Family and Kids

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 its 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.

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155491EA-4188-4E16-9881-10854CB4C5D0We are visiting my son Jesse Ray this weekend. We asked our grandson Joshua what he’s been playing on the piano lately.

He asked, “ Do you want to hear one of my new compositions?”

We said, “Of course!“ So, here is what he played for us. He also has his driving permit so he drove us around!

In the picture to the right, Joshua is the second from the left.

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Passover Lamb: A True Story

by JesseRay on April 12, 2019

  1. Contributed by my son Jesse Ray a while ago but worthy of reposting…

I arrived on the scene with my gun and stoically loaded in some self-defense rounds (although I was clearly not in danger). I did not lavish the idea of slaughtering a lamb, but my friend and new-farmer, Pat, called and sheepishly asked for some help. I guess he thought I was qualified since I had butchered last year’s deer with the help of my family.

It took a while for me to prepare the surroundings, I had never killed something so large, at such close range. During these few minutes I had time think about the gravity of what was about to happen.

Of course my mind took me back to the Jews and passover. Remember, the Bible is not just filled with stories, but with accounts of historical events. These events that we are familiar with actually happened. The Word of God prescribed, no dictated, the killing of a lamb. For the Jews, the lamb was not just dinner. The blood of the lamb was spread on the horizontal and vertical wood of the door frames (of course we recognize this as a foreshadowing of Christ’s blood dripping from His wooden cross).

Samaritan-Passover,-slain-lamb,-tb041106729-bibleplaces

(Picture: Present day slaughter of Passover Lamb by Samaritans in Israel) 

Exodus 12:21-22
Then Moses called all the elders of Israel, and said to them, “Select lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood which is in the basin; and none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning.

We all know that the consequence of sin is death, yet today we do not always see or feel that direct connection. Before Jesus, the Lamb of God, came as our final sacrifice, a cute, woolly lamb <baaa>, had to die in expiation for sins. The Jews symbolically placed their own sins on the head of the lamb before it was killed in Leviticus 1. The male sheep was chosen from the flock for its spotlessness, just as Christ, sinless and perfect, died for our sins.

We Catholics are blessed with the sacrament of confession, a very quick and clean way of cleansing sins from our soul. Well, let me tell you there was nothing quick or clean about killing a lamb. If we had to go through this every time we sinned I would expect people would either sin less, or would carry more sins around on their hearts.

Passover (doorpost)I tell the following story, not for the sake of gore, but because it was a very raw and spiritual experience. You should stop here if the thought of blood makes you queasy.

I was compelled to pause, and say a prayer thanking God for this animal and for the gift of it’s life. At first it all happened quite fast: The the gun popped, a red spot appeared on the lambs head, the lamb dropped. I was glad that was over with.

What happened next surprised me. All living things try to avoid death, and even after the lethal blow, the lamb was not going to die without a fight. I apologize, for the detail, but far more blood than I expected began pouring out of the sheep’s mouth and nose. The famous painting “Adoration of the Lamb” by van Eyck flashed in my brain, (of course in the painting the sheep is standing, but the flow of blood is clearly key in the comparison).

My friend Pat, the instigator of this whole event, took action (and large knife) holding the sheep down with the full weight of his body and slit the throat. As more blood emerged it was clear that the bloody descriptions in the old testament will never be void of imagery for me anymore.

PETA people refuse to eat lamb chops or wear sheepskin because of (I assume) the violence of slaughter. (or maybe they just need some cause to distract them from the evils of abortion and euthanasia that many support). Before any scriptural lessons, I think seeing that this tasty protein-source doesn’t start out in a Styrofoam package at Meijers is good to know.

But seriously, what kind of a “merciful” God would order His people to do something so violent and base? The answer points to the Eucharist, and is so deep that we need to understand God’s plan of salvation is exposed in history and recorded in scripture. Now we just need to know where to look.

Adoration of the Lamb_van_Eyck_insetMy dad, Steve Ray, teaches about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and its Biblical foundations; he can speak for hours about the beauty and reality in his talk entitled Defending the Eucharist: You are What You Eat. The whole talk can be found here, and is really a great listen.

I pray that you will all draw closer to our Lord and find joy in His Cross and Resurrection.

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After 7 Years of Marriage my Lovely Daughter Explains

March 17, 2019

We met on an airplane. I knew I was going to marry him by the time we landed. I had seen him in the airport. He walked by and I stared in awe thinking he was the cutest guy I’d ever seen. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I had no idea he was on […]

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Gotta Love Grandkids – especially blowing a raspberry!

January 30, 2019
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2 Minute Audios: Steve’s 6 Rules for Dealing with Non-Catholic Family & Friends

November 30, 2018

People always ask, “What do I say to my husband…?”  or “How do I get my kids back in the Church?  or  “I am getting no where trying to tell my friend about my Faith.” Well Steve came up with Six Rules to help you deal with non-Catholics – especially family and friends. They are […]

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My Grandson Josh’s Continued Amazing Piano Playing

November 7, 2018
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Can You Guess Who These Two People Are?

September 29, 2018

Can you guess who this is? How about these two people?

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36 Reasons I Love My Travel Hat

September 26, 2018

Lots of people ask me about my Tilley Hat. 1) Where did you get it? (www.Tilley.com in Canada)? 2) Why did you start wearing it? Really, have you seen my hairstyle! The first day in Israel without one and my head looked like a red beet. 3) What style do you like? Wide brim with […]

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Seven Things Every Kid Needs to Hear

September 18, 2018

Thanks to my friend Patrick Madrid. Might I suggest you plan to tell your kids all of these things over the next week or two?

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Marriage in Heaven? Will We Know and Love Our Spouses in Heaven?

August 20, 2018

I am reposting this because of the huge response two years ago. Thought it would be helpful again for many people who have lost their spouse. My dad died almost eight years ago. Mom misses Dad and was discouraged about Mark 12:25 which her paraphrased Living Bible improperly rendered “will not be married” in heaven. […]

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Steve Shares a 9-minute Story of his Early Life and Conversion

August 19, 2018

While at Steubenville two weeks ago, the Coming Home Network and The Journey Home asked me to share stories of my conversion not heard before. Hope you enjoy it.

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A Tribute to My Father who Died Six Years Ago Today

August 12, 2018

My father died six years ago today. I am who I am today because he was the most excellent of fathers. He not only taught me to be a godly man, but helped me understand God as a loving and forgiving Father. I wrote this as a tribute to him then and thought it appropriate […]

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Never Assemble a Grill

July 25, 2018

I will never, ever, EVER again buy a grill that needs to be assembled! Never! Notice it is dark and way too late to grill our dinner!

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Little Charlie & the Big Combine!

July 11, 2018

love being a Grandpa!

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Fun and Relaxed 4th of July

July 4, 2018

?Happy 4th! Thanks to all those who made our independence and freedom possible! Kids all traveling so Janet & I took 3.5 mile walk, cooked healthy food on the barbie and watched hilarious family-friendly Aussie movie “Deckchair Danny.” Love being a husband/dad/granddad, love being an American, love being Catholic! (Picture from front porch.)

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