Artifacts & Biblical History

Protestant pastor Chan with a huge following is sharing his new ideas about the Eucharist and the Early Church. As a convert, I know the signs, and I would suggest he’s realizing the truth of the Catholic Church. Only 3.5 minutes; WORTH a listen. Pray for him. 

{ 3 comments }

IMG_1855Questions I answered about Mary’s real life on Catholic Answers Live — it was a FUN show! To listen on-line, for podcasts and other listening options, click here

(Photos: Top photo painted by James Tissot; bottom two pictures are actual photos of girls at the well in Nazareth over 100 years ago.)

1. Did Mary ever sin in her life?

2. When Mary and Joseph got engaged (betrothed), were they allowed to have sexual relations?

3. What is the tradition about where Mary lived the end of her life and where she died?

Nazareth4. What was Mary’s age when Joseph died?

5. Where did an earlier guest get the idea Mary lived with her parents—I thought she was dedicated to live in the Temple?

6. How old was Mary when she conceived Jesus? Didn’t she have another son too?

7. How do you explain how important Mary is to a non-Catholic?

8. If Mary didn’t experience pain in childbirth, could that pain have been transferred to the pain she experienced at the crucifixion?

Nazareth9. Did Mary age as she grew older or did she remain young looking?

10. The did Mary enter the Temple and when did she leave the Temple and why? Who arranged their betrothal?

Nazareth11: What is Steve’s opinion on whether Russia was ever consecrated according to Our Lady’s wish?

12. Who had the vision of Mary’s home in Ephesus? Explain the vision and the involvement of Blessed Ann Catherine Emmerich.

{ 0 comments }

Was Jesus Really Born at THAT Place in Bethlehem?

by Steve Ray on December 18, 2019

IMG_8809(Picture: Aerial view of Nativity Church in Bethlehem)

In a few days we are leaving for Bethlehem. We will have Mass next week at a lot of holy sites with our group of Catholic families. To the left is a picture of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. How do we know this is really what Jesus was born?

In a few days we have Mass at Calvary in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Really? How do we know that’s the place?

We will venerate the place Jesus was born in Bethlehem (see 14-pointed star below) and had Mass in the Cave of the Shepherds.

IMG_3547(Picture: Steve & Janet touching the birthplace of Jesus in Nativity Church in Bethlehem)

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.

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.

{ 4 comments }

Biblical Measurements and Units

November 11, 2019

Cubits, a spam, and ephah and a bath. What do all of these mean in the Bible? Here is a helpful chart taken from Verbum.

Read the full article →

The Holy Family Ate those Pesky House Sparrows

October 10, 2019

The Holy Family was not wealthy. When you had a firstborn son in Israel you were required to take a lamb to the Temple for the redemption of your firstborn son but if you were poor you could take to turtledoves instead. Mary and Joseph took the two turtledoves or pigeons which demonstrates they were […]

Read the full article →

St. Moses, Sts. Adam & Eve, St. Abraham, St. Moses – Did you know some Old Testament people are Saints?

September 4, 2019

Today is the Feast Day of St. Moses. What? Moses is a saint? Yes, and so are many of the heroes of the Old Testament. Adam and Eve have liturgical feast days, so do Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, King David and many others. The Roman Martyrology (1600) lists saints recognized up to that point including many […]

Read the full article →

Did the Bible Always have Chapters & Verses?

August 23, 2019

No! The chapter and verse divisions in the Bible are relatively recent additions to the Bible. Originally it was written in Hebrew and Greek and there were NO chapter and verse divisions–in fact, most of the time there was not even spaces between the words! Interestingly, in the book of Hebrews the writer is quoting […]

Read the full article →

A Page from my New Book on Genesis

July 31, 2019

This book has been on the back burner for quite a few years. But I took five weeks off this summer to finish it. About 12 hours a day since June 28 and I am almost done. Just putting the finishing touches on it this week before leaving for the Family Conference in Wichita, two […]

Read the full article →

Joachim & Anna: Nativity and Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

July 26, 2019

The birth and presentation of Mary is described in the early 2nd century document known and loved by the first Christians. It is the source for the names of Mary’s parents Joachim and Anna. It is entitled “The Protoevangelium of James.”  It is fascinating. I have only provided the first 1/3 of the document. The […]

Read the full article →

Finalizing My Book on Genesis…Here are a Few Favorite Paragraphs about Creation

July 17, 2019

Here are a few paragraphs from my new book on Genesis which is nearly done. Genesis 2:7 is foundational and crucial to the whole story of the cosmos, Man and salvation. God takes dust or clay from the ground and like a potter he fashions a human being. The scientific formulas used by God still […]

Read the full article →

Bloody Martyrdoms in Lyons – Feast Day of St. Irenaeus

June 28, 2019

In honor of the feast day of St. Irenaeus today I have reposted a blog from several years ago when we were filming our documentary on Apostolic Fathers, Handing on the Faith. Here is the story… “We finished getting all our work done in Lyon for St. Irenaeus. It was very cold and windy — with snow hampering […]

Read the full article →

Last Days of Sts. Peter and Paul in Rome

June 28, 2019

Happy Feast Day of Sts. Peter and Paul…. Join us in Rome, Assisi, Manoppello, and Lanciano the first week of December this year, in preparation for Christmas! (Click here for more info!) When I take my pilgrims to Rome one of my main objectives is to introduce them to the saints – especially Peter and […]

Read the full article →

How Much Can a Camel Drink? – as he bites me!

June 13, 2019

Since we will soon be in Jordan and Israel again riding camels, I thought I would post some fun and interesting facts – and a movie of the camel trying to bite me. I recently wrote the Bible Study on Genesis for www.CatholicScriptureStudy.com. In chapter 24 Abraham sends his unnamed servant to find a bride […]

Read the full article →

When Is the Word “Love” First Used in the Bible?

June 8, 2019

When is the first time the word love is used in the Bible? It is great fun to ask a million questions when you open the Bible. Good questions serve to unlock the treasure chest revealing untold riches. Since the Bible is a book and books are made of words, it is great fun to […]

Read the full article →

Did Jesus Ascend into Heaven from Mount of Olives (Acts 1:12) or from Bethany (Luke 24:50)?

May 30, 2019

Today is Ascension Thursday. The Ascension always falls on a Thursday, 40 days after Resurrection Sunday. Then 9 days of praying in the Upper Room (1st Novena) and on the 50th day from the Resurrection the Holy Spirit fell on Pentecost. Pentecost means “the fiftieth day.” One of our past pilgrims wrote to me expressing […]

Read the full article →

How We REALLY Got the Bible – the Facts Simply Presented (print this out, hand it out)

May 16, 2019

This is just one page of Bob Sullivan’s excellent little tri-fold handout to explain how we got the Bible. It is from the Catholic and historical perspective without all the Protestant biases and twisting of history. I think you enjoy the whole thing which you can see here. You can print this out, fold it […]

Read the full article →