The Pilgrim Log

Weekly Inspiration to Live Your Daily Pilgrimage

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.

Help In Keeping Faith through Trials

Do you suffer the burden of faith?

You seek to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and the Church even though many others, especially those in our own family, harbor doubts about God’s providence and goodness. You suffer under the burden of what you know is true yet cannot see.

If this is you, I would like to introduce you to someone who may help you. Her name is St. Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist.

There is little written about her life outside the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke. Yet, in what we know about the time she lived, who she lived with and what happened to her, we discover much about St. Elizabeth. We know:

  • She is a first century Jew living in a hill country town of Judah.
  • She is married to a Jewish priest, named Zechariah.
  • She is an ancestor of Aaron, a priest and the brother of Moses.
  • She is considered righteous in God’s eyes, which means faithful to his commandments.
  • She is elderly and childless.
Trials of Faith

Knowing that in Elizabeth’s culture, a barren woman was considered sinful or cursed, we can see that this woman had to have suffered trials of sorrow, embarrassment, and condemnation for most of her adult life. Being from a priestly class and married to a priest, she must have been well versed in Scripture and in the promises God made to her people. Yet for the majority of her years, she did not witness evidence of their fulfillment.

We learn that Zechariah, while performing his priestly service in the Lord’s sanctuary, is visited by the Archangel Gabriel (cf. Luke 1:8). When Gabriel tells him that his wife will bear him a son in answer to his prayer, he does not believe. Zechariah had been praying for a child. An angel tells him his prayer is being answered. Zechariah doubts. Yet, we also know from Luke’s Gospel that he remained faithful to his duty as priest and, along with Elizabeth, is considered righteous in God’s eyes (cf. Luke 1:6).

It seems then, that it was Elizabeth’s faith in trial that upheld the righteousness of this pair. Elizabeth carried the burden of faith for them both.

Faith, as defined in the Letter to the Hebrews 11:1, is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.

When God’s promise of a child is fulfilled despite her husband’s doubts, Elizabeth’s faith meets the hope she has long carried, exclaiming, “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others” (Luke 1:25).

Blessings from Perseverance

We can look at the life of St. Elizabeth and see many blessings that come from perseverance in faith:

  • Elizabeth’s faith is ever ready to proclaim God, as when she is greeted by Mary (cf. Luke 1:43-45).
  • Elizabeth’s faith is ever ready to stand firm, as when she defies her neighbors and relatives; insisting her son be named John as the angel had told her husband (cf. Luke 1:60).
  • Elizabeth’s faith works to heal her husband’s doubts and deafness (cf. Luke 1:63-64).
  • Elizabeth’s faith raises her son “strong in spirit” for God’s mission (cf. Luke 1:80).
  • And, Elizabeth’s faith inspires Mary to proclaim her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-56).
Encouragement In Persevering

I wonder if, when Mary goes in haste to her cousin, it was also in God’s design that Elizabeth help her. I wonder if God entrusted the Mother of God to this woman of steadfast faith to be an encouragement to Mary, who will soon be enduring her own trials of faith.

It is truly difficult to carry the burden of faith for others in our life who doubt God’s goodness. It is very hard when we face trials that tempt us to doubt that God sees us, that he knows our suffering.

Let the witness of St. Elizabeth console you that God does see you! And God is counting on your faith in him to help carry out his plan of salvation in you, and through you, for others.

When the burden of faith becomes too hard to carry, we can find hope through our trials by seeking the companionship of other followers of God; be it our friends in Heaven or those working out our salvation here on earth. Pilgrim Center of Hope is here to accompany you. Our website includes the Port of Hope to help weary wayfarers find spiritual rest, inspiration, and encouragement in Jesus Christ and the Church.

We also invite you to save the date on your calendar for our annual Catholic Women’s Conference (10/30-31/2020) and the Catholic Men’s Conference (2/27/2021). Both events are ideal places to find sources of encouragement in faith as we encounter Christ with our sisters and brothers in fellowship and worship.


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.

A Simple Way to End Our Day with God

One Sunday, a local priest gave us an Examination of Conscience with the Holy Trinity:

  • At the end of the day, thank our Heavenly Father for the day, the gift of life, the activities, lessons learned in the day, family, and so on.
  • Then go to Jesus, Son of the Father, and implore his mercy for your sins, your faults.
  • Lastly, implore the Holy Spirit to descend upon you and grant you a good night’s rest. Give him everything; your concerns, your worries, and ask him to guide you the next day to follow Christ.

Well, I wasn’t taking notes during the homily, but Father’s gift of preaching helped me remember the main points. Try it!

O Holy Trinity – guide us always to your will!

Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: not in their names, for there is only one God, the almighty Father, his only Son and the Holy Spirit: the Most Holy Trinity. The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 233-234)


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.