Monday, October 16, 2017

B33BC3AB-68A9-403B-8B78-1347C4866C2FSteve Ray here. I am a Knight. My wife Janet is a Lady.

We are proud members of a chivalrous Order with a noble history of 1,000 years. Our mission: to defend and support the Christian presence in the Holy Land.

C1714FD5-92E4-4C3C-A61C-2387FCCABF8AToday fifty fellow Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre arrived in Israel to join us on a pilgrimage following the august steps of millions before them. In the past they arrived by ship and horses (and camels). Today they arrived by airplane and motor coach.

8751AB24-D9BC-4BDD-894F-22C94BC1CEABJanet and I will guide them along with our excellent friend and local guide Amer Shehadeh who is also a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre. He is a Palestinian Arab, Roman Catholic Israeli citizen. There is no better and more knowledgeable Catholic guide in the country. We have worked together on more than 60 Pilgrimages!

197ECD56-D78A-4AAA-9480-50D50AFF8546The North Lieutenancy chapter, with their chaplain Bishop Carl Kemme of Wichita Kansas, has sent these principled Knights and Ladies to see the land, support the local Christians, pray and celebrate Mass at the holiest sites, see the empty Tomb of Christ and earn their pilgrimage shell.

They arrived today and we are proud to lead this noble Order through the Land to visit and experience the Christians and holy sites they’ve sworn to defend and support!

Below is a video of their arrival at the Ben Gurion Airport, their journey north to Galilee and our first Mass and dinner in the Holy Land as the sun sets over the Sea!

FAMILY AND FRIENDS—Please leave your loved ones notes and comments below. I will read them each day on the bus. You can also e-mail me at


I never knew my Great Grandmother Frances Picard. She was originally an O’Grady. They had a deep spirituality and she converted to the Catholic Church later in her life. (By the way, this was all new to me since I never knew – in my childhood – that I had several lines of Catholic ancestors.)

My Great grandmother is bottom right

They were literate people back in those days. Detroit was in it’s glory days (oh, how it has fallen). The culture still believed in God; they still had a sense of honor, morality and natural law – all honoring Nature’s God.

During some cleaning and organizing we dug through dusty old books gathered from family archives and attics. I am the family archivist now working on genealogies and digitizing old photos.

We came across a tattered and brittle piece of paper, yellowed with age. It was buried in the binding of an old book. On it was the handwritten script of those who learned great penmanship – before we lost it after the keyboard was invented. On that page and in the lines of poetry I can step back in time and meet my ancestors and get a whiff of the world as it was – better times in many ways.

Here are a few lines from a poem she loved entitled Prelude to the Vision of Sir Launfal by James Russell Lowell. I read it aloud to my wife Janet and we were for a moment whisked away. Notice especially stanzas 9 and 10. What is free when everything else has a cost?

Earth gets its price for what Earth gives us;
The beggar is taxed for a corner to die in,
The priest hath his fee who comes and shrives us,
We bargain for the graves we lie in;
At the devil’s booth are all things sold,
Each ounce of dross costs its ounce of gold;
For a cap and bells our lives we pay,
Bubbles we buy with a whole soul’s tasking
‘Tis heaven alone that is given away
‘Tis only God may be had for the asking;
No price is set on the lavish summer;
June may be had by the poorest comer.