Travel

We went to Mass a while ago and wanted to share it again. We could not understand a word during Mass since it was all in French.

We are celebrating Mass with a church FULL of French-speaking Africans with a white French bishop with an Italian parish priest in a church built by Italians in the heart of Istanbul which is 99.9% Muslim. We are all loyal to the Pope on the Chair of Jewish Peter in Rome.

Yet, we had the same Mass and the same readings as everyone else back home! We followed along with the iMissal on our iPhones. We were home. This was OUR church! The Lord is present in the Eucharist. This is our universal Catholic Church.

We have celebrated Mass around the world in many foreign languages with many nationalities and cultures. But it is the same Mass! We love being Catholic!

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Step into a Time Machine and imagine what it would be like going back in time on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Steve and Janet Ray 100 years ago!

I have used actual pictures from over a century ago to re-create what it may have been like. I hope you enjoy!

And, I expect you’ll appreciate all the modern amenities that we are so used to on a pilgrimage today ?

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“Rabbi, I can see the coastline!”

by Steve Ray on December 27, 2018

I cannot describe the sensation I feel every time we look out the window and see the coastline of Israel from the window of the plane. Yeah, we are exhausted — 8 hours from Detroit to Amsterdam, 3 hours layover, and 4.5 hours from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv. Some who travel with us come from California, Texas or other states which add even more hours and layovers to their flights.

IMG_6006Yet, even though our eyelids are at half mast and our feet a bit swollen, the excitement of descending over the Mediterranean Sea with the land of Israel appearing below is beyond words. Janet and I have had this experience over 65 times but it never fails to thrill us.

I will never forget the first time our family landed here in 1995 a year after converting to the Catholic Church. It was the rustic old airport (gone now, rest its ugly soul). With my 40 pound backpack on my back I stepped off the plane, descended down the steps to the tarmac and fell to the ground sobbing and kissed the blacktop. I WAS IN THE HOLY LAND LAND — ISRAEL!

I was overwhelmed with emotion after reading the Bible for so many years and loving God and his land finally — I was here! The thrill has not abated after over 150 visits.

Once I struck up an interesting conversation on the plane with a Rabbi named Rabbi Friedman. He and I talked all the way from Amsterdam to Israel. He was suspicious of me at first — me being a gentile and all — but after he learned how much I loved the Jewish people and their Bible he opened up. He talked to me about the Psalms and the Law. He was insightful beyond description. This old Jew with his wagging beard and lively eyes thrilled me.

Toward the end of our trip I looked out the window, saw the shoreline and said, “Rabbi, I can see the coastline; there’s Israel!” He broke into loud sobbing, almost uncontrollably.

IMG_6007I said, “Rabbi, is this the first time you have come here?” Through his tears he said, “No, I have been here many times; but it is the land our Our God!” I will never forget that. I visited him in the US several times after that experience. He taught me many things about God and the land of Israel — and, unknown to him, about who I was as a Catholic.

It is now in the middle of the night — 1:30 PM Israel time — and we can now see the lights forming a crooked line along the sea as we approach the airport. We will soon arrive at the new and very modern Ben Gurion Airport, so much easier and convenient than the old place. I am already excited — I will soon be walking on the very ground where God walked. I will be opening doors of wonder to pilgrims who will be experiencing this land for the first time.

The Patriarchs and Prophets walked here. The Kings and Priests and Warriors of Israel lived here. Mary and Jesus traversed on the ground my own feet will touch. The Apostles and Apostolic Fathers walked here and some died as martyrs here. We will celebrate Mass at their sites.

I will go walking each day in the very places where they lived, prophesied and died. Nothing is like this! I am proud to be Catholic, to love the Jewish people — our elder brothers in the faith — and the Palestinian Christians and religious orders like the Franciscans who have preserved these holy sites through the centuries against much opposition and against all odds. How could I NOT come here to support and encourage them!

Thanks be to God as tears well up in my eyes again — for about the 150th time!

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Is Faith Alone the Basis for the Final Judgment?

October 17, 2018

Is Faith Alone the Basis for the Final Judgment?  By Steve Ray Dear Jerry: I had no intention of writing you again this soon but after having dinner with your brother the other day and picking up a copy of a booklet you gave him entitled Studies In Contrasts: The Doctrine of Salvation (by Herb Vander […]

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How Do They Cook Spinach in Rome?

May 3, 2018

Posted a while ago but in Rome now eating spinach again so thought we’d share again… Janet and I (and our whole family) are keeping healthy with losing weight, exercise and eating good food. While in Rome last week Janet and I ate spinach every day. (Spinach is a SuperFood.) The spinach we ate was […]

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2 Million Miles with Delta! Yikes!

November 20, 2017

The circumference of the earth is 24,901 miles. If you fly all the way around the earth 80 times you have 2 million miles. Delta Airlines just wrote to me and told me I have done just that. Yikes! That is a lot of miles and a lot of time on a plane. My good wife […]

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Visit St. John Lateran with me today for the Feast of Its Dedication

November 9, 2017

I am in Rome and decided to run to St. John Lateran this morning a make a video — so all of you could enjoy the Feast Day of the Dedication of St. John Lateran Church on November 9, 313. Yup, that’s right! It was the first Christian church ever built and it was the […]

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Traveling with Paul, John & Mary in Biblical Times was TOUGH!

October 30, 2017

Jostling through the crowds Paul and Luke pushed their way to the ramp. The wooden cargo ship was ready to leave Caesarea and they had gathered the last of their supplies. They pressed the silver denarii into the hands of the sailer at the dock. They were allowed onto the ship. They rushed to the […]

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One of My Most Valued Possessions

July 3, 2017

It is the 4th of July and Janet and I are sitting in an airport in Tel Aviv Israel. We were just in Egypt two days ago and were so happy to get back through security into Israel heading back home to America. One of my most valued possessions enables us to travel through all […]

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Arriving at Mount Sinai in the middle of a wilderness nowhere

June 30, 2017

Here you’ll see a picture of Masada, and the sunrise over the Dead Sea along with a map to show you our route. In the picture with the fortress in the Red Sea we could see 34 countries Israel, Egypt, Jordan and  Saudi Arabia . Also a picture of our crew in front of the […]

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Gibraltar Broadcasting Corp. Interviewed us on the “Rock” – Marvelous Production

May 10, 2017

I must say that Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation did a very fine job of interviewing Janet and I about our recent visit and conference at the “Rock of Gibraltar.” They not only did a fine interview but interspersed it with pictures and segments of my talks. I was invited to give a weekend conference at the […]

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Newly Renovated Tomb of Christ in the Holy Sepulchre

April 27, 2017

Before our group arrived today Janet and I visited the Tomb of Christ in the Holy Sepulchre a few days after its unveiling without the ugly iron girders that used to surround it for support. Here are a few pictures of the new exterior and one of the interior. Nothing is really changed (except removal […]

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Stupidest Airport Sign Ever

February 9, 2017

“Life is not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” We saw the above sign while walking through the airport. I interviewed some people at the airport and though some said they enjoyed the trip, they ALL said they were here to reach a definite city or place. Imagine an airport concerned only with random […]

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Conversation at an Airport; Don’t Be Intimated! Say What You’re Thinking!

October 25, 2016

We stepped into the Delta lounge to await our flight to Greece where we will meet our group of 95 excited pilgrims for our St. Paul cruise. A guy sat down next to me and said, “How you doing?” I said, “Great, we just voted for Trump and we are on our way to lead […]

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Join us on a Catholic Tour of Germany following Martin Luther and the “Protestant Reformation”

August 10, 2016

The 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Schism is upon us. Protestants are celebrating 500 years from Martin Luther nailing his 95 Thesis on the Wittenburg Church door. His actions divided Christendom and caused untold problems. Protestants of course consider this revolt as the restoration of the biblical Christianity and salvation by “faith alone.” Steve and […]

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