Joy Doesn’t Sell

Legendary Hollywood director, writer, and producer George Lucas, speaking to an audience of aspiring young people in 1989, passed on a life lesson he’d learned; the difference between two kinds of happiness.

Pleasure, he advised, is short-lived, with varying peaks and valleys. Although we might chase after it, we can never re-live a pleasurable experience again quite the same. “If you’re trying to sustain that peak level of pleasure,” he said, “you’re doomed.”

“On the other hand is joy, and joy doesn’t go as high as pleasure in terms of your emotional reaction, but,” Lucas reflected, “it stays with you.”

“Pleasure is purely self-centered. It’s all about your pleasure,” he posited, acknowledging that it can be positive, as well.

In contrast, he said,

“Joy is compassion. Joy is giving of yourself to somebody else, something else.” Lucas assured his listeners, “If you pursue joy, you will find everlasting happiness.”

Happiness From Sorrow?

When the grocery store aisles are void of colorful Easter decorations, and the candy dishes are bare, the world may move on to the next potential source of pleasurable experiences, but our Catholic Church continues to celebrate Easter.

On April 24 of this year, the Sunday of Divine Mercy, we celebrated God’s mercy. “Mercy” in Latin is misericordia; to have sorrow from the heart. Mercy is God’s heartfelt, compassionate response and gift to us.

But… how could sorrow ever result in happiness?

This strange reality was made visible by Jesus’ appearance to his followers after his resurrection; alive and greeting them with peace, yet still bearing the wounds of his painful crucifixion.

Jesus is the ultimate paradox, who baffles our limited minds and invites us to accept what we cannot fully comprehend: He is God become man. He is the master who invites us to be his friend. He is the crucified man who lives. Jesus’ sorrowful heart rejoices.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” (John 15:11-12)

Will You Choose Joy?

What if we each chose to follow him…

  • To love our enemies?
  • To pray for those who persecute us?
  • To find strength when we are weak?
  • To discover joy, being generous with others from our hearts?

This Easter season, let’s finally allow our Lenten practices to distance our minds from the relentless pursuit of pleasure. When pleasures come and go, let’s give thanks, and continue our journey toward joy.

Joy doesn’t sell, but it does last forever. As Christians, may we choose to pursue joy.


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.

Keeping Faith Like St. Peter

No one likes to look at their shortcomings. We want to be good, or at least have the appearance of good in front of others.

Scripture does not allow this with St. Peter. His many stumbles and foot-in-the-mouth occasions have been read about, studied, and preached about for over 2000 years.  How embarrassing!

Joking aside, these blunders of St. Peter are actually of great benefit to us because they teach us what is important to God, and it is not about never making mistakes or getting things right all the time.

Jesus tells Peter,

“[…] I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers, (Luke 22:31-32).”

Jesus Prays For You

This is one of my favorite verses in the Gospel because in these few words so much is revealed about what God expects of us  . . . and it is so different from what we usually think.

Jesus tells Peter here that he has prayed for him. Do you ever consider that Jesus prays for you?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 2602) tells us, “Jesus often draws apart to pray in solitude, on a mountain, preferably at night. He includes all men in his prayer, for he has taken on humanity in his incarnation, and he offers them to the Father when he offers himself.” As our high priest, this prayer remains Eternal, and it includes you and me.

Can We Relate to Peter?

Consider again Jesus to Peter, […] I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.Ouch! How often Peter must have contemplated these words of His Lord. At the time, he paid them little mind because his response was pure bravado,

“Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you, (Luke 22:33).”

And once you have turned back . . . these are the words of Jesus that should give us such hope. He knows us! He knows we will fail in our prayers, in our almsgiving, and in our acts of charity. By this time our great plans for growing spiritually through Lent, our bravado, may have failed but our faith endures. If we believe Jesus is the Son of God, then our faith has not failed, and the Father has answered Jesus’ prayer for us.

Let’s look again at Peter. After our Lord’s Passion and Death, we find him leaving Jerusalem and returning to his former life of fishing. He must have assumed he really messed up this time. No way is Jesus giving him the keys to the kingdom. Yet what happens? Jesus comes to Peter asking him three times to match Peter’s three denials if he loves him. Jesus is reminding Peter what matters to God is our faith. Peter responds three times,

“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you, (John 21:17).”

Strengthened By St. Peter’s Words and Faith

If you have stumbled this Lent, turn back and be strengthened in the faith and words of St. Peter, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of [your] faith, the salvation of your souls, (1Peter 3-9).”


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.

Cultivating Holy Relationships

On the fourth Sunday of Advent, the Gospel will introduce us to God’s gift of holy relationships.

It takes us with the Virgin Mary as she travels in haste into the Judean Hill Country to visit her cousin, Elizabeth (Lk 1:39-45). This happens soon after Saint Gabriel asks Mary, on behalf of God, to be the Mother of the Messiah. He tells her that Elizabeth, who is very old, is pregnant. We have come to understand he shares this information to confirm to Mary that this strange and wonderful event that is happening to her is the way God works,

“For nothing will be impossible for God” (Lk 1:37).

Additionally, I believe God had St. Gabriel share this information with Mary because she needed someone with whom to share the wonder of God. She needed a holy relationship. Joseph, still to be prepared to embrace his role as guardian of Jesus and Mary, had not yet been brought into the mystery of the Incarnation.

With the news of her cousin’s pregnancy, Mary feels called to go, but she must have wondered if she can trust Elizabeth with the news of her own pregnancy. God does not make her wonder long. He fills Elizabeth with His Spirit at the moment they see each other and she exclaims,

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled (Lk 1:42-45).”

Wow! No wonder Mary’s response was her song of praise, the Magnificat (Lk 1:46-56). Their three months together surely included many conversations sharing their faith in God and discussing his “impossible” ways in their lives!

The Importance of Having Holy Relationships

Holy relationships are important, and God wants us to have them. Consider Jesus, who was born into a family, living for 30 years in holy relationships with Mary and Joseph, and then calling disciples into a relationship with him as soon as he embarked on his active ministry. Holy relationships help us to grow in our Christian faith; for God Himself is a holy relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To be in holy relationships is part of our Christian identity.

Holy relationships as explained here are not primarily about evangelization, though they certainly can evangelize us. Holy relationships are also not about having to prove God is at work in you or wanting the other to tell you what they think God is doing in you. That is for our pastors and spiritual directors. Holy relationships I am referring to are similar to what Mary and Elizabeth must have enjoyed. They are simply about sharing our faith journey with one or more in a mutual acknowledgment, affirmation, and appreciation of God as living in, through, and with us.

I have a couple of friends who fit this description. One is a holy relationship in which we take a couple of hours a week walking and talking about what God is doing in our lives. We do not give each other advice unless we are asked. We talk and we listen, that’s it. Another holy relationship is someone with whom I have absolutely nothing in common. Marveling at this, I once told her, “You know we are only friends because of Jesus.” We both laughed as she agreed. In our mutual talking and listening, she has been such an encouragement, and I believe she can say the same about me.

How Does One Cultivate a Holy Relationship?

The best way I know is through faith studies or ministries. Participating in a bible study or volunteering at a ministry is a great way to meet like-minded, Jesus-centered people with whom we can cultivate deep and lasting holy relationships. If personal restrictions keep us from actively participating at a parish or ministry, there are many virtual opportunities that can serve to form holy relationships right from our homes.

Holy relationships are God’s gifts for us to receive and be continuously renewed in our faith, but it does take discernment and a bit of courage to know who we can trust. Pray to the Virgin Mary and St. Elizabeth to help you both find and reach out to potential spiritual companions. Pray also that you will be a trustworthy companion in return. It is well worth the risk and effort.


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.

The Urgency of Being Ourselves

I remember the first time I cried in front of my closest friends at college. The dorm room was poorly lit, and they were all gathered around me as I expressed some frustration and disappointment.

Their faces are still vivid in my mind’s eye; not only sad, but also a bit stunned. Despite our closeness, over years of friendship, I had never allowed myself to be that vulnerable with them.

A Struggle We All Face

We all struggle with mask-wearing. Here I’m not speaking about physical masks, but about spiritual and emotional personas which we portray in various situations; with certain friend groups, at work, at church, etc., and which ultimately hide parts of ourselves.

Certainly, different situations require different types of behavior. Going a step further, we all need healthy emotional boundaries. Neither of these are the issue at hand.

Rather, the challenge requiring our immediate attention is the challenge to be authentically ourselves; with ourselves and with God.

For example, how often do you and I try to push aside the struggles we are facing with our health, employment situation, marital or familial relationships…? How often do you and I choose to ignore those nagging wounds we carry—anxiety, loneliness, fears or scruples, unforgiveness, anger, feelings of inadequacy…? Too often, we mask them, and move on.

Problems arise when these wounds fester; when these struggles stretch us thin. The wounds worsen—spreading to our family, our neighborhood and workplace, to our city, our country, and yes, even to our Church.

Take a Cue From the Saints

What then, are we to do?

Someone who understood intense problems of society, State, and Church was St. Catherine of Siena—who is credited with resolving social disputes in Italy, advising royalty, and even bringing the Pope back to Rome following the scandalous Great Western Schism.

It sounds absurd. How could a young, non-royal female living in the 1300s have been so influential?

The powerful key to her impact is described in Catherine’s mystical Dialogue with God, whom she recounts as revealing to her;

“The only way to taste my truth and to walk in my brilliant light is by means of humble and constant prayer, prayer rooted in a knowledge of yourself and of me.”

If we fail to be truly honest and vulnerable with ourselves, and with God, we will continue to live in the darkness of our hiding places.

Perhaps we prefer to hide. We are ashamed, uncomfortable, or too hardened to care anymore.

God understands. In a famous prayer, St. Ignatius Loyola underscores God’s understanding;

“O Good Jesus, hear me. Within your wounds, hide me.”

You Are Not Alone in Your Suffering

God sees our woundedness, and does not leave us to suffer alone. He chose to become one of us; to adopt our wounds onto his own human body, and to allow his own human heart to be pierced.

Don’t hide in the wounds that the world has inflicted upon you; abide instead in the wounds of Jesus. As unbelievable as it sounds, by his wounds, we are healed (cf. 1 Peter 2:24).

How can this happen? Begin with an image of Jesus; on the Cross or resurrected with his wounds exposed. Keep it in a visible place in your home, or carry it with you. Commit to a consistent, daily, and honest dialogue with him. Speak from the heart. Smile, laugh, and cry if you need to.

In humble, constant prayer with our loving and wounded God, we can find the freedom to be our true selves. Better yet, the more we surrender into his pierced heart, the more we will find ourselves renewed. Like St. Catherine, we will see that renewal overflow into the world around us.


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.

What Should We Pray for our Children?

Every parent should be inspired, take courage, and be challenged in this exchange between Jesus and the mother of His Apostles, James and John:

“Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached him [Jesus] with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom,” (Matthew 20:20-21).

Who is Salome?

Isn’t she being disrespectful to God in how she speaks to Jesus?  No, quite the opposite but before we learn why that is let’s first discover who this woman is. Other Gospel passages tell us her name is Salome. She is the wife of Zebedee, a fisherman, and along with his fishing partners, Simon and Andrew, her sons James and John were called at the sea of Galilee by Jesus to join his ministry. They did so and we are told in Luke (5:10-11), they, “left everything and followed him.”

Being a woman in ancient Palestine of the first century meant being dependent on the men in your family for financial support. Did she feel like many mothers and fathers today who hear their sons tell them they have a calling to the priesthood?  Did she see her help in old age and the dream of future grandchildren disappear? Vocation directors say the biggest obstacle to a man becoming a priest is his parents. Auxiliary Bishop Gary W. Janak says,

“People love having a priest in the family as long as it is their nephew.  Parents need to trust God and pray for their own sons to become priests and for their daughters to enter religious life.”

Lessons from Salome

When Salome approaches Jesus, she is not being disrespectful. Her request affirms his authority and hers. She comes to Jesus with confidence in her God-given vocation to motherhood for it says in the Book of Sirach (3:2), “For the Lord sets a father in honor over his children and confirms a mother’s authority over her sons.” Paying Jesus homage means she acknowledges his authority over her. Asking Jesus, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom,” is her saying, “You are King and God, I am mother. You called my sons to you and in my authority over them, I affirm your call. Make them great in your Kingdom!

Salome knew who she was in God. She believed Jesus was the Son of God and trusted Him. We can know this by her exchange above and because she was one of the few who is recorded as standing by his Cross at Calvary, (Mark 15:40).

This is the courage we mothers (and fathers) need to have! Her one error was in telling God how to make them great and therefore we hear Jesus respond, “You do not know what you are asking.”

God knows what our children need better than we ever can, but he does expect us, parents, to act in our God-given authority over our children. It says in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, (no. 2221) regarding the duties of parents, “The fecundity of conjugal love cannot be reduced solely to the procreation of children but must extend to their moral education and their spiritual formation. The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute.”

What should we pray for our children?

We pray as Jesus prays,

“Not my will Father, but your will be done,” (Luke 22:42).

If God’s Will is the priesthood or religious life for our children, we need to respond in faith and trust in His Providence for our children and for ourselves.

What Became of James and John?

The mother of James and John did receive what she wanted of her sons. Both achieved greatness.

James was the first Apostle to be martyred for the faith. He was beheaded in 44 A.D. by Herod Agrippa during an early Christian persecution. Our faith teaches us to be martyred for the faith is to immediately receive Eternity in the Kingdom of God.

John, the only Apostle at Calvary, wrote one of the four Gospels and the Book of Revelation. Most notably, he is the Apostle given on behalf of the Church, the Blessed Mother, and Virgin Mary as our Mother. When Jesus said to John,

“Behold, Your Mother,”

and we read, “And from that hour the disciple took her into his home,” (John 19:27), I imagine Salome achieving greatness herself by standing next to her son in the fullness of her maternal authority, affirming our Lord’s command and helping her son fulfill it!


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.

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

In the Gospel of Matthew, someone identified as the rich, young man, said to Jesus,

“Teacher, what must I do to gain eternal life?”

Matthew 9:16. Jesus tells him he must keep the commandments. The young man said, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him,

“If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions” (Matthew 19:20-22).

The young man had the wisdom to be concerned about his salvation, but not the will to overcome his attachment to possessions. He was hoping Jesus would suggest something he could do on his own, like keeping the law. Jesus invites him to do something he can only do with the help of grace, to put his total trust in God and in his providence. This is the same reality for every vocation; religious, married, or single. Every vocation is a call to holiness, and we can only be holy with God’s help. As Jesus said, “For human beings this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26.

How Do I Discover God’s Plan For Me?

Our heavenly Father has a wonderful plan for every baptized person, but that plan can only be discovered and lived in communion with him. For this reason, Jesus Christ established his Church and the Sacraments so that every baptized person will have access to the grace that is necessary to live the plan that will allow us to reach our potential for happiness now and forever.

Jesus said,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:5).

To be poor in spirit is to be totally dependent on God, no matter who we are or what we have. It is to know that every good thing comes from God and he expects us to be good stewards of his gifts. There are many saints in our Church history, and even in these present times, that had vast wealth which they put at the service of God for the sake of worship, education, medicine, and a variety of other resources for those in need.

To be poor in spirit goes beyond our financial status. There can be many things we are tempted to cling to that can be an obstacle to our relationship with God. We can be reluctant to give up an ideology that is in conflict with Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church. We can hold on to addictions because it seems easier than the struggle to break free. Often times it is a relationship that can pull us away from God’s plan for us.

How Do I Stay Close To Jesus?

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and the answer to all the dilemmas that make up our life experience. He is the gentle Good Shepherd that invites us to draw close to him in daily prayer so that he can lead us away from the dangers that can trap us. Staying close to Jesus by frequenting the sacraments and praying together with family and friends will not only ensure our own happiness and salvation, but it will also ensure the vocations that are necessary for the life of the Church and the salvation of souls.

“The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort.  You were made for greatness.”  Pope Benedict XVI


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.

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.

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.

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.

Finding Jesus’ Peace Today

What do you think of when you hear the word “peace”? A carefree day? A family without disagreements? The absence of war or political conflict?

Recently, I was both greatly challenged and encouraged when I discovered Jesus’ definition of “peace.”

Appearing to the disciples after his Resurrection, “he stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” (Luke 24:36) This was not simply a greeting.

Before Jesus’ death, he had instructed his disciples that his peace was not the common secular peace – Pax Romana; absence of war. He said:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27)

In the Hebrew language, the word for peace is “shalom.” Shalom denotes wholeness or completeness. Jesus’ shalom is a mutual agreement between persons; not a lack, but a positive presence of serenity. Shalom is a blessing; it is God’s grace made manifest.

If we’re paying attention, we shouldn’t be surprised that Jesus’ peace doesn’t refer to a lack of concern or conflict. The Prince of Peace spent his days precisely with those who experienced difficult situations, and he himself entered into great suffering and death.

Fruit of the Spirit

As Jesus’ followers, then, how can we be truly and sincerely “at peace”, while division occurs all around us?

To pursue peace as Jesus did is not something we can do on our own. Scripture teaches that peace is a “fruit of the Spirit.” Peace is a fruit – or a sign, that God’s Spirit is present.

The key is this; God’s Spirit is a gift to be received. Jesus taught that our ability to have an exchange and shalom with God is contingent on our being reconciled with others.

“If you bring your gift to the altar,” Jesus taught, “and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)

The early Christian St. Cyprian summarized plainly;

“God does not accept the sacrifice of a sower of disunion, but commands that he depart from the altar so that he may first be reconciled with his brother. For God can be appeased only by prayers that make peace. To God, the better offering is peace, brotherly concord, and a people made one in the unity of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

In short: The key to peace is in our will, our heart, from our own choice; to bind and loose the bonds of forgiveness and unforgiveness of those who offend us.

“It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2843).

Experience True Peace

When we are wounded or offended by others, it hurts! We may want to build up our walls and protect ourselves (fear), or perhaps heap injury on those who hurt us so that they will understand what we feel (trouble). Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled or afraid.” When we embrace or act on these thoughts or feelings, our will – our heart – is no longer united with God’s.

God wills good for everyone. “He causes the sun to shine on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45)

For us to experience peace, we must choose to will our offenders good and not evil. When we do, we are not excusing their behavior, but we are loosening the bonds of unforgiveness that tie us to the offense.

Then, we can be free to receive the gift of God’s Spirit living within us, and we can experience true peace; the peace of Jesus.

Find some practical advice in Archbishop Gustavo’s pastoral letter, Transformed by Hope: “We need to find a time and a place that allows us a moment of silence. There we can, so to speak, look at ourselves from the outside and review how we relate to our environment; acknowledge what feeds or causes our emotions, feelings and affections; reexamine our ideas, prejudices, perceptions, assumptions, reactions and relationships. Finally, we can encounter ourselves and God. In this way we will find peace and a deep joy, beyond that which comes and goes with different situations. The Holy Spirit will transform us into a new creation and others might discover in us instruments that God sends.”


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.