Saints and Fathers

Last Days of Sts. Peter and Paul in Rome

by Steve Ray on June 29, 2018

crucifixion-of-saint-peter-1601Happy Feast Day of Sts. Peter and Paul….

When I take my pilgrims to Rome one of my main objectives is to introduce them to the saints – especially Peter and Paul. We meditate on the last days of the lives, imprisonments, martyrdoms and burials of these two Princes of the Apostles: Peter and Paul. Both of them shed their blood in Rome for Jesus and the Church.

Peter was crucified upside down in Nero’s Circus. We still know the exact spot at the Vatican and the obelisk in the center of St. Peter’s Square witnessed the gory ritual).

(See my documentaries of Peter and Paul all filmed on location here.)

PaulPaul was beheaded on the Ostian Way (I show you the exact spot and the pillar on which his neck was placed).

I love to take pilgrimages to emphasize the utter truth and historicity of Scripture and the tradition of the Catholic Church.

We have a lot to learn and be proud of as Catholics and knowing our history and the price paid by the first Christians is a great starting point.

Enjoy!

STEVE EXPLAINS THE PRISON OF STS. PETER AND PAUL

THE LAST DAYS AND MARTYRDOMS OF STS. PETER AND PAUL ON LOCATION

 

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IreneeChurch sm.jpgIn 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 our efforts. We shot video footage for our upcoming DVD in the Footprints of God video series. This installment will be entitled APOSTOLIC FATHERS: HANDING ON THE FAITH.

(Click on pictures for larger images. Church of St. Irenaeus with the remains of his bones; the theatre in Lyon where St. Irenaeus’ parishioners where martyred)

3Gauls sm.jpgWe shot footage at the old and mostly forgotten Church of Irenee on the hillside of Lyons France. Under the church is the tomb of a man that had an incredible influence on me converting to the Catholic Church. Unhappily, in 1527 the Calvinists destroyed his tomb and threw his bones into the river. Only a few fragments remain.

We also found this ancient Roman Amphitheater which was rediscovered only in 1957. You don’t see it now, but in the 2nd century, this arena floor was soaked with the blood of Christians.

Screen Shot 2018-06-15 at 10.01.18 AMIn 177 about 45 of our brothers and sisters in the faith were gruesomely tortured and killed here in front of jeering crowds. A woman named Blandine was publically tortured for two days as the crowds cheered. The soldiers exhausted themselves with every ingenious torture they could devise. They cut and inflicted and mutilated her naked body for days.

Blandine never caved in. When they jeered “Deny your Christ and live!” she would only say back “I am a Christian!” The Christians were placed in a iron chair with a raging fire beneath. The smoke and stench of their burning bodies filled the arena. Yet they never caved in. These Martyrs of Lyons and Vienne were true heroes and champions of the Faith. They wrestled to the death and won crowns of life.

I was extremely moved in this location. You can read the full story in Eusebius’ History of the Church. We are grateful to Eusebius for preserving this story of Christian martyrdom and heroism. Here is our DVD Apostolic Fathers, Handing on the Faith with its 28-page Study Guide.

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A painful price is paid when one reaches his hand into a swarm of bees to swipe some of their honey. Stingers fly and welts flare. I raised hives of bees as a boy and once I was stung 35 times in one day.

Wild honey is not collected from wild bees without burning pain and suffering. Today there is protective equipment and methods to harvest honey, but in times past it took a man willing to experience bitter pain today for the sweet rewards later.

There seems to be a principle built into the real world that is expressed with maxims such as “good things take time,” and “no pain no gain.” A paycheck is preceded by forty hours of work. Muscles appear after weeks of sweat equity and exercise.

Shortcuts seldom pay off and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Achievement takes effort and rewards are given to those who work hard.

Suffering is shunned by most people. Pain is avoided. We usually chose the path of least resistance. It seems most people are hard-wired for pleasure, relaxation and personal gratification. Following these baser impulses rarely reap the rewards human beings aspire to.

The number forty is used symbolically in the Bible over and over again. Jewish and Christian tradition has known this from the beginning. Forty is the number of testing, suffering, fasting, repentance and self-denial.

It often precedes new beginnings and new stages of salvation and restoration. Noah’s flood lasted forty days, Israel wandered in the wilderness forty years, Jonah gave Ninevah forty days to repent, Elijah fasted forty days and nights—as did Jesus in the wilderness.

John the Baptist wandered in the Judean Wilderness east of Jerusalem. He wore rustic clothing and suffered the pain of harvesting his own wild honey. He ate his wild honey with locusts, another word for a grasshopper.

Such hopping insects were declared “clean” foods for the Jews (Lev 11:22). I once jokingly told a group of pilgrims I “loved living the Bible in the Holy Land” and if they found a grasshopper I would eat it like John the Baptist had done. They went on a mission and found a 4” wiggly grasshopper. I had no choice but to imitate the Baptist. (See me eat it here.)

In the summer months the wilderness of Judea hovers around 120?. John looked and acted a lot like Elijah the prophet and it was from this exact location that Elijah was assumed body and soul into heaven.

No wonder the Pharisees questioned if John was the Elijah who was to come. He was baptizing repentant Jews about thirty miles down from the mountains of Jerusalem and about three miles from the ancient community of Qumran.

John undoubtedly associated with these devout Essenes who had moved to the hot wilderness to seek God and become the Children of Light. The wilderness, like the number forty, is usually associated with seeking God and a sincere holiness brought about by self denial and isolation.

Christian tradition from the earliest times understood the spiritual benefits of established periods of fasting, repentance, prayer and self-denial. This practice of self abandonment to the wilderness for forty days was incorporated into the liturgical year. It was called Lent. The word originates from an old English word meaning “spring” and was used because Lent, the time of fasting and prayer was practiced in the spring of the year in preparation for Easter.

 John the Baptist wandered in the wilderness to mortify the flesh and earthly desires, focusing his mind and heart on things above. He was seeking holiness and spirituality. Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the same wilderness to be tempted by the Devil and prepared for his ministry.

The Church wants us to share in this deeper life of God. Lent is a time set aside so that we can join John in the wilderness—setting aside the distractions of daily life and earthly pursuits, turning to God and prayer.

Of course it is not as easy for most of us since we have families, work schedules, diapers to change, houses to clean and on and on. The Lord and the Church understand this completely. But even the daily service of a family, the quality labor provided on the job and extra love shown to others can be an act of penance and self-giving.

We can all fit in time for confession, a bit more prayer and spiritual readings, deny ourselves a few extravagances or pleasures and seek to get closer to God. It is never easy—it wasn’t for John, Jesus or others who wandered for forty days looking for a deeper walk with God and a richer human experience.

We buy honey in the store and few of us like John are willing to reach into a hive and grab the honey at great cost. But like John we can impose a bit of self-denial upon ourselves, entering into penance, prayer, repentance and self-denial—though it often feels like reaching for the honey. The minimal pain of Lent can bring about the sweetness of holiness.

These places in the desert still exist. We can walk through the ruins of Qumran, see the mist over the Dead Sea and the mountains of Moab in Jordan and stand on the shore of the River Jordan at the place Jesus met John after his forty days of temptation when he stepped out of the wilderness to have the Holy Spirit descend upon him. No prayer or sacrifice, no self denial or charitable act will go unnoticed by God. The sweetness of the Spirit will certainly be our reward.

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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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“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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Today is St. Justin Martyr’s Feast Day – Free Apostolic Fathers Timeline

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Feast Day of St. Justin Martyr, June 1 Download a Free copy of the Apostolic Fathers Timeline This amazing Timeline drives home the point of how close these men were to Jesus and the Apostles. It demonstrates how Catholic the first Christians really were!  The Apostolic Fathers faced Emperors, heretics and lions but these heroes of […]

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Did John the Baptist Doubt that Jesus was the Messiah?

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I get asked this question a lot and thought others would find my answer helpful. Not that I claim to have discovered this myself but reading and gleaning has brought me to this conclusion. In Luke 7:19-28, John the Baptist was in prison and sent two of his disciples to Galilee to ask Jesus a […]

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Joseph the Sissy or Joseph the Worker – Feast Day of the Worker

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Today is the Feast day of St. Joseph the Worker! There are some pictures of Joseph I don’t appreciate so much. They present him almost as soft, effeminate like he just came out of a beauty parlor. It appears he never worked in the real world and has not a wrinkle on his clothes or […]

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St. Polycarp’s name does not mean “many fish”

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On 3 Radio Shows Thursday for Conversion of St. Paul

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The conversion of St. Paul’s feast day is Thursday. I have been there – to the very location in Damascus several times. I wept when I was there. I’ll be on three radio shows on Thursday describing the importance of his conversion, the impact it made on St. Paul, the impact it had on me […]

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

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Join us on a future pilgrimage to Rome, or the Footprints of St. Paul Cruise, or Israel, Ireland or others. Check out www.SteveGoes.com, 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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Fatima’s ‘Miracle of the Sun’ broke darkness of Portugal’s atheist regimes

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Since we arrive in Fatima today with our 3 buses, I thought I would share this EXCELLENT article about the power of the miracle in the midst of an antheist government and oppression of Christians. Fatima, Portugal, Oct 12, 2017 / 04:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News) On “the day the sun danced,” thousands of people bore witness […]

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Happy Feast Day of St. Luke, Friend of Mary

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St Luke: Greek Physician, Historian & Friend of Mary (Feast Day October 18) “Her face shone as she related the stories—the words were vibrant, and though older now, her memory was excellent. He sat enraptured as she brought the past into living color. He had traveled a long way to see her and he sat […]

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Why Do We Call St. Ignatius of Antioch and others APOSTOLIC FATHERS?

October 17, 2017

Today is the feast day of one of my all time favorite heroes. HE made me Catholic. I was on Relevant Radio today talking about him and why I love this guy so much. [For my 90-minute adventure documentary on Ignatius of Antioch along with four other Apostolic Fathers, get Apostolic Fathers, Handing on the Faith. For […]

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Kissing Statues

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We are in Jerusalem today ready to pick up our group of 50 people at the airport in a few hours. When I woke up this morning to the Muslim “call to prayer”, church bells ringing and horns honking I read this email that came from the United Kingdom… It read, “Hi Steve! I know […]

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Understanding St. Matthew and his Gospel on his Feast Day Today

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Since it is the Feast Day of St. Matthew, let’s learn a lot about him. Matthew: Understanding the Tax Collector and his Gospel By Steve Ray If looks could kill, he’d be dead. The Jews glared at Levi as he counted his coins. Tax collectors in Israel had great wealth and were considered renegades and […]

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