Patristics/Church History

Why Are We Catholic?

by Steve Ray on March 30, 2020

This excellent little summary was prepared by the Faith Formation ministry in Escanaba Michigan and sent to me by Mike Cousineau. Enjoy and be challenged and edified. Sent it to a friend who needs to read it.

1.  St. Cyprian of Carthage, martyr & Bishop, wrote in 249 AD, “He who would have God as his Father must have the Church as his Mother.”

2.  Without the Catholic Church, there is no salvation.  All Protestant Christians, whether they believe it or not, are Christians because the Catholic Church exists.  Jesus prayed what is called the High Priestly Prayer in John, Chapter 17, when He said, “I pray that they are one Father, just as you and I are one.”  In the simplest terms, all Protestant Christians are wayward Catholics.  This statement would infuriate most Protestants.  That does not make this objective fact any less true.  We all have believed something, thinking it is true, only to find we have been misinformed.  Such is the case for every Protestant believer who thinks their denomination speaks nothing but truth.

3.  What happened?  Christian unity, as Jesus would have it, has fallen a long way from when the 12 Apostles were given the charge of going out to make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  To be clear about how difficult unity is to achieve, the Catholic Church has had many of its members disagree with certain doctrines of the Church.  The unity problem has always been real, which is always the reason for calling Church Councils, thus making many declarations of faith, known as Church Dogmas.  Dogma is a fancy word for a set of principles laid down by an authority that is incontrovertibly true.  There are 255 infallibly declared dogmas of the Catholic Church.

4.  How long did it take for a difference of opinion to filter into the newly formed Christian way of life?  We know from scripture it happened and it happened too often, resulting in the need for written instruction given to the Church by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said to His disciples, “teach them all that I have taught you.”  Yet, as we know, people don’t like submitting to someone else.  Most people prefer to “be in charge” and that form of pride has resulted in differences of opinion, many times resulting in severe spiritual disagreements.

5.  Knowing spiritual disagreements would enter the Church, Jesus put a plan in place.  The plan included a hierarchy, with Peter in charge, as he was the Apostle given the keys to the kingdom.  Whatever the Church bound on earth was bound in heaven, whatever the Church loosed on earth was loosed in heaven.  Peter was the rock on which the Church was built.  Further, Jesus said He would be with he Church always & the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church.  It should be noted, given the nature of man, it seems God could have come up with a better plan.

6.  Did Jesus really want and expect the Church to remain as one, with disagreements settled through church authority? …

For all 20 reasons we are Catholic, click HERE for the full document.

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St. Cyprian of Carthage (beheaded 257 AD) one hundred and fifty years before the New Testament writings were collected into one book called “The Bible”:

“The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ He says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed also in heaven.’

“And again He says to him after His resurrection: ‘Feed my sheep.’ On him He builds the Church, and to him He gives the command to feed the sheep; and although He assigns a like power to all the Apostles, yet He founded a single chair, and He established by His own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was; but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair.

“So too, all are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the Apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?”

To read the whole article and see all the pictures, click here or on the pictures above.

For my DVD “Peter, Keeper of the Keys” and my book “Upon this Rock: Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early Church”, click here







Here is my talk on “Peter: the Rock, the Keys & the Chair” Hope you enjoy it and find it helpful!



Why You Should Read the Fathers of the Church

by Steve Ray on March 13, 2019

Written by Dr. David Tamisiea from St. Philip Institute. It is a nice introduction to the Fathers of the Church – the guys that made me Catholic. For the whole article, click here.


Screen Shot 2019-03-02 at 5.38.11 PMThe terms “Fathers of the Church,” “Church Fathers,” “early Church Fathers,” or simply “the Fathers,” are used by Catholics and other Christians to refer to the outstanding teachers of the Christian faith from antiquity. The underlying idea behind calling these men “Fathers” is that a teacher of the Christian faith is a spiritual father who helps give spiritual birth to those who receive his teaching.

St. Paul, for example, claims to be a spiritual father to those who receive the Gospel through his ministry: “I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel” (1 Cor 4:14–15). St. Irenaeus (c. 125 – 202 ad), a Church Father himself, explains the idea of spiritual fatherhood in his famous work Against the Heresies: “For when any person has been taught from the mouth of another, he is termed the son of him who instructs him, and the latter [is called] his father” (IV, 41, 2).

There are literally hundreds of Church Fathers whose writings could easily fill up an entire library all by themselves. The Fathers are generally divided into two major groups: The Greek or Eastern Church Fathers, and the Latin or Western Church Fathers. The Greek or Eastern Church Fathers are those outstanding Christian authors who lived in the Eastern part of the ancient Christian world. Most of these men wrote in Greek, although there are some Eastern Fathers who wrote in Syriac, in Coptic, or in Armenian.

The most significant Eastern Fathers are St. Irenaeus, St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Athanasius, St. John Chrysostom, and the three Cappadocian Fathers, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory Nazianzen, and St. Gregory of Nyssa.

46739The Latin or Western Church Fathers are those Fathers found in the Western part of the ancient Christian world, all of whom wrote in Latin. The most important Western Fathers include St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, and St. Gregory the Great. Most of the Church Fathers are bishops (e.g., St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom), but there are also a few popes (e.g., St. Clement of Rome, St. Leo the Great, St. Gregory the Great), some priests (e.g., St. Jerome), some deacons (e.g., St. Ephrem the Syrian), and even a few laymen (e.g., St. Justin Martyr).

There are three really good reasons for why you should read the Church Fathers. First, there is tremendous value in reading works written by authors who lived at a time and in a place other than our own. The great Christian author C.S. Lewis, in his introduction to the Church Father St. Athanasius’ great work, On the Incarnation, recommends that everyone regularly read some of “the old books” to balance the reading of modern works. As Lewis explains, every age is especially good at seeing certain truths, and each has its characteristic blindness that prevents it from seeing its own errors and faults.

“The only palliative,” he says, “is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books.” When we read “the old books,” we can receive the knowledge and wisdom of earlier ages that enable us both to grasp forgotten truths and better recognize the errors of our time. Lewis suggests that a good rule of thumb is that, after reading a contemporary book, never allow yourself to read another one until you have read an “old book” in between. But this rule about reading “the old books” extends beyond the Church Fathers to all the great books of earlier ages. So why read the Church Fathers in particular?

The second and more specific, reason you should read the Church Fathers is to become better equipped to defend your Catholic faith from its detractors. As Catholics, we have a serious obligation to know our faith, to share it with others, and, when necessary, to defend it against distortions, misrepresentations, and other forms of attack: “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet 3:15).

Do you want to show a friend that the Catholic Mass is in essence the very same form of worship practiced by the early Christians? Read and then share with your friend St. Justin Martyr’s account in his First Apologia (c. 155 ad) sent to the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, explaining how Christians actually worship by celebrating the Mass (I, 65–67).

download (1)What if someone objects to the Catholic doctrine on the papacy as a post-Constantinian perversion? Read and then share with the person St. Clement of Rome’s First Letter to the Corinthians (c. 92 – 101 ad), where St. Clement, as Bishop of Rome and the fourth pope, in the first century answers an appeal by the Church of Corinth to intervene in a dispute there over whether laymen can take the place of the priests in celebrating the Eucharist (Note: he says no).

If that does not convince, then read and share St. Irenaeus of Lyons’ work Against the Heresies, where he stresses that Christian orthodoxy depends upon union with the Church of Rome, “It is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority” (III. 3).

ignatiusantioch-lions-360What about someone who claims the Catholic belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is just a medieval creation? First read and then share with that person St. Ignatius of Antioch’s Letter to the Philadelphians (c. 117 ad), where he writes to an early Christian community on his journey toward martyrdom in Rome, “Take care, therefore, to participate in one Eucharist, for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup that leads to unity through his blood” (No. 4), or again share St. Justin Martyr’s First Apology where he explains to the Roman Emperor the Christian belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, “This food is called among us the Eucharist. … For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh” (I, 66).

While it is true that Catholic doctrines on the papacy, Eucharist, devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints, Sacred Tradition, infant Baptism, the necessity of faith and works, and the like, are not found in the full developed form of later ages, the essential elements of each of these is present from the very beginning, just awaiting the Church’s deeper insight, fuller understanding, and further development.

download (2)As Bl. John Henry Newman observes in his masterful work, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, just as a seed grows into a full-grown tree and a child into a man over time, and yet each remains essentially the same thing, so too authentic Christian doctrines grow and develop over the centuries while preserving their original type or essence. Indeed, for Newman, it was reading the Fathers that led to his conversion to Catholicism from Anglicanism: “I am not ashamed still to take my stand upon the Fathers, and do not mean to budge. … The Fathers made me a Catholic” (Difficulties Felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching, pp 357, 376).

The third reason for reading the Church Fathers is probably the most important of all: to deepen and enrich your faith. The Church Fathers, together with the Apostles, are rightly considered the “Founding Fathers” of the Church, who helped to lay the foundations of Christianity at the very beginning by teaching, explaining, defending, and spreading the saving truths of the Gospel. I recall when I began in earnest to read the Church Fathers in graduate school, it was as if a whole new world was being opened up to me: the same will hold true for you as well.

By reading the Fathers, you will most certainly become a much better informed, knowledgeable, and faithful Catholic. St. John Paul II explains why the Church Fathers are so important to the faith of the Church: “The Church still lives today by the life received from her Fathers and on the foundation erected by her first builders she is still being built today in the joy and sorrow of her journeying and daily toil. … Guided by these certainties, the Church never tires of returning to their writings – full of wisdom and incapable of growing old – and of constantly renewing their memory” (Patres Ecclesiae 1).

For the whole article, click here.


Gary Michuta Refutes Anti-Catholic William Webster on the Eucharist

March 7, 2019

A Critique of William Webster’s article: The Eucharist Steve Ray here: I have tangled with William Webster often in the past. You can read my debates with him at under the heading “My Books, Talks & DVDs: Reviews and Defense. Go to the end of the list. But this article, response and critique of […]

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Responding to an Eastern Orthodox Christian who challenged me about the Papacy on Catholic Answers Live

March 4, 2019

When I was last on Catholic Answers Live last week Constantine Regas called in to defend the Eastern Orthodox position against the Catholic Church’s teaching on Peter and the Primacy of Rome. Constantine’s words are in BLUE and my responses are in BLACK. I appreciated Constantine’s irenic tone and honest demeanor.  CONSTANTINE REGAS (CR): I called […]

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Who Chose the Books of the Bible? Are the Books “Self-authenticating”?

January 8, 2019

Are the Books of the New Testament “Self-Authenticating” or was the Catholic Church Necessary to Define the Canon of Scripture? By Steve Ray Hello Protestant Friend: I was very happy to receive your twenty-five-page letter which claimed that sola Scriptura (Bible alone) and sola fide (faith alone) were the faith and teaching of the Apostles. […]

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What Does the Word Catholic Mean? A History of the Word “Catholic”

October 29, 2018

As a Protestant, I went to an Evangelical church that changed an important and historical word in the  Apostles Creed. Instead of the “holy, catholic Church,” we were the “holy, Christian church.” At the time, I thought nothing of it. There was certainly no evil intent, just a loathing of the Catholic Church and a […]

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“Where Does the Bible Say We Should Pray to Dead Saints?” – Resources about Communion of the Saints

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I compiled a list of Catechism, Scripture and quotes from the early Church Fathers and even archaeology to assist in understanding the Communion of Saints. You can download the source material here. Sample: Who should carry the most weight—Protestant pastors protesting Catholic theology today or pastors from the early Church who have the words of […]

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Short Thought on If or When it’s OK to Break from the Church

March 19, 2018

We must admit that the Catholic Church today is the same organization with unbroken continuity with that organization (Church) started in the 1st century. A reading of the Apostolic Fathers, the hinge figures between the Apostles and the later 1st and  2nd century, makes that clear. The question is whether at some point the one […]

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Baptists at the Council of Nicea?

December 28, 2017

Nicea, August 24, A.D. 325, 7:41 p.m.    “That was powerful preaching, Brother Athanasius. Powerful! Amen! I want to invite any of you folks in the back to approach the altar here and receive the Lord into your hearts. Just come on up. We’ve got brothers and sisters up here who can lead you through […]

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Feast of Churches of St. Peter and St. Paul in Rome; Three Tours of Church of St. Paul in Rome

November 18, 2017

Join us on a future pilgrimage to Rome, or the Footprints of St. Paul Cruise, or Israel, Ireland or others. Check out, or call Elizabeth at 800-727-1999. The Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls launched a newly renovated Web site to collect prayers, offer a virtual tour, and further the Apostle’s worldwide evangelization effort. […]

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Visit St. John Lateran with me today for the Feast of Its Dedication

November 9, 2017

I am in Rome and decided to run to St. John Lateran this morning a make a video — so all of you could enjoy the Feast Day of the Dedication of St. John Lateran Church on November 9, 313. Yup, that’s right! It was the first Christian church ever built and it was the […]

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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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Bishop Conley’s Comments on our Cruise: “In the Footprints of St. Paul”

November 12, 2014

The ancient Christian writer and theologian Tertullian once asked the Church, “What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?” He asked the question as Christianity spread from Israel into the Greek world; and as Greek intellectuals looked for deeper insight into the Christian mystery. Tertullian was asking whether pagan Greek culture—philosophy, poetry, the arts, history […]

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How Old is your Church?

September 20, 2013

How Old Is Your Church? If you are a Lutheran, your religion was founded by Martin Luther, an ex- monk of the Catholic Church, in the year 1517. If you belong to the Church of England, your religion was founded by King Henry VIII in the year 1534 because the Pope would not grant him […]

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Why You Don’t Have to Worry about Malachy’s Predictions on the New Pope and the End of Time

March 10, 2013

Al Kresta interviews Jimmy Akin about Malachy’s Predictions

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