The Pilgrim Log
Weekly Inspiration to Live Your Daily Pilgrimage
The following is an adapted version of Deacon Tom Fox’s homily for Sunday, September 27, 2020.
To understand Sunday’s first reading of the prophet Ezekiel, we recall the special relationship that the Chosen People had with God.
When they, as a people, are faithful to God, they experienced the blessings of God together. However, when they, as a people, are unfaithful, they experienced the wrath of God together.
Nevertheless, individuals are held responsible for their own actions. If a man turns away from his evil ways and does what is right, even if his father did not keep the commandments, he shall preserve his life. If a man whose father was virtuous but he himself turns to sin, he will lose his life. Through these examples, Ezekiel is pointing out that individuals who turn to God will receive His mercy and blessings, no matter what they or their fathers have done. Some believed God was unfair because His judgement did not meet their expectations.
What Is Our Opinion of God?
What about us? Do we believe God is fair?
There are many people who refuse to believe in God because He doesn’t meet their expectations. Some say, “If God is real, why does He allow so much suffering?” or “Why doesn’t He answer my prayer?” On the other hand, for those who want to believe, there is over-whelming evidence of the existence of God. For example; how could the order of the universe and all creation be an accident? —that life began when there was no life?
For me, some of the most convincing evidence is the lives of the saints and the miracles that God worked through them. Even more important than that, their lives are a testimony to what it means to live in a personal, intimate relationship with God and experience great joy, peace, and hope—even in the most difficult circumstances.
Finding the Happiness We Seek
In Sunday’s second reading, Paul tells us how we can share in that joy.
Jesus Christ has made it possible by humbling himself, coming to us in human likeness, and being obedient to God the Father; even to the point of accepting death out of love for us. We must, as Paul says, “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vain glory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not only for his own interests, but also for those of others.”
That is how the saints have reached their potential for happiness in this life and for all eternity; because of their obedience and humility in the same manner as Christ. The same will be true for us.
It isn’t the easy road; we can only travel it with the help of God’s grace. In reality, anyone can travel this road if we chose humility and obedience to what God has revealed to us through the Scriptures and the Church.
What We Are Called to Experience
In Sunday’s Gospel, we see the fairness of God. In the beginning, the one son says ‘no’ to his father, but later changed his mind and obeyed. The other son said ‘yes’ to his father, but then disobeyed. The comparison of the two sons is another parable for the kingdom of God.
Even if in the beginning we’ve made bad choices, the Kingdom of God will be open to us if we turn back to God with a desire to do His will—no matter what we have done. First, we must have the humility to accept the forgiveness of God through the sacrament of confession, and then have the desire to be faithful to Him.
At some point, we all must undergo conversion and surrender our lives to God. How will we know we have undergone a conversion?
- When every day we ask God for the grace to discover and do his will.
- When we stay connected to God in prayer; his plan for us will gradually become more clear.
Today Is the Day to Begin Again!
In every age, including the present time, there have been and continue to be stories of profound conversions. These testimonies are for our benefit, so that we also will take God seriously and surrender our lives to Him.
The sooner we begin ordering our lives to God, the sooner we will begin to reach our potential for happiness and peace. The happiest people on this earth are those who are faithful disciples of Our Lord.
Deacon Tom Fox, K.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.
Our world is filled with beauty!
In these times of worry and anxiety due to fears of pandemic and social unrest, the Church comes to bring hope!
In his encyclical, Christus Vivit, Pope Francis exhorts young people and people of all ages to remember that Jesus is alive! He is God and God does not forsake us!
145. Contrary to what many people think, the Lord does not want to stifle these desires for a fulfilling life. We do well to remember the words of an Old Testament sage: “My child, treat yourself well, according to your means, and present your offerings to the Lord; do not deprive yourself of a day’s enjoyment, do not let your share of desired good pass by” (Sirach 14:11.14). The true God, who loves you, wants you to be happy. For this reason, the Bible also contains this piece of advice to young people: “Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth… banish anxiety from your mind” (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10). For God “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).
146. How could God take pleasure in someone incapable of enjoying his small everyday blessings, someone blind to the simple pleasures we find all around us? “No one is worse than one who is grudging to himself” (Sirach 14:6). Far from obsessively seeking new pleasures, which would keep us from making the most of the present moment, we are asked to open our eyes and take a moment to experience fully and with gratitude every one of life’s little gifts.
147. Clearly, God’s word asks you to enjoy the present, not simply to prepare for the future: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own; today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34). But this is not the same as embarking irresponsibly on a life of dissipation that can only leave us empty and perpetually dissatisfied. Rather, it is about living the present to the full, spending our energies on good things, cultivating fraternity, following Jesus and making the most of life’s little joys as gifts of God’s love.
148. Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân, when imprisoned in a concentration camp, refused to do nothing but await the day when he would be set free. He chose “to live the present moment, filling it to the brim with love”. He decided: “I will seize the occasions that present themselves every day; I will accomplish ordinary actions in an extraordinary way”. As you work to achieve your dreams, make the most of each day and do your best to let each moment brim with love. This youthful day may well be your last, and so it is worth the effort to live it as enthusiastically and fully as possible.
149. This can also be applied to times of difficulty, that have to be fully experienced if we are to learn the message they can teach us. In the words of the Swiss Bishops: “God is there where we thought he had abandoned us and there was no further hope of salvation. It is a paradox, but for many Christians, suffering and darkness have become… places of encounter with God”. The desire to live fully and experience new things is also felt by many young people with physical, mental and sensory disabilities. Even though they may not always be able to have the same experiences as others, they possess amazing resources and abilities that are often far above average. The Lord Jesus grants them other gifts, which the community is called to recognize and appreciate, so that they can discover his plan of love for each of them.
Pilgrim Center of Hope invites all women to experience God’s desire for your abundant life by participating in the upcoming Catholic Women’s Conference, which can be experienced both in-person OR live-streaming! Join us October 31, 2020 for a day of fellowship, inspiration, music, prayer and encouragement in our dignity and calling as women and daughters of God. Register at CWCSanAntonio.com.
Everyone is born as an original, but many people end up dying as photocopies. -Carlo Acutis, who will be Beatified this year
In the apostolic exhortation, Christus VivitPope Francis writes to both young people and the entire people of God about current issues we experience. He brings up the dangers of the digital environment and the opportunities it provides. He speaks about the immigration crisis and how mass movement of people across the globe can bring us in greater unity with one another.Pope Francis gives us hope through this encyclical that the Church is with us here and now. It speaks to those of us trying to navigate our ‘new normal’ of work at home and school online worlds.
He shows how the Church does not fear to go into the dark places of the world and shine the light of the Gospel. The remainder of this blog is from Christus Vivit; the inspiring story of Carlo Acutis, a boy who loved computers and loved Jesus more! He died of leukemia in 2006 at the age of 15 and lived a life that has earned him sainthood. Venerable Carlo will be beautified this October.
104. I remind you of the good news we received as a gift on the morning of the resurrection: that in all the dark or painful situations that we mentioned, there is a way out. For example, it is true that the digital world can expose you to the risk of self-absorption, isolation and empty pleasure. But don’t forget that there are young people even there who show creativity and even genius. That was the case with the Venerable Carlo Acutis.
105. Carlo was well aware that the whole apparatus of communications, advertising and social networking can be used to lull us, to make us addicted to consumerism and buying the latest thing on the market, obsessed with our free time, caught up in negativity. Yet he knew how to use the new communications technology to transmit the Gospel, to communicate values and beauty.
106. Carlo didn’t fall into the trap. He saw that many young people, wanting to be different, really end up being like everyone else, running after whatever the powerful set before them with the mechanisms of consumerism and distraction. In this way they do not bring forth the gifts the Lord has given them; they do not offer the world those unique personal talents that God has given to each of them. As a result, Carlo said, “everyone is born as an original, but many people end up dying as photocopies”. Don’t let that happen to you!
107. Don’t let them rob you of hope and joy, or drug you into becoming a slave to their interests. Dare to be more, because who you are is more important than any possession. What good are possessions or appearances? You can become what God your Creator knows you are, if only you realize that you are called to something greater. Ask the help of the Holy Spirit and confidently aim for the great goal of holiness. In this way, you will not be a photocopy. You will be fully yourself.
Rejoice in Hope! You are invited to a virtual multi-day event to raise hope! Join the journey at PilgrimCenterofHope.org/Rejoice