Weekly Inspirations

Seeking Answers from Jesus

As a college-aged adult, I actually looked to Jesus for answers. The frustrating part of it all? Jesus didn’t give me answers.

Following the advice of my parents, pastor, vocation director, and so many other people, in prayer I asked Jesus, “Why is (fill-in-the-blank) happening?” and “What do you want me to do with my life?” and “Should I choose Option A or Option B?”

When did Jesus ever give people satisfactory answers? He didn’t, really. In the gospels, people who questioned him were often presented with a question, parable or a riddle in return. Jesus’ listeners were challenged to encounter God more deeply, to examine themselves, to give themselves in love, and to trust in him and his heavenly Father.

Jesus did not deal out ‘answers.’ What Jesus gave in the gospels was himself.

“Come to me,” he said, “all you who labor and are burdened.” He didn’t continue, “and I will give you answers and solutions to all your problems!” Instead, he concluded, “and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…” (cf. Matthew 11:28-30)

You Are Not Alone

Jesus offers you himself, to share your burden alongside you.

If you ask Jesus to fix all your problems and save you from ever experiencing pain, confusion, worry, or anger; he will not do that for you. His own disciples and holy mother experienced all of the above.

Instead of doling out answers or solutions, Jesus will give you himself. I guarantee you that he will do so, one-thousand percent of the time, for eternity, if you welcome him daily.

Having lived through uncommon physical and emotional challenges, I can say with confidence; Jesus’ gift of himself to each one of us is a far greater gift than answers or solutions.

Why?

Without challenges, we do not learn. Without trials, we lack humility. Without suffering, we lack compassion. This is not how God created the world to be, but it is the reality in which we now live.

God chooses the better option, saying: In the midst of this challenge, trial, and suffering, I will come to you. I will share it with you. As we walk together, I will teach you. Thus, the burden will become light.

In many circles, God is accused of being cruel and abusive. On the contrary, we see in the life of Jesus that God does not force himself upon us. In the person of Jesus, God is an unassuming, young adult who willingly takes everything we’ve dumped on him, upon his shoulders. He invites us, by name, to come and learn how to live, alongside him. He gives us his own self, his own life.

“I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly,” he said (John 10:10). Jesus does not call us slaves; “I have called you friends” (John 15:15).

Look to Jesus for Direction

If you are looking for direction, look to Jesus. Don’t look for him to be a floating genie-god who hovers above you, and provides ancient and future knowledge. Instead, realize the greater gift Jesus offers.

As St. Bernard of Clairvaux so well advised;

“Are there moments when you place yourself quietly in the Lord’s presence, when you calmly spend time with him, when you bask in his gaze? Do you let his fire inflame your heart? Unless you let him warm you more and more with his love and tenderness, you will not catch fire. […] If, gazing on the face of Christ, you feel unable to let yourself be healed and transformed, then enter into the Lord’s heart, into his wounds, for that is the abode of divine mercy.”

Look to Jesus, God-become-Man. Look to Jesus the person; so that in looking to him you may know him, and in knowing him you may love him, and to learn from him you may walk with him and his Body, the Church, daily.

This is what gives me joy; not that I have all the ‘answers,’ but that I know Jesus who is Truth. Not that I see where my path will lead, but that I walk with Jesus who is the Way. Not that my life is picture-perfect, but that I love Jesus who is Life. (cf. John 14:6)

In this very moment of your life – with all its complications, aches, responsibilities; I invite you to spend some moments in prayer with Jesus and accept his invitation.


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 since 2010. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.

Finding Hope in the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes

A large crowd has followed Jesus across the Sea of Galilee because of the signs he was performing. Out of compassion, Jesus asks his disciples how they are going to feed the crowd even though he already knows what He is going to do.

In every situation, Jesus always knows what he is going to do, but there are times when he will ask us what we are going to do when we are confronted with a challenge. Will we limit the possibilities of a solution to the resources at hand, perhaps believing it is hopeless?

By God’s design, there are many issues in life that will only reach their intended conclusion with his help. The intended conclusion may not always be what we had hoped for, but if we have brought it to God in prayer and perseverance and looked to the Church for direction and assistance, we will have made our best effort and with the help of God’s grace and we will find peace in the end. We have heard the Scripture, “…all things are possible with God.” That means in every circumstance it is possible to experience the peace and consolation of the Lord if we humbly seek it. No matter how bad we have it on our worst day, there will always be someone who has had it worse and yet was able to be a witness of the peace of Christ because of their faith.

We have an opportunity every day to expect some insight from God. We have heard people say they don’t want to bother God with the small things that are part of our life experiences. God is interested in everything we do. It is in the small things we become aware of the nearness of God and begin to develop a relationship with him that leads to profound trust in his providence. This it what it means to be childlike.

We see in the Gospel of John (6:1-15), that after having experienced the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the people pursued Jesus to make Him king so that He would continue to provide for their needs; and He flees from them. They have not understood the true meaning of the miracle, nor the role that Jesus had come to fulfill as Messiah. Like the vast crowd, we also can miss the role that Jesus wants to play in our lives.

Is Jesus the Lord of Your Life?

Many years ago, someone asked me if Jesus was the Lord of my life. At that time, I was a Sunday-only Catholic and didn’t give much thought to my relationship with God. However, that question began to haunt me, and I began to ask myself how important my faith was to me. That was the beginning of a conversion process that continues to bring me closer to God and helped me to discover my real purpose in life. Until that time I was searching for happiness not even considering that God might have a plan for me.

Choosing to draw close to God opened up new possibilities for me, and helped me to (at times), go beyond what I believed my limitations to be. By nature, I am an introvert who had a fear of speaking in public and yet God called me to do things I never would have chosen for myself. Of course, I have my struggles, but I am not so quick to decide that something is not possible until I have invested a good deal of time in prayer and consultation. God’s grace can work in the most unlikely instruments. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t allow my faith to influence my decisions.

Because of our baptism we all have a vocation from God that will allow us to reach our potential for happiness in this life and for all eternity. Jesus has made it possible for every one of us to discover that plan as we live our life every day in the heart of the Church through her liturgies, sacraments, parish activities and organizations, our commitment to daily prayer, and reading the lives of the saints so that we have a realistic understanding of how God works in the lives of those who love him. The saints discovered that lasting happiness can only be found in a faithful relationship with Jesus.

Searching For Happiness

Of course, it is possible not to discover the best plan for our happiness. Most people go through life searching, but not finding that which will bring the greatest joy and fulfillment. However, God has made us for himself and still loves and sustains everyone, even if he is not our priority and he continually gives us opportunities to turn to him. With God it is never too late, however, earlier is better because he helps us to avoid mistakes.

The most important thing Jesus did on earth after saving us from our sins was to establish his Church through which he continues to save humanity. The continuation of his Church depends on men and women recognizing that he has personally called them to the awesome responsibility of cooperating with him to save souls. Certainly, Jesus continues to call the men and women that are necessary for the life of the Church he founded, but somehow the message is often missed. Perhaps it is related to the loss of prayer in the home.

When children see their mothers and fathers praying together, they want to learn to pray themselves. When families pray together there is a great sense of security and peace even when there are trials. God makes himself known to those who pray with a humble contrite heart. Many priests have commented on the importance of how their parents prayed and lived their faith as a major factor in discovering their vocation.

The answer to the shortage of religious vocations is in every parish and every family. Do you pray together as a family? Do you encourage your children to think about a religious vocation? There was a time when families realized that the highest calling was to serve God and hoped that at least one of their children would answer that call. Would you like one of your children or grandchildren to answer God’s call? It may be as simple as asking them to think about it. That little seed may grow into something beautiful.

Hope Beyond the Miraculous Moment

Jesus multiplied the fish and the loaves not only to provide in a miraculous way for the needs of the crowd for that moment. He wants us to know that he can use whatever we have at hand towards a solution if we entrust it to him. That is how all things become possible with God.


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.

Jesus, Show Me The Way

I remember sitting in my 9th grade Theology class at Bishop McNamara High School in Maryland, hearing our teacher recite from Scripture: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me.” (John 14:6). Sounded easy enough. So, Jesus is the Way. Do what He did. We have good reminders, like those wristbands that say “W.W.J.D.” (What Would Jesus Do?). Back then, in 1967, it sounded easy enough for a Freshman.

What About When Life Happens?

Then life got complicated. With all its ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies, joys, and sorrows. “If anyone is willing to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24). Clearly, He is leading the way. Also, I think what a lot of us do not often realize, me included, is that the crosses will come, no matter what you do. There is no guarantee that you can avoid the crosses that come your way. In fact, sometimes we make our own crosses. So, what to do when we are faced with those crosses? What about the crosses that we feel are much too heavy for us to carry?

That is when Jesus is standing right next to us, to help us deal with those heavy crosses. How does He do that? Much the same way a good friend does as they cheer a marathon runner along a tough course: they encourage and sustain us. But you cannot hear Him, you say? You are not sure He is beside you, encouraging you? So, what to do when I need direction from Jesus? My methods and suggestions are amazingly simple and available to anyone, but certainly not the only ways to allow Jesus to direct our paths.

Helpful Ways in Seeking Direction from Jesus

Let me start with the most obvious: daily Mass. If there is any way you can get to daily Mass, do so. I have often found myself pondering a problem or a difficulty, then going to daily Mass and hearing the readings, or the homily, and getting help just from these sources.

Another wonderful way is to quiet myself by going to see Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, in the Adoration Chapel at my parish. I always keep in mind that if I am looking to Jesus for direction, I should try and get to know Him. That is where going to adoration lets me get acquainted with the Eucharistic Jesus. It is quiet and peaceful and lets me tap into that one part of me that I most often neglect: the contemplative dimension of my life. In adoration, or out, I can take my Bible with me. Oftentimes, I start out with a favorite passage (e.g., Luke 15:11-32), and the Lord takes it from there. I also have a prayer journal I write in sometimes, which helps me to focus and direct my thoughts. Oftentimes, the answers come, and if not the answer, then I have the peace and strength that help me to endure whatever it is that is bothering me.

Confession is another resource where I can talk about those thorns that persistently misdirect me.

The peace I get from praying the Rosary is also a source of direction from Jesus. If you are not used to praying the Rosary, start with 10 Hail Marys, then you’ll see how quickly it becomes something you look forward to in your day. I pray it in the car most times, where it is quiet, and I don’t have the radio blaring. I do not know about you, but noise is all around us, drowning out God’s little whisper in the breeze, like the one Elijah heard (1 Kings 19:11-13). The Rosary leads me to quiet contemplation.

St. Teresa of Calcutta said that she would see Jesus “in the distressing disguise of the poor”. Jesus is all around us: in the poor, your family, creation, in those small daily events where you feel blessed. Look for Jesus in your day, in your duties, and the closer you look, the more you will see Him, know Him, and can follow Him.

Call To Action

Finally, talk to others about Jesus. The more you know about someone, the more you can describe that person to others. In the line at the grocery store, helping someone pick up something they dropped, just saying “Thank God”, or “Thank You, Jesus”, when good things happen. Bless yourself often with holy water. Tell others that Jesus loves them. Most people are hungry for Good News, and thirsty to hear about Jesus. You will find that the more you talk about Him to others, the more you will become like Him. And before you realize it, you are walking in His Way.


Victor Negrón is a husband, father, grandfather, practicing lawyer, former judge, past-President of the San Antonio Catholic Lawyers Guild, lay evangelist, Board Member of Pilgrim Center of Hope, and A Woman’s Haven. Judge Negrón became Board Certified in Family Law in 1987. As a lay evangelist, Victor has served as a leader for Eucharistic Adoration of San Antonio, Inc., and has been involved with Pilgrim Center of Hope’s evangelizing activities since its early years – formerly as emcee for the Catholic Men’s Conference, and currently, Victor is a member of our Speaker Team and as a member of the PCH Board of Directors.

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.

Becoming the Body of Christ

The Feast of Corpus Christi (Body of Christ), also called the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, celebrates the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the elements of the Eucharist.  Instituted by Pope Urban VI and first liturgically celebrated in 1264, the Feast of Corpus Christi is traditionally held on the Thursday after the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity and is a Holy Day of Obligation. This year that would have been June 3. It has been discerned by pastoral authorities in the Roman Latin Church that not enough Catholics will obligate themselves to participate at Mass on a weekday, so the Feast was moved to the following Sunday, June 6.

This says a lot about what many Catholics fail to understand about the Body of Christ, and why this Feast is so important that it remains a Holy Day of Obligation.

What is a Holy Day of Obligation?

A Holy Day of Obligation as defined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a precept of the Church and is set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the indispensable minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor (CCC, no. 2041).

When a feast day of the Church is considered a Holy Day of Obligation it means to celebrate it is of high importance in the growth of love of God and neighbor. That the Feast of Corpus Christi, up until recent times, is set apart from the ‘usual’ Sunday Holy Day of Obligation should alert us that this Feast is a really big deal, and we should pay attention with an open and listening heart.

The Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ

To be Catholic is to believe that the Eucharist is not a symbol of, but actually is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is how and when ordinary bread and wine is transubstantiated into the Eucharist by the Holy Spirit through the hands of a Catholic priest. This means Jesus Himself is present to us in the Eucharist and is making good on His Promise:

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).

As a result, communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: “By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers and sisters of his who are called together from every nation.” The comparison of the Church with the body casts light on the intimate bond between Christ and his Church. Not only is she gathered around him; she is united in him, in his body (CCC, no. 788-789).

Making Up The Body of Christ

This means we are called to join Christ with Jesus as the Head and we as the members of His same Body. This is how Divine transformation within the individual and the world manifests itself: The body’s unity does not do away with the diversity of its members: “In the building up of Christ’s Body there is engaged a diversity of members and functions. There is only one Spirit who, according to his own richness and the needs of the ministries, gives his different gifts for the welfare of the Church.” The unity of the Mystical Body produces and stimulates charity among the faithful: “From this it follows that if one member suffers anything, all the members suffer with him, and if one member is honored, all the members together rejoice.” Finally, the unity of the Mystical Body triumphs over all human divisions: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” (CCC, no. 791).

Wow! This amazing understanding should astound us!  It should inspire and encourage us in the reality that being obligated truly is a positive law commanding Catholics to live the faith we profess. It should convict us to not hesitate to put down our ordinary daily obligations when called and get about the business of building up the body of Christ, of which we are all members and through which all human divisions are united.  Like I stated above, it’s a really big deal!


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.

Making God the Center of Your Life

I spent some time after college living and working in France. On the way home after work, I would sometimes purposely stay on the bus, well past my stop, riding to the end of the line and waiting for the bus to turn around and take me home. This was certainly one way to take the scenic route! No time constraints or cares, no iPhone or Instagram to entertain me, usually just a good book, the city views, and my thoughts (and who am I kidding, maybe a baked goodie too?!). These long rides gave me the space to dream, and wonder wanted I wanted to do next in my life. In my tender and youthful enthusiasm- I wanted to do it all! But alas, we must let our yes mean yes, and our no mean no. Saying yes on your wedding day, for example, means saying no to all other romantic partners; accepting that ministry job your heart has yearned for over a corporate gig means saying no to a shiny new car. Often, our culture will tell us “you can have it all”; but the practical reality of life is that we can’t, we won’t and we shouldn’t.

You Will Always Have Enough

The Gospel, on the other hand, the Good News of Christ, tells us that we will always have enough. It is in the gap between our wants and his Will that we can find ourselves mired in anxiety, paralyzed by indecision, or worse yet in a state of despair. The work of our lives will be to crawl out of this gap and into the freedom that God wants to give us, that His plan is better- if only we have eyes to see! It would be nice to wake up each morning with a checklist of God’s to-do’s clearly outlined and calendared- making his direction clear and our lives easy to navigate and plan. Instead, He often works in silence or through others- quite the opposite of clear and easy! If we want to look to Jesus for direction in our dreams and decisions, we shouldn’t have to look far- we cannot have him living on the peripheries- he must live in our center. That means making a radical choice every day to view our identity as a son or daughter of God before we are a mother, father, friend, or professional. Then with consistency and love, we must follow his commandments:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:35).

So simple yet so difficult- this is the formula for forging saints, and it is the formula for me and you! Making God the center and following his truth, we are not only training for the hard times that will come but illuminating our path with his word. Whether it’s a pastry-filled bus ride or a long walk this summer, may this season be filled with the big bold dreams that come with looking to Jesus and placing him at the center of our lives!


Renee has a background in education, linguistics, and fundraising. She currently works in the non-profit sector raising funds for community health and wellness initiatives. She generously gives of her time and talent as a member of Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Speaker Team and is the Emcee of the upcoming 2021 Catholic Women’s Conference, July 16-21.

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.

 

Cover Photo by Zeromancer44, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Staying the Course When Praying

 

In the Book of Wisdom (1:13-15; 2:23-24), we see the great plan that God had in His mind for humanity; creating us in His own image. Everything was good until the devil entered into the world and became the source of death because of his envy. Those who remain close to God continue to experience His goodness even in the midst of trials, but those who give in to the temptations of the devil become confused and unhappy. However, Jesus is the remedy for the mistakes we make.

We read in Second Corinthians (8:7, 9, 13-15), Paul encourages the Corinthians to excel in what he calls this gracious act. He is speaking of generosity. The gracious act of Our Lord was to humble himself and become human. Though he was in the form of God he became man. He did not live on this earth as a king in the ways of the world but made his home among the lowly. He was teaching us that what we have is not as important as who we are in relationship with God. Everything he did was to please his Father in heaven. And then out of generosity he allowed himself to be tortured and gave up his life so that we might be saved from our sins and receive life everlasting. When we are generous with what we have for the sake of others it becomes more possible for us to discover the generosity of God.

In the Gospel of Mark (5:21-43), we see two separate people approaching Jesus for a cure. They both believe he can perform a miracle and they make a great act of faith. Jesus is the generosity of God in human form, wanting to restore humanity to the perfection with which it was created. With one word he could have made all things new, but it was his desire and the will of the Father that each of us individually cooperates with the generous gifts he has given us. In baptism, we received the gifts of Faith, Hope, and Charity. As well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit and we became a new creation. Because he also gave us a free will that often puts us in conflict with his great plan for us, he established his Church and the sacraments so that we can be renewed in his love and his mercy. Of course, this renewal depends upon our faith, it is not automatic. In this country, we have become accustomed to efficiency. We expect things to happen at our convenience. God is not efficient. He does things in His own way and in His own time. We can become impatient with God. This is the reason some people look for answers by going to fortune-tellers or astrology among other things. God has forbidden these things because they undermine our relationship with Him.

Staying the Course When Praying

God answers all prayer that is for our good and the good of his kingdom.  In most cases, he requires us to preserver in prayer which helps us to develop a trusting, personal relationship with him. Our prayer will be answered in one of three ways:

  • It may be answered in the way and time we hoped.
  • It may be answered later, maybe much later as in the case of St. Monica who prayed for many years for the conversion of her son Agustin.
  • As we preserve in prayer and grow in our trust of God, we may come to understand that God is answering our prayer in a way we did not expect; it may cause a change in the direction of our life.
No Prayer is wasted

The way we pray can be a measurement of our faith. There is nothing we do during the day that is more important than the time we spend in prayer because this is how we allow God to influence the decisions we make. Without prayer, we become disconnected from God and lose hope. Pray the Lord’s Prayer slowly and concentrate on every word that Jesus teaches us in that prayer. Praying the name of Jesus with reverence over and over can bring that peace that only he can give.

Prayer is necessary in order to believe the mysteries of our faith as revealed through the Scriptures and the Church. If we do not spend significant time in prayer, it is not likely we will believe the mysteries that unite us with God in an intimate way. Praying with a humble, contrite heart opens up our mind to the things of God.

Next to our salvation, the greatest gift God has given humanity is the Holy Eucharist. Jesus loves us so much that he gives us himself under the appearance of bread and wine. It is not possible to have a greater intimacy with God than we when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, and yet this gift only has an effect in us if we believe and are prepared. A recent statistic states that only about 30 % of Catholics believe that the Holy Eucharist is truly Jesus. Do you believe? If you have doubts, please humble yourself before God and pray with fervor for the faith to believe in this Holy Sacrament which is Jesus’ gift of himself for those who believe.

Jesus Heals

The hemorrhaging woman only wanted to touch Jesus’ cloak so that she could be healed. During this Mass, we have the possibility of touching and receiving the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, the same Jesus Christ that healed that woman. To receive Holy Communion is life-changing because it requires that we be in communion with the Church that Jesus founded and to believe all that she teaches. It requires us to live a life close to God by frequently receiving him in the sacraments, especially confession so that Jesus can free us of sin and give us grace so that we can do what he asks us to do but can only do with his help.

What God created was good, and even though our human nature is fallen, and we are prone to sin God still has a great plan for us. In Christ and in His Church, He has given us everything we need to live close to Him and experience His generous love and mercy. He expects us to believe in what He has revealed to us through the Scriptures and the Church, to trust Him, and to share this Good News with others. Your personal story of how God touched your life may help someone else to become connected to God.


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.

Joseph, Foster Father of the Redeemer

Pope Francis has proclaimed a year of St. Joseph, from December 8, 2020, through December 8, 2021. He wrote an Apostolic Letter titled Patris Corde (With A Father’s Heart).
Pope Francis describes Saint Joseph as a tender and loving father, an obedient and accepting father; a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows. In this Letter, he writes about Joseph, his attributes, role and connects it with everyday life.

Find Hope in St. Joseph

Jesus, the Son of God had a father, Joseph who as a foster-father was present to Jesus from the beginning of his life. Joseph, the chaste spouse of Mary, loved, parented, protected, and guided Jesus from birth. To know Joseph can give us inspiration and hope. Joseph inspires us to have faith in God when the going gets tough; because he went through some very tough times and through his faith and trust in God the result was peaceful. Joseph can give us hope because he was confident in his role as a husband, a foster father. He is a role-model of faithfulness, trust, hope, and courage. How many of us look for those qualities in others? When we can trust someone, we feel more confident. We are assured they have the courage and confidence in making the right decisions that are for the good of all.

We can see this in Saint Joseph. We call him a Saint because of these virtues and his heroic life. What makes someone a Saint? To be clear, the Catholic Church doesn’t make someone a saint. The Church recognizes the holiness and heroic faithfulness of certain individuals and honors some with the title of “Saint”. Their cooperation with God’s grace makes them a Saint.

St. Joseph’s Responsibility

St. Joseph, though essential to God’s plan of salvation is relatively unnoticed in the Gospels. He is not quoted as saying one word. Although he knew God called him to fulfill an important role in the lives of Jesus and Mary, he did so without expecting any favors or recognition.

He was given the awesome responsibility of providing for the necessities of life for Mary and Jesus. Next to God, St. Joseph’s priority was his family. He used every means at his disposal to provide for security and the necessities of life for those in his care.  This he did through faithfulness, humility, and obedience, and he received no extraordinary reward during his lifetime except the joy and peace related to his faithfulness. His reward, like that of all the faithful — is everlasting happiness in heaven.

St. Joseph was a man of hope! Hope can be described as an unshakable trust and assurance that the promises of God will be fulfilled. A key to living a life of hope is trusting in God’s plan for us. Most of us would like to have at our disposal all the resources necessary for any crisis that might come our way; it is not possible. No one can prevent every tragedy, illness, or death that will be part of our life experience, but every one of us can be filled with hope when enduring trials if we are intimately connected to God in prayer and in His grace.

Find Inspiration in St. Joseph’s Witness

We see in St. Joseph what every man and woman can do. St. Joseph can be a paternal figure for us – he teaches us to trust in God’s plan for us while remaining in hope.  When children see their parent(s) praying and talking about God, it gives them a great sense of security.

Through his witness, Joseph has been an inspiration for millions of men and women through the centuries. Hundreds of churches have been named after him and thousands of men have chosen the name Joseph in admiration of his faithfulness.

Pope Francis is convinced that Joseph teaches us to set aside all anger and disappointment, and to embrace the way things are, even when they do not turn out as we wish. Not with mere resignation but with hope and courage.  Pope Francis is sure God used Joseph to achieve His purpose, and he is convinced God can use us, too.

Be inspired and learn more about this incredible man – Joseph!

 


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.

Having Faith Even When We Do Not “See”

How do you start your day? Perhaps you are an early riser who goes for a brisk walk and knocks out tasks before the sun rises.  Or maybe you hit the snooze button a “few” times and rely on some brisk coffee to get you going. As for me, I must pray! The minute I wake up, I say good morning to God and thank him for another day.  I also say a morning offering prayer:

Dear Lord, I do not know what will happen to me today. I only know that nothing will happen that was not foreseen by You, and directed to my greater good from all eternity. I adore Your holy and unfathomable plans, and submit to them with all my heart for love of You, the Pope, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Amen.

This helps me start my day with a fresh reminder that things will happen according to God’s will, not mine.  As the day progresses and things happen, I constantly remind myself that I may not understand why something is happening but I must always trust!  This is how I have faith when I don’t see (which, honestly, is most of the time).  Like everyone, I have good days and bad days and I frequently encounter uncertainties and less than ideal situations. But knowing that God loves me, created me, and has a plan for me fills my heart with joy and peace even on the toughest of days.

O you of little faith

Of course, it’s been a journey for me to get to this place in my own faith.  And the journey of my faith is far from over as it will last through my last day in this world.  But there were certainly times in the past when I worried about so many things.  Too often I feared what I couldn’t see or understand.  I can recall worrying about pretty much everything: whether my plans would work out, worrying about whether I would get selected for a certain job, worrying about ailments. I can recall losing sleep and feeling anxious as the worry consumed me.  Reflecting on it, I can totally compare it to the parable The Calming of the Storm at Sea.

“He got into a boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came upon the sea so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, Lord, save us! We are perishing! He said to them, Why are you terrified, O you of little faith? Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. The men were amazed and said, What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey? “(Matthew 8: 23-27)

Other perspectives

This is only my perspective – an adult, a catholic mother, and a wife.  As I pondered on this, I was eager to find out other perspectives.  So, I interviewed my family. I met with them individually and asked:

How do you keep your faith in God even when you do not see?

You can read their responses below:

  • Retirement age: “I know in my heart that there is only one place to go. What’s down the road is something in God’s plan.  He is our only recourse. He is our present help even if we do not see.  You know in your heart.  That’s it.”
  • School-age: “Mostly it’s that you feel God in your heart.  And you could hear him in your ears saying ‘trust me, you’re not alone’ and telling you ‘I am right here beside you.’”
  • Preschool age: “When I pray to God, um, I feel him in my heart pumping.  It pumps like this: pump, pump, pump!”
  • Toddler age: “He comes in your heart and Jesus wants us to share.”

It’s touching how remarkably similar these responses are!

Your perspective

How do you keep your faith in God even when you do not see?

I pray that all brothers and sisters in Christ feel in their hearts the peace and joy of God’s plan!

Trust in him always, especially in the darkest of times.

Leaving you with this perfect excerpt from the Beatitudes:

Blessed are the pure at heart, for they shall see God!


Christina Campos is a blessed Catholic wife and mother. Each day brings adventurous memories and so many reasons to be thankful to God. She enjoys volunteering and contributing to the special mission of the 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.

The Kingdom as Seed

“This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.” (Mark 4: 26-27)

Only in the Gospel of Mark, is the parable told about the seed that grows in secret. What are we to make of this? Maybe that how the Kingdom of God grows is as mysterious as how a seed grows?  Can we as humans ever wrap our minds around the mystery of how twelve Apostles preaching and teaching and scattering the Good News of Jesus Christ, would have grown to over 1 billion believers today?!

Mysteries of the Seed Growing in Secret

When I reflect on examples of this mystery of the seed growing in secret, I recall the experience of being part of the RCIA team at my parish. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the communal process in which adults become full, participating members of the Catholic Church.

When we gather for the inquiry phase of RCIA, we ask each person:

“Why are you here at this time, this year, at this place? What are you seeking?”

The stories I have heard almost always speak to a seed growing in secret that has led the person to inquire more about the Catholic faith. A few illustrations of these seeds:

  • Memories of a grandparent and their strong Catholic faith, taking them to Mass, praying the Rosary with them, and talking to them about God
  • Engaged to be married to a practicing Catholic, and asked by their future spouse to be open to converting so as to share a lifetime of faith together
  • Witnessing the strong faith of someone fighting a battle with cancer or a life-changing disability and the peace and strength that is present in their life
Sowing the Seeds of the Kingdom

What becomes apparent in these stories is that our words and our actions, while not the cause of God’s Kingdom, do still matter in the coming of the Kingdom.  Our words and actions sow the seeds of the Kingdom.

But the Kingdom arrives not through our efforts but by God’s grace…

Planting and gathering depend upon human work.  Sprouting and growth depend upon God’s design. God takes what we do and puts even the smallest seed to magnificent use.

We ask the RCIA candidates once more as they are closer to being received into the Church at the Easter Vigil, that same question about what brought them here…. and this time their response moves beyond the person who sowed the seed, and they recognize the hand of God and His grace in growing the faith within them. The Holy Spirit has revealed the mystery of the seed sown in secret once again!

Jesus’ parable gives me such great hope and encourages me to be aware of my words and actions, to be persistent in prayer for those who are separated from God’s love, and to trust that God will use my words and actions to reveal His love to others. Jesus’ words are a challenge to ask myself: how is God calling me to plant and water the seeds of faith, and how am I inviting God into my life to help me do so?

This excerpt of a prayer written by Msgr. Kenneth Untener, speaks so well to the mystery of our earthly pilgrimage and our time spent sowing the seeds of God’s Kingdom:

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders;
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future that is not our own.

This beautiful prayer gives me the hope I need when I am discouraged that the seeds of faith I sow in secret may not bear fruit and may not lead souls to God.

Lord God, you have given us the gift of faith. Help us take time to water that seed of faith in our hearts and the hearts of others. Let us always invite you into our hearts to give it growth, and may we remain your steadfast prophets of hope.  Amen.


Debbie Garza is a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Leon Springs, and is an experienced Pilgrimage Group Leader with Pilgrim Center of Hope. She has traveled with Pilgrim Center of Hope to the Holy Land, Italy, and Greece. She says, “On pilgrimage, I know the ears and eyes of my heart have been opened by God’s grace and I’ve experienced the Joy of the Gospel. I am committed to helping other pilgrims experience their personal journey of faith.” Debra is also a member of Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Speaker Team.

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.

Joy in Tying the Knot!

What is true joy? Joy is mentioned at least 219 times in the Bible. Fr. Pierre de Chardin, S.J. states:

“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God!”

When we encounter Christ Jesus and accept Him into our lives as our Lord, our Savior, we experience joy and hope. To encounter is to meet and experience; to accept is to acknowledge and believe. Our journey towards the Heavenly Jerusalem begins with this encounter and believing in God’s presence.

As a couple embrace their love for each other in the Sacrament of Matrimony, they begin this new journey with Christ Jesus, inviting him to walk with them for the rest of their lives! Oh sure, there are valleys and perhaps some pits we all experience along the way; for this reason, our Savior instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Let us praise God for this great gift!

Yes, when couples “tie the knot”, it is a sign of their willingness to love and sacrifice for their spouse.  Let’s use this word “knot” as an acronym:

  • K – Knowledge of God
  • N – Now!
  • O – Obedience!
  • T – To live and share the faith.

K – Knowledge: The Apostles Creed is the foundation of our faith! When explaining to family members, friends why you are a Catholic and why you have chosen to be married in the Catholic Church; this Creed gives many reasons! The Apostles’ Creed is divided into what we refer to as 12 articles. It is a solid profession of the fundamental truths of our faith. When we pray the Rosary, we begin with his proclamation of our faith and then add the beautiful Gospel prayers included in the Rosary. There is always joy and fruit when couples pray together.

N – Now! There is no better time to begin anew than now. Simple words such as “I love you” and “I am sorry” can be jump starters towards healing.

O – Obedience: Our free will is the greatest gift God has given us and it is the only thing that can separate us from God’s plan for us. To be obedient to God’s natural and moral laws is to be given freedom and a road map to true happiness. There is always fruit in obedience!

T – To live and share the faith: Living the Sacramental life gives us the grace to live and share our faith. So many people are in need of authentic witnesses and sincere messages of hope. When couples witness their love for each other, their commitment to God; people will perceive there is hope!

What has sustained the Church are people who have encountered the Lord and accepted the Truth of His revelation and trusted in His Divine Providence.

Yes, joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God. No matter what age we are when we marry, no matter how many years we have been married; when God is invited to be a part of that relationship each day; believe you will always have the hope needed to sustain you!


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.