Prayer & Spiritual Life

Sherlock Holmes an Idolater – Praying to People?

by Steve Ray on January 7, 2019

Last night my wife and I were watching an episode of Sherlock Holmes on TV. He has always been one of my favorite characters and I can remember reading all the stories to our kids as they grew up. On TV I think Jeremy Brett does the best portrayal and it is always a delightful evening to cuddle up and watch another episode.

Last night we were watching “The Copper Beeches” and Sherlock was interviewing a young lady. Her case bored him. But as her story developed, Sherlock became intrigued. He leaned back and said, “Pray, continue.” 

SherlockPrays.jpgMy wife hit the pause button! “What did he say?” We listened again. Sure enough, the Great Sherlock used the word pray when talking to a woman.

But doesn’t “pray” mean worship? In our old Evangelical Protestant days we assumed PRAY was synonymous with WORSHIP. But that was because we were ignorant of our own English language (blame the public schools). 

In the English language, the word pray is much less ostentatious than we Evangelicals blew it up to be. Here is what Wiktionary says,  

1. To petition or solicit help from a supernatural or higher being.
2. To humbly beg a person for aid or their time.
3. (Christianity) to talk to God for any reason.

The least significant usage of the word is to “talk to God” which is still a far cry from falling on one’s face in adoration and worship—an action reserved for the Trinity alone. 

It primarily means to ask of a higher being—which could certainly mean a superior in business, or law or in heaven—for a favor or for their help. It means to ask any person for aid or for their time.  

What was Sherlock Holmes asking when he “prayed” to this woman? He was saying, “Please, I ask you to continue.” Did he worship the woman? Of course not. 

But if we earthy humans ask the assistance and intercession of those who have preceded us to heaven, are we worshiping them or somehow giving them glory that belongs to God alone? CommunionofSaints.jpg

Well let’s ask this—if I ask my brother or sister in Christ on earth to “pray” for me, am I taking away from the glory of God by “praying” or asking them to “pray” or ask God to help me? Of course not, because prayer (talking and asking) and worship are two very different things. 

If I ask a saint who is already in heaven to petition God for me, am I committing idolatry? What foolishness, or course not. I am simply acknowledging that I am not the only Christian in the universe and that the Church is not just made up of me or many earthlings.

Christians, such as Mary and the Apostles, are not dead and gone. They are very much alive before the throne of God. It is made up of all of us still waiting for heaven, but it is also made up of those who have gone on before us with the sign of faith.

You may get asked, “Where in the Bible does it say we should pray to dead saints?” And my answer is always the same, “Where does the Bible say that saints are dead? We Catholic believe in Eternal Life!” 

Again, it is the Evangelical who not only misunderstands spiritual things, but also the English language. I was the most guilty of all, but I had ears to hear (thanks be to God) and I now understand the cosmic reality of the Church and the Communion of Saints. I am much the richer for it. 

Like Sherlock, I can pray to or ask any human creature for information or intercession or help. But it is God alone that I worship. I will ask or pray to any of his people, on earth or in heaven—asking them to intercede or pray for me to the Lord our God. We are after all a big family and the God whom we worship is the Father of us all.

I am so glad I found the Catholic Church and escaped the muddle of mucked up ideas I used to call “Bible-only Christianity.”

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Should This Baby Be Aborted? You Decide

by Steve Ray on January 1, 2019

In the United States, there are many situations in which abortions are recommended, even encouraged by family, counselors, medical personnel and even religious advisors.

Sometimes an abortion is recommended because of difficult circumstances and other times simply for convenience. Here are four cases for you to consider. Should these babies be aborted? You decide!

Four Cases:
Case #1. There’s a traveling preacher and his wife who are living in poverty. They already have fourteen children. Now she finds out she’s pregnant with the 15th child. They are very poor and probably will be unable to afford a doctor’s attention. Considering their poverty, the excessive world population, and the number of children they already have, would you recommend she get an abortion?

Case #2. The grandmother is an alcoholic and the father spends his evenings out drinking in the taverns. His mother has tuberculosis. She has already given birth to four children. The first child is blind, the second child died, the third child is deaf, and the fourth child has tuberculosis. Now the mother is pregnant again. Given the extreme situation, would you recommend an abortion?

Case #3. A white man raped a 13-year-old black girl and now she is pregnant. Her family lives in extreme poverty; in fact, to survive, they often have to steal food. If you were her parents, would you recommend or require her to have an abortion?

Case #4. A fifteen year old girl is pregnant. She is not married and lives in a cave in an outback area with very little money or resources. The man she is engaged is not the father of the baby. There is no hospital or doctor available. Would you recommend that she get an abortion?

The Reality:
Case #1: You would have just aborted the world-famous Methodist preacher John Wesley.

Case #2: You would have just aborted the great composer Ludwig van Beethoven.

Case #3: You would have just aborted Ethel Waters, the marvelous black Gospel singer.

Case #4: You would have just aborted Jesus Christ, the savior of the world!

Since we are killing off over a million of our babies each year, how many other geniuses, artists, musicians, scientists, saints, and others have we assassinated? If the “pro-choice” (read: “pro-abortion”) folks have their way, the world may be deprived of a genius with the cure for cancer, the first female president, the inventor of new technologies, the saint who could have led us closer to God, the inventor of medical miracles, etc. In the lust of personal peace and pleasure, are we Americans killing the very people that God has sent to assist, teach, and save us?

I used to run my own business with over 400 employees. We were always short of employees. In many business settings my peers commented: “I just don’t understand why we can’t find workers. The labor market is tough and everyone is short of employees. I just don’t understand.” I always chimed in and said, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that if we have killed off 1.5 million babies a year over the last twenty-five years that we are going to drastically reduce our employee base. What don’t you understand about that?” Add the contraception issue and far less employees are out there.

May God have mercy on our land! Vote pro-life! If we get the “Life Issue” wrong we’ve got it all wrong. The foundation is the most important part of the house.

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adam_and_eveThis is a question that has puzzled people from the beginning. If God is good and all powerful why didn’t he stop Adam and Eve from sinning? Fair question. Of course we all know that he took the risk of giving us free will so that we could choose to love him.

I don’t want my kids to be born with a red button on their forehead that I push every time I want to hear them say, “I love you Daddy!” I want them to choose to say it from their own free will. No one wants a robot son or daughter – God included. 

But even knowing God created us with a free will, wasn’t there something he could have done to keep Man from sinning? Why did he allow this evil deed that brought alienation and death into the world? My friend Jimmy Akin did some pondering after reading a paragraph in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He wrote,

Today something leapt out that deals with the problem of evil, even though it wasn’t in the section on the problem of evil. It deals with the question of why God allowed original sin to take place.

Here’s what it says:

CCC 412  But why did God not prevent the first man from sinning? St. Leo the Great responds, “Christ’s inexpressible grace gave us blessings better than those the demon’s envy had taken away.” and St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “There is nothing to prevent human nature’s being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St. Paul says, ‘Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more’; and the Exsultet sings, ‘O happy fault,. . . which gained for us so great a Redeemer!’”

communion-of-saints_sThe answers provided by Leo the Great, Aquinas, Paul, and the Exsultet [at Easter] all converge on the idea that God allowed man to fall into sin because he knew he could bring about a greater good by doing so.

This does not necessarily mean a greater good for every individual (e.g., people who commit mortal sin and decide to stay there may not end up with a greater benefit in the long run, although this is itself arguable), but it does mean that there will be greater net good in general.

Thinking of Jimmy’s words reminded me of another paragraph in the Catechism which has caused quite a stir at times. It deals with the divinization of us humans. Had we not sinned, God would presumably not had to become Man. But when God became Man, though his humanity he drew us up into himself and made it possible for us to be sharers in his nature, to share in the very life of the Trinity!

CCC 460  The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”: “For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.” “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.”

This is not some strange kind of Mormon theology or New Age nonsense. It is the essence of our salvation. We are not just saved from our sins, but we are drawn right up into the very nature of God by the incarnation and redemption acquired through Jesus Christ.

St. Peter reminds us in 2 Peter 1:4, “He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.”

If you are not dancing yet, re-read the above and then start dancing and sharing this joyous news with everyone!!

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2 Minute Audios: Steve’s 6 Rules for Dealing with Non-Catholic Family & Friends

November 30, 2018

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 […]

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Bishops Among the Flames in Mexico

November 28, 2018

Here in Mexico churches have 3 dimensional images of purgatory to scare people to holiness. Nearly every one has a bishop in the flames.

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The Sign of the Cross: It’s History, Meaning and Biblical Basis

October 28, 2018

SIGN OF THE CROSS By Steve Ray The Sign of the Cross is a ritual gesture by which we confess two important mysteries: the Trinity and the centrality of the Cross. It is the most common and visible means by which we confess our faith. The Sign of the Cross is made by touching the […]

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What Does this Wood Carving Mean?

October 18, 2018

When I went to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor Michigan the other day for a visit, I stopped by to pray at the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel. In front of the chapel was this wood carving. I also, like all of you, sat in front of it puzzled. Who are the women; what’s in […]

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Why the Centering Prayer Movement is So Off-Center

September 15, 2018

By Patrick Coffin The curious should, to say the very least, approach the practice of Centering Prayer with a critical eye and serious discernment. A technique out there purporting to be a form of Christian prayer has made inroads in countless parishes across the U.S. and Canada. Its promoters try very hard to sound Catholic and […]

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My Thoughts While Waiting In Line for Confession

September 2, 2018

My wife and I went to confession yesterday. The line was pretty long (which was good to see, though I hate lines :-)  As I sat and waited it struck me again that the Church is not just a loose association of like-minded followers of Jesus. It is not just “Jesus and me” as we […]

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Is God Like a GPS System?

August 4, 2018

There are a million reasons why God is NOT like a GPS system but I am in Australia and I made a wrong turn and my GPS started reprimanding me and saying “Recalculating!” For those who don’t know, GPS stands for Global Positioning System. It is a nifty little device that links up with positional […]

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Did St. Paul Pray for the Dead? Yes!

June 18, 2018

I posted an article I wrote about St. Paul praying for the dead HERE. But I thought you would appreciate Dave Armstrong’s recent article about the same passage with confirmation and a new set of eyes on the text and the reasons for many Protestants to reject the claim… St. Paul Prayed for Onesiphorus, Who […]

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Did St. Paul Pray for the Dead? Yes!

June 17, 2018

St. Paul wrote 2 Timothy shortly before his martyrdom. He spent the last days of his life in the Mammertine Prison in Rome, north of the Roman Forum. While in that prison he wrote to Timothy and says a prayer for a man dead man. “It seems apparent that St. Paul DOES pray for the dead. […]

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Hey Steve: Jesus Taught us to Pray to the Father Alone, not Dead Saints

June 16, 2018

 Barry wrote in my combox today – in response to my post entitled “Where Does the Bible Say We Should Pray to Dead Saints?” – Resources about Communion of the Saints I thought I would respond briefly. Barrry wrote: Would you please read the Lord’s prayer. Jesus prayed it. He was giving an example of how to […]

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Meaning of Sacred and Immaculate Hearts – Feast Days are Upon Us!

June 8, 2018

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. […]

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Major Catholic Prayer Traditions – Very Extensive and Easy-to-Use

May 13, 2018

Catechists should be aware that the prayer of the Catholic Church is far more than the memorized vocal prayers, devotional prayers (such as the Rosary) or the prayers we say together at Mass. For over a thousand years, the Church has developed rich prayer forms such as contemplative prayer (Christian meditation), liturgy of the hours, […]

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Evangelism Antennas: A Fun Story of One Woman’s Day and the New Evangelism :-)

April 11, 2018

A while ago I gave a talk in Ann Arbor Michigan. It was about the New Evangelization. As part of my talk I explained how Janet and I have our “evangelism antennas” up first thing in the morning – alertly watching for open doors and ways to share our Catholic Faith throughout the day. And […]

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