cavins on how to listen to God in Scripture. Also, I give a talk on how to hear God’s voice in Scripture, how […]

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Get out of the House; Go on a Local Pilgrimage; St. Augustine Florida!!

April 8, 2021

People are ready to get out of the house. Go to a warm state that is open to tourists. Florida is warm and inviting. Join us in St. Augustine Florida where Catholicism first came to America. Enjoy the history, the spirituality, the fellowship — and swimming in the ocean! Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for […]

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Mary and the Apostles are Dead! Only Jesus can Mediate for Us! Really?

April 8, 2021

 Confusion of Many Protestants Too often well-meaning Protestants get confused and accuse of things that are outright nonsense if not lies. It is usually because they never take the time to really understand what the Catholic Church actually teaches and practices. Below is a good example of a kind and well-meaning Protestant pastor who wrote […]

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What Kind of Music Did Abraham Listen To?

April 6, 2021

One of our DVDs in the Footprints of God series is entitled “Abraham, Father of Faith & Works.” We filmed the first chapter it in Iraq — in Ur of Chaldees — which is the home of Abraham, just south of Baghdad (Gen 11:28-31). Thanks to the Biblical Archaeology Society to which I subscribe, we can now listen to […]

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Resurrection Appearances: Places & People

April 3, 2021

Here is the list of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. Click here for the document: For the podcast of my show with Drew Mariani — the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus and the institution and need for Confession, click ? below  or click this link: My segment begins at 06:45 minutes into the show.

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Sharing the Story and Glory of Holy Thursday and Good Friday

April 2, 2021

A bunch of international young people asked me to share with them the story of Holy Thursday and Good Friday – to take them on a virtual, biblical, typological and geographical tour.

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Two Helpful Timelines for Easter Week

March 30, 2021

A lot is going on this week leading up to Easter. Here are two timelines that will help you navigate.  

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The Story of Oberammergau – Join us in June or August 2022

March 29, 2021

Oberammergau: The Passion of a Vow Michele Malia McAloon If you don’t subscribe yet to The Catholic Thing, click here. SATURDAY, MARCH 27, 2021 In 1633, halfway into the brutal conflict between Protestants and Catholics known as the Thirty Years War, a small Bavarian village made a plea for God’s mercy and protection against a […]

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“Why Be Catholic?” In Person Conference in Keller TX – or Live Streamed

March 29, 2021

WHY BE CATHOLIC?: When You Could Be Anything Else! KELLER, TX    June 11th – 12th, 2021 Space is limited for LIVE in-person attendees. Get your tickets today! VIRTUAL “LIVE-STREAM” option available Click Here to Register!  This Summer, on June 11th & 12th at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Keller (Ft. Worth), TX, Fullness […]

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