Prayer & Spiritual Life

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.

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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 important things was a personal relationship with Jesus that sets our heart on fire.  So I responded to him to demonstrate that Jesus is not divided from his Church.
DEAR BRO STEVE,
I SENT SR. BRIEGE’S TESTIMONY FOR YOU TO HEAR FOR THE SIMPLE REASON THAT SHE TOO, LIKE THE MUSLIMS WHO ARE FINDING CHRIST, AND MANY OTHERS AND IF I CAN HUMBLY INCLUDE MYSELF HAVE TASTED THE LORD AND HE IS GOOD. AND I BELIEVE THAT THIS EXPERIENCE OF KNOWING JESUS CHRIST IS NOT FOR A FEW BUT FOR ALL MANKIND.
     [His wife had written earlier with a very strong sense that Catholics did not follow Christ like they should and she could hardly stand being in parishes with them because she knew Jesus and it was obvious to her that the others did not. They expected all Catholics to be like them and felt that they were almost, it seemed to me in earlier e-mails, not real Christians.]
       BUT YOU I AM NOT ABLE TO UNDERSTAND. YOU SEEM TO SAY THAT ALL CATHOLICS ARE IN CHRIST. MY UNDERSTANDING IS IF CHRIST IS IN YOU THE HOPE OF GLORY THEN U JUST NOT ONLY KNOW IT BUT WILL WANT TO GO AND SHARE HIM FOR OTHERS TO ALSO TASTE HIM AND DO WHAT IS HIS PLAN FOR THEM.
      SO I HEARD A FEW OF YOUR TALKS ON YOUTUBE AND ITS ALL MOSTLY ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING A CATHOLIC AND I HEARD SISTER BRIEGE WHO SAYS THAT ITS JESUS CHRIST FIRST. ONE MUST ENCOUNTER CHRIST AND THEN THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING A CATHOLIC.
     THANKS ALOT.  LOVE U IN JESUS,  BRIAN
So I wrote a short response to maybe help Brian and his wife understand things in a more balanced position. Maybe the dialog will be of help to a few others as well.
********************************************************
Dear Brian and Marlene:

It is not Jesus OR the Catholic Church. It is Jesus AND the Catholic Church. Not everyone has emotional or super-spiritual feelings. Some people like Mother Teresa was devoid of such did not FEEL Jesus all the time but she was in Christ—she was closer to Christ than many who have lots of spiritual feelings.

It seems to me that it is a somewhat Protestant, Pentecostal idea that you expect yourself and others to have all these feelings. The Christian life is by faith, not by feelings. Feelings, emotions, the sense of the presence of God, the sense of the filling of the Holy Spirit are all great things. If they accompany our daily life, we are blessed. But the Christian life is primarily by faith and obedience to Christ.
It is important not to go around judging people, thinking since you have this experience with the Holy Spirit that you are more spiritual or close to God than a person who is close to God in other ways — through the Eucharist, prayer, devotion. To set yourself apart as more spiritual sounds to me much like the Pharisees.
Be happy for your experience of the Holy Spirit. All Christians have received the Holy Spirit through Baptism and Confirmation. Not all have understood or appropriated this great gift, but not Catholics or other Christians have learned their blessing and many experience him in different ways. You cannot put the Holy Spirit in a box and think he has to work the same with every person. Just because you have one experience does not mean that to be spiritual and close to God and filled with the Spirit that I have to be just like you.
Anyway, God bless you and keep you and make his face to shine upon you. I cannot write about this any more since I am in Israel and a large group of people are arriving today and I will be guiding them through the Holy Land — including the Upper Room where the Holy Spirit first fell on the day of Pentecost. God bless and it has been nice talking with you.

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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 your knowledge of the Bible and the Catholic Faith. Bravo Tom!

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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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How Do You Enter a Church on a Pilgrimage – or any day?

March 14, 2019

On tours and pilgrimages, people often enter a church like it’s a museum or site-seeing destination. “Scratch that off the Bucket List!” Europe has basically lost it’s faith and churches are no longer viewed as sacred places to encounter the presence of God. So, it was refreshing to see this sign outside of a beautiful, historic and […]

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How to Pray a Holy Hour

March 8, 2019

You step into the chapel and kneel in front of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. You cross yourself, say a quick prayer and sit down. OK, now what? I found this one-page instruction very helpful. I thought you would too. It is a product of The Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College, Kansas. Click on […]

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Sherlock Holmes an Idolater – Praying to People?

January 7, 2019

Last night my wife and I were watching an episode of Sherlock Holmes on TV. He has always been one of my favorite characters and I can remember reading all the stories to our kids as they grew up. On TV I think Jeremy Brett does the best portrayal and it is always a delightful […]

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Should This Baby Be Aborted? You Decide

January 1, 2019

In the United States, there are many situations in which abortions are recommended, even encouraged by family, counselors, medical personnel and even religious advisors. Sometimes an abortion is recommended because of difficult circumstances and other times simply for convenience. Here are four cases for you to consider. Should these babies be aborted? You decide! Four […]

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Why Did God Allow Man to Sin? “O Happy Fault of Adam”

December 18, 2018

This is a question that has puzzled people from the beginning. If God is good and all powerful why didn’t he stop Adam and Eve from sinning? Fair question. Of course we all know that he took the risk of giving us free will so that we could choose to love him. I don’t want […]

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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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Bishops Among the Flames in Mexico

November 28, 2018

Here in Mexico churches have 3 dimensional images of purgatory to scare people to holiness. Nearly every one has a bishop in the flames.

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The Sign of the Cross: It’s History, Meaning and Biblical Basis

October 28, 2018

SIGN OF THE CROSS By Steve Ray The Sign of the Cross is a ritual gesture by which we confess two important mysteries: the Trinity and the centrality of the Cross. It is the most common and visible means by which we confess our faith. The Sign of the Cross is made by touching the […]

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What Does this Wood Carving Mean?

October 18, 2018

When I went to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor Michigan the other day for a visit, I stopped by to pray at the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel. In front of the chapel was this wood carving. I also, like all of you, sat in front of it puzzled. Who are the women; what’s in […]

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