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A Lesson from the Country that Evangelized Itself

Yes, you read that right. While most people outside the Middle East have adopted the Christian faith due to missionary work, there is one nation that did not need missionaries.

Meeting Korea

Thanks to a personal interest in South Korea that has developed over the last two years, I have begun eating Korean food, enjoying music and art from the country, learning its language, and exploring Korean history. The story of Christianity in Korea is both fascinating and inspiring.

September 20 is the Memorial of the Korean Martyrs; 130 holy people whose memory deserves celebration, honor, and gratitude for changing the history of the world. Korea has the fourth-most number of martyrs among the world’s nations.

To begin their story, one must first understand something essential to traditional Korean society; education. As opposed to its neighbor Japan, whose traditional power structure (shogunate) was based upon war and the might of a clan, the Korean ruling class for centuries were the Yangban—deriving from the Confucian scholar. For hundreds of years, Korean dynasties maintained a remarkably peaceful stability.

The Surprising Discovery of Jesus

While he was in nearby China, diplomat and scholar Yi Gwang-jeong encountered Christianity for the first time. In 1603, he returned with several theological books written by Fr. Matteo Ricci, an Italian Jesuit. As per usual, Yi passed on the interesting information that he had obtained.

At this time in Korea, class structure was clear. Even today, the Korean language’s historical roots are evident. I’ve struggled to learn all its honorific terminology; addressing someone who is older or more distinguished than oneself with different grammar than someone who is an equal or younger than oneself. Gender adds an additional level of linguistic complexity.

Therefore, meetings of Korea’s early Christians were astonishing to behold; sitting in the same room together were scholars, tradesmen, women, and even slaves, regarding each other with equal dignity.

Koreans’ search for truth led them, not only to a surprise meeting with Jesus, but to completely change their worldview.

Since then, the Catholic Church in Korea has been a main driving force behind activism for social justice and against government corruption. Today, South Korea provides the world’s second-largest number of Christian missionaries (second to the United States).

A Surprise for Us All

How often have you and I entertained thoughts of being ‘better than’ someone else?

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus and his disciples were on a journey, with the disciples bickering about that very thing; who among them was the greatest.

Observe how Jesus taught them: He directly asked them to admit their topic of discussion; “What were you arguing about on the way?”

As embarrassment rendered them speechless, Jesus surprised them. He brought a child before them. In their society, children were never given the spotlight.

[…] Putting his arms around it, he said to them,
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.”

So, Jesus’ goal is to upend their way of thinking: Do not vie for status in the eyes of humans. Instead, strive to receive the least-important person in your presence as you would receive me and my Heavenly Father.

May we each, like the Korean Martyrs, pursue a relationship with Jesus which causes us to radically change our worldview, and to humbly “remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other” persons in our midst (The Joy of the Gospel, no. 169).


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.

Not Understanding: Humility

Listening to the Gospel of Mark during this part of Ordinary Time, we hear Jesus patiently teaching his followers about the nature of discipleship and the kingdom of God. We also hear the disciples’ responses, which show their lack of understanding of what Jesus is talking about.  Jesus, recognizing this, tells Peter,

“You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” (Mark 8: 33b)

What prevents us, like the disciples, to more fully understand what Jesus is telling us about serving him and others? Or maybe the better question is:  what would it take for us to more fully understand?

Humility
  • “Whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” (Mark 10:15)

Children are rooted in what God wants them to be. They are what they are and act in accordance to their deepest nature, their God-given nature.

Pope Benedict XVI tells us:

“We will know God to the extent we are set free from ourselves.”

Humility sets us free and allows us to love Jesus and others more than ourselves. Humility means becoming like children and relying on the Spirit to teach us how to be his followers through the liturgy, prayer, Scripture, and the events of our life.

Docility
  • “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the servant of all.” (Mark 10: 43b-44)

“Docile” comes from the Latin word docere (to teach). Being docile means to be teachable. We can think of it as having an attitude of receptivity to what the teacher offers us.

Docility to the Holy Spirit means that we look to the Holy Spirit – the Spirit who is the love between the Father and the Son – for the wisdom to be faithful to Jesus Christ and learn to serve others.

Docility ultimately means stepping out in faith after seeking the Holy Spirit’s will for us. We are called to “walk by faith and not by sight.” St. Paul’s words are a reminder that God’s will is rarely revealed to us in some absolute way. It requires trust in Jesus and stepping out into the unknown as his disciples.

Surrender
  • “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8: 34b)

We have no better example of discipleship than our Blessed Mother Mary. Though most of Jesus’ disciples failed him on Good Friday by leaving him when he was taken away to be crucified, his mother was there to share the pain and suffering and persevere with Jesus to the end of his earthly life. Our Blessed Mother Mary stands by the cross in great faith, in total surrender and total trust in God’s plan for her son. She accepts her mission to be the spiritual mother of all the faithful followers of Jesus.

As human beings, we will never fully understand the mystery of discipleship, but we can follow Jesus in humility, being docile to the Holy Spirit, and surrendering to God’s will for our lives.

Though humility requires that we recognize our own inability to know God’s ways, truly desiring to please God requires that we use the resources God has given us to follow as best we can.

The prayer of Thomas Merton reminds us that our efforts to follow Jesus as best we can do indeed please God:

“My Lord God …. I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following Your will, does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. Therefore I will trust you always, though I may seem lost and in the shadow of death.  I will not fear, for you are ever with me.  And you will never leave me to face my perils alone.  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.

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.

Are We Truly Wise and Intelligent?

Why do we do the things we do? Certainly, our education influences many of the choices we make, but what is the final authority we look to, to guide our lives? Is it a political entity; the media or the friendships we have formed? Is it the word of God?

We see in the Old Testament how God chose a particular people to be His own so that all humanity might know what it means to be faithful to the One True God and to receive His favor. We read in Deuteronomy (4:6), one essential component of this faithful relationship is revealed – the commandments God gave His chosen people through Moses. Of these commandments, Moses says,

“Observe them carefully, for thus you will give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear these statutes and say, ‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’”

How Can I Be Wise and Intelligent?

Wisdom and intelligence were measured by the closeness to God that the Chosen People experienced when they were faithful to the law that was set before them. This is the same law that is set before us. As Jesus said, all of the law and prophets are summed up in the two greatest commandments. We must love the Lord Our God with all our mind, heart, and strength and our neighbor as our self. If we keep these commandments, we will be wise and intelligent people. If we do not, no matter what else we accomplish, we will be foolish, unhappy, and hopeless.

God has a great plan for humanity in general and each and every one of us in particular. We can only discover our personal plan that will allow us to reach our potential for happiness in this life and for all eternity by drawing close to God. We do that by being faithful to what He has revealed to us through the Scriptures and the Church. This is the authority that Jesus Christ left us so that we might remain close to him and receive the grace we need to make decisions that may be difficult, but in the end, lead to wholeness and hope. This authority will often be in conflict with the wisdom of the world.

Keeping a Clean Heart

Any good thing can be abused and misused. In the Gospel of Mark (7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23), we see religious leaders using the law for their own purpose. In order to observe the law they, over the course of years, added on hundreds of precepts for the people to follow. The intentions may have been good, but in the end, the percepts, at times, become more of a burden than a help in keeping the law. The Pharisees try to use the cleansing ritual to trap Jesus. The primary intention of this ritual is purity of heart. Clean hands are more important than washed hands. The outward sign of the cleansing was supposed to reflect that which was interior.

In this case, Jesus reads their hearts and chastises them by explaining that what is truly unclean comes from within a person, such as, “…evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, and folly.” These are what defile a person.

It is not easy to live each day with a clean heart in a world that has no regard for God or His law. Jesus said it would be difficult to follow him. He said we must deny our self and take up our cross each day. He also knows at times we will fall, because he asks us to do things we can only do with his help. For this reason, he has given us the sacraments, especially reconciliation so we can receive him in the Eucharist with a clean heart.

These two sacraments; reconciliation and Eucharist fortified by daily prayer, make it possible to stay close to God and to be guided and transformed by his presence. Prayer is not only essential for our relationship with God it also strengthens our relationship with one another. It is important for a husband and wife to pray together and to pray with their children. We should pray before everything we do, asking for God’s help. Our Blessed Mother wants to obtain for us the grace we need to be faithful; praying the Rosary will help us to stay close to God and stay together as a family. Let us pray that our great nation will be filled with people who are truly wise and intelligent because of our faithfulness to God’s laws.


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.

Practical Ways to Overcome Worry

It seems we all worry about something.  Are you an expert?

Worry is not just a ‘downer’; it’s dangerous. Saint Francis de Sales—one of the greatest writers on the spiritual life and a Doctor of the Church—wrote, “With the single exception of sin, anxiety is the greatest evil that can happen to a soul. […] If our heart is inwardly troubled and disturbed it loses both the strength necessary to maintain the virtues it had acquired and the means to resist the temptations of the enemy.”

Besides presenting our worries to God in prayer and asking for peace (which are called prayers of petition), how else can we fight the temptation to worry?

Holy Reminders

One practical way that has helped me overcome worry is surrounding myself with ‘holy reminders’ at home and work; such as images of Christ—especially of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or the Divine Mercy image.

‘Holy reminders’ encourage me to trust God. If I am a person of faith, I must put my faith into action. If I profess belief in an All-Good, All-Powerful, and All-Loving God, I must live according to that belief and surrender my worries to him. “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Learn to Savor

I remember one particular week, when I repeatedly came across a Scripture verse that embodies another way to overcome worry: “Learn to savor how good the Lord is. Happy are those who take refuge in Him.” (Psalm 34:8)

I had always heard the alternate translation, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord…” but the phrase “Learn to savor” struck me deeply.

When we taste a delicious ice cream or steak, it’s good. But when we savor it, we spend more time appreciating it. When we savor something, its goodness becomes richer and more meaningful.

Once, my spiritual director instructed me to write down things for which I was grateful. This daily practice was meant to be a prayer of thanksgiving, but it eventually became just another task. I was “tasting” those good gifts rather than savoring them.

Take time to marvel at God’s gifts in your life! This savoring is a weapon against worry, because our meditation on God’s Providence re-builds our confidence in his goodness and trustworthiness. Scripture repeatedly commands that we celebrate and remember “the good things” that God has done for us.

Praise Is Powerful

One of the most powerful ways to fight worry is praise.

Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because HE IS. […] By praise, the Spirit is joined to our spirits to bear witness that we are children of God, testifying to the only Son in whom we are adopted and by whom we glorify the Father. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2639)

The power of praising God is why the apostles, saints, and popes have instructed us to praise God unceasingly.  Saint Augustine’s famous quotation is often half-quoted: “You (God) yourself encourage [humans] to delight in your praise, for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

When we worry, we are preoccupied with many things. When we praise God, however, we focus our whole being on God’s Goodness, Truth, Beauty, Mercy, and Love. Prayers of praise fulfill our deepest identity: to be united with, and to ‘rest in’, God.

I have found that the more I genuinely praise God, the more quickly my worries vanish.

So, how does one praise God?  The highest form of praise is the Holy Mass, the “sacrifice of praise”.  Besides active participation in Mass, I most often praise God through hymns and spiritual songs. However, we can praise God everywhere; even when we cannot sing or speak. We simply raise our hearts and minds to God, and rejoice in who God Is.

God commands you to pray, but he forbids you to worry. – St. John Vianney

I invite all you this week to join me in conquering worry, partaking in holy reminders, savoring God’s goodness, and praising God from the heart!


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.

God’s Invitation

In the Gospel of Matthew (19:16-22) we have a wonderful opportunity to consider how God invites each of us into a deeper faith in Him and a personal relationship with Him.

A young man approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”  He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother’; and ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

The young man said to him, “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.

God Reveals Himself To Us

It seems the young man is the one taking the initiative to approach Jesus, but actually it is our Lord who has invited him. The reality that mortal men and women even know God exists is because He has chosen to reveal Himself to us. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read,

By His Revelation, “the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company. The adequate response to this invitation is faith, (CCC, no 142).

By asking the young man this question, Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good, our Lord is drawing the man out of himself and his own efforts to achieve salvation, but the young man fails to see.

Jesus tries again. When the young man asks which commandments he needs to keep, Jesus skips the first three that focus on placing God first in our minds and hearts perhaps hoping the young man notices. He does not. He responds, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?”

This exchange between Jesus and the young man is often what happens in our own relationship with God. We pray for what we need, which He wants us to do, but we fail to listen to how our Lord is inviting us to give Him not only our needs, but our hearts as well. We listen to God by persevering in faith through our doubts, confusion and suffering seeking to know and act in His Will. As the Catechism teaches, faith is  our adequate response to God.

Sadly, the young man fails to respond in faith and leaves when Jesus tells him what he does not want to hear.

God Never Leaves Us

St. Augustine teaches that God is always at work inviting us to Him. He says,

“Our Head intercedes for us; some members He is receiving, others He is chastising, others cleansing, others consoling, others creating, others calling, others recalling, others correcting, renewing.”

When we feel resistance to what we hear God telling us in prayer or through the teachings of the Church, remain constant to Him. Think of the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, (John 4:4-29).  Her remaining constant to Jesus despite being way outside her comfort zone paid off in a profound healing and restoration of her broken life. Not only was she converted, her whole village turned to Jesus thanks to her witness of faith!

Jesus promises rewards here and now in this life to those who choose authentic, committed discipleship to Him. He says,

Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.

Jesus was inviting the young man into receiving divine possessions far greater than his earthly ones. Scripture does not tell us if the young man returned to follow Jesus, but we can be certain our Lord never stopped inviting him.

The same goes for us!


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.

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.