The Pilgrim Log

Weekly Inspiration to Live Your Daily Pilgrimage

Teach Me to Pray the Cross!

The young medical assistant saw my olive wood carved, hand-size crucifix lying by my hospital bed. He picked it up with enthusiasm and asked if I would teach him to pray with the Cross.

After a recent accidental fall, I was hospitalized to surgically mend a fractured ankle. The crucifix, from Jerusalem, became a visible sign of hope for me. Jesus died on the Cross for us; it was a reminder of his love and mercy.

He Did Not Know

As the young man picked up the crucifix, he shared with me his observations of Christians who would venerate the Crucifix and wondered why it meant so much to them.

The other medical assistant with him commented, “He is Moslem!”

Nevertheless, he was so interested to learn “the prayer of the Cross,” as he expressed it. I thought, how am I to explain the Sign of the Cross, a prayer passed on from the 4th century to one who isn’t Christian? At the same time, I was so impressed this young man felt comfortable asking me about the Crucifix. After seeing the expression on his face—eager to learn something sacred, I was encouraged to show him.

Sharing My Faith

As I held the Crucifix in my hand, I held it in front of me. Looking upward, I began:

“God, the Father in Heaven—Allah, who is Great, sent his son Jesus to show us his love. Jesus died on the Cross for us; and sent his Holy Spirit, to be with us always.”

As I continued, I placed the crucifix on my forehead, moved it to my heart, and then left to right; finishing with an Amen as I kissed the Cross. I added, “It is a sign of hope! A sign of God’s love!” Again, I repeated the prayer of the Cross: “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen!”

The young man asked for the Crucifix, and repeated the prayer as he repeated the movements himself.

Shortly after, another medical assistant entered the hospital room and the young man told the other assistant, “I just learned to pray with the Cross!” and made the Sign of the Cross over the assistant with the prayers he had just learned!

I did see this young man again during my hospital stay, he remembered the prayer!

A Sign of Hope

I was delighted for this young man.

The olive wood crucifix is one I hold each day when I pray. It is a sign of consolation and hope, reminding me that whatever cross I am experiencing, I can gaze upon the One who laid down his life for me, and remember that I can be united with Him in all things!

Do we have signs of our faith in Christ displayed in our lives? Whether it be at home, workplace, or wearing a crucifix? Would we be ready to give an explanation for our sign of faith?

Think about having one you can hold and pray; a reminder of his mercy, his presence.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386) in his Catechetical Lectures stated,

Let us then not be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Be the cross our seal, made with boldness by our fingers on our brow and in everything; over the bread we eat and the cups we drink, in our comings and in our goings out; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we awake; when we are traveling, and when we are at rest (Catecheses, 13).


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.

Let’s Go!

The Holy Father has named October, Extraordinary Mission Month, with the message: Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World.

What does this mean?

Pope Francis is reminding us Catholics, that we exist as a Church whose very identity is to answer Christ’s call to spread His Gospel; to go out and invite everyone to encounter our Lord Jesus Christ! It is who we are! It is what we do!

If this scares you, then take heart that a Doctor of the Church, who is the co-patron of missions, is a young nun who never left her convent!  St. Therese of Lisieux’s mission in the world was lived out in what she called her little way of offering her given tasks, her received sufferings, and her intentional acts of kindness, for love of Jesus.

Pope Francis encourages us, as well. He explains that this ‘going out’ does not mean hitting people over the head with a Bible but through sharing the gift of the Treasure given to us. He says,

Our filial relationship with God is not something simply private, but always in relation to the Church. Through our communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we, together with so many of our other brothers and sisters, are born to new life. This divine life is not a product for sale – we do not practice proselytism  – but a treasure to be given, communicated and proclaimed: that is the meaning of mission. We received this gift freely and we share it freely (cf. Matthew 10:8), without excluding anyone. God wills that all people be saved by coming to know the truth and experiencing his mercy through the ministry of the Church, the universal sacrament of salvation (cf. 1 Timothy 2:4; Lumen Gentium, no. 48). – Extraordinary Mission Month

What an exciting adventure we are called to! We head out from this proclamation inspired to give God’s Divine Mercy, show our family and friends the beauty of our rich faith, and share the daily journey accompanying others on the path of salvation… that is until we are met with opposition. It is very difficult to keep up the enthusiasm in the face of hostility, lack of interest, and when we find ourselves more annoyed by, than loving of, others.

Is there a way to stay on mission and not grow weary? Yes!

We can not only sustain but actually increase our faith, deepen our love for and trust in God, and grow in heroic virtue by walking daily with the one person who first received God’s Treasure, bore him into the world, and eternally shares him with all: the Virgin Mary, our Blessed Mother.

This daily walk with Mary is the Rosary.

Providentially, October is also the month of the Rosary. Just as Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs, (Luke 10:1), he continues through his Church to do the same. A library of writings and personal stories attest to the power of the Rosary and its ability to convert our hearts, spiritually nourish our souls, and embolden our faith. Our Pilgrim Center of Hope chaplain, Father Pat Martin, says the Rosary is the most powerful weapon because it destroys pride.

During this special month of October dedicated to the Church’s mission and to the Rosary, enter your first conquest! Challenge yourself to offer a daily Rosary.

It may help to imagine yourself walking beside Mary as you accompany Jesus and his disciples as he goes from village to village. Ask her to tell you about her son as you mediate on the mysteries of the Rosary.


Nan Balfour is a grateful Catholic whose greatest desire is to make our Lord Jesus more loved. She seeks to accomplish this through her vocation to womanhood, marriage, motherhood and as a writer, speaker and events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope.

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.

How Should I Respond to God’s Gifts?

A Recap of This Sunday’s Word

  • At Mass this Sunday, we heard the prophet Amos says “Woe to the complacent…they shall be the first to go into exile.” When we take God for granted and live for ourselves, there are consequences.
  • In the second reading St. Paul says, “Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.” We are reminded that our faith demands that we be vigilant and hold fast to the truths that have been revealed to us. It takes a great effort on our part, but the reward is happiness now and for all eternity.
  • In the Gospel, we have a parable about a man who was complacent and had no concern about eternal life until it was too late. He had the resources to help others, but he lived only for himself. His selfishness blinded him, and he didn’t even notice poor Lazarus who was starving at his door.

The Test for Us All

We have all heard this Gospel many times and perhaps we have said to ourselves, “If I were rich, I would be generous.” However, this Gospel is not just directed to the rich. It is directed to each of us; to you and to me. Life on earth is a test of our generosity.  God has given us all something that He wants us to share with others, and we will never reach our potential for happiness until we share what we have.

What Do I Have to Share?

For some, what they have to share may be obvious, like the rich man in the Gospel. For others, it may be a gift they have not even discovered yet. Especially in the spiritual life, the gifts God gives us may remain hidden until we begin to invest in our faith. When an adult makes a decision to become a Catholic, he or she needs a sponsor to journey with them through the process we call R.C.I.A. Usually the sponsor is a spouse, fiancé or friend, but times it is a member of the parish they may not even know. In every case, the sponsor receives as much as the candidate because the gift of faith is being discovered, renewed, and deepened with the help of the Holy Spirit.

What God Has to Give

Our Catholic faith is the PEARL OF GREAT PRICE, the greatest treasure we can possess. It affords us the most intimate relationship possible with our Creator through the sacraments of his Church. How is it that God loves us so much that he allows us to receive him under the appearance of bread and wine, and he rests within us?

Responding to God’s Gifts

God is serious about this idea of not living for ourselves, as our Sunday readings indicate. We all have something to share.

  • No matter how much money we make, we should share generously as a sign of our trust in God who is the source of all blessings.
  • God has given us gifts and talents that he expects us to use in our faith community. We each have 24 hours every day; how much of this do we invest in laying hold of eternal life?
  • We have heard people say they don’t have time to pray. Our prayer is our connection to God ,and the more connected we are, the greater the possibility of discovering his plan for us.

The readings today challenge us to discover, live, and share our faith for our good and the good of the whole Church. Faith is a gift from God, but believing is a choice. In one of his talks, Bishop Fulton Sheen said the only thing we really have control of is our free will. God has made it possible for us to discover his plan that will lead us to happiness now and forever, but it depends upon the choices we make.

Lord, give us the grace to choose wisely and not to become complacent.


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.