Pilgrimages

The Bishop with all our Clergy in Thessaloniki

The ancient Christian writer and theologian Tertullian once asked the Church, “What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?”

He asked the question as Christianity spread from Israel into the Greek world; and as Greek intellectuals looked for deeper insight into the Christian mystery. Tertullian was asking whether pagan Greek culture—philosophy, poetry, the arts, history and literature—had anything of value for those first missionaries proclaiming the Christian gospel.

Two weeks ago, on a plane landing in Athens, I asked myself Tertullian’s question.  I was in Athens to begin a spiritual pilgrimage to Greece and Turkey “in the footsteps of St. Paul.” I was with a group of pilgrims celebrating the 15th anniversary of Spirit Catholic Radio: eight priests from Lincoln and Omaha; three deacons;140 lay Catholics from across Nebraska and beyond. 

We were led by Steve and Janet Ray, expert pilgrim leaders, and Jim and Karol Carroll of Spirit Catholic Radio. It was a joy and a grace for me to walk as a pilgrim in the footsteps of St. Paul, the great Apostle to the Gentiles, with fellow disciples of Jesus Christ from our state.

Our Ship Docked on Island of Patmos

By cruise ship on the Aegean Sea, we visited and celebrated Holy Mass in Thessoloniki, Philippi, Istanbul, Pergamon, Ephesus, Patmos, Athens and Corinth. We heard talks at these holy sites, given by Steve Ray, Catholic convert, author and film maker, who leads Catholic pilgrimages all over the world.  We heard inspiring homilies by holy priests. We prayed together for all the special prayer intentions we brought with us from home.

Everywhere I traveled, I asked myself “what does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?” In Athens itself I learned the answer: Athens has everything to do with Jerusalem.  The Gospel can only really be understood in the midst of understanding culture; to understand Christianity as Western Catholics, we need to understand the fundamental history of western civilization.

The Bishop and Steve on Mars Hill in Athens where St. Paul Taught

When St. Paul arrived in Athens, he preached the gospel at the famous Areopagus, a gathering place just beneath the Parthenon. He was able to speak to the Greeks in their own language. He was able to quote Greek poets and philosophers. He appealed to Greeks in their own cultural language because he was schooled in Tarsus, the successor to the school of Athens as the center of learning and education in Asia Minor.

Paul was run out of town after his first visit to Athens.  But he was able to plant the Lord’s seeds of conversion in the hearts and minds of the Athenians—the movers and shakers of the ancient world. He would eventually come back to cultivate those seeds that were planted.

Paul was able to use his fluency with the language, culture and customs of the Greek world in order to present the compelling message of Jesus Christ in a way that was attractive and persuasive. To be sure, St. Paul suffered a great deal during his missionary journeys to the Greek world. The Greeks were highly educated and influential. They were also utterly pagan. They worshiped false gods, they were self-indulgent and decadent, and they were infatuated with progress, technology, and the latest new fad. Paul preached to a world not much different than ours today….

The whole article is excellent and you can read the rest of it HERE. Also on Zenit.org.

You will find out why the picture below was the highlight of Bishop Conley’s trip.

Iraqi's in Athens

 

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Written today from a pilgrim who has traveled to the Holy Land with us numerable times:

“For those committed or considering, don’t let anyone keep you away. Steve and Janet would never put you in danger, and the experience is a once in a lifetime event. I would go back for a fourth time with no fear. This land is where our religion was founded, we cannot let events keep us away. You are much safer in Jerusalem than in Detroit.”

And do we have the trips for you!

Click here to see the full brochure

Work and school schedules a problem — no problem! We have a convenient pilgrimage planned over the Christmas break — from the day after Christmas until before work and school start after New Year’s.

Join our Holy Land Christmas-Break Pilgrimage from December 26 – January 4. We have special events arranged for kids. We also have a great pilgrimage going February 11-20, 2015 and another May 11-20.

For all of our upcoming trips to Israel, Italy, Lourdes, Avila and Fatima, the Shroud of Turin and more visit www.FootprintsOfGod.com

FOR THOSE CONCERNED ABOUT SAFETY IN THE HOLY LAND 

Janet and I just returned from the Holy Land with 55 excited and grateful pilgrims. The comment we received the most from these pilgrims was, “This was a very safe and quiet trip. Thank you SO much for not canceling like so many other groups did.” 

Christmas shopping in Bethlehem

Many groups canceled precipitously because of the fighting with Gaza (a cyclical event that happens every few years). We understood the situation and knew, 1) it would not effect our travel route, and 2) it would be over before our groups arrived.

 And we were right. With fewer tourists it seemed we had the whole country to ourselves— NO LINES! Easy access to the holy sites and it will be like that for much of our October trip as well. 

Everyone loves the camel rides

 


Is it safe in Israel? Watch this 2 minute film from our trip in September 2014 showing daily life in Jerusalem and comments from some of our 55 pilgrims.

 Please feel free to contact Suzanne or Elizabeth at Corporate Travel if you would like to ask questions or discuss the trip further at 800-727-1999, extension 121 or 150. Also sparran@ctscentral.net.

You can email me too at sray@me.com. This will be an exciting boutique pilgrimage and trip with a one-bus group. We look forward to showing you our favorite places in the world, following the footprints of our Lord and Lady (we’ve been to Israel over 130 times :-)

Our hotel in Jerusalem

 

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I put up a post a few days ago with a video of my talk in Ephesus about Mary being Queen of Heaven and an Intercessor for the people of God’s kingdom.

Someone wrote to object saying,

It is interesting Steve, as to what you left out in your reference to 1 Kings 2:19 , Solomon’s Mother did indeed come in to the throne room, Solomon did indeed, rise and bow and have her sit at his right hand. But the Queen Mother’s request was in fact denied, and the first person to go to the Queen Mother with his request was put to death that very day! So much for taking requests to the Queen Mother, doesn’t always work!

I responded,

Let me explain a bit. Solomon is a type of Christ yet Solomon was a sinner. Solomon’s sin does not detract from Jesus’ perfection as the quintessential king of Israel and the Universe.

Every king had a queen but it was never his wife; it was his mother. She was called giborah, great lady and Queen Mother.

Being a sinner and flawed did not detract from the fact that Solomon was a type of Christ. Neither does Bathsheba’s sin and flaws detract from her being a prefigurement of Mary. Solomon and his mother were sinners; Jesus and his mother were not. What Solomon and his mother failed to do; Jesus and his mother do perfectly.

If you use Bathsheba’s sin to diminish Mary, then you must be consistent and use Solomon’s sin to diminish Jesus. Queen mothers were flawed intercessors; the Mother of God is an intercessor without flaw.

I didn’t miss anything.

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What Did People Say? Comments and Farewells from Athens

November 8, 2014

It is always hard to say goodbye after spending two weeks together visiting all the biblical sites in the footprints of St. Paul, St. John and Mary. It was a wonderful trip and here are a lot of comments and thoughts of the people who joined this pilgrimage including Bishop Conley of Lincoln Nebraska and [...]

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Corinth, Erastus’ Name; Bishop Conley Explains Our Gift

November 8, 2014

Thunderstorms were forecast but the rain stopped when we arrived in Ancient Corinth. Blue sky broke thru and we had a moving Mass on a rock outdoors in front of the Judgment Seat where Paul was brought. After a tour of the ancient city where St. Paul lived for 18 months we went to a [...]

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Highlights of Athens; Story of St. Paul Here

November 7, 2014

Off the ship and in to tour Athens. First we had Mass at the Catholic Cathedral of St. Dionysius the Areopagite who was Paul’s convert in Athens who later became Athen’s first bishop. Our favorite stop was Mars Hill, the Areopagus, where St. Paul explained the truth of Jesus Christ. To the judges of Athens. [...]

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Glorious Ephesus: Mass at House of Mary, Bishop Conley’s Homily and more

November 5, 2014

Great day in the city of St. Paul, St. John and where Mary lived. Also the 3rd Ecumenical Council where bishops declared Mary the Mother of God. Also Bishop Conley’s excellent homily during Mass at Mary’s House at Ephesus. Enjoy! Bishop Conley’s Homily at Mary’s House in Ephesus Turkey

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The Throne of Satan and Steve’s Message to the Churches, Day 10 in Pergamum

November 4, 2014

What a day! We had a wonderful Mass on the ship with Bishop Conley presiding. Then we took off in our buses to go to Pergamum the biblical city mentioned in Revelation 2:12-17. While on the Acropolis of Pergamum I played the part of the messenger bringing the word from St. John the bishop of [...]

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Largest and most magnificent church for 1000 years before the Muslims took it over, Day 9

November 3, 2014

Istanbul, or rather for Christians – Constantinople is where we toured today. We started at the gym of the city called Hagia Sophia. This magnificent edifice was the most beautiful and largest church in the world for 1000 years before St. Peter’s was built in Rome. The Muslims took it over and defaced all the [...]

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To Philippi with St. Paul, Day 8

November 3, 2014

Today was a blockbuster day following St. Paul as he entered Europe for the first time. Kavala, the city on the coast of the Aegean Sea used to be called Neapolis during Paul’s time. We arrived and boarded our buses and drove through Kavala seeing the mosaic of Paul receiving a vision from the Macedonian [...]

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Robin’s Conversion Story in Prep for St. Paul Cruise

November 1, 2014

Robin writes: St Paul Pilgrimage – preface I wanted to begin this blog with my conversion story. For some of you, you may stop reading here but I encourage you to continue. This is my second pilgrimage with Steve Ray and his wife Janet. I choose to travel with him because I would not be [...]

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From Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano to Ferry across Adriatic Sea

October 30, 2014

Today we started early in the morning at Lanciano Italy at the stupendous Eucharistic miracle which took place in the 700s. A priest was doubting the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and God gave him a miracle which carries down to this day. When he held the host in his hand it turned [...]

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Pope Up Close, Face of God Up Close: Pilgrimage Cruise Day 4

October 29, 2014

What an amazing day! Starting with a 5:00 AM wake up call so we could be the first ones in line to enter St. Peter’s Square for the General Audience with Pope Francis. And boy, did that pay off! All of our people got to see the Pope up close. It was a marvelous morning [...]

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Rome Day 2: Hiking Tour thru Rome

October 27, 2014

Day Tour: we started with the drive through Rome to the Pantheon where we left everybody to scatter for lunch at all the excellent and delicious cafés in the area. After a tour of the Pantheon we visited the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva which houses the remains of St. Catherine of Siena and [...]

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Arrival Day in Rome for Spirit Catholic Radio

October 26, 2014

About 70 folks arrived today and about ten more tomorrow morning. We’re off to a great start with Sunday Mass at a Carmelite Monastery with the cloistered sisters. But tomorrow the real excitement begins when we start our tours and begin exploring the Eternal City.

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“11 Must-see Churches in Rome” Steve Ray quoted in Fox News Article

October 24, 2014

Since we leave for Rome today to pick up our 80 pilgrims for a pilgrimage through Italy, Greece and Turkey, I thought I would post this article so you can see some of the churches we will visit.  Here is the portion of the article in which I contributed. Teresa Tomeo also shares her favorite [...]

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