December 2004

Conversion Stories Galore

by Steve Ray on December 29, 2004

Many people don’t realize that we have a Conversion Story page on this website. Stories of Catholic converts from all walks of life. Some are long and some are short, but they are all interesting with their own story of God’s grace.

Please feel free to read them at > Stories > Conversions, or by clicking here.

And if you haven’t added your story yet, please do so


Roman Gods, January, and Janitors

by Steve Ray on December 28, 2004

Note: Since my secular business — which keeps the rent paid and food on the table — is Distinctive Maintenance Inc., I thought I would share this interesting article I wrote for my company’s January newsletter.

January is a Good Time to Talk about Janitors?

What is a janitor?  Is it just someone who sweeps and mops?  No, there is much more to it than that!  Well then, what does the word janitor mean?  January is an excellent time of year to find out.  The word and occupation have a long history with a very noble beginning? 
In Roman mythology–which was all the rage 2,000 years ago–there was a special god in charge of doors and gates.  His name was Janus and his temple in the Roman Forum had doors facing east and west to watch the beginning and ending of each day.  His statue stood between the doors and had two faces, gazing in opposite directions.  He guarded the going out and the coming in, the beginning and the end.  He protected the gates of the kingdom and doors of the royal treasury.  He had two faces so he could see in front and behind.  To guard well he had to see in all directions.

So, why do you think we are named after Janus?  Because janitors protect the customers’ property. We watch their doors.  We guard their offices and protect their health.  We do the work of Janus.

But why is this a good time of year to talk about Janus and janitors?  Think about the first month of the year, the opening month–the doorway into a new year!  Where do you think January got its name?

You guessed it! January comes from the word Janus too!  Since January is the opening of the new year, it is named after the mythical god of beginnings.  And according to Roman mythology, a good beginning insures a good ending.  So Janus looks behind and ahead.  As janitors we are there at the end of the day to insure a good beginning of the next day. We guard the opening and closing of the day for our customers.

As we stand in the cold month of January looking forward to the new year we will continue guarding our customers’s property and protecting their interests.  It is a noble profession and a noble calling!  Happy New Year!


Christians in Israel: Latest Statistics

by Steve Ray on December 26, 2004

Of the Christians living in Israel, 117,000 are Arab and 27,000 are new immigrants, according to the report.

The new immigrant Christians, who came to Israel under the Law of Return that grants citizenship to non-Jewish first-degree relatives of Jews, arrived mainly during the major wave of immigration in the 1990s from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia.

Approximately 11 percent of all 12th-graders in the Arab education system are Christian, and they lead the population in attainment of matriculation certificates. In 2003, 64 percent of Christian students were eligible for matriculation certificates, as opposed to 49 percent of Muslim students and 57 percent among Jews.

Approximately 98 percent of Israel's Christians live in urban settlements, with 20 percent in Nazareth, 12 percent in Haifa and 10 percent in Jerusalem. Sixty percent of all Christians live in northern Israel.

In terms of their statistical profile, Christians resemble Jews more than Muslims. The number of births per woman stands at 2.3 for Christians, while among Jews the number is 2.7, and among Muslims, 4.5.

The birth rate among Christians has been in continuous decline over the years, along with their proportion in the general population. Their proportion in the Arab population has declined precipitously from 20 percent in 1949 to 15 percent in 1972 to 9 percent at present. In 2003, the Christian population grew by 1.4 percent – the same rate as the Jewish population – while the Muslim population grew by 3.3 percent and the Druze by 2.1 percent.

In 2003, 34 percent of Christians were less than 19 years of age (the same percentage as in the Jewish population). However, they were older than the Muslim population, in which 53 percent were in the 19-and- under age group.

Some 8 percent of Christians were 65 years or or older, as opposed to 12 percent of Jews in this age group, and less than 3 percent among Muslims. In 2003, approximately 4 percent of those emigrating from Israel were Christians, the same percentage as in 2002.

In 2002, the median age when Christian men married for the first time was 28.6 years of age, almost two years later than Jewish men and three years later than Muslim men. The median age for Christian women to marry for the first time was 23.4, younger by a year than their Jewish counterparts and three years older than Muslim women.

In 2003, 3.5 people were living in the average Christian household as opposed to 3.1 in Jewish households and 5.2 among Muslims.

Of all Christian students who finished high school in 1994/5, 34 percent began higher education within six years, as opposed to 31 percent of Jewish students, 22 percent of Muslims and 21 percent of Druze. Some 50.8 percent of Christians 15 and older were in the civilian work force in 2003, while among Muslims the number was 37.7 percent and among Druze, 35.9 percent. Anong Jews, 57.1 percent of those aged 15 and older were in the civilian work force.

By Omer Barak and Motti Bassok, Haaretz Correspondents, and Haaretz Service, and Agencies


Brochure and Pricing for Israel Pilgrimage

December 22, 2004

We now have the brochure completed for our pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We have finalized the pricing and daily schedule. You can now reserve your space on this exciting trip to follow the footprints of Mary and Jesus! Click on the picture to see the brochure in full size (Acrobat Reader, pdf file), or […]

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Dissenting Bishops and Catholics

December 20, 2004

(A friend’s comments below) Fargo Bishop addresses the roots of dissent among Catholics in pastoral letter FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA, USA, Dec. 17, 2004 (CNA) – In a pastoral letter to be released on Saturday, Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, Bishop of Fargo, addresses the roots of dissent among Catholics, highlighted during the recent elections in […]

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Free Chart and Two Articles

December 17, 2004

On our way to Washington DC again for two days to help our daughter and return her son Dominic (who spent the week with us — we will MISS him). Grandkids are great! In the meantime: Did the Wise Men Meet the Shepherds? Fascinating Differences in the Story of Jesus’ Birth by Steve Ray   […]

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Young Kids will Love this Santa

December 16, 2004

My two young grandsons sat entranced when they saw this cute, interactive “Dancing Santa and Reindeer” site on the internet. They kept saying “Again, again!” Anyone young at heart will enjoy this. Click on the picture then click on each reindeer, one at a time.

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A Little Creep with Too Much Time on his Hands

December 14, 2004

Some people have too much time on their hands and too little of substance in their heads. Some people rise early in the morning to pray to God and serve their fellow man, while others stay up late at night to prey on God’s people and to harm their fellow man. Last night such an empty-headed, […]

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Pictures of Baby Damian Augustine Brown

December 10, 2004

Except for an IV drip, the tubes are out and gone. Damian is breastfeeding, crying and breathing on his own. The doctors are amazed at how quickly this little 5 pound fighter clamored out of the intensive care bed into a regular incubator. Cindy is up and walking around and will come home today or […]

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Damien Greets the World!

December 9, 2004

For Thursday 12-9-04 update, scroll to the end for red text. Modern medicine is marvelous! This little guy would not be with us today without it — and the grace of God. His due date was January 13, 2005, but he decided it was time to make his debut on Tuesday — and the doctor said it […]

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Emergency C-section; we’re on our way!

December 8, 2004

You never know. Our 4th grandchild WAS to be born on December 31. But now there are complications – the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck and my daughter’s water broke just NOW. So, we are taking an immediate flight from Michigan to Washington DC to help out. Keep us and our daughter and grandson […]

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Vocations Crisis — oh really?

December 7, 2004

Last evening I spend several hours visiting a convent with a serious vocational crisis. It has gotten so bad so rapidly that their convent property is covered in mud with trucks and bulldozers blocking the main road in. Women are being turned away. Last evening I saw the crisis again with my own eyes. But the […]

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I’ve Arrived!

December 7, 2004

Today I received a letter from the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons, I think). They tell me I am now eligible to join — which must mean I am old and ready to get my wheel chair and cane. But I don’t feel old! I don’t creak when I walk and I haven’t started […]

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Anniversary: 28 Years Married

December 4, 2004

Tomorrow, Saturday December 4, I celebrate one of the best things I ever did in life — married a pretty Czech girl named Janet Sklenar. She was 19 years old and I was 21. Twenty eight years later I get tears in my eyes thinking how wonderful it has been and how good God was […]

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A New Old Book on Tradition

December 3, 2004

My friend Mark Brumley, President of Ignatius Press, writes: Theology students, apologetics enthusiasts, and others interested in theology often ask me, “What’s a good book on Tradition?”  Tradition is one of those ideas that people often get muddled—including many apologists.  In part that’s because there are so many different meanings to the word.  Apologists commonly […]

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Help “The Passion” win the People’s Choice Award

December 3, 2004

To help Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ” win the People’s Choice Award, click here.

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