The Pilgrim Log

Weekly Inspiration to Live Your Daily Pilgrimage

How to Pray These Days: Expert Advice

Do you ever feel like you’re “praying wrong” or don’t know how to start praying? I can assure you from our experience at Pilgrim Center of Hope (PCH)… Don’t worry; almost everyone wonders that!

Even Jesus’ disciples wanted to know how to pray. They implored him, “Teach us to pray.” So, Jesus outlined the most fundamental prayer, known today as the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father. Each line of this prayer teaches us something important about prayer:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed (holy) be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread;
and forgive us our debts
as we forgive our debtors;
and do not subject us to the final test,
but deliver us from the evil one.
(Matthew 6:9-13)

We could meditate on what each line of this prayer means, and still would find new insights with each day.

One of the greatest treasures we have is the model of the saints, who were human just like us—with complicated lives, struggles, challenges, joys, and sorrows. Through practice, they became prayer experts. At Pilgrim Center of Hope, we mine their treasured insights like the spiritual gold and jewels that they are, especially through our monthly Socials with the Saints.

Here are some of our favorite pieces of advice:

Four Simple Attitudes

St. Anthony of Padua was known for his teaching style that would captivate the listener. Here’s what he taught about how we should pray:

  1. Open your heart confidently to God.
  2. Speak affectionately with God.
  3. Present to God your needs.
  4. Praise and thank God.
In Difficult Times

When we face challenges, prayer can become more difficult. Through a Social with the Saints at PCH, we’ve learned from someone who understands this well; St. Mary MacKillop. Like Jesus, Mary MacKillop experienced the rejection of her own religious leaders, through an unjust excommunication.

We were in awe as we read that Mary would often say, “Today, God has been so good to me.” Considering her tremendously difficult circumstances, what an insight this was for us, into maintaining a prayerful attitude. She advised,

Let us study the Heart of God and, in doing so, we shall learn many beautiful lessons of patience and love.

About prayer, she said; “Let me humbly place myself in the presence of my God, of my God who created me, my God who redeemed me, my God who sanctified me.”

When Words Fail

What about when we simply cannot express ourselves in words? St. Teresa of Avila assured us, “Prayer is an act of love; words are not needed. Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love.”

Saint Paul further reminds us that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work together to communicate with us, as long as we open our hearts: “We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will” (Romans 8:26-27).

Don’t worry; “the holy ones” in this context does not leave you out. “Holy” means “set apart,” and when we choose to pray, we are setting ourselves apart. Jesus encourages us: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him [on] the last day” (John 6:40).

Start Now

Do not be afraid; simply choose to pray. Picture Jesus in your mind. Ask for guidance. You have nothing to lose! God is eager to enter this journey with you.

Take advantage of upcoming opportunities to grow spiritually and practice prayer. We invite you to browse our Port of Hope & Events Calendar; we’re here for you, but most importantly—God is here for you.


Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.

Angela Sealana is Media Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, having served at the apostolate since 2010. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.

How Jesus’ Love Is Real

Jesus said to his apostles, “Whoever loves father and mother more than me is not worthy of me.” To receive this message literally may seem quite harsh, but actually it is another way of stating the Greatest Commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

God’s Love

With the help of our parents, God created us out of love, and it is his love that keeps us in existence. God, in his wisdom, commands us to love him above all else – because he knows this is the only way to perfect happiness. Since God is Love and is the source of love, we can only reach our potential for loving ourselves and others when we love God first.

In God’s plan, everything is connected to his love, even the crosses he asks us to carry.

  • He has already proven his love for us by sending his Son to become one of us. Born of the Virgin Mary, he took the name Jesus, and fulfilled all that the Scriptures prophesied about him.
  • He spoke with authority and performed miracles while teaching about the love of the Heavenly Father.
  • Out of love for us he established his Church upon Peter, the first pope, and the apostles so that his authority will be with us until the end of time, showing us how to live our lives close to God.
  • On the night before he died, at the Last Supper, he instituted the priesthood and the Holy Eucharist so that those who believe in him might be one with him in a supernatural way when we receive him sacramentally. Such is his love for us.
  • In obedience to the Father, he suffered his terrible passion and death on the cross for our salvation; he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven so that the Father would send the Holy Spirit on the Church he founded.
Love for God

This Jesus who has done all of this for us is telling us what we must do if we are to share eternal life with him. When God is our priority, we will recognize the specific plan he has for each of us. Then when we undergo trials, we know he will help us carry our crosses, because he promised he would.

God has always loved me, but I did not always give much thought about my love for God. How could I? Prayer was only an occasional activity. For love to be real, it must be a relationship with mutual and frequent communication. God is constantly communicating with us through his creation, through the events of the day, and through the people around us. When we spend time in prayer every day, when we read the Scriptures, and when we participate in the Mass and the sacraments of the Church; we become more aware of how close God is to us, and we begin to love God because we are able to experience his love.

What I Didn’t Know

Like most Catholics, I received my First Communion when I was in second grade. Through the years, I knew this was a special gift that I should not receive if I committed a mortal sin, but I did not have a deep understanding that this was the greatest gift of my life. Our Lord loves us so much that he gives us himself totally under the appearance of bread and wine. He does this so that we can become one with him in a supernatural way, and this is as close as we can get to heaven on earth.

Before the three children from Fatima received Holy Communion from the angel, they were taught this prayer. “I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love thee. And I ask pardon of those who do not believe, adore hope and love thee.” If we ask God, he will help us believe, adore, hope, and love him.

Lord, you have proven your love for me, help me to prove my love for you.


Deacon Tom FoxK.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Deacon Tom is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.

Pilgrims carry the Cross along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem - January 2017

When Your Cross Is Too Heavy!

Pilgrims carry the Cross along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem - January 2017

Any person, whether a follower of Jesus or not, will suffer frustration and pain in this life. Taking up one’s cross and following Jesus is something completely different. The Lord Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Mark 8:34, Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. In Jesus’ day, the cross wasn’t just a symbol of pain and suffering; it was mainly a symbol of death. That doesn’t sound very good does it?

What is your cross?

What Jesus is referring to is an invitation to:

  • Walk with him – and as we do, we learn about his teachings; his message on how to live daily with his peace.
  • Begin a relationship with him, with a commitment to the end.
  • To be obedient, even to the extreme measure and willingness to die in pursuit of obedience to him, who is the Truth.
  • To trust him alone for our salvation, and then to follow him as his disciples. He said, “Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).

Our cross can be physical or spiritual or psychological. It can range from a sickness or disorder to the inner wounds caused by someone who has hurt us.

St. Paul had a thorn in the flesh, as we read in 2 Corinthians 12:7. We don’t exactly know what the thorn in the flesh was that St. Paul carried. Whatever it was, Paul’s first course of action was to ask the Lord to take this thorn away. So we, too, can ask the Lord Jesus to remove our pains or lighten them. However, if they remain, like Paul we will find our strength and peace in Jesus.

How do I embrace my cross?

Only with the help of God’s grace – which is quite different from trying our best to accept a cross without grace. When we do embrace our cross with God’s grace, we find ourselves depending on God more and more each day! Then it is possible to carry our cross knowing that God is helping us!

I met a woman a few years ago who was dying of cancer. She thanked God for the cancer because it brought her to know Him – and to a point where she could forgive those who had hurt her. She told me that if she would have died before her illness, she may have lost her soul, because she had been filled with bitterness due to wounds and hurts from her past. During that time, she didn’t know about the life of Jesus. Her illness placed her on a journey of healing, a different healing than expected; her healing was in her soul and her mind. She was at peace and ready to meet her Creator. She embraced her cross, and it brought her to new life with Jesus.

Take a moment now to ask the Lord Jesus to give you his grace; the strength needed to carry your cross.

The Lord Jesus willingly embraced the cross for our sake to atone for our sins and to free us from slavery to sin, Satan, and death. Proclaim boldly what no earthly power can destroy -the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus had to carry his cross, so the disciples must carry their cross and not try to evade it. To suffer for the faith is to share in the work of Christ. Do you trust in God’s grace to carry your cross for Jesus’ sake? – DailyScripture.net

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – St. Paul the Apostle

Jesus, with you I can carry my cross!


Mary Jane Fox, D.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with her husband, Deacon Tom Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Mary Jane is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Dame of the Holy Sepulchre.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.