Weekly Inspirations

God Is With Us: God’s Presence in our Daily Life & Struggles

A Peek ‘Behind the Curtain’

Here at Pilgrim Center of Hope, our staff consults monthly themes as we create articles, reflections, speaking presentations, and events. We discern these themes at our annual planning workshop held every October; utilizing the Catholic liturgical calendar to focus on feast days, the liturgical seasons (Ordinary, Lent, Easter, Advent), and the Sunday Gospel messages to help us in creating our content.

Having a monthly theme mined from the rich treasures of the Catholic Church and through the flow of her seasons, provides an infinite source of spiritual jewels and assures us we are being guided by the ever-renewing breath of the Holy Spirit. Mother Church is as St. Augustine describes, “Oh Beauty, Ever Ancient, Ever New.”

Our April theme is: God is With Us; God’s Presence in our Daily Life & Struggles. I find it so consoling how a theme we chose last October is exactly what we all need to hear as we struggle through the pandemic. I am amazed at the tender care of the Holy Spirit to guide our planning efforts to focus April 2020 on how we can be assured of God’s Presence to us despite the loss of physically receiving and being with our Lord Jesus Christ who is truly with us Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist.

Seeing God’s Presence

The Friday I heard Sunday Masses were being cancelled, I became very upset. I am a daily communicant and have formed a habit of placing myself in the Presence of God in Eucharistic Adoration for at least 30 minutes either before or after Mass. I use my time in God’s Presence to help me draw closer to Him, to more clearly hear Him speak to me, and to bear Him company in gratitude for His Goodness and in atonement for all the years I dismissed Him.

I cried to my spiritual director by text message, and I cried to our Blessed Mother Mary in prayer. Both gave me the same assurance, “God is in charge.”

I have been meditating on this ever since, and have witnessed so many signs of how God has in no way left me:

  • I receive him into my heart through the Church-honored, Spiritual Communion Prayer* while participating at daily online Masses.
  • I hear him speak through his Word when I mediate on the daily Mass readings.
  • I adore Jesus by enfolding into my daily Rosary my desire to be present to him since I know Jesus and Mary are joined at the heart and cannot be separated. If I am with her, then I am with him!

This time in isolation and social distancing has also given more time for contemplation; to wonder about higher, spiritual things since the distractions from driving, running errands, meetings, etc., have paused.

For instance, since we just celebrated Palm Sunday, I am contemplating the throngs of thousands who followed Jesus. I think about how the many people whom Jesus forgave, freed, healed and brought back to life in the three years of his ministry will now fall away as he enters his Passion to die alone for us on Good Friday.

Having Hope

I imagine Mary and Jesus meeting at the Fourth Station of the Cross:

  • Did she wonder where all his followers were?
  • Did she wonder why the Father was allowing this?

I, too, wonder. I imagine Mary, who had to learn from Jesus how to accept all in obedience and faith, hoping against hope, receive in her Son’s eyes the same assurance she gave me, “God is in charge.”

I pray for a miracle that I will be at my church worshiping and physically receiving our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist with my pastor and fellow parishioners at the Holy Mass of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. I know, however, that when Jesus rose that first Easter morning, it was only St. Mary Magdalene there to greet him (cf. John 20:1).

And yet, I have hope!

For Scripture tells us that for the next 40 days after Easter… Jesus appeared to many (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:5-7), and three thousand were baptized and came into the Church on Pentecost Sunday (cf. Acts 2:1-41). Our Pentecost Sunday falls on May 31, 2020.

We do not know what the future holds, but praise God we do know this: our Lord always finds ways to make Himself Present to us… and God is in charge!

*Spiritual Communion Prayer
My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.


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.

Living Fully Alive, Right Now

The readings this weekend are about life, death, and resurrection, which should be part of our daily reflection, because we do not know the day or the hour when we will pass from this life to the next. As Paul points out in the second reading, eternal life begins now. He says:

If the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you.

In other words, the one who created us out of love sustains that life in us by the presence of the Holy Spirit, from now unto eternity.

The most important question of our life is: How do we know if God’ Spirit is dwelling in us?

  • We know we received his Spirit in baptism when we became children of God and members of his Church. It is in his Church that he has given us the means to be confident that his Spirit is dwelling in us.
  • He makes available to us an abundance of his grace through the sacraments, which are a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Jesus waits for us to approach him in the sacraments so that we can receive the grace necessary to live our lives in communion with him.

Without this grace, the Holy Spirit cannot dwell within us. God has a wonderful plan for each of us, but he has to be the most important part of the plan. St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” We can only be fully alive when the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us and influencing the way we live. The choice is ours.

Now Is the Time

We are all tempted to think, There is no urgency to taking the word of God seriously; there will be time enough later to prepare for eternal life. However, if the Holy Spirit is not dwelling in us because we are not faithful to what God asks of us, how can we expect him to help us make right decisions in the future? Now is the time to prepare for the future.

We are presently living in a time like no other. The whole world is affected by the novel corona virus. Many of the things we took for granted last month have been taken away from us. We do not have the freedom we once had. This is a sample of how millions of people throughout the world experience as a normal way of life. For many people in this country, life will never be the same. They may have lost loved ones, lost savings for retirement, or lost their means to provide for their family. One of the things we never dreamed of is the loss of our place of worship and the opportunity to receive Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. This, too, we may have taken for granted. There are Catholics in other parts of the world who rarely can attend the Holy Mass and receive the Lord.

Our Response & Hope

How we react to this crisis is a measure of our spiritual maturity. The following quote from 1 John 2:17 is especially for these times, “Yet the world and its enticements are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever.”

The will of God for us right now is that we find strength in a faithful relationship with him because we trust in all the promises he has given us in the holy Scriptures, and we act on those promises.

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus comes to the home of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha after Lazarus has died. Jesus, says to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” she said to him, “Yes Lord I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

Everything about our life on earth will pass away except our relationship with God. During these times we may have lost much, but if the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us because we have chosen to live in a faithful relationship with God, we can be confident that we will be “fully alive,” now and for all eternity. This is the message of hope that we must share in these difficult times.


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.

In Suffering: Where Is God Now?

In times like these, it can be especially challenging for humanity to believe in an all-loving, all-powerful God.

This phenomenon has happened for millennia. In the Psalms, the Israelites sang about how people questioned them: “Where is your God?” Where is your God while you are captives? While you are in famine? While you are suffering?

Shaking Fists at Heaven

As a twenty year old, I began to experience fiery pain in my hands, feet, arms, legs—as if I were being bitten by fire ants. My body felt like it always had bruises. I was physically exhausted, as if daily life required as much energy as running a marathon. After dozens of blood tests and even a brain scan, my doctors could not provide me with relief.

I recall very clearly standing in my dorm room and shaking my fists at heaven as I cried aloud. What is this?? Why me? I have always done my best to serve you. What have I done to deserve this?

God’s Power Against Evil

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. (John 9:1-3)

In Jesus’ time, and sometimes even in the modern day, people would view suffering as the direct result of that person’s sin (or their parents’ sin). In Sunday’s Gospel, however, Jesus corrected this line of thinking. Suffering is not good, and therefore cannot be from God.

Rather, God is so good, so powerful, and so loving; even amidst evil, God can bring about life and healing.

After I had lived with my symptoms for a while, my eyes began to open to the gifts that were coming to fruition in the midst of my ailments:

  • Because I was weaker, I needed to ask for help more often. Thus, my pride and desire for control were being chipped away, bit by bit.
  • Because I suffered, my heart began to open in greater sympathy for other people’s challenges. I began to start from a foundation of giving people the benefit of the doubt.
  • Because my suffering was hidden behind the appearance of youth, I soon acquired the ability to look beyond people’s appearances and see their hearts.

These gifts were far more valuable than physical health.

Healing Beyond Understanding

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus heals the blind man, and slips away. The man is brought before the religious leaders and questioned alongside his parents. The inquisitors cannot believe or accept that a healing occurred. They considered Jesus’ act as “doing work on the Sabbath” which was therefore sinful in their eyes. Further, they could not fathom why God would take away the blindness that they thought was a punishment for sin. They could not understand how God could bring goodness out of a situation that appeared to them to be evil.

The same often rings true for us. Our created minds cannot fully comprehend the ways of the Creator.

This is why our relationship with Jesus is so important. Jesus is God. He is Emmanuel, meaning God-with-us! Our Creator knows that it is impossible for his creatures to understand his ways, yet he wants to assure us of his nearness and love. That is one of the main reasons why the second person of the Holy Trinity, God the Word, became one of us; and the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14).

One day, as I was overwhelmed by pain, I closed my eyes and cried out to God. In my mind’s eye, I saw Jesus on the Cross, and I saw that he was suffering with me. It was then that I realized: God is always with us.

Light of Life

I pray that in our confusion, in our suffering, in our struggles, we will turn to Jesus. Let’s spend time with him in the Gospel. May we find hope by trusting Jesus’ words:

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)

In times of suffering, when we focus on the darkness, it will appear that God is gone. But when we choose to turn toward the light, we see that God is with us. God is in every instance of healing, every act of care, every look of love, every miracle of selflessness. God is bringing about the good. As children of light, let’s be bearers of light. Let’s illuminate for others God’s presence and nearness to us now.


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 for 10 years. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.

How Unexpected Experiences Can Become A Blessing

When we read the lives of the saints, why were so many of their lives impacted after an unexpected experience?

St Anthony de Padua with Child Jesus by MurilloFernando Martins was born in Lisbon, Portugal in the 12th century into a large Catholic family. He was ordained into the priesthood and began his new life with great fervor. His life as a young priest took a crucial turn when the bodies of the first five Franciscan martyrs were returned from Morocco. Fernando wanted to become a Franciscan Friar after hearing the stories of the Franciscan Friars’ charity for others and their courage to persevere to the end.

He did enter the Franciscan Order, and was given his new name, Anthony. He was to set sail across to Morocco to be a witness for Christ. His ship experienced a storm, and was forced to dock in Italy. There, he attended a Franciscan Chapter meeting with 3,000 friars in attendance; little did he know that he would be chosen to preach to the large number, resulting in the new discovery of his eloquent charism of preaching.

The unexpected experience of being shipwrecked in Italy turned into a greater call for Friar Anthony, who became St. Anthony of Padua. Since then to this day, he is known throughout the world for his spiritual writings and stirring sermons that have given hope to thousands. He was canonized a year after his death in 1232. The richness of his spiritual teaching contained in his sermons was so great that he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1946.

If Friar Anthony did arrive in Morocco and died as a martyr, perhaps the thousands who had been given hope and a renewed confidence in God because of his preaching may have been lost, may have remained in despair. It is apparent God had a plan for Anthony!

Do we believe God has a plan for each of us?

Oh yes, you must believe He does! In the book of Deuteronomy 31:8, we read:

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

Is your current plan united with the plan God has for you?

Only God who sees all things and knows each one of us by name, sees our hearts and knows our needs can lead us on the right path. We must ask for his guidance. He will not infringe on our free will.

How does one begin to ask His guidance?

Approach him as you would a dear friend. Invite him to guide you and help you see his plan for you. It may take days, weeks, months or longer; believe he hasn’t left you at any time! Invest in discovering his plan for you by reading Scripture and continue to ask him; What is your will for me today?  What will not change is Jesus’ gaze upon you. Let us place our lives into his gaze, and trust that his gaze is one of purity, tenderness, and loving.

This realization of God’s plan for me was a turning point in my life; and yes, his plan has been an interesting journey. For this reason I have given my life to him as a Missionary of Hope. Even when the journey appeared quite rough, his words in the Gospel of Mark 6:50 resounded in my soul and gave me consolation and hope:

Immediately he spoke to them and said, Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.


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.

Where Is Your Lenten Journey Taking You?

Hopefully this Lent finds you journeying alongside Jesus toward closer union with God. In many ways, this 40-day time of prayer and reflection, in preparation for Holy Week & Easter, resembles the ancient tradition of going on pilgrimage.

While you may not be traveling to a sacred destination, there are some key parallels which may help you to arrive at a place of transformation come Easter Sunday. To be a pilgrim this Lent involves the following:

  • Deviating from Your Regular Routines
    During Lent this means following in the footsteps of Jesus.
  • Traveling Light for the Journey
    Now is the time to assess your priorities and weed out whatever prevents you from traveling the narrow road that leads to life (cf. Matthew 7:14).
  • Hope of Interior Transformation
    Throughout the remainder of Lent, be open to God’s love and his graces

Let’s take a closer look at each of these three points along with some tips on how to make a more effective Lenten pilgrimage.

Following Jesus Christ

To be a disciple, we must be willing to follow Jesus, even when we don’t fully understand where the path is leading. We need to let Jesus take us where he wants us to be. Following Jesus involves total surrender, having an open heart, and trust.

Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you. – Psalm 33:22

Weeds and Wild Beasts

Mark 1:13 tells us that while Jesus was in the desert, He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. As we make our pilgrimage, recall that Jesus was tempted several times by Satan while in the wilderness.

If we are to make our way out of the wilderness during Lent, we need to tame our personal “wild beasts;” desires or lusts, angers or fears, and addictions or vices. The weeding out and the taming cannot be done alone. During this time, we need to allow God to care for us. If we will seek him out, he will speak to us.

Christ’s Transfiguration Offers Us Encouragement

The pilgrimage journey of a Christian is not easy; temptation and distraction are all around. Any time I get discouraged, I turn to my favorite depiction of the Transfiguration by artist Giovanni Gerolamo Savoldo (shown here).

I also recall the time I spent on Mount Tabor in the Holy Land. As part of my Pilgrim Center of Hope pilgrimage, I was able to visit the Basilica of the Transfiguration (at which the photo above was taken). Within days of the feast day (August 6), I found myself kneeling at the altar during the Liturgy of the Eucharist with my eyes fixed on the rock—visible through a glass window—where the Transfiguration took place.

Every Christian wanting to go on an authentic spiritual journey, should make the trip in their lifetime. Our next Holy Land pilgrimage is scheduled for June 23 through July 4, 2020.

This past Sunday’s Gospel reading of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8), should remind us all that just as Peter, James & John were strengthened by witnessing the Transfiguration, if we too will love Jesus above all else, through his grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, we will receive the encouragement we need to persevere in our faith journey.

At his Transfiguration, Christ showed His disciples the splendor of His beauty, to which He will shape and color those who are His: ‘He will reform our lowness configured to the body of His glory.’ -St. Thomas Aquinas

Still to come on our Lenten journey – the Last Supper, followed by Christ’s Passion, Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection.

Now is the time to check your “spiritual GPS” to ensure that your Lenten pilgrimage continues to prepare you not only for Easter, but for your eternal life in the heavenly Jerusalem.


 Robert V. Rodriguez  is Public Relations & Outreach Assistant for Pilgrim Center of Hope. He combines a passion for the Catholic faith together with years of professional experience as a TV news journalist, video producer, and PR/marketing specialist. Robert also serves as Chairman for our annual “Master, I Want to See” Catholic Men’s Conference.

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.

Trusting What God Says About Me

Have you ever been falsely accused?

  • Did a dear one of yours ever accuse you of lying when you didn’t?
  • Have you ever been rejected by someone you love because they misunderstood your good intention as bad?

It hurts.

It is a piercingly deep hurt, not only because you are innocent, but because you realize you are not known by someone you love. You wonder, I would never intentionally hurt them… How do they not know that about me?

This has happened to me, and it brought me to an even more sorrowful conclusion… I have been guilty of the same with God.

So many times, I have not taken God at his Word:

  • As the Father loves me (Jesus), so I also love you. Remain in my love. (John 15:9)
  • You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know. (Psalm 139:13-14)
  • Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

I realize . . .

  • When we believe we are unloved… we accuse God of lying.
  • When we hate who we are… we reject God, misunderstanding his intention.

For those who can relate, I would like to suggest a particular Lenten journey this year. Lent is a penitential period in the Church when we intentionally walk with Jesus the forty days he was in the desert fasting, praying and being tempted. We have a traditional discipline in the Church during this time to also fast, pray, and give alms.

Consider for Lent to:

Fast from your opinion of God; read who God reveals Himself to be through the daily Mass readings. Read slowly, ask for the gift of understanding where your opinion of God and his Word clash.

Give alms to God with what we value most: our time. We can hear God’s voice through the voice of the needy. Spend time speaking with or being present to someone who is in need this Lent, and see how valuable and precious God has made you to be for others.

Pray to know the God who is. The one who knows God, Father, Son & Holy Spirit, best is our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary. Pray a daily Rosary asking her, “Mary, show me God’s love for me today.”

The best way to know someone is to spend time with them. Add a Mass, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and quiet time where God is truly and really, present: in his Eucharistic presence. So many churches have Adoration chapels. Find one, kneel before Him, then sit and simply speak to our Lord what is in your heart, and let him speak his heart to you. Lord Jesus has told many saints such as St. Faustina and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque how he longs for our company. St. Faustina writes what our Lord told her,

“[…] Why do you not tell Me about everything that concerns you, even the smallest details? Tell Me about everything, and know that this will give Me great joy.” (Diary of St. Faustina, no. 921)


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.

Inspiration from Former Slave: God’s Call for Us Is Possible!

The Lord said to Moses, Speak to the whole Israelite community, and tell them: Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy. And in the Gospel, Jesus tells all humanity, Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Are we expected to be as holy and perfect as God?

We might dismiss these commands as impossible, but that would be a mistake. God is not commanding us to do what he does; he is commanding us to be who he has created us to be, which we can only do with the help of his grace.

It is for this reason he has given us the Church with her sacraments, the Scriptures and her teaching authority. Through baptism, we have everything we need to live a supernatural life in intimacy with God who created us out of love.

The obstacle we all face is the pressure from the world in which we live, to shape how we look at ourselves and how we plan our future. In the second reading we are told, For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God… Yes, it is necessary for us to advance our education and understanding of the things that make us responsible citizens. However, when the wisdom of this world contradicts the wisdom of God, there will be consequences that will cause turmoil and the loss of hope.

An Amazing Example

Recently, I watched a movie about St. Josephine Bakhita. She was kidnapped as a child from a wealthy family in Sudan by slave traders and sold into slavery. She was tortured and frequently beaten for many years until by providence she was temporarily placed in a convent in Italy while her mistress traveled on personal business. During her time in the convent, she learned about the love of God and was attracted to the religious life. When her owner returned to reclaim her, she refused to leave and was eventually granted her freedom through the courts. Her new life and vocation brought her great joy; she said if she would ever meet those who sold her into slavery, she would kneel and kiss their hands because it was through her terrible fate that she discovered the love of God and her new life in service to him.

She received the sacraments of the Church by Archbishop Giuseppe Sarto who later became Pope Pius X. Bakhita was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 1, 2000.

St. Josephine Bakhita, who was known for her deep prayer life and for totally giving herself in the service of God and others, has received the perfection that we all hope for and that is necessary to enter the kingdom of heaven. We may never experience the terrible sufferings of St. Josephine Bakhita, but we must choose God above all else as she did.

Perseverance & Inspiration

The trials and suffering we experience in this life are an opportunity to draw close to Christ and receive the grace he will offer us if we approach him with sincere and contrite hearts. If we persevere in faith and make every effort to over come sin and grow in virtue, with God’s grace, we will be as holy and perfect as is necessary to live in Christ’s presence in heaven.

One of the treasures of our Catholic faith is the vast collection of stories about men and women who became saints during their life on earth. Their lives are so amazing; they have inspired other men and women to become saints! We can learn from them how to deepen our faith and trust in God when we are faced with trials and discouragement. Every saint we read about experienced difficult and sometimes severe circumstances, and yet they were still filled with great joy and happiness because of God’s grace. I encourage you to prayerfully choose a saint to read about and to ask for their intercession during your morning prayer. You will be glad you did.


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.

Conversions Through Our Witness

Do you see the brilliant light shining in the bleak picture often painted of the Church’s future?

Over my 10 years in high school youth ministry and catechesis, I’d often hear adults exchange their condolences with one another, imagining their beloved young person setting foot on a college campus and immediately throwing their Catholic identity aside.

While it’s true that college has traditionally been one of the first places where a young person’s faith is challenged by the convergence of diverse beliefs in their campus community, this should be something we—people who believe the Truth sets free—celebrate rather than fear.

The Center for Applied Research In the Apostolate (CARA) has found that 40 percent of people who entered the Church as adults entered between the ages of 18-29.

My Eyewitness Account

I began working for Pilgrim Center of Hope here in San Antonio ten years ago, as a senior finishing my B.A. degree. During my time at university, I witnessed the baptism of two students whom I personally knew, and another’s entrance into full communion with the Catholic Church from a strongly Protestant background.

Their conversions were not the result of any particular programs or courses.

These three individuals were a part of my circle of friends, which had at its core several young adults who were striving to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “Let’s be saints!” we would say.

We lived joyfully, cultivating a little family among ourselves wherein God was loved. I then began to see that our love for God and one another was contagious.

University life fostered organic conversations about what mattered to us. We would gather together, toast some bread, sit on the floor of the dorms, and talk about what we believed. Some of my friends initiated works of mercy and invited others to come along. Some decided to start praying Night Prayer together in their dorm room.

Our youth gave us a great advantage: authenticity and less inhibition. Without the burden of worry, we openly invited and welcomed people to come along to prayer or works of charity, or to meet our consecrated lay friends.

Soon, the dorm room was not big enough to hold the number of people who wished to stay for Night Prayer. Soon, our few shifts for Eucharistic Adoration at the parish next-door became a regular on-campus Adoration time for students. Soon, those who had never given much thought to religious faith were donning baptismal gowns.

How We Successfully Evangelize

Pope St. Paul VI hit the nail on its head when he said, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”

Programs, books, campaigns, and projects for evangelization are all wonderful things. At their core, however, they will only be successful if they are accompanied by our authentic Christian witness; our actual living of the Good News.

I learned this principle first-hand on my college campus. I see its vindication each day working for Pilgrim Center of Hope, which is primarily built on the grassroots model of evangelization that God himself established in the life of Jesus Christ and is carried on in the daily lives of Christians. Every day, my coworkers and I see the fruit that grows from the seed of God’s grace, planted in the authentic Christian lives of parents, friends, children, coworkers, and neighbors.

Yes, the rate of persons who leave or disown religious faith is increasing, but do not despair. This reality should remind us of the urgency of Christ’s calling for us to spread the Gospel.

We “are children of the light and children of the day” (1 Thess 5:5). We are not called to spend our time in anxiety or worry; on the contrary, we are called

“to live in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with every power, in accord with his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has made [us] fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light” (Col 1:10-12)!

Let’s accept this challenge, and welcome God’s abundant gifts to help us live each day with hope. By living this way in our daily responsibilities—wherever God has placed us, be assured that we are each sharing the Gospel. That is Good News!


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 for nearly 10 years. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.

Life with Christ Is A Wonderful Adventure

There are times when God intervenes in our lives in a dramatic way and gives us a choice that will change our lives forever, but not only our lives; the choice we make may have a profound effect upon the lives of others.

Inspiration

We can learn from choices people have made through the centuries, and the consequences of those choices. That is why I so much enjoy reading the lives of the saints. Men and women of all walks of life and work, from all over the world, have experienced amazing conversion moments that changed their lives and caused them to choose a life in Christ and in the Church. Their choice not only brought them great joy and hope despite very difficult circumstances; it also was a means of encouragement and hope for others. There is a saying that the blood of the martyrs is the seed for the life of the Church.

Preparation

We also are called to make heroic decisions, with the help of grace, in a world that often rejects the message of Christ. The foundation that will help us make difficult decisions is a daily discipline of prayer, reception of the sacraments, and being connected with others who want to live their lives close to God. This is how people have become saints through the ages.

The purpose of the Church is to proclaim the wonderful plan of salvation to the world. The Church helps its members, the faithful, to discover hope and healing in Christ. At the same time, the Church opens her arms to all; inviting them to come and see, come and hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, and discover a way of life leading to peace, hope, and of course Eternal Life.

Great Adventure

You cannot have peace in your heart if your heart is not at peace with God. St. Catherine of Siena said: Do not be satisfied with little things, because God wants great things! It is a choice that only we can make; one that will lead us to a relationship with God while discovering that the Church is present to walk with you. The choice of growing in our spiritual life affects our souls, and it will also affect our relationship with others.

We all are called to respond to God’s guidance in our lives. He will give us the grace we need to make those decisions that are sometimes contrary to the rationalities of the world. It is our call to live our faith in a heroic way so that the generations that follow us may build on the same heritage that was passed on to us. Take St. John Paul II’s words to heart:

What really matters in life is that we are loved by Christ and that we love Him in return… Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.


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.

Clearing the Way for the Love & Mercy of Jesus Christ

I’m Not Worthy

When Jesus died on the Cross, he opened up a road to restoration for every man and woman that will ever live till the end of time. You might be saying, “Oh, come on, Robert, everybody knows this.”

What I’m saying is that, it’s not enough to just know it, you have to believe it with all your heart, mind, body, and soul! Having unwavering faith is the key to maintaining hope, no matter what life throws at you.

When we say things like:

  • I am unworthy of Christ’s love and mercy
  • God will never forgive what I have done; my sins are too great
  • I am cursed and will just have to live with my injury or affliction

it is like saying, I don’t believe that Jesus died for my salvation, or telling God that allowing his son to be sacrificed is not enough.

This can happen when we let our wounds, hurts, and past sins prevent us from recognizing our need for God. (I have been in this place more than once in my life.) It can happen when we allow negative thoughts or the discouragement and condemnation of others to silence our prayers, drive us away from the Church, and deny God.

Acknowledgment, Confession, and Repentance

We – both men and women – need to be more like Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, and Zacchaeus, the short-statured tax collector from Scripture.

Here were two men – one suffering with the physical malady of blindness, and the other from a soul injured by sin – who could have easily convinced themselves they were “lost causes” unworthy of the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.

Instead, both of these men believed in and recognized Jesus as the Messiah and each, in their own way, placed themselves in front of Jesus, so he would acknowledge them and respond to their need for healing.

Like Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus, we need to have great faith in Jesus’ ability to heal and transform our lives. We need to recognize our profound need for God in our life by choosing to avoid sin and follow Jesus.

Alive Today!

The same Jesus who passed by Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus is alive today. Jesus walks into the dusty streets of our lives this day! We simply need the eyes of living faith to see him and the renewed heart to follow him on the way.

In the Gospel according to Mark, Jesus addresses Bartimaeus saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” to which Bartimaeus replies, “Master, I want to see.” (Mark 10:51)

Prayer is the fuel which keeps living faith alive and keeps our eyes open to see. No matter what we have done in our past, Jesus always shows up for those who have their spiritual eyes opened to see him.


Robert V. Rodriguez is Public Relations & Outreach Assistant for Pilgrim Center of Hope. He combines a passion for the Catholic faith together with years of professional experience as a TV news journalist, video producer, and PR/marketing specialist. Robert also serves as Chairman for our annual “Master, I Want to See” Catholic Men’s Conference.

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.