Family and Kids

The lady at the pet store told me I was a sick individual. I didn’t think so, but then again I am biased and think I’m OK – and my wife tends to agree with me.

The whole thing started because of a small hobby of mine. When I was a little boy my dad bought me binoculars and a bird book (picture: still have that first bird book my dad gave me ). I sat under trees for hours and kept track of the birds I discovered. It was great fun. How many people have had the pleasure of discovering Indigo Buntings, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Rufous-sided Towhees, or Northern Snowbirds?

Janet and I live in the country with a large field behind our house. Last week a raccoon was hit by a car near our home. It didn’t listen to his mother when she warned him about playing in the road. At least that’s what we told our kids as they were growing up—a lesson in obeying parents!

Anyway, I had the crazy idea to pick up the dead raccoon, toss him on the hood of my car, and throw him in our back field to see if the Turkey Vultures would come to eat it. Looking at the head of this vulture will give you an idea where he got his name. The lady at the pet store told me I was a sick individual when I told her what I had done.  I told her our bird feeders are often visited by the smallest bird in Michigan – the hummingbird – so we thought we would try to attract one of the largest birds in Michigan.

It didn’t take long. The large shadow passed by my window as I was working on my laptop and sure enough it was Mr. Vulture circling with his 6 foot wingspan. I slipped out to the back porch to watch. Janet joined me and we were intrigued as nine Turkey Vultures from every corner of the county swirled and swooped, landing around the raccoon to tear the corpse to ribbons with their sharp, hooked beaks. They fought, danced, challenged each other with their wings spread—all while Janet and I watched the show. They came back the next few days until all that was left was a bare skeleton.

We told the grandkids about the vultures and they said, “Bampa, get ‘nother  coon! We want see bultures!” So I jumped in the car and found another road-kill-coon and brought him back on the hood of my car. I got more than one shocked look from fellow drivers. I was laughing my head off—kind of like watching people react on Candid Camera.

It wasn’t long before the whole feathered gang was putting on a show for us again in the back yard. The grandkids sat and watched and kept shouting “bulchers, bampa, bultures!”

It got me thinking of what the Bible says about vultures and birds of prey. There are about ten species of high-flying, carrion-eating birds in Israel. They are all lumped together in the Bible. My book Birds of Israel says that one is called an Egyptian Vulture and another the Common Buzzard.

The Jews were forbidden to eat these birds. Geez, I guess so and I can see why. When I was about ten years old, I caught a baby vulture and he puked rotten meat all over me. It was his means of self defense—scaring off the enemy, and it worked!

Who could image eating an ugly bird that eats such rotten meat? The Jews were also forbidden from eating catfish since they are also bottom feeders. Even today Jewish fishermen kill every catfish they catch to decrease their population in the Sea of Galilee. God forbade Jews from eating such animals—and pigs too.

Jesus mentions vultures in the Gospels. It is recorded in Matthew 24:28 and Luke 17:37. In speaking of the end times Jesus  says, “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” It seems Jesus is quoting a common proverb of his time. No one is quite sure what Jesus meant and it is difficult to figure out. Word Biblical Commentary thinks it refers to the unmistakable character of Jesus’ Second Coming. As surely as you know that where you see vultures gathered there is a carcass, so you will not be able to miss the coming of the Son of Man.

But others think it means that at the end of time, just as these birds of prey gather where the rotting carcasses are, so the judgments of God will descend upon the corrupt state of humanity. When the world has degenerated to the point that it resembles a maggot-infested corpse, when the world’s cup of iniquity is full, then Christ will condemn the world. The vultures might represent the judgment of God.Jesus mentions these birds once in the gospels.

Carrion eating birds are mentioned again at the judgment in the last days, “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in midheaven, ‘Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men,’. . . And the rest were slain by the sword of him who sits upon the horse, the sword that issues from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh” (Rev 17:17-21).

As I watched the vultures gorging on the dead raccoons this week, I thought of the end times when the world becomes so corrupt and putrid—crawling with maggots and foul smelling in God’s nostrils—that God will put an end to it and judge the earth. Christ will come again. In that day the vultures will not waste time on raccoons, they will feast on human flesh. They will fill their foul bellies with meat torn from the enemies of God.

Last Sunday at Mass I recited the Nicene Creed and I believed it. “We look for the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come.”  I, for one, expect my flesh to rise on the last day to glory and the beatific vision, not to be torn and eaten by the hooked bills of stinking, unclean birds—symbolic of the judgment and punishment of God. (Picture: Me in a coffin, a scene about resurrection from our “Jesus, the Word Became Flesh” movie)

But in the meantime, we will enjoy watching the vultures eat from our unique birdfeeder in the back yard. It will be a daily reminder to be holy and remain in the grace and friendship of God—prepared for the Last Day and the final judgment.

I will also try to convince myself that I am not a sick individual :-) By the way, what right did that lady have to call me sick when she was selling me crickets to feed to my tarantula? The nerve of some people!

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Click above to read the conversion story

This is a great website with conversion stories from every religious tradition imaginable to Catholic. The Why I’m Catholic website should be passed around to family and friends. It is very well done, beautifully laid out and full of great stories.

Our story was posted this week. You can read it HERE.

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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 only 2 minutes each! Enjoy!

Rule 1: Don’t Argue!

Rule 2: Love them more than ever before

Rule 3: Study and do your homework

Rule 4: Pray and make sacrifices (not being trite)

Rule 5: Show the Joy of the Lord

Rule 6: Most Important… Listen to find out what it is!

Here is my article Six Rules published in Catholic Answers Magazine

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Messy Parenting, Podcasts from Parents of Ten! Great Stuff with a Huge Following

March 30, 2017

  I am happy to call Michael Hernon a highly respected friend. He is also a successful husband and father of TEN! And yes, he has a great sense of humor, a lovely wife — and a great podcast for Catholic families — practical, biblical, funny, Catholic and easy to listen to. He and his […]

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Marriage in Heaven? Will We Know and Love Our Spouses in Heaven?

February 14, 2017

Happy St. Valentine’s Day. This is for my mom. My dad died almost six years ago. Mom misses Dad and was discouraged about Mark 12:25 which her paraphrased Living Bible improperly rendered “will not be married” in heaven. I wrote the following to comfort my Mom… Mom, I know it is important to you since […]

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The Story of the Birth and Adoption of Baby Charlie

January 23, 2017

 Now that my daughter and her husband Wes have received the new baby and begun to learn the fine art of changing diapers and bathing such a precious human life, she has taken the time to write the story of the incredible experience. We were able to “live through it” with them though the marvelous […]

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We Welcome Grandchild No. 13 Adopted Today by our Daughter Charlotte – What A Cutie!

January 13, 2017

After finding out she had endometriosis our beautiful daughter Charlotte and her soon-to-be doctor husband Wesley decided to adopt. After praying, working, reading, fund-raising $40,000 today culminated with a dream come true for our whole family! The paperwork is done and it is final. Yahoo! We welcome Charles “Charlie” Thomas Sorrill into our loving family […]

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Daughter Charlotte to Receive her new Adopted Baby any Minute!!

January 12, 2017

Daughter Charlotte waiting for adoption mother’s c-section to see and hold her new baby boy for the 1st time. As soon as the baby boy is born they will bring him directly to my daughter so she can be the first to hold and feed him. She is so excited, the whole family is excited. […]

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Short Story of the Ray Family Conversion with Pictures

December 27, 2016

A while ago I decided to write a brief story of our conversion story. It is easy to read in about 15 minutes, about our coming into the Catholic Church. Janet and I converted to the Catholic Church in 1994 but it still seems like yesterday. It has not grown old and we are still thrilled […]

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Passover Lamb: A True Story

October 28, 2016

Contributed by Jesse Ray a while ago but worthy of reposting… I arrived on the scene with my gun and stoically loaded in some self-defense rounds (although I was clearly not in danger). I did not lavish the idea of slaughtering a lamb, but my friend and new-farmer, Pat, called and sheepishly asked for some help. […]

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My Daughter Found A Baby

October 20, 2016

My wonderful daughter Charlotte writes: BABY SORRILL HAS BEEN FOUND!!!!!  With great excitement  we announce – we are matched! Our baby boy is due January 16th! We can’t believe how fast this happened! God’s hand was truly in every detail and we are so very thankful and over the moon excited! We met the birth mother today and […]

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Grandkids Reciting Books of Bible in Galilee

October 6, 2016

One of the requirements for our six oldest grandchildren to come to the Holy Land is they had to learn the books of the Bible. They did it and could recite the books of the Old and New Testaments.They can recite them all in under a minute. Here’s a video of them demonstrating their skills […]

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With 6 of our Grandkids in Galilee

October 6, 2016
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Proud of My Quiet Wife Doing Evangelism

August 25, 2016

Janet is usually quiet and reserved but today she surprised me. We went to Jimmy John’s to get sub sandwiches for our grandkids. On the sidewalk was sitting a young black man asking for money. I walked into the store but she turned around and went back to talk with him. She said, “I won’t […]

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Riddle in Pictures for my Grandkids: Where in the World are Nana and Papa?

August 2, 2016

Hints for the Grandkids: 1) We were on a plane, 2) heading home, 3) on the other side of the world, 4) in picture 6 look through the haze of sand for a hint – tallest building in the world. Pray for us on the rest of our journey. Pray that our humble efforts in […]

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Granddaughter Elizabeth Arabella Rose Ray’s First Holy Communion

July 17, 2016

What a lovely thing to see. Wish we were there but pictures will have to do. 

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