Pilgrimages

The Bible says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5). Yet Catholics refer to Mary as a Mediatrix (feminine form of the word mediator). So, isn’t that prima facie evidence that Catholics make up doctrines, worship Mary and disregard the Bible? I was again challenged with this the other day. Interesting how the same old, same old keeps coming up no matter how many times you answer it. Interesting how these same misconceptions keep coming up as though some contentious power keeps inserting them into gullible minds. Interesting how people love to twist the rubber nose to make it obscene, grotesque, and distorted. So here was my short response — again! ********************************************* Cross in Woods smtIn 1 Timothy 2:5 Paul recognizes that there is a huge chasm between the holy God and sinful men. Paul states that there is only one mediator that can bridge that uncrossable gorge.  How do we sinners reach a holy God across such a chasm? God has provided the solution. He has provided the-one-and-only Mediator (1 Tim 2:5), the bridge, the stairway between heaven and earth, (John 1:51 based on the ladder seen by Jacob). This one Mediator is the God-Man Jesus Christ and he is the only one that can bridge the gap–mediate–between heaven and earth to bring reconciliation between God and men. Thus, there is one Mediator to reconcile God and man. Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant as the writer of Hebrews informs us three times, for example: “Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel” (Heb 8:6, 9:15, 12:24). No one else could have ever become such a mediator of the New Covenant. However, after Jesus has accomplished such an act of redemption and mediatorship, he calls us to share in his ministry. I remember my father saying to me before I joined the Catholic Church, “When you become Catholic you will pray to Mary and remember that Paul says there is only one Mediator between God and man.” I lovingly but sternly replied to my father, “Dad, never ask me to pray for you again!” My father was shocked but understood my meaning. As soon as he asks me to pray for him — he asks me to be a mediator between him and God. I told him that to be consistent with his Protestant theology he should not ask me or anyone else to intercede for him, to be a mediator — one who stands in the middle — but he should pray directly to Jesus himself. m74But Scripture constantly commands us to pray for one another, to intercede for our fellow humans. We are all “mini” mediators sharing in the mediatorship of Christ. And it goes the other way too. When God tells us to share the Gospel with lost sinners he is asking us to stand between himself and the sinner to share the Gospel, although he could have chosen to communicate with them directly. Mary is not the infinite mediator, nor does she impose on the prerogatives of her Son. She, like us, intercedes for sinners and the people of God. Mediatrix is simply the feminine form of mediator. All of us share in the ministry of Christ, mediating and praying for our fellow man. In this sense, all of us are mediators and the females among us are mediatrixes. I am frequently asked, “Where does the Bible say we should pray to dead saints?” to which I usually ask, “Where does the Bible say that saints are dead?” Those of us, including most Protestants, believe that when a person dies in friendship with Christ they are still alive in Christ. To prove that those who died in a state of grace were not dead, Jesus said to the Sadducees (who didn’t believe in the resurrection which is why they were “sad you see” — as my dad used to joke with us kids), “‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matt 22:32). Jesus said that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were still alive. Those who say “Why do you Catholics pray to dead saints” need to understand that those who die in Christ are not dead. Catholics affirm that they are alive and in the presence of Christ and that they can intercede for us as much as my father or I can intercede for each other. Mary and the saints do not answer our prayers, any more than I answer the prayers of my dad. Rather, Mary, the saints and you and I all are intercessors. We do not answer the prayers, we simply intercede with the Father through his Son Jesus. When I take pilgrimage groups to Israel I always take them to the top of Mount Tabor where the Transfiguration took place. I always ask people how a “dead guy” like Moses could be talking to Jesus about things that are taking place on earth (Lk 9:31). copelandWhen my father asks me to pray for him he asks me to stand in the middle — to be a mediator, an intercessor — and when God commands me to preach the gospel to the lost, he tells me to stand in the middle — to be an ambassador for Christ as Paul says, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). (Opps, to the right is a Pentecostal preacher Kenneth Copeland acting as a mediator, interceding with God, standing in the middle as they pray for this man!) I hope that helps explain why we call Mary a mediatrix and why all of us are mini-mediators sharing in the ministry of Christ — the one-and-only mediator of the New Covenant, but certainly not in any way claiming to be the one mediator of the New Covenant, nor in any way arrogating to ourselves or to Mary the unique prerogatives and ministry of Jesus. One last thought on this matter. Sometimes there is a misunderstanding of the differences between prayer and worship. In the Catholic tradition they are very different things. In Protestantism prayer and worship are sometimes used as synonyms. Pray simply means to ask, whereas worship is to adore. If a Catholic says he “prays to Mary” it’s perceived as worship by many Protestants, but the Catholic it simply making a request that Mary intercede for us — the same as when my dad asked me to intercede for him. In Catholicism there is a big difference between pray and worship. DVD_Mary_01We honor, love and venerate Mary. We ask her to pray for us. But we worship God ALONE! For more on this and other Marian topics, all filmed on location in the Holy Land, check out my documentary MARY, MOTHER OF GOD here.

{ 22 comments }

Good-bye Paris! Fairwells & Comments

by Steve Ray on June 12, 2019

The trip has come to an end and the bus is headed to the airport. It was more successful than we could’ve hoped for and it was a beautiful trip.

Combining that D-Day commemorations on Omaha Beach in Normandy France along with all the saints and shrines of France made for a spectacular pilgrimage.

Our thanks to Erin Doyle and Corporate Travel and Thierry at Lumen Terre. Thanks to all the great folks who helped make it happen including Fr. Dan Good and our guide Teresa Torres.

{ 0 comments }

After visiting the Church of the Miraculous Metal where we  venerated and prayed at the incorrupt Body of Saint Catherine Labore, we walked a block or two away to have Mass in front of the glass tomb of Saint Vincent de Paul who body is also incorrupt (homily here). Very meaningful and powerful for us all.

The boat ride on the Seine River took us through the heart of Paris where we saw many of the iconic monuments, churches and sites of the most visited city in the world

Everyone had the afternoon free to explore Paris and do the things they’ve always wanted to do and to check things off their bucket list.

We re-gathered in the evening for a fantastic dinner where we culminated this magnificent pilgrimage. Tomorrow morning everybody goes to the airport and flies home.

{ 0 comments }

Paris Day 1: Notre Dame Cathedral, Saints Chapelle over 1,000 Stained Glass windows) and Sacré Couers (Sacred Heart)

June 10, 2019

Our first day in Paris was filled with activities and wondrous sites. First, everyone woke up to the Eiffel Tower just outside our hotel and then a bountiful breakfast. We originally had Mass scheduled at the Notre Dame Cathedral but since the fire we had to change it to Sacré Couer. But we are taking […]

Read the full article →

Pentecost Sunday at Chartres Cathedral in France – Our 25th Anniversary as Catholics

June 9, 2019

We are leaving Brittany France and heading east back towards Paris. Halfway we will stop at Chartres where we will have free time in the city, a tour of the magnificent cathedral church and Mass in the grotto (Fr. Dan’s excellent homily here). Today is Janet and my 25th anniversary as Catholics. We are received […]

Read the full article →

France 5: Saint Malo, Apparition of Mary in Pontmain

June 8, 2019

We never like to push our people too much so we gave them an easy morning and left today at 10 AM. We went to Saint Malo which is a medieval fortified city on the ocean. We toured the exquisite cathedral where the organ was playing the whole time we were there. We spent time […]

Read the full article →

France Day 4: Le Mont-Saint-Michel

June 7, 2019

After the busy activities and a long day yesterday for D-Day, today was a nice rest and catch up day for the group. We started out with breakfast — sad to leave this beautiful Château in Normandy but we now drive to Le Mont-Saint-Michel, a city and a magnificent church and monastery. This is the […]

Read the full article →

75th Anniversary of D-Day in Normandy with President Trump

June 6, 2019

Today was a marvelous day with our group and Normandy France celebrating his 75th anniversary of D-Day. We were among still living heroes who jumped that day and joined by president of France and President Trump. It was a grand celebration! Even though it was to commemorate men who had died it was a celebration […]

Read the full article →

D-Day All Day: Pegasus Bridge & Omaha Beach

June 5, 2019

This was the most remarkable day.  On our ride to the battlefront our pilgrim Glenn Juday gave us an excellent overview of the whole operation of the assault on the beaches of Normandy. He is quite the historian! We started out at Pegasus Bridge where the British landed in gliders to set the whole stage […]

Read the full article →

France Day 1: St. Terese of Lisieux

June 4, 2019

Arrival in Paris France. Drive to Lisieux to study and venerate St. Teresa of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church. Mass in Lisieux (Fr. Dan Good’s homily here). Arrival at our chateau which you have to see to believe. PART ONE: PART TWO: STEVE’S 6-MINUTE TALK ON SAINTS AND HOLINESS

Read the full article →

Our Weekend Walk through Paris, Preparing for Our Soon-to-Arrive Group

June 2, 2019

Janet and I always arrive early to make sure everything is prepared and ready for our group. Since it’s been a while since we have visited this area of France we came early to scout out all the places our group will visit in Paris and to meet with our agent and guide. I hope […]

Read the full article →

Did Jesus Ascend into Heaven from Mount of Olives (Acts 1:12) or from Bethany (Luke 24:50)?

May 30, 2019

Today is 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 […]

Read the full article →

“The Longest Day” on Memorial Day in Prep for our own landing on Beaches of Normandy!

May 27, 2019

This week Janet and I are leaving for Paris France. Our group will follow us a few days later where we will be touring the Saints and Shrines of France. We will also be visiting Normandy where D-Day took place 75 years ago on June 6, 1944. Today we are watching that spectacular movie entitled […]

Read the full article →

Last Day Parts 1 & 2: Via Dolorosa, Calvary, Mass at Tomb, Dancing in Bethlehem, Farewells

May 17, 2019

Our last day here in Israel was packed with events including free time. The climax of our trip was the Via Dolorosa and touching the top of Calvary where the blood of Jesus flowed. After that we had a tour of the church of the Holy Sepulchre before we had Mass with the Franciscans at […]

Read the full article →

Day 7: Mass at Gethsemane, Mount of Olives, Upper Room, Mount Zion, Shroud Exhibit and more

May 15, 2019

In summary, today was surrounding the Mount of Olives and Mount Zion. We started with Mass at Gethsemane which for many people is the most moving site on the trip (homily here). Up to the Paternoster where Jesus taught his disciples to pray the Our Father and Ascended into Heaven. Upper Room and Church of […]

Read the full article →

Day 6: Museum, Jericho, Jordan River, Qumran, Dead Sea and Camels

May 14, 2019

This is more of a fun day.  We had Mass to start the day at the Notre Dame chapel (homily here).  We visit the Israel museum to see the city of Jerusalem on a small scale from the time of Christ. We also see the Dead Sea Scrolls before descending down into the Judean wilderness […]

Read the full article →