Fun Stuff

“How big was baby Jesus in Mary’s womb when Mary visited Elizabeth?” That is the question I asked myself while visiting the Church of the Visitation in Israel. What I learned was quite revolutionary and amazing. This is one of the best pro-life arguments from Scripture and one I’ve not heard discussed before.

It also says a lot about who Jesus was and the “stranger than fiction” event taking place in space and time in the womb of young girl about 15 years old.

Pictures sometimes show Mary very pregnant — better get to Bethlehem fast! But in reality that is not the case. In scientific terms Jesus was just a blastocyst, a few hundred miniature cells no bigger than a millimeter (0.039 inch).

At the Visitation, Jesus was a “blastcyst” like on the top right

How big was Jesus? Read this article I just wrote and step back in time to the first days of Jesus’ life taking on a human body even though you could have barely seen him with the human eye at the time.

Here is an excerpt from my new article “How Big Was Jesus at the Visitation?”

 “When Mary arrived for the Visitation, as we Catholics refer to the her visit, she was not “showing” yet. Isn’t if funny how we see pictures of a very pregnant Mary as though the baby was ready for Bethlehem. But in reality Jesus—100% God and 100% human — was so small he was practically invisible. 

 Though this blastocyst attached to Mary’s uterus had not seen the light of day He had created with his soon-to-develop eyes, nor breathed fresh air He had created with His still-to-develop lungs, yet He was very alive and very human. The cells were replicating at a rapid rate and they were already developing distinct bodily features. It contained the DNA—the genetic code of Mary.

 The microscopic cells were not just extraneous tissue in the mother’s body—something to be discarded, a disease or something. It was human life with a soul. From conception Every baby shares in the image of God and true humanity with inestimable value long before it takes it’s first breath—right from conception. 

 These replicating cells in Mary’s body were truly human life, God himself taking on human flesh. St. John tells us, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt (literally, “pitched his tent” of flesh) among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” John 1:14).

 One thing many people do not think about—what was Jesus’ size and the stage of development in the womb when Mary arrived at the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth? And, how did Elizabeth and the unborn baby John the Baptist react upon pregnant Mary’s arrival?” …

 Continue reading the full article, click HERE.

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To Encourage Others; Not to Toot My Own Horn

by Steve Ray on July 10, 2016

Not sure where “toot your own horn” came from but it’s not what I’m doing. I usually don’t tell anyone when I do such things but sometimes a good action done by one, inspires others. I truly believe these crazy ideas pop into my head because of my father’s daily examples (God rest his soul).

Today at Mass a devout black woman sat in front of us with her disinterested teenage daughter.  I found myself praying for them as the Mass progressed. 

I had an idea but I struggled with it. Is it a good idea? Will it be received wrongly? Will I be perceived as arrogant or condescending? Well, I said, I think it is from the Lord and if not, oh well…

I pulled a “Donation Envelope” from the hymnal rack in front of me and wrote on it, “You have a good mother. Use this to do something nice for her. God bless you both!”

I stuffed $30 into the envelop and waited…

…as we completed the last hymn, mother and daughter stepped out of their pew. I touched the girl’s shoulder and said, “This is for you.” She was startled, gave a nervous giggle, smiled and left. I said to her mom, “God bless you!”

I have no idea if it was a good idea or not; if she will love her mom more or be more interested in the Lord. 

But I felt darn good all the way home. I remembered Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35). I believe it — and hope you will too. 

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The lady at the pet store told me I was a sick individual. I didn’t think so, but then again I am biased and think I’m OK – and my wife tends to agree with me.

The whole thing started because of a small hobby of mine. When I was a little boy my dad bought me binoculars and a bird book (picture: still have that first bird book ). I sat under trees for hours and kept track of the birds I found. It was great fun. How many people have had the pleasure of discovering Indigo Buntings, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Rufous-sided Towhees, or Northern Snowbirds?

Janet and I live in the country with a large field behind our house. Last week a raccoon was hit by a car near our home—it didn’t listen to his mother when she warned him about playing in the road. At least that’s what we told our kids as they were growing up—a lesson in obeying parents!

Anyway, I had the crazy idea to pick up the dead raccoon, toss him on the hood of my car, and throw him in our back field to see if the Turkey Vultures would come to eat it. Looking at the head of this vulture will give you an idea where he got his name. The lady at the pet store told me I was a sick individual because I told her what I had done.  I told her our bird feeders are often visited by the smallest bird in Michigan – the hummingbird – so we thought we would try to attract one of the largest birds in Michigan.

It didn’t take long. The large shadow passed by my window as I was working on my laptop and sure enough it was Mr. Vulture circling with his 6 foot wingspan. I slipped out to the back porch to watch. Janet joined me and we were intrigued as nine Turkey Vultures from every corner of the county swirled and swooped, landing around the raccoon to tear the corpse to ribbons with their sharp, hooked beaks. They fought, danced, challenged each other with their wings spread—all while Janet and I watched the show. They came back the next few days until all that was left was a bare skeleton.

We told the grandkids about the vultures and they said, “Bampa, get ‘nother  coon! We want see bultures!” So I jumped in the car and found another road-kill-coon and brought him back on the hood of my car. I got more than one shocked look from fellow drivers. I was laughing my head off—kind of like watching people react on Candid Camera.

It wasn’t long before the whole feathered gang was putting on a show for us again in the back yard. The grandkids sat and watched and kept shouting “bulchers, bampa, bultures!”

It got me thinking of what the Bible says about vultures and birds of prey. There are about ten species of high-flying, carrion-eating birds in Israel. They are all kind of lumped together in the Bible. My book Birds of Israel says that one is called an Egyptian Vulture (see picture below) and another the Common Buzzard.

The Jews were forbidden to eat these birds. Geez, I guess so. When I was about ten years old, I caught a baby vulture and he puked rotten meat all over me. It was his means of self defense—scaring off the enemy, and it worked!

Who could image eating an ugly bird that eats such rotten meat? The Jews were also forbidden from eating catfish since they are also bottom feeders. Even today Jewish fishermen kill every catfish they catch to decrease their population in the Sea of Galilee. God forbade Jews from eating such animals—and pigs too.

But others think it means that at the end of time, just as these birds of prey gather where the rotting carcasses are, so the judgments of God will descend upon the corrupt state of humanity. When the world has degenerated to the point that it resembles a maggot-infested corpse, when the world’s cup of iniquity is full, then Christ will condemn the world. The vultures might represent the judgment of God.Jesus mentions these birds once in the gospels.

It is recorded in Matthew 24:28 and Luke 17:37. In speaking of the end times he says, “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” It seems Jesus is quoting a common proverb of his time. No one is quite sure what Jesus meant and it is difficult to figure out. Word Biblical Commentary thinks it refers to the unmistakable character of Jesus Second Coming. As surely as you know that where you see vultures gathered there is a carcass, so you will not be able to miss the coming of the Son of Man.

Carrion eating birds are mentioned again at the judgment in the last days, “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in midheaven, ‘Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men,’. . . And the rest were slain by the sword of him who sits upon the horse, the sword that issues from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh” (Rev 17:17-21).

As I watched the vultures gorging on the dead raccoons this week, I thought of the end times when the world becomes so corrupt and putrid—crawling with maggots and foul smelling in God’s nostrils—that God will put an end to it and judge the earth. Christ will come again. In that day the vultures will not waste time on raccoons, they will feast on human flesh. They will fill their foul bellies with meat torn from the enemies of God.

Last Sunday at Mass I recited the Nicene Creed and I believed it. “We look for the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come.”  I, for one, expect my flesh to rise on the last day to glory and the beatific vision, not to be torn and eaten by the hooked bills of stinking, unclean birds—symbolic of the judgment and punishment of God. (Picture: a scene about resurrection from our “Jesus, the Word Became Flesh” movie)

But in the meantime, we will enjoy watching the vultures eat from our unique birdfeeder in the back yard. It will be a daily reminder to be holy and remain in the grace and friendship of God—prepared for the Last Day and the final judgment.

I will also try to convince myself that I am not a sick individual :-) By the way, what right did that lady have to call me sick when she was selling me crickets to feed to my tarantula? The nerve of some people!

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Bible Riddle

June 27, 2016

I am one but you’d see three, and people barely think of me. But I am often on their lips, or found beneath their fingertips. I warrant very little thought, but with my help billions are taught. And while I span a space so small, I help you see what’s one, not all. When God’s […]

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How Do They Cook Spinach in Rome?

June 21, 2016

Posted a while ago but in Rome now eating spinach again so thought we’d share again… Janet and I (and our whole family) are keeping healthy with losing weight, exercise and eating good food. While in Rome last week Janet and I ate spinach every day. (Spinach is a SuperFood.) The spinach we ate was […]

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

June 2, 2016

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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Did Jesus Ever Run?

May 17, 2016

I posted this awhile ago, but thought it fun to post again. Though my running days are over (Doctors have told me I ran to much and my knees are shot), I still do a lot of fast walking and even have a bike in Jerusalem. But it is good to remember the days I […]

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Mary and the Other Body of Christ; How Many People were in the Upper Room and Why?

May 12, 2016

The room was pretty full. It was warm but a gentle breeze was blowing—that would change. There was fear in the room. The Roman army was a thing to be feared, they had just crucified Jesus and it was a dangerous thing to associates of an executed criminal. They were also anxious about the promise. […]

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Planets, Dr. Seuss and Snowflakes—Combined Proof That There is a CREATOR

May 11, 2016

This reflection is by Larry Peterson of the Catholic Writers Guild. It is reprinted from the guild’s blog April 5, 1016. Ten  years ago, NASA’s new, Horizon Spacecraft left our humble, little planet and began its voyage to to the edges of our solar system and beyond. After traveling 3 billion-plus miles, New Horizon finally passed Pluto, […]

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

May 10, 2016

One of our past pilgrims wrote with an apparent contradiction in the Bible and what I had said in Israel. The wording in the two verses below is what caused the confusion. Acts 1:12  “[After the Ascension] they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away.” Luke […]

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Sunrise over Jesus’ Sea of Galilee

April 13, 2016

Every morning it is different and puts on a new face. I watch the fishing boats coming in and imagine Jesus walking across these waves. He left heaven and came to earth – the “scandal of the Incarnation.”  The angels must have been astounded. But Jesus had to enjoy his handiwork, watching sunrises like this […]

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Hair Cut only Once a Year

March 1, 2016

David had a very handsome son. His name was Absalom and he betrayed his father the king and led a rebellion against him. The Bible says that Absalom was “beautiful“ and he only cut his hair once a year. Here is what the Bible says about him: “Now in all Israel there was no one so much to be praised […]

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12 Reasons why Sports Fans don’t to to the Game; Why Catholics don’t go to Mass :-)

February 20, 2016

This is very clever. Sure rings of the truth – enjoy!

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Steve Ray on EWTN’s Journey Home this Week

February 2, 2016

              Join Steve Ray and Marcus Grodi this week as Steve returns for the 7th time to discuss his conversion to the Catholic Church. Video now on-line at http://www.ewtn.com/tv/live/journeyhome.asp 

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Me Getting into Line! Funny!

January 25, 2016

You may have seen this already but it’s funny every time I watch it. My wife said this is definitely me!

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How Long Will You Live? A Longevity Calculator

December 31, 2015

Watch your age in the upper right corner! Kinda’ fun to watch your age go up and down as you answer the questions. It’s interesting, so give it a try….  How long will you live? This is a calculator that estimates your life expectancy. It was developed by Northwestern Mutual Life. There are only 13 […]

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