What Are You Looking For?

Whether we realize it or not, that is a question that stirs in the heart of every one of us. The dilemma is that many people don’t know what they are looking for or how to bring meaning to their life.

Join Mary Jane Fox for steps to direct your search, which involve growing spiritually and in relationship to Jesus.

Message of Hope
When we draw near to Jesus, we too see once more the light which enables us to look to the future with confidence. We find anew the strength and the courage to set out on the way. – Pope Francis, Liturgy at St. Peter’s, 3-5-16

Visit PilgrimCenterofHope.org/Living for more information.

Spiritual Six Pack

 

Consult not your fears, but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do. – Pope John XXIII

Spiritually-speaking, this is the mindset we all should have as we march into 2019.

As a way to encourage you to start or add to your faith life, consider this multi-faceted “Spiritual Six-Pack” of suggestions on how to build up your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Every year, I personally use this as a checklist to take inventory of my spiritual development. First, I ask myself if I’ve been living this “spiritual six-pack,” and then I make a list of how I am going to improve in these areas in the year ahead.

RECOGNIZE YOUR VALUE IN GOD’S SIGHT

To illustrate this point, St. John of the Cross wrote an allegory that describes how God gave creation as a bride to His Son and how Christ as the Bridegroom of our Souls, paid the ultimate price in order to save us all from slavery.

I will go and find my bride; I will take upon my shoulders her sufferings and weariness; I will die, so that she may live, and so I will lead her back to my Father. – St. John of the Cross

SEEK UNION WITH EACH PERSON OF THE BLESSED TRINITY

By the grace of God, our soul becomes, first, the child of the eternal Father; second, the spouse of Jesus Christ; third, the temple of the Holy Spirit. – St. Bonaventure

LET CHRIST DWELL WITHIN YOU

St. Ignatius of Loyola once said, “Christ is the life of all those who truly live.” The more we become one with Christ, the more Christ will shine through us.

Not to live in Christ is to gradually lose the spirit of prayer, the love of virtue, the taste of devotion, and the zeal for salvation. Like a branch separated from a vine, we wither and die.

FIND UNION WITH JESUS IN YOUR WORK

The sanctification of ordinary work is a living seed, able to yield fruits of holiness in an immense number of souls. Sanctity, for the vast majority of people, implies sanctifying their work, sanctifying themselves in it, and sanctifying others through it.  – St. Josemaria Escriva

SEE JESUS IN YOUR NEIGHBOR

If Mark 12:31 isn’t clear enough, how about these words from St. John the Apostle:

In this the children of God are manifest and the children of the Devil: whosoever is not just is not of God, nor he that loveth not his brother (1 John 3:10).

Let us see in every one of our neighbors, whatever his state may be, an image of Jesus Christ, and serve each one in our Lord, and our Lord in each one.  – St. Vincent de Paul

GIVE THANKS TO GOD

When we are grateful, we love.  – St. Augustine

St. John Chrysostom says, because man so often fails in this obligation of gratitude, the Son of God puts Himself in our place and takes from His own treasures all that is necessary to do for us what we can never do ourselves.

It almost goes without saying, that daily prayer, receiving Communion frequently, going to Confession at least once a month, and keeping God’s commandments should form the foundation of our lives as Catholics.

By regularly meditating on the six aspects of your life listed above, don’t be surprised if you experience the following benefits:

  • Interior Peace
  • Spiritual Joy
  • Light
  • Consolation
  • Strength

If you are feeling compelled to regularly reflect on the “spiritual six-pack,” I want to make one final suggestion, and that is to call upon the Virgin Mary as your guide, intercessor, and protector.

…under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach your goal. – St. Bernard of Clairvaux

As a gift to you, here is the Totus Tuus prayer written by St. Pope John Paul II. This prayer is at the heart of my devotion to Our Blessed Mother:

Immaculate Conception, Mary my Mother;
Live in me, Act in me, Speak in me and through me,
Think your thoughts in my mind, Love through my heart,
Give me your dispositions and feelings, Teach, lead me and guide me to Jesus,
Correct, enlighten and expand my thoughts and behavior;
Possess my soul, Take-over my entire personality and life, replace it with Yourself,
Incline me to constant adoration, Pray in me and through me,
Let me live in you and keep me in this union always, Amen.

Robert V. Rodriguez is the Public Relations and Outreach Assistant at Pilgrim Center of Hope. Living Catholicism is a regular column of Pilgrim Center of Hope appearing in Today’s Catholic newspaper.

Healing of the Family

What are the serious issues facing nuclear and extended families today?

Join Fr. Ed Hauf, OMI and Fr. John Francis Bentley, BBD as they talk about the wounds facing families in today’s society. As part of their discussion, they will look at how certain kinds of sin can pass down generationally and affect not just the physical parts but also the psychological and spiritual parts of our being.

Also learn about the programs available to heal family relationships, physical and mental illnesses, and addictions.

Message of Hope
Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.  – Pope St. John XXIII

 

Living Your Baptism

When is the last time you thought about your Baptism? Are you living your Baptism?

Beyond the renewal of our baptismal vows during the Easter Vigil, there are lots of ways we can live out our baptismal promises each and every day.

Join Angela Sealana and Robert Rodriguez as they discuss baptism as the gateway to a life in the Spirit. The program will present practical ways to be reminded of and inspired by our baptism. We will also share some spiritual reflections related to our being sons and daughters of God.

Message of Hope
Baptism is not the work of man but of Christ, and this sacrament is so holy that it would not be defiled, even if the minister were a murderer.
– St. Isidore, Doctor of the Church

Visit PilgrimCenterofHope.org/Living for more information.

The Meaning of Advent

Did you know that Advent signals the start of a new Liturgical Year?

Fr. Ed Hauf, OMI and his guest Dan Duet will talk about how to be more spiritually prepared for the celebration of the Lord’s birth. They will also discuss the origins and traditions of the Advent season, as well as provide suggestions on how to become more focused on our need for the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ – not only during Advent, but throughout the year and throughout our lives.

Message of Hope
Always have hope , cling to God and leave all the rest to Him. He will not let you perish. Your soul is very dear to Him; He wishes to save it.                         – St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Three Steps to A More Thankful Attitude

Is the build up to Thanksgiving and Christmas stressing you out? Do you find it difficult to maintain a spirit of gratitude during the holidays and throughout the year?

This episode of Living Catholicism will focus on three simple ways to remind you of the many blessings, gifts, and good things you have received or experienced during the past year and throughout your lifetime. There is joy, spiritual enrichment, and health benefits that come from showing gratitude and saying “thank you” to God and those around you.

We will also discuss how to remember that “God was there,” even in the ‘not so good moments’ that we experience in life.

Hope for Those Who Have Departed

In the March 16, 2018 edition of Today’s Catholic, I wrote about a friend of mine whose strong faith during her intense battle with cancer inspired me to name her a “Hosanna” woman; someone who chooses to praise God while experiencing first-hand what it means to suffer with Jesus.

My friend died last month. She died one year after she was told by doctors she only had one month. In God’s Providence, she actively used her time to pray and seek a cure while she prepared her soul for Eternity and her husband and family for lives without her. She left us for her Eternal reward only a few days after she made sure her youngest son received his first communion; the sacrament which our pastor brought to her bedside so she would not miss it.

Her online journaling drew 15,000 followers. My friend did not meet anyone who did not like her, but I doubt even she had 15,000 friends. It was her words of faith in a God she knew intimately that called them. Her “Hosanna” faith inspired in them the desire to encounter this Jesus who she loves so much.

Two months before my friend’s death, my 52-year old cousin died. He was a lost soul riddled with addiction, a history of crime, family abuse and acute physical limitations brought on by years of self-neglect. He was called a teddy bear of a man for his gentle spirit, but his spirit was indeed troubled. He did not practice his faith for many years because he believed God thought he was worth what the world told him, “You are good for nothing.”

What can we say of the state of these two souls? We can say nothing because it is only God who can read the depths of a man’s soul. But we do have the wisdom of the Church to guide us.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we learn: “Heaven is assured for, ‘Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God forever, for they “see him as he is, ‘face to face'”‘” (1023). Purgatory is offered for, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (1030).

We may assume my faithful friend is in Heaven, but we cannot know that. We are not capable of comprehending what it truly means to be purified so that we may see God face to face. My mom, whose faith and suffering matched my faithful friend’s, told her five daughters before she passed, “You better never stop praying for my soul. I am counting on you girls to get your mother out of Purgatory!”

At my cousin’s funeral, I recall the reassuring words of the priest. He said, “Scott was baptized into the family of God which means Scott is a beloved son of the Father. I trust that he is being embraced by all the Church offers so that he will come to enjoy everlasting peace.” What a consolation for my aunt and his mother!

So, what does the Church offer?

When we pray for the souls of the living and the dead and offer our little daily sacrifices and sufferings, we are joining with all prayer and all who pray. This includes the prayers and sacrifices that monks in monasteries and cloistered sisters in convents offer 24/7 for our salvation. Think of it as a huge jug filling to the brim with grace to be poured upon a poor soul in need of healing and purification.

When we participate at Mass, lifting our hearts and minds along with the Sacrifice of Jesus at the altar, we are lifting all people living and deceased along with His perfect sacrifice. This is what St. Paul means when he writes, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24).

What the Church offers is a way for us to help Jesus in his mission of Mercy; the Mercy merited by him alone through his one sacrifice for all, but which in his love for us, he allows us to help him distribute to ourselves and the ones we love.

Nan Balfour is the Events Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope. This first appeared in Living Catholicism, our regular column in Today’s Catholic newspaper.

About St. Pope Paul VI

On October 14, Pope Paul VI was declared a saint by Pope Francis. Many remember Pope Paul VI for shepherding the Church through the Second Vatican Council and for his enlightening encyclicals, Evangelii Nuntiandi (On Evangelization in the Modern World) and Humanae Vitae (On Human Life).

This episode of Living Catholicism will delve deeper into the accomplishments of Paul VI, and will also introduce you to the man born Giovanni Montini. Plus, discover what you can learn from this newly canonized Saint.

Links to St. Pope Paul VI’s Official Documents

Evangelii Nuntiandi (On Evangelization in the Modern World)

Humanae Vitae (On Human Life)

Why Purgatory?

For Catholics, the liturgical year is divided up into seasons and feast days. The seasons focus on God’s plan of salvation as revealed in the life of Christ, and the feast days are celebrations of the powerful presence of God in the lives of his witnesses.

We began November with All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2.

From baptism, we are all members of the body of Christ – the Church Militant, or those of us who are still working out our salvation; the Church Triumphant, those who have reached their final destination in heaven; or the Church Suffering, those who are being purified on their way to heaven through purgatory.

Throughout the church year, we celebrate the feast days of specific saints, but All Saints Day is for all the saints in heaven who we may know nothing about, perhaps even our relatives.

Do they need our celebrations?

Saint Bernard said, “The saints have no need of honor from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.”

All Souls Day is about those who have left this life in the state of grace but have not yet reached the perfection necessary to be received into heaven. They must undergo a process of purification which we call purgatory.

God expects those of us who believe in him to be faithful to what he has revealed to us through the Scriptures. This faithfulness will help us to reach our potential for happiness in this life, but it requires that we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus.

To go a step further, Jesus said we must be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. This perfection is only possible with the help of grace that he offers us when we choose to be in an intimate relationship with him.

Our present trials and difficulties can help us make reparation for our sins against God and humanity, if we intentionally unite them with the sufferings of Christ. However, at the end of our life, if we have not rejected God and yet have not reached the state of perfection that God has expected of us, in his mercy he will purify our souls in purgatory.

Purgatory is not a final destination but more like a journey through which some souls undergo on their way to heaven. Purgatory is fundamentally based on how much our loving God wants us to live perfectly united to him for all eternity, even if we haven’t been perfect. For this reason, every day, at every eucharistic liturgy throughout the world, we pray for those who have died. We believe that prayer can assist them in their purification process.

Even though these souls are being purified, they are at peace because they know that their salvation is eminent. Thank God for purgatory.

Deacon Tom Fox is co-director & co-founder of Pilgrim Center of Hope. This column was originally submitted for the San Antonio Express-News “Belief” column in its Faith section. (Updated to final printed version 11/26/2018 12:11pm)

Guardian Angels

How often do you greet your guardian angel?

Join Mary Jane Fox for a look at these companions on our journey. Discover what (and why) the Church teaches about these spiritual beings, and how you can find help and encouragement in your own guardian angel.