Prayer & Spiritual Life

A Catholic couple wrote and expressed their dismay at the current state of affairs in our country and the world. He said he was about to give up. I wrote to him these words which I hope will encourage others as well.

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We certainly do live in disappointing times. Seeing the chaos and anarchy in our country, with many even espousing Marxism again, I shake my head sometimes as I see how so many of the bishops and priests, even the Vatican respond to all of this nonsense and anarchy. Rainbow flags fluttering, police assaulted, BLM T-shirts, abortion, pulling down statues, cursing and rioting and killing…

However, remember that the Church has never had a Golden Age and there have been times in the Church that have been much worse than our current situation. Imagine living in England and Ireland during the reign of King Henry VIII and the later in the French Revolution when priests were killed and the Catholic faith was illegal. Families hid priests in “priest holes” and many lost everything including their lives. The horrendous stories of being drawn and quartered

I always recall Peter’s response to Jesus, “Where else can we go, you are the only one with the words of eternal life (John 6:68-69).”

My wife and I feel as though we were born for these times. God places us in our own period of history for a reason and I believe our reason is to stand up and speak out and be a living example of the Christian life. This is no time to retreat and let evil win. A wise man once said that all evil needs to succeed is for a few good men to do nothing.

Don’t be dismayed or discouraged. Stand strong and stay true to Our Lord and his Church even if our shepherds are more politicians than they are pastors, even if many of our own fall for the seduction and sin of the present age. Jesus suffered for us and he is even now not giving up on us — so we can never give up on him.

If you ever get discouraged read the last book of the Bible and you’ll see that we win in the end. And don’t ever forget that God always has an army of holy saints. We are not alone. The world is full of faithful Christians who will never back down. These days are the kind of days in which saints are made.

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A fellow Catholic wrote with a good question.

I would like to ask you a question. When I was in grade school, everyone just accepted the Bible as the Word of God. If you said, “It’s in the Bible” then it was assumed to be true, even if it was a very questionable interpretation. Now, I think that the number of people who believe that the Bible is true is dwindling rapidly.

If someone were to ask, “Why should I accept the Bible as the Word of God?”, I think Protestants would quote 2 Tim 3:16 (“All scripture is inspired by God”) or say that it is self-evident. Catholics would say that Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit, who cannot lie, therefore, it is true. I think that is a valid argument, but it seems like not enough for many people today. 

So the question is, why don’t Catholics defend the Bible using other arguments as well? For example, archaeology? You have been very good at that, and John Bergsma talks about the Dead Sea Scrolls and has a talk called ‘But Did it Really Happen’ but I don’t hear much about it in general. 

How about textual criticism (and countering Bart Erhman)? Brant Pitre has the Case for Jesus, but otherwise, I only know of Protestants e.g. Craig Evans making a case. Any comments are welcome. It just seems like I am missing something. FYI, I personally believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. 

Patrick from Wisconsin

My response:

Patrick

I agree with you completely. We have done a very poor job in our age of making our case. Catholic tend to retreat into a life of devotion and prayer and detach themselves from the bump and grind of the real world and its issues. In some ways, we have fallen prey to the secular way of looking at Scripture. We think of ourselves as “faith people” with a “faith walk” which are phrases that are new on the scene and I have a big aversion to them.

The world, and all to often our own camp as well, think that faith = fairy tale, or faith = believing in something completely non-verifiable in a scientific way. This is not me and many of the new scholars like Hahn, Pitre, and others of course, but unhappily it is true of too many Catholics and Protestants.

I understand the word “faith” as a belief in something with good and sufficient reasons, verifiable facts, and rational arguments. As an example, why do I sit on my dining chair? Because I have good and sufficient reasons to believe it will hold me up. I have faith in the chair.

But the modern use of the word to often means to be a silly adherence to irrational and unscientific things— like healings, miracles, the resurrection, need for prayer, Real Presence, the inspiration of Scripture, etc. Very sad and we tend to play right into the hands of the secular world.

By the way, 2 Timothy 3:16 does not necessarily prove our 73 books of the Bible are all inspired. It only informs us that St. Paul claims the Old Testament writings were breathed by God but has nothing to say concerning the New Testament books except by extrapolation.

When I was younger there was an atheist named Madeline Murray O’Hare who has since disappeared. She would get on TV shows and the Christians in the audience would stand up and quote at her from the Bible. She would say, “I don’t believe that silly old book full of old tales and spiritual experiences. It has no authority.” The next person would stand up and quote from the Bible again. It was useless and embarrassing. No one knew how to confront her in a meaningful way.

We have to confront the atheist, secularist, materialist, Marxist, skeptics on their OWN ground. They have no ultimate meaning to life and we need to push them into a corner and force them to see their meaningless existence without God and the Christian gospel. It is satisfying to do, but very few do it. They retreat into the “faith walk” and join the “faith groups” and have no idea how to explain and defend the truth of Catholicism philosophically, historically, archaeologically, rationally and biblically. Sad.

No wonder the world is not flocking into the Church the way it did when we had intellectual giants and a whole different world view we wore on our sleeves. Do I see a change on the horizon— unhappily no. I pray for a combination of spiritual and intellectual reformation and revival.

Steve Ray

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Friday, June 19 is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Saturday, June 20 is the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. A non-Christian friend found two paintings at an art show and asked me, “What in the world are these? They seem to have pagan elements. What do they have to do with Jesus and Mary?”

Here is my explanation. If you readers have anything to add, please post it in the Comments below. Thanks.

Thanks my friend. Beautiful images. Full of biblical representation — NOT pagan influences. They are devotional images to remind Catholics of the sorrows of Jesus and Mary and the resultant purification, joy and new life that come from them.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred Heart of Jesus:
Hearts represent love and life as the center of our being. Jesus’ heart beats with the fire of love (at the top of the heart) which was demonstrated at the cross. The fire also represents the purifying fire of God by which he purifies men. It exudes the transformative power of divine love.

The crown of thorns brought suffering which was endured for the love of man to redeem him — to bear man’s pain in his own heart. The cut in the heart is that made by the lance that was thrust through his heart when he was on the cross.

The blood dripping represents the new life secured through his death (life came through dead). The Blood of Jesus also cleanses us, washes us from sin. The result is the heart of man (below surrounded by flowers) is given new life. The flowers represent a garden of delights, new life, freshness. The Garden of Eden which brought about death by sin is now replaced by the Garden of Heaven which brings new life because of holiness and the work of Christ.

Adam and Eve experienced death at the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden; The New Adam (Jesus) brings about life at the Tree of Death (the cross) in another garden (John 19:41). This cross is at the top of the heart. Heaven and the glory of God are represented by the clouds and the blazing sun or heavenly light from God behind the hearts.

Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Heart of Mary:
This one is similar to the Sacred Heart. The roses surrounding Mary’s heart represent her sinlessness and purity, sweetness and new life. The seven swords piercing the top of the heart represent the “Seven Sorrows of Mary,” (“Mater Dolorosa”).

The first of her sorrows was the Prophecy of Simeon that a sword would pierce her soul because of her son’s death (Luke 2:35), 2) their flight into Egypt, 3) the loss of Jesus in the Temple; 4) the fourth sorrow is Mary watching Jesus carry the cross, 5) the crucifixion imagining a mother watching her son die this way; 6) receiving his limp, cold body after the crucifixion, 7) the body of her son buried in the tomb.

When Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple as a baby the prophet Simeon said that the life and death of Jesus would be like a sword that would pierce her soul (Luke 2:35). The 2nd heart, the one of Mary surrounded by roses, shows a cut in it which is symbolic of her sorrows. But her sorrows have brought us new life and pure hearts represented by the garden of roses below.

The Mystic Rose:
The mystic rose, symbolizes Mary’s mystical participation in the Holy Trinity as Heaven’s Rose or Mystical Rose. In medieval times the mystic rose symbol was drawn with four petals on a stain glass background or on a multi-colored background like a popular quilt pattern which is still stitched today.

Conclusion:
It is a very popular and insightful devotion to Jesus and his mother — the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Every aspect is taken from the Bible and nicely illustrated in the pictures. This is a marvelous Catholic devotion.

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Telling our Emotional Story of Answered Prayer from St. JP II after a personal meeting with him

May 28, 2020

Janet and I had an incredible meeting with Pope John Paul II in 2000. My wife had a special prayer request for him. We told the story for the first time while on the air with Spirit Catholic Radio this morning. Here is a picture of Janet asking the Pope, now St. Pope John Paul […]

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Churches should be OPEN this weekend! Trump overrides governors! Bravo President Trump!

May 22, 2020

Today President Trump announced that churches are essential and ordered them open this weekend. He said if governors resist, he will override the governors. We are going to Church!!!

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What if I need to go to confession and can’t because churches are closed?

May 19, 2020

I have been asked this question many times over the last few weeks. With churches closed and sacraments suspended, what can we do if we need to get to confession? Here is how I answered that question for a young man named Jose. ******************************************************* JOSE ASKS: What can I do if I’ve fallen into mortal sin and there […]

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The Virus that Stole Easter

April 11, 2020

If you have someone who reads well in the family, have them read this poem aloud. You will all love it and it fits right in with Easter and our current isolation. The Virus that Stole Easter By Kristi Bothur With a nod to Dr. Seuss Twas late in ‘19 when the virus began Bringing […]

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“Straight Talk to Teens” a new Steve Ray talk available on MP3

March 27, 2020

Teens don’t want platitudes or to be talked down to. They want a challenge, they want the truth! In this talk, I address a large group of teens and you could hear a pin drop.  

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Franciscan University of Steubenville provides resources for these tough times

March 24, 2020

With many churches and religious events closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Christian Outreach Office has opened The Upper Room—a website rich in resources for Catholics and anyone hungering for spiritual nourishment. In The Upper Room you will find podcasts, live webinars on a wide range of spiritual themes, daily E-Spirations, […]

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Lenten Bundle: “Stations of the Cross” and “Pain of the Crucifixion”

March 23, 2020

Two of Steve’s most popular talks are now in a bundle for $6. Great for family listening and for drives in the car. Very powerful and enthusiastic talks including Scripture, apologetics, medical information, typology, explanation of the real Stations in Jerusalem and the place and manner of crucifixion. Purchase the 2-CD set for a reduced […]

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Ray Family Favorite Movies Update (while locked away at home)

March 21, 2020

Janet and I have always loved good movies that are of high quality with good acting. But it must also be entertaining, redemptive, inspiring and challenging us to the good, the beautiful, the human. As St. Paul says, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, […]

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Choirs of Angels in Three Hierarchies

March 20, 2020

We have a pack of dogs, a flock of birds, a forest of trees – the word used for groups of angels is “choir.” Here is a clever little diagram to describe and explain the choirs of angels in all their different categories. (Click on the image for a larger image). According to many theologians, like St. […]

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Coronavirus, Mass, and Catholic Life

March 19, 2020

Coronavirus, Mass, and Catholic Life  by Jimmy Akin First, here is my 15-minute show with John Harper on Relevant Radio discussing how the shutdown is affecting families and what we can do. My segment begins at the 30:00 minute mark. Now to Jimmy Akin’s excellent article: The coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic has produced many questions and controversies, including […]

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A Family’s Amazing Response to our Holy Land Pilgrimage!

February 10, 2020

Dear Steve and Janet, Teresa and Brian and Tom and I would like to thank you for creating a Holy Land pilgrimage of a lifetime. Our hearts are still ablaze from our experiences. On Mount Tabor, we heard Peter speak to us, “Lord it is good that we are here.” This became our prayer upon […]

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Eight Ways to Pray During Adoration

February 8, 2020

For a lot of us prayer is difficult – mind goes blank, mind wanders, not sure quite what to do. When we sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament — OK, now what? This is an excellent little diagram to give us direction and options. Next thing you know, time flies and you look forward […]

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Catherine of Siena and Leaving the Church

February 5, 2020

What this 14th-century mystic can teach us about fidelity to Christ and to a Church in crisis Thomas McDermott, OP In the wake of so many clerical sex abuse scandals, too many people the Catholic Church appears hypocritical and bankrupt morally and spiritually. In the midst of such trying times, how can Catholics justify remaining […]

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