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What Does it Mean to be Happy?

There will be great signs in the heavens when the Son of Man comes in his glory. Will you be ready? It isn’t likely that the end of the world will happen during our lifetime so we shouldn’t be too worried, should we? Wrong! God will come for everyone of us at a time we do not know, and we will receive our first judgment at that time and that time will be within a year for some of us. Are we ready?

Of course, we hope we all will be ready when the Lord comes for us, but our real desire should be to live in a faithful relationship with Him right now because our lives are different when we try to remain close to God. We should ask ourselves this question; do I truly want to be faithful to God? If I try to live my life close to God, being faithful to what He has revealed through the Scriptures and the Church will I be more happy or less happy? I guess we should ask the question, what does it mean to be happy?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this about happiness;

“The beatitude we are promised confronts us with decisive moral choices. It invites us to purify our hearts of bad instincts and to seek the love of God above all else. It teaches us that true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement- however beneficial it may be- such as science, technology, and art, or in any creature, but in God alone, the source of every good and all love” (CCC, no. 1723).

Love God Above All Else

A friend of ours, Fr. Bruce Neile, who used to live in Austin told us that if he was ever feeling a little discouraged, he would visit a friend of his who was a quadriplegic. He said this man was always filled with great joy because of his love of God. No matter what we have to go through on the worst day of our life, there will always be someone who has it much worse and yet is filled with peace because of their relationship with God. If we have the capacity to think clearly, we have the capacity to be faithful to God.

God loves us so much that He commands us to be happy. He has given us the commandment that we must love Him with all our mind, heart, soul, and strength because He created us to discover our happiness in Him. He is the source of all Love and all that is good, and we can only reach our potential to love others by loving God above everything else. Of course, we don’t just naturally love God above everything else.

Our temptation is to look at ourselves first and what we need or want. However, we have not been created for ourselves. God’s plan draws us out of ourselves, not only for our own good, but for the good of others. Jesus tells us,

“Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew. 16:25).

In other words, if we just live for ourselves and what we want, we are lost and bound to be unhappy.

The way to be prepared for Christ when he comes for us is to live everyday close to him; being faithful to what he has revealed to us through the Scriptures and the Church and to be intimately connected to him in our prayer and in the sacraments. We will not only be ready, but we will also be happy.


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.

How a role-playing Mexican priest helped me learn to be myself

When my great-grandmother helped Fr. Miguel Pro escape from prison, I wonder what they said to each other.

She was an orphan of the Mexican revolution, and would bring him a disguise to slip past his captors, so that he could offer the sacraments for the faithful who lived nearby. Then, Father Pro would return to his prison cell as if nothing had happened.

Out of necessity in an anti-Catholic country, Father Pro was a master of disguises; you can find photos of these through a quick Internet search. He dressed as a mechanic to minister to cab & bus drivers; or as a farmer to go out to the rural areas. He was a beggar, an office worker… you name it!

True Identity

His truest identity was as a priest—someone who threw his entire self into God and who wanted to be a living image of Christ in the world.

However, the world didn’t allow him to live freely as a priest. He was hunted by the government day and night.

To live as his truest self, therefore, Father Pro chose to become so many other things; a miner, a mechanic, a wealthy gentleman…

One story recounts his conversation with Communists on a train, in which he jokingly claimed that he, too, was a socialist and a Communist. They all laughed together. Father Pro made such an impression on them that they offered him chocolates upon parting. Given the socio-political climate in Mexico at the time, this was no small accomplishment for a priest.

In each of these diverse circumstances, Father Pro strove to be Christ’s presence in that particular situation.

How To Live As Myself?

In our lives, perhaps there are many parts of our personality that never mix. When the barber inquires about my Sunday plans, do I reveal my devotion to God? Or, conversely, among my Church community, may I discuss the latest TV show I’ve been watching every weekend? Old classmates, sports buddies, neighbors, and family… can we consistently be the same person with them all?

I believe strongly that Miguel Pro would answer an enthusiastic, ¡Sí! to all of the above.

No matter what situation we’re in, each of us is only fully ourselves when we find our identity in Christ. Jesus is quoted in the Gospel according to John 10:10, “I came that they might have life and have it to the full.”

“Christ, … in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, makes man fully manifest to himself and brings to light his exalted vocation.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1701)

To put it simply; when we encounter God’s love by getting to know Christ, we discover our ultimate purpose & calling. When we show God’s love by how we live, we are most fully alive. When we find our identity in Christ, we are most fully & authentically ourselves—no matter what!

Ready for Life

Father Pro was all about life. He had so profoundly found himself in Christ, that he was prepared for death… and eternal life. In his final days, he promised:

If I meet any long-faced saints there [in Heaven], I will cheer them up with a Mexican hat dance! – Fr. Miguel Agustín Pro

Even his final words were about life and Christ: ¡Viva Cristo Rey! “Long Live Christ the King!” he shouted, before the reigning powers’ firing squad silenced his mortal voice. (Now, his words echo into eternity… never to be silenced!)

May Christ the King never be silenced in us. May we embrace a daily effort to know Christ in Scripture, in prayer, and in the living witness of the Church. May we fully find ourselves in Christ, and in every situation may we live fully alive!


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.

Seeing As Jesus Sees

 

One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. See Nicene Creed. These are the Four Marks of our Church, the body of Christ. I need to ask myself if I truly believe that my Church has these four marks. If the answer is yes, then am I Catholic?

Let me explain. Catholic means universal. It means that the members of the body of Christ come from all races and ethnic groups, and are found everywhere. The Church, that is we, are open to all. Or are we? We know the Church is Catholic, but can a person be catholic? Am I catholic in the way I see others?

Viewing Others Through Filters

Children are born without filters. That is one reason Jesus loved to be around them, see the Gospel of Matthew (19:14). As we develop and mature, however, we acquire filters. By filters, I mean that we start looking at people through our own lenses of bias and prejudice, which come from our immediate families, our coworkers, communities (online and otherwise), nations, and our friends. What sort of filters? These can range anywhere from the color of people’s skin, their education, body type, gender, sexual orientation, possessions, occupations, mental or other disorders or disabilities, and the list goes on. In an examination of conscience, we have to ask ourselves if we are seeing others through our filters, or through the eyes of Jesus.

I carry these filters everywhere I go, and they apply to anything I sense. That means that they apply to everything I see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. Here’s a good test: when I look around during Mass, do I see souls, or do I see people different from me? If people are different from me, am I accepting and open to them, or am I judging them in accordance with my filters? Am I applying my own, unique standards and measurements to them?

It is a part of human nature to size people up as soon as I hear or see them. Haven’t you ever heard a person on the phone and immediately imagined what they look like? Then, when you actually meet or see them, their actual appearance is much different from what you had imagined. It’s the same with souls. Our outer appearances and conduct may hold SOME clues to what our souls really are like, but the real truth may be far from our guesses. Think of people you have encountered whose hidden stories have caused you to feel compassion and understanding, now that you know what they went through? That is why only God can judge another person. Only He knows what sort of childhood or other experiences that person has gone through, and what sorts of inner struggles and obstacles that person has had to overcome. It’s possible that at the very moment a person needs a boost up the mountain of life, our filters cause us to show them an attitude, or look, or to speak a word, that can throw them back down, perhaps never to get up again.

What Did Jesus Do?

When Jesus associated with tax collectors and sinners, he was reaching out with God’s love to all children of God. He even tried to reach the Pharisees and Sadducees, in spite of their open hostility towards him. If Jesus had had filters in operation, the extent of his reach would have been limited or curtailed. Therefore, the reach of his love and mercy would have been limited.

Encouragement for Your Journey

It is difficult for any of us to identify, overcome and deconstruct the many filters within us. If you find yourself wincing, frowning, or in any way negatively reacting to a person, you must ask yourself why you are doing so. If you look at a person and you already know the kind of person they are, this might give you an idea of the kind of filter you are using.

We can look to the lives of the Saints, each of whom had their own filters in place that they had to locate and eliminate in order to progress on their spiritual journey. The more they conquered their negative filters, the more aligned they became with Jesus. And after all, isn’t that our ultimate goal?

So when the next time we’re at church, work, the grocery store, a concert, movie, party, or seminar, ask yourself whether you are looking at others the way Jesus would look at that person. Then we can imitate our Lord in opening our hearts to that person, so that Jesus’ love, kindness, and mercy can flow from Jesus, through you, to the person Jesus loves as much as he loves you.


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 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.

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.

The Abundant Joy of God’s Love

“The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. …With Christ joy is constantly born anew.” – Pope Francis (Joy of the Gospel)

The joy of knowing God is profound and can exist in the midst of difficulties. Do people know this?

In fact, this should be essential to the Christian. Even beyond enjoying a good meal with friends or a good vacation, the happiness of Christ, the source of true peace and justice, is the gift He offers to his followers. St. Paul urges the first Christians of Philippi, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!” He goes on to give the basic reason for this profound happiness: “The Lord is at hand.”

St. Josemaria Escriva expands on this passage:

“What St. Paul says here is particularly impressive if one bears in mind that he is writing his letter from prison. In order to have joy it does not matter if we are living in difficult conditions. For a Christian, joy is a treasure. Only by offending God do we lose it, because it is the fruit of selfishness, and selfishness is the root of sadness.” (Christ Is Passing By, 178)

I have met many people that have made some serious, big mistakes in their lives, and when they encountered Jesus – when they realized Jesus knew them and loved them – it was the beginning of a change in their lives!

I believe the reason many people, especially women, enter the new age religion and the occult or pagan religions is because they are searching for answers, for peace, for love. Many are led into a dark pit that keeps them there unless they encounter someone that will lead them to know the true peace they are yearning for – in Christ!

As Christians, as followers of Jesus, we must try to be aware of those searching for true peace and joy. And we too must ask the Holy Spirit to ignite within our souls the fire of God’s love. Do this, and you will experience the abundant joy of His love!


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.

How to Bring Light to the Darkness

Several months ago while watching an episode of a streaming show that boasts a very talented cast and an intriguing storyline, I told my husband I could not watch the series anymore. I felt sick to my stomach and my husband said he felt the same. It was not because the show was violent or gruesome.

The reason is because in none of the characters was there a redeeming quality to be found. None of them was striving to be a better, kinder person. No one was concerned for the interest of another. Each character lived his or her life with the belief that ‘looking out for myself’ is the only good worth choosing. It made me wonder if this is what hell is like.

Last week, I decided to finish the season and watch the last two episodes. Each character received the sad consequences of his or her many selfish choices. For one this meant suicide. For the others, it was the realization of how the choices they made played a part. The final episode ended with each character facing the reality of death. Not a ray of hope could be found as the show faded into dark.

In none of the episodes did any character speak of faith in God or have anyone in their life who did. The name of our Lord Jesus Christ was spoken often but only in vain to curse their circumstances and each other. Though I highly doubt I will tune in again, I am grateful that I finished the season because it helped me to see the vital importance of bringing the light of Jesus Christ as hope in the lives of others.

Bring Light In A Creative Way

I know sharing our faith with someone can be difficult. A family member of mine with little to no faith often took our Lord’s name in vain. I lacked the courage to confront him about it, so I chose another tactic. I would tag on “Our Lord and Savior” to his, “Jesus Christ!” The first time he looked at me strangely and I said, “I am turning your curse into a blessing.” He smiled at this, but he never stopped. Neither did I. This man died a few years ago after a bout of cancer. This tiny light of Jesus I brought to this man gives me hope that when he encountered Jesus at his death, he knew exactly what to say, “Our Lord and Savior!” I pray he did.

Jesus’ Demand

In Jesus’ revelations to St. Faustina which she recorded in her diary of Divine Mercy (742), He told her,

“I demand from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of love for me. You are to show mercy to your neighbor always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try and excuse yourself from it. I am giving your three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first by deed, the second by word, the third by prayer.”

Be A Light In A Dark World

When we step out in faith, expect to be rejected. This should not stop us. In Scripture, we read of many times Jesus was rejected, and most sadly, by His own family and neighbors (Luke 4:14-30). Our Lord Jesus continues to be rejected by those who do not know His Goodness and Love. With more and more people lacking faith, it could just be that the only light of Jesus Christ in a group of people is you. Let us not shrink from these opportunities or excuse ourselves.

When you know you should bring His Light, but are afraid, ask the Holy Spirit for courage and find peace in the knowledge His Mercy flows through us regardless of the response. You will feel uncomfortable and that is normal. Do it anyway. As our world is quickly moving from fading to tumbling into darkness, bring the light of Jesus Christ to everywhere you go. Be the ray hope this world so desperately needs.


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.

“Good Pope John” – Why you shouldn’t overlook Pope St. John XXIII

I am a member of the “John Paul II Generation,” but I winced when he and John XXIII were canonized together; people would say, “John Paul II and… uh… that other guy.”It would be a tragedy to overlook jolly John, a simple yet revolutionary figure in the history of Catholicism. From the time I began learning about him, he quickly became one of my heroes. This week, Pope Francis is launching the synodality process for the Church. For this reason, we should be even more aware of St. John XXIII, who led the Church into its most important period of renewal in recent history (the Second Vatican Council).

In John Paul II’s homily for the Mass during which he declared John XXIII ‘Blessed’, he said:

“Everyone remembers the image of Pope John’s smiling face and two outstretched arms embracing the whole world. How many people were won over by his simplicity of heart, combined with a broad experience of people and things! The breath of newness he brought certainly did not concern doctrine, but rather the way to explain it; his style of speaking and acting was new, as was his friendly approach to ordinary people and to the powerful of the world.”

Angelo Roncalli was the son of an Italian family (tenant farmers). As a young seminarian, he became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis. During World War I, then-Fr. Roncalli was assigned to carry wounded soldiers on stretchers from the field of battle to the field hospital. While a Bishop, he served Vatican City as a diplomat. He was a leader in the Vatican’s efforts that saved hundreds of thousands of European Jews from Nazi deportation. “In Budapest alone, Roncalli rescued at least 50,000 Jews by issuing baptismal certificates” (Catholic World Report). Read his biography; you will be inspired.

This ‘Good Pope John’ has taught me so many lessons. Here are a few:

1. God is calling you to holiness in an unrepeatable way.

Sometimes, I read saint biographies, and I think, “Wow, that is amazing, but that’s not me.” Further, Catholics can get caught up comparing ourselves, our prayer lives, and our talents to Saint So-and-So’s. We can end up more discouraged than inspired.

As a young man, John XXIII kept a spiritual journal, and reflected on this:

“I am not St. Aloysius, nor must I seek holiness in his particular way, but according to the requirements of my own nature, my own character and the different conditions of my life. I must not be the dry, bloodless reproduction of a model, however perfect. God desires us to follow the examples of the saints by absorbing the vital sap of their virtues and turning it into our own life-blood, adapting it to our own individual capacities and particular circumstances. If St. Aloysius had been as I am, he would have become holy in a different way” (Journal of a Soul).

2. Maintain a healthy sense of humor.

Shortly after his election, John XXIII was walking in the streets of Rome. A woman passed by, noticed him, and said to her friend, “My God, he’s so fat!” Having overheard, he turned around and replied, “Madame, I trust you understand that the papal conclave is not exactly a beauty contest.”

Famously, a journalist once asked him, “How many people work in the Vatican?”

He responded, “About half of them.”

3. God is in control; it’s OK to relax.

You think your life is stressful? Imagine being the Pope…the man elected to lead 1 billion Catholics around the world, who are facing all types of challenges, living in all different cultures, and with so many needs. Imagine holding the title, ‘Vicar of Christ on Earth’!

John XXIII said, “It often happens that I wake up at night and begin to think about a serious problem and decide I must tell the Pope about it. Then I wake up completely and remember that I am the Pope…” Talk about pressure! How did Good Pope John deal with it? At the end of a long day, he is said to have prayed, “Well, Lord, it’s your church. You take care of it. I’m going to bed.”

Simple as that.

4. “I am your brother.”

Having worked in evangelization for several years, I still find it hard to preach the Gospel. Loving others and speaking the truth to them requires us to get our hands dirty; to be present to people wherever they are; to be vulnerable. I fear ridicule, or failure. John XXIII maintained a very simple but profound attitude. He often greeted people saying, “I am your brother.”

Somehow, that phrase changes my perspective. I’m overwhelmed by the thought of approaching people with the Gospel, but when I remind myself, “I am their sister,” my eyes are opened to the simplicity of God’s call. Just be a brother.

5. Most of all — Do not worry. Do not be afraid.

Elected pope at 77, everyone expected John XXIII’s pontificate to be quick and forgettable. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, John’s turned out to be one of the most revolutionary pontificates in history. Most notably, he called for an ecumenical council: a meeting of the entire Church. In Christianity’s 2,000-year history, only twenty of these had been organized. So, why did he do it?

He said this in his opening address at the Second Vatican Council: “In the daily exercise of Our pastoral office, it sometimes happens that We hear certain opinions which disturb Us—opinions expressed by people who, though fired with a commendable zeal for religion, are lacking in sufficient prudence and judgment in their evaluation of events. They can see nothing but calamity and disaster in the present state of the world. They say over and over that this modern age of ours, in comparison with past ages, is definitely deteriorating. One would think from their attitude that history, that great teacher of life, had taught them nothing. They seem to imagine that in the days of the earlier councils everything was as it should be so far as doctrine and morality and the Church’s rightful liberty were concerned.

We feel that We must disagree with these prophets of doom, who are always forecasting worse disasters, as though the end of the world were at hand.”

Rather than flee from the world and lock the church doors behind us, John XXIII envisioned a Church that was empowered by the Holy Spirit to go out into the world and bring God’s love. Because John XXIII was unafraid to start a revolution, unafraid of the doom-and-gloom, and unafraid of what people might think of him, today we have a more lively, educated, enthusiastic, culturally-rich Catholic Church.

What a debt we owe him.


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.

Do I Have to Evangelize?

When I was about 10, my 13-year-old brother told me about an idea he had for us making money: we would go door-to-door selling subscriptions of TV Guide magazine. All I remember is that for every subscription we sold, we would make 10 cents. Great, I thought.

After going door-to-door all afternoon, in the summer, we must’ve knocked on 50 doors, and sold a mind-boggling three subscriptions. Sometimes the people politely declined, but more often than not, they were rude and curt. Never again!

From then on, anytime I heard anything that remotely involved going door-to-door, I ran in the other direction. So when I heard about  “going out to evangelize”  – I hesitated, I was not in line to sign up. But as I matured, and I learned more about our beautiful faith, I realized I was already evangelizing—in my own way.

The Gospel of Matthew (28:19-20) charges us, as Catholics, to “go forth and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have ever commanded you.” Pope John Paul II, in his, apostolic exhortation, Christifideles Laici; writes:

“The basic meaning of this Synod and the most precious fruit desired as a result of it, is the lay faithful’s hearkening to the call of Christ the Lord to work in his vineyard, to take an active, conscientious and responsible part in the mission of the Church in this great moment in history, made especially dramatic by occurring on the threshold of the Third Millennium. A new state of affairs today both in the Church and in social, economic, political and cultural life, calls with a particular urgency for the action of the lay faithful. If lack of commitment is always unacceptable, the present time renders it even more so. It is not permissible for anyone to remain idle.” (#3)

Strive to Be A Light to the World

Who will question the dark times we find ourselves in? We are the light of the world. We are the lamp on the bushel basket, answering Our Lord’s call to evangelize.

Many people don’t like to talk about religion. What can I do?

Here are some possible ideas for you:

  • Start saying “Thank you, God” in public.
  • Say grace before meals, in public.
  • Start out at home, and take it into the world. Your actions, more than your words, ARE evangelization when others see you.
  • You get emails every day. Many of you subscribe to Catholic sites that proclaim the good news or call us to action because of a legislative bill that harms the unborn, or some other issue that is harmful, or helpful, to the world from our Catholic viewpoint. Share that link with others. Will there be some who are offended and will not want that sort of email from us? Certainly, but that should not stop you from evangelizing in this way.
  • Send texts, holy Christmas, and greeting cards, including birthday, condolence, thank you cards, and cards on any occasion.

The only way Christ is going to keep our world from going completely dark is if we shine in that darkness. If Jesus had not called us to become involved, then He wouldn’t need a Church on earth, would He? He would have done it all Himself. We are the members of the body of Christ, who is our Head. As members, we each play a role in allowing the body to function. Inaction in a member is not an option.

Be kind and gentle with others, when they call or ask for help. Loving those that are in most need of our love, even though they may be hard to approach at times. Do we avoid picking roses because the stems have thorns?

You can “pay it forward” when you’re in the fast-food line and someone lets you in. One act of such kindness can spread like wildfire. Just like evil has its ripples, so does love have its waves.

How we evangelize is as varied as who we are. Get creative. Talk to other Catholics who are evangelizing and reaching out. We sure are creative when it comes to using social media with our friends. Our Lord deserves our creativity just as much, if not more.

So you don’t have to go door-to-door, but at least get up and start walking to the vineyard! Pray and ask the Lord for His guidance, and He will answer you.


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 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.

A Path to Full Discipleship of Christ

God’s ways are not our ways. God can choose whoever He wants to accomplish the things He wishes to accomplish, as we see in the Book of Numbers (11:25-29) when Moses complains to God that the mission of guiding His Chosen People has become too great of a burden for him. So, God shares the spirit that He has given to Moses with 70 others, even those who were not in the prescribed place. Though this confused Joshua, Moses was given the wisdom to recognize that this was the work of God. The spirit of God is more important than the instrument He chooses.

We see something similar in the Gospel of Mark (9:38-43, 45, 47-48) John, the apostle closest to Jesus, has just tried to stop someone from driving our demons in Jesus’ name because he was not an apparent follower of Jesus. Jesus chastises him and tells him,

“For whoever is not against us is for us.”

Our focus must be on why we do what we do. God has revealed His plan to us through the Scriptures and the Church. We know that through baptism we become children of God and receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We are also anointed with Chrism oil as Priest, Prophet, and King so that we might reach our full stature as a disciple of Christ.

Priest

We participate in the priesthood of Christ especially at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. At the beginning of the Eucharistic prayer the priest says, “Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours maybe be acceptable to God, the Almighty Father.” This is the time for us to place our intentions on the altar to be offered up with the perfect sacrifice, the Lamb of God. Our response is “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.” So, when the Holy Spirit, through the prayers of the priest, changes bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, we who are present, along with the priest, offer this holy sacrifice, to the Eternal Father. This is the most powerful prayer on earth because it makes present on the altar, the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

We also fulfill our role as priest through the prayer and the sacrifices we offer up in union with the suffering of Christ. Our Lord expects every baptized person to participate in his plan of salvation. St. Therese the Little Flower once said,

“The Creator of the universe awaits the prayer of a poor little soul to save other souls.”

Only God knows how many souls we have affected during our life.

Prophet

We fulfill our role as prophet when we read, listen to, believe, live, and share the truth revealed to us through the Scriptures and the Church because the truth is prophetic in every age. It is only this truth that liberates us from the obstacles to our temporal and eternal happiness. Our parish offers many opportunities to grow in our faith through Bible studies, prayer groups, and faith formation resources.

King

We are king in the same manner as Christ the King. He said,

“I came not to be served, but to serve.”

In gratitude for God’s generous gifts to us, we are expected to be good stewards of our time, talent, and treasure. All good things come from God and everyone who is generous with what he has received will experience happiness as a consequence of that generosity. It is especially through generosity that we discover God’s providence and deepen our trust in him. It is through our involvement in the activities of the parish that we discover and develop the specific gifts that will help us to reach spiritual maturity and help our parish to be complete.

In baptism, we receive everything we need to begin our pilgrimage on earth. It is then through the Church and her sacraments that we are guided and fortified so that we can discover and live the specific plan God has for each of us. Every baptized person is expected to become a saint, not only for their own happiness but also that we participate in God’s saving plan for humanity.

Our Mission as Priest, Prophet, and King

This is our identity and purpose for the glory of God. What a wonderful plan God has for humanity. It is sad that currently, so many individuals are struggling to discover their true identity and purpose. This is amplified by the misguided ideologies supported by social, educational, and political entities.

The only solution for the confusion and pain we see in our world, is for us to follow the plan that God has set before us. On several occasions, our Blessed Mother has asked us to pray the rosary for the conversion of sinners. How many of us pray the rosary every day? The rosary has been the favorite prayer of many saints, including St. John Paul II who said when we pray the rosary and meditate on the mysteries, with Mary we are contemplating the face of Jesus. The rosary only takes about 20 minutes and it is beautiful to pray with the family.

When we frequent the sacraments of confession and Holy Eucharist it is not only for our own benefit, but for the Body of Christ. There is much concern about climate change and the health of our environment, and so on. However, there should be a greater concern for the spiritual health of humanity which has eternal consequences as well as being the solution to world problems. When we who are baptized become witnesses of all that has been given us, we will begin to see the world change.


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.

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.