Mass at Gethsemane, Mt. of Olives, Upper Room and more

by Steve Ray on September 24, 2016

Lots of tears at the powerful Mass at Gethsemane. For the homily, click here. The Our Father in multiple languages on Mount of Olives.

Steve’s “Story of Salvation History” before going to the Upper Room and more.

Steve’s talk at Gethsemane:

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Was Jesus Really Born at THAT Place in Bethlehem?

by Steve Ray on September 24, 2016

Church of the Agony in Gethsemane

Today we are having Mass at Gethsemane on the western slope of the Mount of Olives. How do we know this is really Gethsemane?

And tomorrow we have Mass at Calvary in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Really? How do we know?

Yesterday we venerated the place Jesus was born in Bethlehem and had Mass in the Cave of the Shepherds.

It is often asked: how do we know these are the real sites where Jesus and Mary lived and walked. The earliest Christians realized the importance of these sites and immediately viewed them as sites to be remembered and venerated. Small chapels were built and pilgrims came from around the world to visit these spots and to pray.

The spot marking the place where Jesus was bornthese spots and to pray.

When Christianity became legalized, churches were built on these sites. Tradition, archaeology and the ancient witness confirms the authenticity of the sites. Below is a few examples relating to Bethlehem.

In a very enlightening side note, Bethlehem was mentioned by St. John Chrysostom in his Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, written in ad 370: “. . . Since that birth [of Jesus], men come from the ends of the earth to see the manger, and the site of the shed.”

The early Christians remembered and preserved the location and pilgrims like you visited even in the first centuries. Emperor Hadrian built pagan shrines over the holy places in 135 AD. He thought the memory of the sites and associated faith would be obliterated forever. But then Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity. His mother St. Queen Helena went to Israel, asked the locals where Jesus was born, where he was crucified…

Church of Nativity 100 years ago

They pointed to the shrines and showed her what they all still remembered well. Queen Helena knocked down the pagan shrines and what did she find? The remains of early Christian veneration. She built a huge church over the place of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, another over the place of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and a large church over the cave on the Mount of Olives where Jesus ascended into heaven.

There is a saying, “The water is cooler and clearer the nearer you get to the source.” Many of the Fathers of the Church – very close to the events mentioned in the Bible – speak with great certainty about the sites in the Holy Land.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says, “The cave-stable is mentioned by Justin Martyr, Origen, and Jerome. After the Romans conquered Bethlehem anew (AD 135) the site of the Nativity was desecrated, probably under Hadrian (117–138; cf. Jerome Epistle 58.3). Jerome lived for thirty-three years in Bethlehem (AD 387–420). Here he helped found and direct pilgrim hospices, convents for women, and a monastery.”

The Tyndale Bible Dictionary says, “The birth of Jesus possibly took place in a cave in the rocks outside the town. The early Christian writer Justin Martyr 9100–165) thought so, as did Origen (c. 185–254) some years later. Origen frequently resided in the Holy Land and wrote, ‘In Bethlehem you are shown the cave where he was born, and within the cave the manger where he was wrapped in swaddling clothes.’

Emperor Constantine and his mother Queen Helena

“Jerome later described the grotto over which the Emperor Constantine had built a basilica. In excavations in 1934–35, evidence indicated a second period of building in the reign of Justinian (ad 527–565), when Constantine’s basilica was extended beyond its original proportions. Steps lead down to the grotto, the rectangular shape of which suggests that Constantine’s builders reshaped the original. But there is no description of the grotto prior to the construction of Constantine’s basilica.”

These places were remembered! We’ve known their locations for two thousand years.

Another Example: The Cave of Machpelah

The Cave of Machpelah was bought by Abraham about 1850 BC as a tomb in which to bury his wife Sarah. It now contains the remains of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah. It is now in Hebron, the city of Abraham. However, Abraham never owned any other land in Canaan before he died.

The Machpelah Cave over Sarah’s tomb built 2,000 years ago

Abraham’s descendants were in bondage in Egypt for four hundred years. For an additional forty years they wandered in the wilderness. It was remembered in Genesis 49 – over 400 years later – when the Israelites returned from Egypt. The city of Hebron was built around Abraham’s tomb and King Herod build a huge monument over the graves of Abraham and his family which still stands today in the heart of Hebron.

Abraham bought a plot of land called the Cave of Machpelah (Gen 35:16–20; 48:7; 1 Sam 10:2). Even today, the Cave of Machpelah is known and can be visited in Hebron. Visiting this site you see a place known for four thousand years!

Another Example: Rachel’s Tomb

Notice a case in which we can see how important holy sites were and how they were carefully remembered. The Tomb of Rachel can be visited today in Bethlehem even though she was buried there about 3,800 years ago!

Rachel’s Tomb 100 years ago in Bethlehem

Jacob buried Rachel in Bethlehem and the location of the tomb was still known 800 years later when Israel returned from Egypt and after they lived in the land for over 350 years. Wouldn’t expect them to forgot its location over the subsequent eight hundred centuries? It is still there today and we filmed there for our David DVD. Notice the biblical verses below:

“So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)” (Genesis 35:19) 

“And Jacob set up a pillar upon her grave; it is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day” (Genesis 35:20)

Eight Hundred years later, “[Samuel said to Saul]  When you depart from me today you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah” (1 Samuel 10:2).

These are just a few examples from the Old Testament to show how these holy sites were venerated and remembered. The same can be said from the New Testament. Holy people have always remembered the holy sites.

How much more so for Jesus the Son of God who became flesh! We can be very confident that the holy sites we see today, were the holy sites of old—the very places where God and the saints walked and where we can walk today.

Join us on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and I will be your guide. Visit Footprints of God Pilgrimages.

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Great day in Bethlehem! Enjoy! For the homily in Bethlehem’s caves, click here.

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I Choose the Narrow Gate; Wanna Join Me?

September 23, 2016

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)

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Boating on Galilee, the Eucharist and Capernaum, Up to Jerusalem, Meeting with Bishop

September 22, 2016

Enjoy today’s adventures! Boat ride on Galilee, viewing ancient 1st century boat, Mass in Capernaum where Jesus said, “Eat My Flesh”, eating St. Peter’s fish. Steve’s conversion story on the drive to Jerusalem, arrival at the Catholic Notre Dame Hotel, meeting with the Bishop of Jerusalem, great dinner and bed…ready for Bethlehem tomorrow.

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Have Kids? Know Kids? Do They Know about the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy?

September 22, 2016

It is not always easy to pass the Faith on to the next generation and we can use all the help we can get. Ken Davidson has produced a lot of things to share with our kids. He has a new product in his Holy Heroes that will help kids understand and practice the Works […]

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Beatitudes, “You are Peter”, Multiplication of Loaves, Primacy of Peter, Magdala and an Over the Top Dinner

September 21, 2016

To much to say. You will just have to watch the videos. Too much for 15 minute YouTube limitations so we did two 10 minute videos. Enjoy! For Fr. Xavier’s homily at Beatitudes, click here. Part I Part II

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Understanding St. Matthew and his Gospel

September 21, 2016

Since it is the Feast Day of St. Matthew, let’s learn a lot about him. Matthew: Understanding the Tax Collector and his Gospel By Steve Ray If looks could kill, he’d be dead. The Jews glared at Levi as he counted his coins. Tax collectors in Israel had great wealth and were considered renegades and […]

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Mount of Transfiguration, Wedding Renewals at Cana, Exploring Nazareth

September 20, 2016

Another great day with a fun and attentive group. First we had Mass on the top of the Mount of Transfiguration. For the homily, click here. Second, we renewed wedding vows in Cana of Galilee, had a great lunch in Nazareth and then went to the Church of Annunciation.  We prayed the Rosary at the […]

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Knights of Columbus Interviews Steve Ray with excerpts from his Footprints Movies

September 20, 2016

This was a fun interview. Starts with my conversion and continues to discuss and show portions of Steve’s documentaries on St. Paul and also Apostolic Fathers. Enjoy! If you would like to help us continue the series — and finish the last two episodes please make a contribution at www.FOGHelp.com. Thanks.

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Arrival in Israel

September 19, 2016

FAMILY AND FRIENDS: please leave comments below to your friends and family here in the pilgrimage and I will read them on the bus each day :-) First day of our September pilgrimage is off to a great start. Everyone arrived in good shape and we are now in Tiberias. We just had a wonderful […]

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Google Earth Captured Satellite Image of Moses Crossing Red Sea!

September 19, 2016

The guys at Glue Society (Warning: not all of their stuff is edifying) have provided some unique Google Earth shots from biblical times including the creation of the Garden of Eden, the Crucifixion, the landing of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat and now (to the left) Moses Crossing the Red Sea. You can see them […]

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Renovation at the Holy Sepulchre

September 18, 2016

Just thought you’d like to see what’s going on at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (video below). It’s been under renovation for several months and it’s a year-long project. It makes our life a lot more difficult and access more challenging. While this is renovation is in progress we cannot have our High Masses because […]

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Is Christ in You? Fun advertisement!

September 17, 2016
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A Canon Law Primer on Church Teaching Regarding “Same-sex Marriage”

September 17, 2016

A primer on Church teaching regarding ‘same-sex marriage’ by Dr. Edward Peters No matter which way the US Supreme Court rules in the “gay marriage” cases before it the international debate over the definition of marriage will continue because that debate is, at root, about matters beyond a civil court’s competence, things like the nature of […]

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The Barbaric Act of Aborting a Baby…Videos Explaining 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Trimester Abortions.

September 16, 2016

Former abortionist, Dr. Anthony Levatino, explains the most prevalent surgical procedures to procure an abortion. It is wise that we understand what is actually going on in the abortion clinics. It is amazing that our country can accept such barbaric procedures. Share this with your friends and family who still think we should allow this […]

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