BY CATHERINE TROLL
Christ the King Chapel at Franciscan University of Steubenville hosted Holy Land guide Steve Ray on Jan. 21. Ray gave a powerful presentation on evangelization and faith. He was there not just to preach but to warn, and in doing so he went straight to the point: “The world is going back to paganism.”
“It was a true blessing to have Steve Ray come to campus,” said Franciscan student Luke Wajrowski. “What he said was filled with such wisdom and truth and has brought me to live with a greater understanding and zeal to live out the Gospel in our neo-Pagan world.”
Ray shared how his parents were appalled at how different the world is now from the world they knew when they were young. Today things like promiscuity and homosexual unions are widespread. Several decades ago it was considered socially unacceptable to even discuss such things.
Ray pointed out that when Jesus entered the world he entered into a hostile, pagan culture that had no respect for human life and dignity. In ancient Rome, the unwanted babies were thrown into the river or left outside to be attacked by wild dogs. The pagans had a god called Moloch, which Ray explained, was a “potbelly stove god,” a large iron statue whose arms was extended so that a baby could be placed in the hands and then roll down into flames. Ray said that America has its own Moloch. Today’s Moloch is called abortion.
He said there is hope. When Jesus told Peter, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it,” he was standing next to a cave which was actually named, “The Gates of Hell.” The river into which the Romans would toss their unwanted babies flowed through this very cave. Jesus’ location was not coincidental, Ray said.
America suffers from the same epidemic that ancient Rome faced, and Ray predicted that the worst is coming. He elaborated on how the Romans, because they so badly misunderstood the Christian faith, violently tortured and persecuted the early Christians. He also explained that persecution still goes on today. Ray adamantly insisted that Christians would not be here today if it weren’t for the martyrs.
“They enable us to be who we are today,” said Ray.
“There is a lot of different problems in the world today, and we Catholics have the answers,” Ray said to the audience. There are two different kinds of testimonies, he explained. Catholics can be martyrs by blood and by word. Ray advocated that Christians can prepare to counter the world’s problems and spread the faith by keeping Christ first in their lives. Christians must keep their focus on the Catholic Church.
One way Ray does this is by keeping a real human skull on his desk. He said that the skull is a daily reminder of his own mortality.
“Steve Ray, in thirty years, you’re going to look just like me,” said Ray.
The skull makes him focus on the reality of life, which is eternal life. He encouraged his listeners never to lose sight of that fact and to live out their lives for God.
“What an excellent motivation Steve Ray was,” said student, Mary Beth Vernau. “I’ve heard him speak before, but this was even better. I’m so glad I came. I feel rejuvenated and ready to start the new evangelization. I definitely feel stronger about my call to serve in youth ministry.”