Current Affairs

They Fell for the Lie – I’ll Pray for Them

by Steve Ray on November 6, 2017

50D546DF-6193-4B20-BCD7-222F05F17C28We are in the airport in Lisbon Portugal heading to Israel to pick up our next group. Janet and I were standing in line and a man started up a conversation with us.

He and his wife were in their late 60s and I could tell they were good Americans. They’d be ideal neighbors, keeping their lawn mowed and their property maintained. But they fell for the lie and it has infected their whole life which became apparent in our short conversation.

F2B947FF-9508-4DC1-BBAA-1BBBC8B2A5DDI always wear my San Damiano crucifix from Assisi Italy.  It is great for evangelism because it often starts conversations (like it did today). It’s the one that spoke to St. Francis. The gentleman commented on my crucifix and said he never seen one like it before and it was beautiful. I said, “Thank you! I wear it proudly as a Catholic and I want people to know what I believe.“

His face saddened as he replied, “I envy your faith.” His wife immediately chimed in with a disparaging tone, “Well I’m happy it works for you.”

I said, “We discovered the Catholic Faith when we were 39 years old and it’s the best kept secret in the world.” She made sure I knew she didn’t believe any of it.

Because we are Christian and Catholic we believe in families. We told them that we have four children who are married and we are now free to travel and take groups to Catholic lands.

1CA7BC79-AE98-4F2A-8CF5-BBAA3762B3D7We explained we had 15 grandchildren (two still in the womb). She was shocked, he looked sadly envious. He made it quite clear he wished he had the same but that they never would. They obviously had a different emphasis in their life and it wasn’t for families.  Their children learn something very different than ours did.

He seemed to have a tender heart and be sad about  his life but she was outspoken and belligerent.  She proudly stated, “We don’t have any grandchildren and we never will. We have grand-dogs!”

C6DA6FF0-13E3-474A-870C-99D6EAB12E04He asked if we got to see our grandchildren often and we said yes, that we are a very close family. He looked sad again as she stated, “Since we don’t have grandkids and never will, we love our grand-dogs. We even had them all dressed up for Halloween in doggie costumes.”

He told they do have two children who they rarely see but neither are married and will never have kids. The man said he cries every day missing his family.

Then she brought up the pope. She said they have friends that go to a big Catholic Church in Atlanta Georgia who don’t like the Pope’s encyclical on the environment. They asked If I thought about the Pope’s encyclical was helping Catholics respect the environment.

I told them that Catholics have always respected the environment. It has always been an essential part of our teaching that God created the heavens and the earth and created man in his image and made man stewart and caretaker of the environment.

I explained that we are given the earth to use but not abuse. Like a caretaker who works for a rich family has responsibility to tend the gardens so we do the same for God’s earth. I said this is always been part of our teaching.

94076C28-C46F-4BF4-8AE8-7F9E621931CBI also told her I don’t buy all the environmental mumbo-jumbo that’s being presented by the liberals today. I said it’s just a scheme for the government to get more control over our lives – it was all hyped up. She said, “I sure feel sorry for you.” I said, “Ma’am I don’t buy any of it. I’ve read too much and know there’s a lot of fake news and fake science out there today.”  She parroted a few of Al Gore’s favorite lines.

He seemed very interested in my opinion and was ready to ask me questions when we had to go our separate ways. I shook hands with a man and thanked him for the nice conversation and said I hope they have a nice flight.

I feel sorry for people who fall for the lie that there is no God or that he is irrelevant. I feel sorry for people who think there are many truths and “my truth works for me And I’m happy you’re (unacceptable) truth works for you. In reality there’s only one truth 2+2 always equals 2.

I’ll be praying for these folks that they come to the same conclusion about God and the Catholic Church and  also discover the best kept secret in the world. I will pray especially for him because I think he had an open heart and was pretty much bullied by his wife.

I will continue to proudly wear this cross.

(Some of our grandkids dressed for Halloween! No dogs among them :-)

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The Eight Stages of the Rise and Fall of Civilizations

by Steve Ray on September 15, 2017

Written by Msgr. Charles Pope and posted October 12, 2016 on Community in Mission

Cultures and civilizations go through cycles. Over time, many civilizations and cultures have risen and then fallen. We who live in painful times like these do well to recall these truths. Cultures and civilizations come and go; only the Church (though often in need of reform) and true biblical culture remain. An old song says, “Only what you do for Christ will last.” Yes, all else passes; the Church is like an ark in the passing waters of this world and in the floodwaters of times like these.

For those of us who love our country and our culture, the pain is real. By God’s grace, many fair flowers have come from Western culture as it grew over the past millennium. Whatever its imperfections (and there were many), great beauty, civilization, and progress emerged at the crossroads of faith and human giftedness. But now it appears that we are at the end of an era. We are in a tailspin we don’t we seem to be able to pull ourselves out of. Greed, aversion to sacrifice, secularism, divorce, promiscuity, and the destruction of the most basic unit of civilization (the family), do not make for a healthy culture. There seems to be no basis for true reform and the deepening darkness suggests that we are moving into the last stages of a disease. This is painful but not unprecedented.

Sociologists and anthropologists have described the stages of the rise and fall of the world’s great civilizations. Scottish philosopher Alexander Tyler of the University of Edinburg noted eight stages that articulate well what history discloses. I first encountered these in in Ted Flynn’s book The Great Transformation. They provide a great deal of perspective to what we are currently experiencing.

Let’s look at each of the eight stages. The names of the stages are from Tyler’s book and are presented in bold red text. My brief reflections follow in plain text.

  1. From bondage to spiritual growth – Great civilizations are formed in the crucible. The Ancient Jews were in bondage for 400 years in Egypt. The Christian faith and the Church came out of 300 years of persecution. Western Christendom emerged from the chaotic conflicts during the decline of the Roman Empire and the movements of often fierce “barbarian” tribes. American culture was formed by the injustices that grew in colonial times. Sufferings and injustices cause—even force—spiritual growth. Suffering brings wisdom and demands a spiritual discipline that seeks justice and solutions.
  2. From spiritual growth to great courage – Having been steeled in the crucible of suffering, courage and the ability to endure great sacrifice come forth. Anointed leaders emerge and people are summoned to courage and sacrifice (including loss of life) in order to create a better, more just world for succeeding generations. People who have little or nothing, also have little or nothing to lose and are often more willing to live for something more important than themselves and their own pleasure. A battle is begun, a battle requiring courage, discipline, and other virtues.
  3. From courage to liberty – As a result of the courageous fight, the foe is vanquished and liberty and greater justice emerges. At this point a civilization comes forth, rooted in its greatest ideals. Many who led the battle are still alive, and the legacy of those who are not is still fresh. Heroism and the virtues that brought about liberty are still esteemed. The ideals that were struggled for during the years in the crucible are still largely agreed upon.
  4. From liberty to abundance – Liberty ushers in greater prosperity, because a civilization is still functioning with the virtues of sacrifice and hard work. But then comes the first danger: abundance. Things that are in too great an abundance tend to weigh us down and take on a life of their own. At the same time, the struggles that engender wisdom and steel the soul to proper discipline and priorities move to the background. Jesus said that man’s life does not consist in his possessions. But just try to tell that to people in a culture that starts to experience abundance. Such a culture is living on the fumes of earlier sacrifices; its people become less and less willing to make such sacrifices. Ideals diminish in importance and abundance weighs down the souls of the citizens. The sacrifices, discipline, and virtues responsible for the thriving of the civilization are increasingly remote from the collective conscience; the enjoyment of their fruits becomes the focus.
  5. From abundance to complacency – To be complacent means to be self-satisfied and increasingly unaware of serious trends that undermine health and the ability to thrive. Everything looks fine, so it must be fine. Yet foundations, resources, infrastructures, and necessary virtues are all crumbling. As virtues, disciplines, and ideals become ever more remote, those who raise alarms are labeled by the complacent as “killjoys” and considered extreme, harsh, or judgmental.
  6. From complacency to apathy – The word apathy comes from the Greek and refers to a lack of interest in, or passion for, the things that once animated and inspired. Due to the complacency of the previous stage, the growing lack of attention to disturbing trends advances to outright dismissal. Many seldom think or care about the sacrifices of previous generations and lose a sense that they must work for and contribute to the common good. “Civilization” suffers the serious blow of being replaced by personalization and privatization in growing degrees. Working and sacrificing for others becomes more remote. Growing numbers becoming increasingly willing to live on the carcass of previous sacrifices. They park on someone else’s dime, but will not fill the parking meter themselves. Hard work and self-discipline continue to erode.
  7. From apathy to dependence – Increasing numbers of people lack the virtues and zeal necessary to work and contribute. The suffering and the sacrifices that built the culture are now a distant memory. As discipline and work increasingly seem “too hard,” dependence grows. The collective culture now tips in the direction of dependence. Suffering of any sort seems intolerable. But virtue is not seen as the solution. Having lived on the sacrifices of others for years, the civilization now insists that “others” must solve their woes. This ushers in growing demands for governmental, collective solutions. This in turns deepens dependence, as solutions move from personal virtue and local, family-based sacrifices to centralized ones.
  8. From dependence back to bondage – As dependence increases, so does centralized power. Dependent people tend to become increasingly dysfunctional and desperate. Seeking a savior, they look to strong central leadership. But centralized power corrupts, and tends to usher in increasing intrusion by centralized power. Injustice and intrusion multiplies. But those in bondage know of no other solutions. Family and personal virtue (essential ingredients for any civilization) are now effectively replaced by an increasingly dark and despotic centralized control, hungry for more and more power. In this way, the civilization is gradually ended, because people in bondage no longer have the virtues necessary to fight.

Another possibility is that a more powerful nation or group is able to enter, by invasion or replacement, and destroy the final vestiges of a decadent civilization and replace it with their own culture.

Either way, it’s back to crucible, until suffering and conflict bring about enough of the wisdom, virtue, and courage necessary to begin a new civilization that will rise from the ashes.

Thus are the stages of civilizations. Sic transit gloria mundi. The Church has witnessed a lot of this in just the brief two millennia of her time. In addition to civilizations, nations have come and gone quite frequently over the years. Few nations have lasted longer than 200 years. Civilizations are harder to define with exact years, but at the beginning of the New Covenant, Rome was already in decline. In the Church’s future would be other large nations and empires in the West: the “Holy” Roman Empire, various colonial powers, the Spanish, the Portuguese, and the French.  It was once said that “The sun never sets on the British Empire.” Now it does. As the West began a long decline, Napoleon made his move. Later, Hitler strove to build a German empire. Then came the USSR. And prior to all this, in the Old Testament period, there had been the Kingdom of David, to be succeeded by Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.

The only true ark of safety is the Church, who received her promise of indefectibilityfrom the Lord (Matt 16:18). But the Church, too, is always in need of reform and will have much to suffer. Yet she alone will survive this changing world, because she is the Bride of Christ and also His Body.

These are hard days, but perspective can help. It is hard to deny that we are living at the end of an era. It is painful because something we love is dying. But from death comes forth new life. Only the Lord knows the next stage and long this interregnum will be. Look to Him. Go ahead and vote, but put not your trust in princes (Ps 146:3). God will preserve His people, as He did in the Old Covenant. He will preserve those of us who are now joined to Him in the New Covenant. Find your place in the ark, ever ancient and yet new.

This video of psalm 121 is sung in an ancient language and manner, but its message is still current:

I lift mine eyes to the Mountains from whence cometh my help (Psalm 121).

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IMG_8860AUSTEN IVEREIGH’S SLAM AGAINST CONVERTS IN CRUX STIRRED UP A FIRESTORM. Below is a link to his article, comments, his subsequent apology and Crux’s response with new guidelines.

UPDATE SATURDAY, 8/12/17

To his credit Austen Iverigh apologized for his article. The introductory paragraph says,

Recently I used the term “convert neurosis” as a metaphor, and then — because we journalists feel compelled to substantiate our assertions with good evidence — listed a number of people as examples. That offended some, and many others on their behalf. For that I want to apologize. I shouldn’t have given names, and I shouldn’t have used the term “neurosis”. Sorry.

NEW DIRECTIVES GIVEN BY JOHN ALLEN FOR CRUX’S FUTURE

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Crux on-line magazine should be embarrassed for publishing such an inane and critical piece full of ad hominem arguments and foolish accusations and conclusions. The article was written by a Brit named Austen Ivereigh and was entitled The Pope and the Convert Problem. He too should be ashamed and retract his article.

(Picture: Two “neurotic converts”, me and Fr. Dwight Longenecker earlier this year)

The intro paragraph states, “Some of the biggest critics of Pope Francis are people who joined the Catholic Church from a different faith, or none at all. Is it possible the baggage they brought with them has distorted their hermeneutic, and they are suffering from ‘convert neurosis’?”

Well some of us many, many converts, whom some say make the best Catholics, were saddened by the divisive piece but not too surprised by the arrogance and superiority of some Catholic academics and uppity-uppers. (Ed Peters expounds on the improper use of “convert” for us Evangelicals to Catholics. But it is a common term and one I use in a popular sense.)

I am proud to be a convert and love most all the converts I’ve ever met. All a bunch of good eggs.

There have been three excellent responses that I am aware of. All three are from good friends, two of which are converts.

1)  “Come over here and say that”  by Dr. Edward Peters

2)  “Stop bashing converts, and accept us as we are — warts and all Fr. Dwight Longenecker (see picture, taken earlier this year)

3) “Musings on the gift and grace of conversion by Carl Olson in Catholic World Report (All of us are converts, for all of us are being converted. Or should be. So stop using the term “converts” as an ideological stick.)

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Why I Like Thomas Williams and Breitbart News

June 8, 2017

Yeah, I know it gets a bad rap in the local “Main Street Media” but if you shake off their bias and take a closer look it’s a pretty good place to find out what’s really going on. My friend Thomas Williams is the Rome correspondent and I have nothing but respect for this guy.

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“The Pope’s Enigmatic Words on Resignation,” by Veteran Rome Reporter Phil Lawler

May 31, 2017

By Phil Lawler (bio – articles – email) | May 31, 2017 In his homily at Mass on Wednesday morning, commenting on St. Paul’s farewell to the Church at Ephesus, Pope Francis said: A shepherd must be ready to step down completely from his church, rather than leave in a partial manner…. All shepherds have […]

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Worried about the Vatican and Church Today? Stay on Board! Great Homily about Crazy Times with Popes in the Past

May 17, 2017

An excellent sermon on worrying about what is going on in the Vatican and worrying about what the Holy Father says or does. This homily speaks about historical events that caused massive confusion to the faithful. Some Popes have done and said crazy things – some of which are shared in this homily. One case is a […]

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‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian

January 12, 2017

Islamic extremism now has a rival, according to 2017 World Watch List. Jeremy Weber  Posted in Christianity Today   1/11/2017 09:00AM For the third year in a row, the modern persecution of Christians worldwide has hit another record high. But the primary cause, Islamic extremism, now has a rival: ethnic nationalism. Thus, Asia increasingly merits […]

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Who Speaks for God on Morals? Many Choose their Church Like they Choose a Restaurant

December 29, 2016

We have a “church” near our house that is making it comfortable for anyone to join no matter who they are, what they believe or what they practice. They say it is our job to accept and love, to be nice, not to judge. Celebrate Diversity is a slogan of acceptance, multiculturalism, non-judgmental inclusion. Some […]

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Denzinger Timeline of the Controversy over Communion for the Divorced and ‘Remarried’ in Adultery and Pope Francis

December 27, 2016

This is an amazing resource compiled by Andrew Guernsey. It provides all the source material on the subject of Communion for Divorced and civilly “remarried.” It starts with the Old Testament and then the New Testament before moving historically through the Fathers, Popes, Councils and more. A thorough resource for all the source documents upon […]

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Thanks to Assad and Putin…

December 25, 2016

Are you against Syrian President Bashar Assad like Obama and Hilary are? Thanks to Putin/Assad Catholics in Aleppo have Christmas Mass 1st time in 5 years! Assad has always supported and protected the Christians. How can our country get it so wrong? Read more HERE.

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Rome in the Eye of a Storm

December 13, 2016

Catholic Journalist and writer for National Catholic Register summarized the situation in Rome as the Pope refuses to respond to a growing number of voices requesting an explanation of his document Amoris Laetitia. I found it worth reading, along with the two below. Msgr. Charles Pope has written  the clearest and simplest explanation I’ve read to […]

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My CD Audio “Swimming Upstream: Living a Catholic Life in a Pagan World” now available at Lighthouse!

April 3, 2016

This is the talk I have been most asked to give in the last few years. It is a hard-hitting, politically incorrect talk about the state of our culture and what we as Christians are called to do. I use some pretty scary and interesting stories and example. We step back into the early Church […]

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Ben Stein — Full-blooded Jew — Comments on Christmas

December 7, 2015

Some of you may have already read this since Ben Stein gave this commentary on CBS in 2005, but it is worth repeating since Christmas is approaching — and because it is good stuff. I wanted to make sure it was accurate so I checked it out on Snopes and found it was accurate, though […]

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Conscience and Communion and Marital Issues

October 21, 2015

STEVE RAY HERE: After the excerpts from an interview with Archbishop Cupich there has been a lot of discussion raging around the issue of conscience and divorce and remarriage and gay marriage. There’s a fear that everyone knows the laws of the Church cannot be changed but they can possibly change the way the laws […]

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100 Converts (including Steve Ray) Call on Synod Fathers to Affirm Catholic Teaching

October 7, 2015

Catholic World News – October 06, 2015  (for the full letter we sent, please click here) Over 100 adult converts to the Catholic faith, most of them Americans, have signed an open letter calling upon the Synod of Bishops to affirm Catholic teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. The signatories include an Australian bishop (Bishop Peter […]

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Countdown to Persecution in America

August 17, 2015

Two excellent articles (Part I and Part II and Part III). There is no doubt our society is rapidly moving away from it foundations and turning into an intolerant, secular society. When that happens Christians are the first to suffer. Over the last few years I have been giving a talk entitled “Swimming Upstream: Living a […]

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