Catholic Controversies

34A8D4E9-74C8-4F95-98E2-35786A76BA97There are three “truths” I have been asked about many times. Often people tell me these as though they’re explaining to me something I’ve never heard before. However, in each case, there is no historical, biblical or actual basis to any three of them. In each case they started being taught in recent times and because their side so often they “become true.”

In each case, they started being taught in recent times and because they’re sad so often they “become true.“

1) BREAKING THE LEG OF A WANDERING LAMB

The first of these is that shepherds in the Middle East break the leg of a wandering lamb to keep it close by. And being close to the shepherd makes the lamb very affectionate.

This does not happen and there are no traditions or incidents known of it happening. In fact, there are a good number of reasons why it would not happen. It is simply a manufactured myth.

2). THE “ EYE OF A NEEDLE” IS A GATE

FE7E50AF-5E9C-4045-B107-0FDAFCF875A9The story is lovely for preaching because it graphically explains how a camel cannot get through the small door in a wall to enter a city. With all the merchandise on it’s back the camel driver hast to remove everything from the camel’s back so it can stoop down and we go through the small gate.

However, there is no historical, written or archaeological evidence there was ever such a gate. The camel was the largest thing people usually saw and the eye of the needle the smallest, therefore, it made an excellent visual image about how a rich man could into heaven only by offloading his wealth and possessions. But the idea that the “eye of the needle” was a gate – is a myth.

To confirm that Jesus used such “large and small” comparisons he also describes the man who “strains out a gnat, but swallows a camel” (Mt 23:24). Here it an actual gnat as in the previous it is an actual needle.

3) THE FOLDED NAPKIN IN THE TOMB MEANT JESUS WOULD COME BACK

4515AF0D-50CE-49A7-98D1-A4D808F76F07 The Gospel of John tells us that the napkin or face cloth of Christ was rolled or folded up in a place by itself. Some have invented a custom that never existed, that a man would crumple up his napkin and toss it aside if he was done with dinner but would fold it neatly and set it aside if he was leaving but would come right back.

Therefore, since Jesus‘s face cloth or napkin was folded up in the empty tomb, it was a signal that Jesus would return.

“It has been rumored that folding the napkin at the table is a Jewish custom that means the person folding the napkin intends to return. Numerous Bible study sources have been checked, but there is nothing about this alleged Jewish custom of the folded napkins. The only references to this story seem to be from internet postings and emails that appear to have originated in 2007…. The truth is that table napkins, such as we use today, were not used in Jesus’ day. Jews would do an after-meal hand washing as part of the eating ritual….The folding of the napkin as a sign that a dinner guest was finished may be good European custom, but it appears this custom was unknown in the land of Israel in the time of Jesus.” (Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2013).

The folded napkin, like the other three, is a myth.

4) JESUS COULDN’T HAVE BEEN BORN DECEMBER 25 BECAUSE SHEEP AREN’T OUT  IN THE FIELDS IN WINTER

A5754794-4161-4869-9DBB-C8D5C4B0F68EPresumably wool is not enough to keep sheep warm so the have to stay home during winter. Not true. It can get cold in Bethlehem and on rare occasions I’ve even had snowball fights with local children. But Bethlehem is not Alaska and the temperatures are usually very mild even in December. I have often worn a light jacket even on New Years Day.

Even in inclement weather there are plenty of caves outside of Bethlehem and we often celebrate Mass in Shepherds Field where the shepherds kept the sheep overnight on the first Christmas Eve. Caves are abundant and on a cold night sheep can enjoy the warmth of the caves.

With my own eyes, I tell you, sheep are in the fields eating year-round.

5) SAUL OF TARSUS WAS GIVEN A NEW NAME AT HIS CONVERSION OR CALLING

5ECB630B-F0E9-41D9-B3B2-96E5E319B858Abram was renamed Abraham when God formed a covenant with him (Gen 17:5) and Simon was given his new name Peter (Rock) when he was commissioned as Royal Steward by Jesus (Matt 16:18). However, Saul was never given a new name. Saul of Tarsus had duel citizenship, both a Jew of Israel and also a Roman citizen (Acts 22:26-28). Up until he was called by God to go to the Gentiles, we see him referred to by his Jewish name Saul. After his call, he was referred to by his Roman name Paul (Acts 13:9) because he was now going out to preach to the Gentiles so he used his Roman name.

So Paul was not granted a new name but had two names from birth, his Jewish name and his Roman name.

There’s an old saying that if you say something often enough it becomes true. However, even though these things are said often enough, they are NOT true.

If you’ve heard of other “truths” like this that you think might be a myth, let me know.

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At the 20219 investiture of new Knights and Dames into the North Central Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, I was asked to give the keynote talk on Sunday morning with a good number of bishops in attendance and several renowned theologians and radio personalities.

IMGP1378(Photo: Janet and I with Patriarch of Jerusalem Saba at Mass at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Easter 2004)

Janet and I have been members of this order for nearly 20 years now. Since Janet and I have been to Israel over 180 times, I assumed they would request a talk on the Holy Land, the Holy Sepulchre and the local Christians that we support. So I accepted.

But as the date drew nearer I asked which topic was chosen for me. The Lieutenant of the North Central Lieutenancy informed me, you shall speak on “How can a John Paul II Catholic Survive in a Pope Francis World”.

I was a bit shocked but said I would do it. Having written two books on the Papacy published by Ignatius Press (The Papacy and Upon this Rock) and an on-location document (Peter, Keeper of the Keys) I have a bit of knowledge about the papacy.

The talk was given the morning after I returned home from Israel at 10 PM the night before. I was exhausted and jetlagged but asked God for strength and clarity. Hope you find the talk helpful and encouraging in these strange days in which we live.

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My discussion with Fr. James Altman about the state of the Church and the World. It was a lively discussion and hope you find it helpful.

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On Restoring the Sunday Mass Obligation

February 20, 2021

This article was released Saturday, February 20 at The Catholic Thing. As American Catholics enter Year II of lockdown, a number of dioceses are beginning to roll back the universal dispensation from Sunday Mass.  The Archdiocese of Detroit is the most prominent, announcing that as of March 13, the universal dispensation of the faithful from the […]

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Steve Ray Live Discussion with Fr. James Altman who has defended the truth in the Church

February 10, 2021
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Biden, Politics and the Eucharist

December 4, 2020

BIDEN AND COMMUNION  Russell Shaw writes about the controversy with Joe Biden receiving Communion. “People who think pro-choice Catholic politicians like President-elect Joe Biden shouldn’t be given Communion are often accused of politicizing the sacrament. But the real politicizers are the accusers, who introduce politics into the discussion. The accused aren’t motivated by politics but by […]

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What to think about the Pope and his comments of Civil Unions for Homosexuals

October 22, 2020

This morning I had prepared to wax eloquent about the recently revealed comments by Pope Francis and the confusion and dismay they are causing with faithful Catholics and the jubilant “hurrays” coming from the  Catholics who would love to Church to fit the modern world. Remember that GK Chesterton said, “The Catholic Church is the […]

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If Slavery were legal, slavery would be a single issue for voters

October 16, 2020

Today I will pre-record a radio show with Fr. McTeigue SJ, on The Stations of the Cross Radio network. The discussion is entitled “In Defense of Single Issue Voting.” I will make the case that if today one political party held slavery as legal and the other opposed it, that slavery would become a single-issue […]

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Another Good Priest Removed: What a Shame!

July 4, 2020

It seems like the Sadducees and Pharisees of old, the clericalists and religious leaders of their day, are again killing the prophets and silencing the voices in the wilderness. Bishop Timothy Doherty (765-742-0275) removed Father Ted Rothrock, of Carmel, IN for posting in his bulletin the truth about the social situation today. For Fr. Ted’s comments, […]

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My Seven Rules for Dealing with Non-Catholic Family & Friends

June 2, 2020

Recently I had the opportunity to do a podcast with Pamela Fernandez about a topic that I am asked about more than any other. What should I do with my family? How do I get them back in the Church? You can also visit Pamela’s website for more info and resources. Hopefully you will enjoy […]

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Two New Zoom Podcasts: Matt Fradd’s “Pints with Aquinas” & “Reason and Theology”

May 26, 2020

On his podcast Pints with Aquinas, Matt Fradd and I discussed the Papacy. Very lively and wide-ranging conversation. Matt is an excellent interviewer. He entitled the show “A Conversation with the “Indiana Jones” of the Catholic Church” I interviewed on Reason & Faith on the Crisis in the Church with William Albrecht, Erick Ybarra and […]

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Four cardinals join global appeal decrying crackdown on basic freedoms over coronavirus

May 7, 2020

Update: Cardinal Sarah denied having been a signatory. May 7, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Catholic clergy led by former papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and Cardinals Robert Sarah, Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, Joseph Zen, and Janis Pujats have joined an appeal “for the Church and the world” that warns that the COVID-19 pandemic is being used […]

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More and more Catholics identifying as “born-again”

March 13, 2020

This is an unsettling development in the American Catholic Church. However, we had it coming. With priestly scandals, weak-kneed bishops, liberal and leftist theology and politics — what are serious Catholics to do? The answer is to hunker down, pray and work for revival, but many are looking to the conservative, experiential, emotionally-satisfying Evangelical churches […]

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This is the Faith! Thank you Cardinal Müller!

January 21, 2020

Speaking into the confusion of our modern world, and unfortunately the Vatican. Bravo Cardinal Müller!

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“Francis was never pope? Call me unpersuaded.” By Dr. Ed Peters

January 20, 2020

Article below by Canon Lawyer, Dr. Ed Peters: (Steve Ray here: It is amazing how many people today are rejecting the papacy of Pope Francis, claiming that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is really the pope. It comes up on my Twitter and Facebook accounts almost daily. Even though Canon Lawyer Ed Peters wrote his legal […]

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If the Barrage of Bad News from Rome causes Anxiety…

November 24, 2019

If following the problems in Rome is causing you to stumble, be depressed or anxious— just turn it off and live your Catholic life locally and be holy. This is what all Catholics did before the prevalence of the mass media.

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