The Pilgrim Log
Weekly Inspiration to Live Your Daily Pilgrimage
This year’s events have highlighted an urgent need for you and I to be Christ’s presence in others’ lives.
Our loved ones, neighbors, co-workers, and the few other persons with whom we have regular contact; have likely had very few experiences of the Church in 2020—or of Christians’ model of following Christ in the context of daily life. Perhaps, too, those few experiences have included news about Church scandals and abuse, with subsequent feelings of betrayal.
The Importance of a Witness
Now, you and I are not bystanders. We are Christ’s very witnesses.
If you’ve ever been present for a jury trial—especially for a criminal case—you’ll know the importance of a witness. It is that person’s testimony upon which at least one other person’s life can be changed forever. Their every word is precious, documented. Their gestures, their voice, and their intangible sense of conviction are remembered by all those present in the room.
These qualities also apply to the testimony of you and I to Christ, because we are Christ-ians. Thankfully, we are witnesses to Good News. But how often do we see it that way?
Victory of a King
Mark, who was the first gospel writer chronologically, began this way:
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1).
You might know that the word “gospel” means “good news” or “glad tidings,” but did you know that in Mark’s time, this word was used to declare the victory of a king?
Not only was Mark’s use of this word extremely bold—placing Jesus of Nazareth in higher esteem than the Roman emperor—but it also reveals to us Mark’s conviction about Jesus. His testimony was about a victorious King, the Son of God. When we read his Gospel, we see Jesus’ swiftness and power conveyed; which is partially why Mark’s Gospel is symbolized by a mighty lion.
How would you and I begin our “Gospel according to (Your Name Here)”? What would our story convey about how we relate to Jesus?
In reality, daily life is the parchment upon which we ‘write’ this Gospel; with our words and actions.
Your Testimony is Powerful
“Be who God meant you to be,” wrote the Italian saint Catherine of Siena in a letter, “and you will set all of Italy ablaze.”
That is the power of your testimony of life.
Your story is unique.
- What is your name?
- Where and who did you come from?
- How did your life begin?
- What struggles have you endured?
- When did you truly encounter God?
- Who is Jesus to you?
- How has knowing Christ changed your life?
The Mystifying Truth that Christmas Celebrates
Christmas celebrates the unfathomable reality that Almighty God also has a name, a face, a family, was raised in a community, lived, ate, slept, wept, smiled, and yes—suffered, died, and rose victoriously from death.
God’s love “will be victorious over even the worst infidelities and will extend to his most precious gift: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 219; cf. John 3:16).
Although 2020 has been a time of trial, pain, suffering, and death; we are reminded by Christmas 2020 that Christ took on flesh out of tremendous love for the world. That means you. That means us. His love is victorious over all trials, all pain & suffering, and even over death. In his love, we find life, truth, goodness, and beauty.
This Christmas Season and into 2021, let us recover the Good News and approach Jesus again. May we reflect on our lives in the light of God’s love, and remember that each day we are Christ’s witnesses.
Angela Sealana is Media Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope. Living Catholicism is a regular print column of this Catholic evangelization apostolate that answers Christ’s call by guiding people to encounter Him through pilgrimages, conferences and outreach. Read the column monthly in Today’s Catholic newspaper.
Spend a VIRTUAL time of Advent reflection with the Blessed Virgin Mary & St. Joseph, guided by Pilgrim Center of Hope.
- Hear what Mary & Joseph’s Advent journey would have been like.
- Participate in guided prayer and reflection.
- Receive inspiration & encouragement for your own daily life.
Presenter: Mary Jane Fox
Cost: Pilgrim Center of Hope is a non-profit evangelization ministry, sustained only by donations. While there is no required fee to watch & benefit from the presentation below, please consider donating a one-time gift or showing your support with a monthly donation. Every bit helps this mission of hope to continue. Thank you!
I recently heard a brief presentation about Self-Love by Dr. Margarett Schlientz, a woman whom I admire because of her deep love for God and her spirituality. Her message was encouraging, consoling, and provided direction in helping us combat the lack of self-love:
Self-Love, she explains, is the basic entity of our humanity. Self-Love is turning every flaw toward compassion, forgiveness, and understanding and accepting your negative thoughts, strengths, and weaknesses.
Created in God’s Image
Think about it – we were created in God’s image, in His love. He breathed life into us and gave us a heart to love. However, due to negative experiences, wounds or false expectations, we end up being hard on ourselves which can result in sadness.
The Son of God, Jesus, gave us the two Greatest Commandments related to Love; Jesus said:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39).
Note the last few words, …Love your neighbor as yourself. Here is Self-Love! We are called to live a radical and true love, and it begins with loving God first, the source of love.
How to combat the lack of self-love
Dr. Margarett lists some steps to combat the lack of self-love:
- Do things you love and take time for yourself. Our lives may be caught with a lot of activity and work that may prevent us from doing things we really enjoy. I believe this is where we need to mark time out in our calendar for ourselves, so we don’t allow time and the busyness of life to control us.
- Learn to say “no” without guilt. This is where the virtue of prudence is helpful. Prudence helps us manage our time and balance our day. By being prudent, we can think wisely before making decisions.
- Don’t expect perfection. Learn to forgive yourself and be compassionate with yourself. We all make mistakes, and we need to realize that nothing is completely perfect. The virtue of patience is important here. By being patient, we realize we need to try again. Dr. Margarett states When we have Self-Love, we can openly own our mistakes and work toward changing them.
- Do good for someone else. A young man shared with me how much he enjoyed doing good for someone else. His mother passed away recently, and as her caregiver for years, he learned so much about love, especially his love for his mother and he gained a deeper realization of his own self-respect. Now that she was gone, he wants to continue to do good for others. He said: “ To help others is to be human, to be caring, to be aware of others’ needs.”
- Think of all the good you have done. Take time to think of good things you have done, whether it was recent or those times in the past when you did good and others benefitted.
Dr. Margarett concludes:
Self-love is not selfishness, it is owning the gifts God has given you, God’s presence within you and all the ways He calls you to utilize the best of who you are.
Now is the time to heed this message, remember you are not alone. God is with you and will guide you.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
Even in this time of COVID-19 protocols, many Catholic Churches make Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament available for her faithful. Contact your local parish for days/times. At Pilgrim Center of Hope, you are welcome to visit our Gethsemane Chapel and spend time with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The chapel is open as the Center is open, usually Monday-Friday, 8:30 am-5:30 pm. Visit PilgrimCenterofHope.org or contact us at 210-521-3377.
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.