Prayer & Spiritual Life

Was He Ready to Die?

by Steve Ray on October 19, 2019

IMG_9875It was just a normal morning — alarm clock, shower, espresso, dress and a saunter down the sidewalk to work. For Paul, it was another day with a whole lifetime ahead of him. But today was different.

Someone else got up this morning too. They had their coffee dressed and jumped in the car. They tried to catch up on their phone calls along the way and didn’t notice the car stopped in front of them. He swerved and his car jumped the sidewalk.

Paul didn’t even have time to blink. The car slammed into him as he walked to work and he was dead. It was over. No time to think. No time to call out to God. He was dead in an instant.

Was he ready? Where is he now? I don’t know.

IMG_9872A while ago in Rome, I was just out for a run along the same sidewalk. I saw the memorial bolted into the wall with flowers and prayers. Paul’s family hopes he is in heaven. They still bring flowers, light candles and pray at the place he was instantly killed.

I stopped my walking. I pondered the memorial — Paul’s picture. He was a young man; looks like about 30 years old, handsome and full of life. Did he leave a wife and kids behind? Was he a church-goer or had he dropped out for more important things?

Flowers, candles, prayers, tears, longing, hope, sorrow, loneliness, regret. All of this was obvious from the remembrance placed on the sidewalk.

IMG_9874I crossed myself, said a prayer for Paul though I have no idea who he was — or is, I should say because life does not end at death but goes on in heaven or hell.

I suspect he didn’t know his life would end at 8:46 AM that morning. Nor did anyone else. Makes one wonder if his life was in order. Had he gone to confession? Did he harbor grudges against family or friends?

As I prayed and meditated a bit on the sidewalk, I thought of my own life and once again realized how fragile we are and how crucial it is to be right with God and the world at all times. We never know when a cell phone call or an absent-minded driver might snuff out our life.

It’s a good time to take a quick evaluation of your life. Are you ready to die?

For my story, The Last Nightmare: the Story of a Soul, click here.

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20 Things TO DO And NOT DO at Mass. These are not rules that will get you banished from the Church, but things that are mostly common sense — polite conduct to enhance our worship and that of those around us.

1. Fast before Mass. It is required that one fasts for at least 1 hour before receiving Holy Communion. The only exceptions are medicine, water or unless someone is ill and needs to eat sooner.

2. No Food and Drink in Church. The only exceptions would be milk for infants, water for the priest or choir (if discreet) and water for those who are ill. You may sip water just before you enter the church.

3. Men take your hats off. It is impolite to wear a hat into any church for a man. Additionally,  ladies and men, do not use sun glasses inside the church. You are in the presence of our Lord & God.

4. Never chew gum in church! It breaks your fast, it’s rude and it’s distracting!

5. Cross yourself with Holy Water on entering and leaving the church. This is a reminder of our Baptism, which made us members of Christ’s Church.

6. Dress modestly and appropriately. As Catholics we believe that God comes down to meet us at every Mass. Won’t you dress well to meet a king? That said remember that the mass is not a fashion show. And Christmas and Easter masses are not Milan Fashion week. Dress in a way that gives witness to your faith.

7. Show up at least a few minutes early and try coming as close to the altar as possible.  If you can’t be on time, then sit in the back so you don’t disturb others.

8. Cell phones should never be used in Mass for calls or texting. The ONLY exceptions are emergencies (big ones, not everyday ones) and if you are using the phone for readings the lectionary or the said prayers/ responses.

9. Gentlemen offer their seats to any lady who is standing. Some churches get packed. 

10. When we enter and leave Church, genuflect (bow your knee) toward the Tabernacle. Christ is present for our sake. By allowing our right knee to hit the floor, we acknowledge He is our Lord and God. If someone is physically unable to genuflect, then a bow is sufficient. During Mass, if you pass in front of the altar or tabernacle, bow reverently.

11. Sit quietly while in church. If you must talk do so as quietly and briefly as possible. Remember that your conversation might be disturbing someone who is in prayer. Sssshhhhhhhh. Most churches now have gathering spaces in the back for conversation.

12. Take loud children to the back. Every parent knows that sometimes the baby is going to have a bad day. Parents with young kids should sit on the end of a pew, if you can, so that you can take the kid to the back quickly. There is no reason to be embarrassed about having to quiet your child. Take the child to the back of the church immediately. It is worse to allow them to disturb others during Mass.

13. Prepare your offering before Mass. Christ tells us not to let your left hand know what your right hand is doing when you make your offering. Keeping the basket while you get your wallet out can be quite a scene. Digging the basket for change is a big no no. Come to Mass with your offering prepared.

14. It is best not to read the bulletin during the actual Mass. Imagine if you invited a guest to your house and before dinner (or during) they decided to read a magazine instead of talking to you.

15. Respect the worship. Stand during the gospel reading and other set time during worship. Kneel at the consecration. It is part of worship. The only exceptions are fir the sick, people with knee problems, aged and those with infants. If you can’t kneel occupy a pew that does not obstruct the view of the Lord from those who do kneel.

16. Bow before receiving Holy Communion. Remember that you are before your Lord, show your respect with a profound bow from the hip.

17. Do not receive from the chalice if you are sick. This is an act of charity. Try to receive communion on the tongue. If you receive on the hand, check your hands after receiving the Lord so that no crumbs may fall to the ground.

18. Do not leave early unless there is an urgent issue. We should stay to the end of the recession and the hymn that accompanies it, if there is one. Remember who left the last supper early (Judas). We should show respect for God, for the priest and our fellow worshipers. 

19. Pray after Mass, if you can. It is a good custom, though not required. Offer a prayer of thanksgiving after Mass is over.

20. Leave quietly. We encourage you to visit others especially your pastors as a part of Christian fellowship, but do so once you are outside of the main sanctuary of the church so you won’t disturb others who want to stay and pray.

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Should we pray for ‘our Holy Father’s intentions’ even if a pope has bad intentions?

October 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — I was in a car driving with a friend, and he said to me: “You know, it’s really hard in this pontificate to know what to do in front of the children. I mean, you can’t just pretend that everything is fine with Pope Francis. Kids are smart, and they hear stuff. They ask questions. They know something weird is going on. One day when I led the rosary, I said we would pray ‘for the pope’s good intentions.’ But this also struck my older kids as odd. Does that mean he has bad intentions? And the answer to the question is pretty obvious: yes, some of his intentions seem very bad, as the Vatican presents them in its little videos. So what are we supposed to do when we are seeking to gain a plenary indulgence, which requires praying for the pope’s intentions?”

945109BA-50D3-4852-BA08-6A4CCBB1E6FEI have noticed this question come up many times in recent years. Some families have stopped praying for the pope’s intentions altogether. Some pray for his conversion instead. That’s certainly not a bad idea, but I think we can all give a deep sigh of relief about the main question.

In the past year, I heard two different traditional Catholic priests — on different continents — give a homily on this subject. Their explanation of what it means to pray for the intentions of the Holy Father was virtually identical.

According to the Church’s longstanding book of indulgenced prayers, the Raccolta (which can be purchased in its last English edition of 1957), the pope’s intentions always include the following objects:

1. The progress of the Faith and triumph of the Church

2. Peace and union among Christian Princes and Rulers

3. The conversion of sinners

4. The uprooting of heresy

Patrick Hawkins, creator of the excellent homiletics resource Sermonry, cites these four general intentions and then observes:

Whenever you pray for the pope’s intentions, you are praying for these extremely Catholic intentions. You are even praying for these intentions if you are praying in the sede vacanteperiod between different papal reigns. … [W]e can with confidence pray an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be for the intentions of the Holy Father whenever this is required of us. We should do what the Church enjoins us to do to receive a plenary indulgence. If we do this with faith, and unite our will to God’s, only good can come of it.

In the same spirit, a canon of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest explains:

It is very good for you to have these specific intentions in mind when you pray for the Holy Father’s intentions. Even if you do not think of them specifically, however, your prayer is still valid, as they are included in the intention of our Mother the Church. Of course the Pope may have other personal intentions, and these canform part of your prayer as well, but this is not necessary.

So, then, we should be at peace. An individual reigning pope is not the only one who determines what are “the Holy Father’s intentions” for which we must pray; the Church herself tells us what they include, and we know they must always include the welfare of the Church in the four ways sanctioned by tradition and by approved publications. If a particular pope happens to have some wayward intentions of his own that conflict with the Faith, his intentions will be invalid, and we will not be praying for them.

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Kissing Statues

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A while ago in Jerusalem I awoke to the loud and intrusive Muslim “call to prayer”, church bells ringing and horns honking. I read this email that came from the United Kingdom… It read, “Hi Steve! I know you are a busy man. Please answer the above issue when the time permits you. I am a Catholic […]

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Maria Faustina and the Divine Mercy: A Short Biography & History

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Since today we are praying the Divine Mercy at the bones of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska at the convent in Poland, I thought I would share this short biography and history. Click here for the whole story with pictures…. The Biography of St. Maria Faustina. (August 25, 1905 – October 5, 1938)
 An excerpt from Apostle of Divine Mercy, a […]

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A while ago I gave a talk in Ann Arbor Michigan. It was about the New Evangelization. As part of my talk I explained how Janet and I have our “evangelism antennas” up first thing in the morning – alertly watching for open doors and ways to share our Catholic Faith throughout the day. And […]

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Are you Choosing the Narrow Gate?

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Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13–14) What kind of choices are […]

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Meaning of Sacred and Immaculate Hearts – Feast Days are Upon Us!

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Since Friday, June 28 is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I am reposting this. A non-Christian friend found two paintings at an art show and asked me, “What in the world are these? They seem to have pagan elements. What do they have to do with Jesus and Mary?” Here is my […]

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Mary a Mediatrix? Isn’t there just One Mediator?

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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? […]

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Does one have to experience strong emotion to be a real Christian?

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I received a few e-mails from a gentleman and his wife, obviously both good and excited Catholics who had recently had a real encounter with Jesus that had revived their faith and filled them with joy and emotion. Brian and his wife were disturbed that I talked so much about the Catholic Church when the […]

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Marvelous Scriptural Rosary! In English and Spanish – free to print, share and use

June 3, 2019

One of our pilgrimages to Israel, Tom Rizzo, shared this remarkable Scriptural Rosary. I’ve not seen one quite like it. He has freely shared it with me to share with you. Feel free to print it, share it and use it. This will not only make the Rosary more meaningful, but it will also deepen […]

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The Literacy and Spirituality of a Day Gone By; A Tattered Yellowed Page; A Poem I Found from my Great-Grandmother

June 1, 2019

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.) […]

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Real Stations of the Cross discussed on Relevant Radio

April 2, 2019

Steve Ray joined John Harper on Morning Air (Relevant Radio) to discuss the origin and the meaning of the Stations. Also insightful comments on each individual Station. Join the 20-minute discussion with the link provided. Steve’s discussion starts at the 26:00 minute mark.

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The Skull is Talking to Me; Lent is Upon Us!

March 31, 2019

THE SKULL TALKS TO ME EVERY MORNING! It says, “As you are now, I once was; as I am now, you soon shall be — remember your mortality!” No better way to approach Ash Wednesday and 40 days of Lent. Artists have painted St. Jerome with a skull on his desk. Popes were known to keep […]

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Walk the Road to Calvary with Steve Ray this Lent – New Talk

March 27, 2019

Wisdom from Steve Ray’s Stations of the Cross “If you want to know about Jesus and the Crucifixion, you not only read the four Gospels, but you go back in history, and you study the land, and you study the culture at the time. And it fleshes it all out, and black and white becomes a […]

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