Holidays/Feast Days

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. The only thing they knew about God descending in fire was the experience of their ancestors at Mount Sinai. When that happened they all ran and hid and said to Moses, Never let God speak to us again; you go talk with Him and come back and tell us what the said.

Pentecost was approaching. Pentecost means “the 50th day.” Fiftieth day from what? From the Passover. Almost fifty days ago the Passover lambs had been slain, and so had THE Passover Lamb. Then there was the forty mystery days when Jesus was gone but not gone—with them but not with them, at least not like before. And he kept just appearing and then disappearing.

He taught them a lot in those forty days, He had breathed on them, gave them power to forgive and retain sins, fed them loaves and fish, appointed Peter as his shepherd, commanded them to go out from Jerusalem to the world. He explained to them much about the Kingdom of God and their tasks as His emissaries.

The last meeting was the most unusual of all. He answered a few questions, gave a few instructions and without even a formal Good-bye He started going up—and continued going up until all they saw was the bottom of his sandals as he disappeared into a cloud. Daniel 7:13-14 says he went back to the glory of heaven.

They looked at each other with obvious concern on their faces—they were fearful. They locked themselves in the Upper Room to pray as He had commanded. They were praying for what they feared—fire upon a mountain, Mount Zion. They prayed for nine days, the first Novena, before the promise of the Holy Spirit fell.

We are specifically told that there were about 120 people in the room. Actually the word is “names” not people. How strange. Can you imagine me saying, “About 120 names came on our pilgrimage to the Holy Land”? This made me curious so I looked up 120 in early Jewish literature and law. Sure enough, my research paid off.

In Israel is a group of Jews desiring to leave the big city and start their own new community they needed a minimum of 120 names on a list. What was happening here in the Upper Room? A new community was being started. The word “church” in the New Testament is ecclesia which means “a group of people called out.” Even today the Knessett (lawmaking body in Israel) is made up of 120 representatives.

Mary is listed among the believers in that Upper Room. It was important that she is listed among the names with others. She is the mother of Jesus. She gave birth to him in Bethlehem as was, in a sense, giving birth to him again on Pentecost. What is our affectionate term for Pentecost? Can you sing “Happy Birthday, to you…”? Yes, it is the Birthday of the Church. What is being born? The Mystical Body of Christ. Who is there for the birth? The mother of course. Mothers have to be present when their child is born. Mary is the mother of Jesus the God-Man and Mary is the Mother of the Church, the Body of Christ. She was necessarily present at both births.

Mary was also there because the others were afraid of the descent of God in fire on this new mountain. I am convinced they trembled in fear not only of the Jews and Romans outside, but of the prophesied “baptism of fire” within—as they wondered and feared that might be. The gentle breeze was about to become a rushing wind.

But Mary was there to calm their anxieties. I bet she said something like, “Don’t be afraid my friends, the Holy Spirit has already overshadowed me and He was pure love. Just wait until you are bathed in His love!” The gentle breeze became a rushing wind but it was warm and

After nine days of praying the Holy Spirit fell in fire on the tenth day—which was the 50th day from the death of the Passover Lamb Jesus on the cross. The Jewish festival of Pentecost also celebrated the first fruits of the harvest.

Remember, Jesus said he was like a grain of wheat that would be buried in the ground. The grain must be buried and die to bear its fruit. Jesus died, was buried in the ground and rose from the dead as the first fruit. Now on the “Feast of First Fruits” the first of the harvest is brought to God. We learn that 3,000 people were added to the Church that day—all in keeping with the tremendous symbolism and deeper meaning to all these events.

And with these deep mysteries and truths we are just scratching the surface. Come to the Holy Land with us, get out your Bibles and study books (or Verbum Catholic Bible Study software) and dig deeper. “There is gold in them there hills” for those with eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts and minds to learn. Enter promo code STEVERAY for a 15% discount.

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Presentation at the Temple by Tatian

Join us this year on our Holy Land pilgrimages or St. Paul Mediterranean Cruise or next year on a pilgrimage to Fatima in Portugal, Avila in Spain and Lourdes in France or to see the Italy, Rome and the Holy Shroud of Turin. Visit


“The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (as it is known in the West), or The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple (its name in the East), is a liturgical feast celebrated on November 21 by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, and Orthodox Churches.

“The feast is associated with an event recounted not in the New Testament, but in the apocryphal Infancy Narrative of James. According to that text, Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne, who had been childless, received a heavenly message that they would have a child. In thanksgiving for the gift of their daughter, they brought her, when still a child, to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her to God. Mary was taken to the Temple at around the age of three in fulfillment of a vow…. Tradition held that she was to remain there to be educated in preparation for her role as Mother of God. Joseph was then chosen to be her caretaker.” (Wikipedia)


This document about the birth and infancy of Mary was written in the early 2nd century and known and loved by the first Christians. It is the source for the names of Mary’s parents Joachim and Anna. It is fascinating.

I have only provided the first 1/3 of the document. The second part of the document is about Joseph and Mary’s betrothal. The third about the birth of Jesus.  Enjoy the pictures of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the bottom.

The Protoevangelium of James
The Birth of Mary the Holy Mother of God,
and Very Glorious Mother of Jesus Christ

In Honor of the Feast Day of Sts. Joachim and Anna on July 26.

IN THE RECORDS OF THE TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL was Joachim, a man rich exceedingly; and he brought his offerings double, saying: There shall be of my superabundance to all the people, and there shall be the offering for my forgiveness to the Lord for a propitiation for me. For the great day of the Lord was at hand, and the sons of Israel were bringing their offerings. And there stood over against him Rubim, saying: It is not meet for thee first to bring thine offerings, because thou hast not made seed in Israel. And Joachim was exceedingly grieved, and went away to the registers of the twelve tribes of the people, saying: I shall see the registers of the twelve tribes of Israel, as to whether I alone have not made seed in Israel. And he searched, and found that all the righteous had raised up seed in Israel. And he called to mind the patriach Abraham, that in the last day God gave him a son Isaac. And Joachim was exceedingly grieved, and did not come into the presence of his wife; but he retired to the desert, and there pitched his tent, and fasted forty days and forty nights, saying in himself: I will not go down either for food or for drink until the Lord my God shall look upon me, and prayer shall be my food and drink.

2. And his wife Anna mourned in two mournings, and lamented in two lamentations, saying: I shall bewail my widowhood; I shall bewail my childlessness. And the great day of the Lord was at hand; and Judith her maid-servant said: How long dost thou humiliate thy soul? Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand, and it is unlawful for thee to mourn. But take this head-band, which the woman that made it gave to me; for it is not proper that I should wear it, because I am a maid-servant, and it has a royal appearance. And Anna said: Depart from me; for I have not done such things, and the Lord has brought me very low. I fear that some wicked person has given it to thee, and thou hast come to make me a sharer in thy sin. And Judith said: Why should I curse thee, seeing that the Lord hath shut thy womb, so as not to give thee fruit in Israel? And Anna was grieved exceedingly, and put off her garments of mourning, and cleaned her head, and put on her wedding garments, and about the ninth hour went down to the garden to walk. And she saw a laurel, and sat under it, and prayed to the Lord, saying: O God of our fathers, bless me and hear my prayer, as Thou didst bless the womb of Sarah, and didst give her a son Isaac.

3. And gazing towards the heaven, she saw a sparrow’s nest in the laurel, and made a lamentation in herself, saying: Alas! who begot me? and what womb produced me? because I have become a curse in the presence of the sons of Israel, and I have been reproached, and they have driven me in derision out of the temple of the Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like the fowls of the heaven, because even the fowls of the heaven are productive before Thee, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like the beasts of the earth, because even the beasts of the earth are productive before Thee, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like these waters, because even these waters are productive before Thee, O Lord. Alas! to what have I been likened? I am not like this earth, because even the earth bringeth forth its fruits in season, and blesseth Thee, O Lord.

4. And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood by, saying: Anna, Anna, the Lord hath heard thy prayer, and thou shalt conceive, and shall bring forth; and thy seed shall be spoken of in all the world. And Anna said: As the Lord my God liveth, if I beget either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God; and it shall minister to Him in holy things all the days of its life. And, behold, two angels came, saying to her: Behold, Joachim thy husband is coming with his flocks. For an angel of the Lord went down to him, saying: Joachim, Joachim, the Lord God hath heard thy prayer Go down hence; for, behold, thy wife Anna shall conceive. And Joachim went down and called his shepherds, saying: Bring me hither ten she-lambs without spot or blemish, and they shall be for the Lord my God; and bring me twelve tender calves, and they shall be for the priests and the elders; and a hundred goats for all the people. And, behold, Joachim came with his flocks; and Anna stood by the gate, and saw Joachim coming, and she ran anti hung upon his neck, saying: Now I know that the Lord God hath blessed me exceedingly; for, behold the widow no longer a widow, and I the childless shall conceive. And Joachim rested the first day in his house.

5. And on the following day he brought his offerings, saying in himself: If the Lord God has been rendered gracious to me, the plate on the priest’s forehead will make it manifest to me. And Joachim brought his offerings, and observed attentively the priest’s plate when he went up to the altar of the Lord, and he saw no sin in himself. And Joachim said: Now I know that the Lord has been gracious unto me, and has remitted all my sins. And he went down from the temple of the Lord justified, and departed to his own house. And her months were fulfilled, and in the ninth month Anna brought forth. And she said to the midwife: What have I brought forth? and she said: A girl. And said Anna: My soul has been magnified this day. And she laid her down. And the days having been fulfilled, Anna was purified, and gave the breast to the child, and called her name Mary.

6. And the child grew strong day by day; and when she was six months old, her mother set her on the ground to try whether she could stand, and she walked seven steps and came into her bosom; and she snatched her up, saying: As the Lord my God liveth, thou shall not walk on this earth until I bring thee into the temple of the Lord. And she made a sanctuary in her bed-chamber, and allowed nothing common or unclean to pass through her. And she called the undefiled daughters of the Hebrews, and they led her astray. And when she was a year old, Joachim made a great feast, and invited the priests, and the scribes, and the elders, and all the people of Israel. And Joachim brought the child to the priests; and they blessed her, saying: O God of our fathers, bless this child, and give her an everlasting name to be named in all generations. And all the people said: So be it, so be it, amen. And he brought her to the chief priests; and they blessed her, saying: O God most high, look upon this child, and bless her with the utmost blessing, which shall be for ever. And her mother snatched her up, and took her into the sanctuary of her bed-chamber, and gave her the breast. And Anna made a song to the Lord God, saying: I will sing a song to the Lord my God, for He hath looked upon me, and hath taken away the reproach of mine enemies; and the Lord hath given the the fruit of His righteousness, singular in its kind, and richly endowed before Him. Who will tell the sons of Rubim that Anna gives suck? Hear, hear, ye twelve tribes of Israel, that Anna gives suck. And she laid her to rest in the bed-chamber of her sanctuary, and went out and ministered unto them. And when the supper was ended, they went down rejoicing, and glorifying the God of Israel.

Statue in the Church of St. Ann, Mary's birthplace in Jerusalem

7. And her months were added to the child. And the child was two years old, and Joachim said: Let us take her up to the temple of the Lord, that we may pay the vow that we have vowed, lest perchance the Lord send to us, and our offering be not received. And Anna said: Let us wait for the third year, in order that the child may not seek for father or mother. And Joachim said: So let us wait. And the child was three years old, and Joachim said: Invite the daughters of the Hebrews that are undefiled, and let them take each a lamp, and let them stand with the lamps burning, that the child may not turn back, and her heart be captivated from the temple of the Lord. And they did so until they went up into the temple of the Lord. And the priest received her, and kissed her, and blessed her, saying: The Lord has magnified thy name in all generations. In thee, on the last of the days, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the sons of Israel. And he set her down upon the third step of the altar, and the Lord God sent grace upon her; and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her.

8. And her parents went down marvelling, and praising the Lord God, because the child had not turned back. And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there, and she received food from the hand of an angel. And when she was twelve years old there was held a council of the priests, saying: Behold, Mary has reached the age of twelve years in the temple of the Lord. What then shall we do with her, test perchance she defile the sanctuary of the Lord? And they said to the high priest: Thou standest by the altar of the Lord; go in, and pray concerning her; and whatever the Lord shall manifest unto thee, that also will we do. And the high priest went in, taking the robe with the twelve bells into the holy of holies; and he prayed concerning her. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by him, saying unto him: Zacharias, Zacharias, go out and assemble the widowers of the people, and let them bring each his rod; and to whomsoever the Lord shall show a sign, his wife shall she be. And the heralds went out through all the circuit of Judaea, and the trumpet of the Lord sounded, and all ran.

Click here for the rest of the document


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Our Mass at Shrine in Fatima last month; join us in July

We just took a great group of pilgrims to Fatima, Avila and Lourdes. We have another trip going in July to visit Fatima, Santiago de Compostela and Lourdes. Join us and miss all the crowds! 

Pope Francis Plans to Visit Fatima in 2017

Trip to Coincide with 100th Anniversary of Marian Apparitions, By Junno Arocho Esteves

ROME, April 27, 2015 ( – Pope Francis is expected to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima (Portugal) in 2017 on the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Come with us so you can say, “I was there!”)

We met Lucia's niece

According to a press release by the diocese, confirmed that news of the visit was given directly to the bishop by the Holy Father during a private audience at the Vatican on Saturday.

“Pope Francis confirmed to Bishop Antonio Marto that, ‘if God gives him life and health’, he wants to be in Cova di Iria to celebrate the centenary of the Apparitions of Fatima,” the diocese stated.

The communique also stated that after having received various invitations to Fatima, this is the first time that the Pope has confirmed his desire to go, as well as authorizing the diocese to make his intention to visit public.

Join us in Fatima in July; click image for more info

On May 13th, 1917, three shepherd children: Lucia dos Santos, Jacinta Marto and Francisco Marto were visited by the Blessed Virgin Mary. After several months, almost 30,000 people witnessed “The Miracle of the Sun”, a phenomenon in which the sun spun and changed colors. The sign was promised by the Virgin Mary so that the faithful would believe.

St. John Paul II credited the Blessed Mother with saving his life from an assassin’s bullet on May 13th, 1981. He later placed the bullet in the crown of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

See our pilgrimage page here. Click on the brochure image to see the full brochure. For more info contact my associate Suzanne at or 1-800-727-1999, ext.121.

Jacinta, Lucia and Francesco







See our day in Fatima just a few weeks ago!

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Feast Day for a Deserter? Yup! Read the Story of St. Mark

April 23, 2015

His voice boomed over the crowds in Rome as it had done all around the Roman Empire. The large fisherman was aging but his voice was still filled with intensity and conviction. The thronging crowds listened with curiosity. Rome was the hub of the civilized world and Peter preached the message of a Jewish rabbi named [...]

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How Long Was Jesus in the Tomb? Another Contradiction?

April 4, 2015

“For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:38-40) Skeptics claim to have discovered an error in the New Testament —claiming Jesus was not in the tomb [...]

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When Was Jesus Crucified? How Long on the Cross? Do the Gospels Contradict Each Other?

April 3, 2015

Do the Gospels Conflict? How Long was Jesus on the Cross? The question intrigued me sufficiently enough that I spent the best part of a day working on it. On the surface there seems to be a contradiction in the Gospels, mentioning different times for the crucifixion.  Maybe the Apostles forgot to check their watches! Mark says [...]

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Two Cool Timelines for Holy Week

March 31, 2015

There are a lot of things that happened in Holy Week. Do you know what was done when?  Where Jesus was each day?  What the sequence of events were? These are great tools to accompany you through Holy Week and beyond. Print them out and put them on your refrigerator. Talk about it over dinner [...]

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Steve on Lots of Radio Shows this Week

March 30, 2015

Lots of Radio Shows this Week – Join Me!  All times are Eastern Time All of the “Virtual Tours” came out VERY different, since a few of them were pre-recorded. None of them were alike :-) Each interviewer asked, and will ask different questions which take us in many different directions. It is a topic [...]

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Rise AGAIN? When Did Jesus Rise the First Time?

March 28, 2015

Since we will soon be again at the very place where Jesus rose again from the dead, there is an interesting question that is often asked. It’s a fair question — one I’ve been asked numerous times. “If Jesus rose AGAIN, when did he rise the first time? He did not die and rise prior to [...]

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Chair of Moses, Chair of Peter

February 19, 2015

                          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 [...]

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The Skull is Talking to Me; Lent is Upon Us!

February 18, 2015

THE SKULL TALKS TO ME EVERY MORNING! It says, “As you are now, I once was; as I am now, you soon shall be — remember your mortality!” No better way to approach Ash Wednesday and 40 days of Lent. Artists have painted St. Jerome with a skull on his desk. Popes were known to keep [...]

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Nine Things You Should Know about Lent, by Jimmy Akin

February 17, 2015

Jimmy is one of my good friends and favorite guys, especially when it comes to biblical, Catholic and apologetical issues — and square dancing :-) I also love the looks of his bushy red beard. You can visit him at Now, on to the matter of Lent: 1. What is Lent? According to the Universal Norms [...]

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John the Baptist Ate Them…Steve Ate One too!

January 10, 2015

I was just on the radio and mentioned how I ate a grasshopper in the Holy Land, in honor of John the Baptist. Since we just returned from Israel I thought I would repost this blog entry in honor of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus on January 9 and my appearance on Relevant Radio to [...]

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Womb 2 Tomb; Bethlehem 2 Jerusalem; Biking on Christmas thru the Holy Land

December 26, 2014

  We are in Israel with my daughter Charlotte, her husband Wesley and my wife Janet. We are picking up our bus full of people tomorrow at the Tel Aviv airport. We are looking forward to a wonderful pilgrimage through the land of Our Lord. We arrived a day before our group so my son-in-law [...]

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Riddle: What Christmas Carol is This?

December 24, 2014

ABCDEFGHIJKMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ It is a clever riddle, but see if you can figure it out.

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Steve’s Virtual Tour of Bethlehem with Teresa Tomeo

December 23, 2014

I will be on Ave Maria Radio along with Teresa Tomeo to do a “A Virtual Tour of Bethlehem – Then and Now”. You can join us on Ave Maria Radio, EWTN or SIRIUS, or through the Internet at Archived show HERE for December 24, 2nd Hour. Listen HERE. Listen on iTunes HERE.

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