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The Wonders of Expectation: Remaining with God When Our Expectations Aren’t Met

Do you actively seek to follow the will of God?

If so, I am sure you have experienced the satisfaction of being a cooperator in the Holy Spirit.  Being docile to his prompting, just like Mary, you go in haste to care for a sick friend, comfort a stressed co-worker, or console a grieving stranger. It is so gratifying to see their smile, feel their hand squeeze yours, and know that through God’s grace, you made a difference.

Or, perhaps your receptivity to act in God’s will brought the opposite response. Instead of the smile and the warm hug, you are yelled at, insulted, and rejected. This is tough, to be sure, but even in these most unwelcome outcomes, we can be confident we are in God’s grace; for as he tells us in Scripture,

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus, they persecuted the prophets who were before you, (Matthew 5:11-12).

But what about those times when we step out of our comfort zone, take courage in God’s grace, open our hearts to serve as His hands and feet, storm heaven with our trust-filled prayers, and our miracle does not come? Those times when we do not feel rejection from our fellow man, but from God himself?

Following A Prompting

On Thanksgiving morning, I felt a strong prompting to visit a friend in ICU. When I had visited him the day before, I learned he had taken a dramatic downturn. He had gone from speaking and joking to his current state: barely conscious, unable to speak, and with a look of fear in his eyes. I took his hand in mine, and prayed for God’s mercy. He did not want to die. His wife wanted her husband back. When I left, I continued to intercede asking for a miracle.

This prompting to return to his bedside brought with it the call to use our faith’s treasure of miracle makers. To cooperate in God’s healing, I would pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet using my Rosary from the Holy Land and bring a blessed Miraculous Medal. Nervous—because the man and his wife are not Catholic, but confident in my docility to the Holy Spirit, I went.

The man’s wife was very receptive. Whew! I read out loud a paragraph from St. Faustina’s diary (1146) and asked her if I had her permission to pray the Chaplet. She agreed. I gave her the Miraculous Medal and she placed it on his chest. She remarked she had been given Lourdes water. I smiled to myself, ‘God has everything in place,’ as I instructed her to bless him with it.

After we prayed, I went home and waited for the miracle call. My imagination soared in wonder of what I would hear: He is speaking!  His cancer is gone!  I thought of all the conversions to come from those who witnessed this man go from death’s door back into the fullness of life.

Forty-eight hours after my visit, the call came.  He died.

The Desert of Docility

At Advent—our time of expectant joy at the coming of Christ, I walked into what I call the desert of docility. A desert of docility is that dry, barren, forsaken place where our acts of faith seem to go nowhere. When our expectations of God do not match reality. We are tempted to doubt.  We wonder if God is with us.

I endured this desert dryness by remaining in my daily spiritual routine of prayer, Mass, and staying close to our Lady through the Rosary. I was brought to memories of when God did meet my expectations, when he exceeded my expectations, and the times he came unexpectedly.

These memories brought me to an understanding that God also has expectations. He wants to know if we are with him. Emmanuel is God With Us. Jesus is God Saves. Do we believe, or are we only with him as long as we get our way?

If you are enduring an Advent desert, our faith offers ways through it:

  • Be in Communion with our Lord through the Sacrifice of the Mass – go as often as you can.
  • Speak to God through Scripture – take the daily Gospel and pray with it. Ask him your questions. Share with him your doubts.
  • Share your struggles with our Blessed Mother – through praying the Rosary and asking her intercession, she brings you to her son Jesus.
  • Draw closer to Christ through the Sacrament of Reconciliation – nothing separates us from God, but our sinfulness.
  • Share your heart with his Sacred Heart by spending time in Eucharistic Adoration where our Lord is truly present and is waiting for you.

I wish I could wrap this reflection up in a pretty bow, but the truth is I may never know what my going to this man’s bedside brought; that is between God and him. What I do know is faith is a choice of our will; it is a choosing to remain close to God even when we do not feel him, understand his Way… or get ours.


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.

Why We Cannot Be Complacent In Our Spiritual Lives

In celebrating the Solemnity or Feast of Christ the King this past Sunday, which also happened to be the last Sunday of the liturgical year, I couldn’t help but want to assess my spiritual progress since the Advent of 2018.

As to how I measure my progress, each year in acknowledging the kingship of Jesus Christ, I recommit to the following:

  • Dedicating myself to a more active prayer life
  • Being more effective in serving my family members, friends, parish, and community
  • Bringing hope to others (those I encounter on my journey) as an evangelizer

Whenever I find myself getting complacent, falling into a routine or falling short, I remember this beautiful quote that I discovered a few years back:

The Kingdom Demands Discipleship
Jesus is the center of creation; and so, the attitude demanded of us as true believers is that of recognizing and accepting in our lives the centrality of Jesus Christ, in our thoughts, in our words, and in our works. – Homily of Pope Francis, Solemnity of Christ the King, November 24, 2013

Perhaps the main thing that drives me, which can possibly help you stay active and on course in your faith, is this truth.

A couple of years ago, after making a confession that was filled with what I recall were more failures than normal, my spiritual director asked me, “Do you know who you are?” I think I said something like a child of God or part of the Body of Christ. Whatever I said, it wasn’t the right answer or the answer he was looking for.

That’s when he said, Like Christ the King, you are priest, prophet, and king. If you truly believed and understood this, you would be inspired to always practice your faith with more boldness, passion, and joy.

Your Threefold Calling

  1. A priest should embody and reflect the presence of God. In order to do so, we should have a devotion to prayer, the sacraments, and the Mass.
  2. A person is a prophet in the measure that he or she bears the truth of God. G.K. Chesterton said that in an upside-down world such as ours, the prophet is the person who speaks the truth according to Scripture, the lives of the saints, and Church teaching. If we are to be beacons of light to others, we must keep growing in our knowledge of the faith. In our increasingly secularized society, we can look to classic authors like Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, the Venerable Fulton Sheen and others.  A prophet can never stop studying and speaking.
  3. Finally, what does it mean for the ordinary Catholic to live out our sharing in Christ’s kingship? It means to be a leader in guiding your community toward God in service and stewardship.

When you are fully conscious of your personal dignity in God, complacency is not an option.


Robert V. Rodriguez is Public Relations & Outreach Assistant for Pilgrim Center of Hope. He combines a passion for the Catholic faith together with years of professional experience as a TV news journalist, video producer, and PR/marketing specialist. Robert also serves as Chairman for our annual “Master, I Want to See” Catholic Men’s Conference.

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 Spark: How to Succeed When Failing

It is not unusual to be asked, “What are you living for?”  But, what would you say if someone asked you, “What are you dying for?”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church answers, “The Christian who unites his own death to that of Jesus views it as a step towards him and an entrance into everlasting life” (no. 1020).

Our answer to both questions is Jesus!

We should be looking forward to the day of our death even as we live, to ensure that day is many years to come. As St. Augustine said, “Take care of your body as if you were going to live forever; and take care of your soul as if you are going to die tomorrow.”

Because Jesus became one of us by being “born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4) and thereby sanctified humanity, our life is not to be just a waiting until we die nor is it a living only for this life. Rather, we are to live as a sign of contradiction; the more we die to Christ the more fully human and alive we become. We achieve this transformation through God’s gift of grace, which was merited for us through the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Spark

Grace is the power of God at work in us. Father Wojciech Giertych, O.P., Theologian of the Papal Household, teaches that we can ignite and move this grace through human acts, which he calls, “The Spark of Faith.”

Father Giertych uses the example of the hemorrhaging woman from the Gospel of Luke (8:43-48). He explains that when Jesus says, “Someone has touched me; for I know that power has gone out from me,” this exchange of grace from Jesus to the woman was achieved because of the woman’s act of faith. Her touching of his tassel caused the spark that ignited and moved grace from Jesus into this woman, restoring her to health. Jesus acknowledges this spark she caused with his words, “Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

We see from the hemorrhaging woman that an act of faith is not only our prayers. Any human movement, physical, mental or spiritual, in which we honor God’s gift of our creation sparks grace. Here are just a few examples:

  • Taking care of our bodies by eating nutritious foods and maintaining a healthy balance in exercise, recreation, work and rest, to keep ourselves fit and free of illness and disease.
  • Increasing our knowledge of the wonders of the world, honing our talents, and learning new skills, in order to expand our abilities and intellect.
  • Living in community with others by following Jesus’ teaching to treat others as we would like to be treated.
  • Growing in virtue and practicing morality.
  • Seeking a closer relationship with God by living the sacramental life of the Church through participating at Holy Mass, meditating on his Word in Scripture, regular confession in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and spending time with our Lord in Adoration.
  • Offering our sufferings by joining them to Christ for our salvation and the salvation of others.
  • And yes, praying daily; be it through Scripture, the Rosary, devotional prayers, speaking from the heart, silent contemplation.

But what if we fail?

What if, instead of honoring God and acting in faith, we act selfishly?

This can serve to be even more successful in stirring up grace! Father Giertych explains, “What is decisive, however, is the repeated returning to God.” In using the example of distraction in prayer, Father says, “Such mangled prayer, in which there are multiple returns, is very fruitful, because the living faith is expressed several times, and it is faith that opens to grace.”

Just as with the power that flowed from Jesus to the hemorrhaging woman, Father says, “This perseverance in faith ensures an immediate encounter with Jesus.” Wow!

At Pilgrim Center of Hope we like to say, “You do not have to be perfect to begin anew in Christ.” As we make our journey to Eternity, let us never miss the opportunity to begin anew to ignite grace when we stumble or downright fail to act in faith. Let us turn immediately back to God so that, like St. Paul, we can one day proclaim,

“I have competed well; I have finished the race; have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance” (2 Timothy 4:7-8.)


Nan Balfour is a grateful Catholic whose greatest desire is to make our Lord Jesus more loved. She seeks to accomplish this through her vocation to womanhood, marriage, motherhood and as a writer, speaker and events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.

What Am I Living For? Hope When All Seems Lost

Here in San Antonio, we recently participated in Daylight Savings Time, and we all got “an extra hour” added to our busy week.

How often do you wish for more time?

Life can rush past us so quickly. That is—until we hit a wall; illness, death of a loved one, a financial challenge, relationship problem, employment crisis, etc. Then, it seems we all pause and find ourselves wondering: What is the meaning of all this? What am I living for?

A Man Who Lost Everything

One of the most relatable stories I’ve ever come across is that of Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez, also called Alfonso. He…

  • had poor health
  • lost his father at age 14
  • lacked a basic education, since he had to drop out of school and take over the family business
  • was a widower by age 31 after only 5 years of marriage
  • lost all three of his children at a young age
  • suffered the collapse of his family business

Having hit “rock-bottom,” he pursued a religious vocation. This required further education. Alfonso bravely enrolled in classes with young people sitting all around him, but he failed to pass.

He spent two years with a spiritual director before entering the Jesuits as a brother. He worked as a school doorkeeper and did odd jobs. Frequently, he was upset with scrupulous thoughts and suffered other mental issues. Finally, he began to lose his memory.

When Everything Fails

Can you imagine hitting as many walls as Alfonso did? (Perhaps you have.)

We all want to be happy. Happiness can be pursued in security, success, health, family, friends… but when we lose what is dear to us, ultimately, we come to question: What am I living for?

Finding Purpose

Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez left no speeches or writings. His legacy and humble witness of life are what teach us about living with purpose.

Faced with that ultimate question of purpose and meaning, he could have attempted to wrestle with it all by himself. Instead, he sought a trusted advisor to keep him on track. We can all do the same.

Even after failing his initial attempts at religious life, Alphonsus came to believe that everything meaningful he sought in life was found in God. Although it took him 16 years before he could make his final vows as a religious brother, a life dedicated to God was worth the wait.

Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez discovered the reason why thousands of people over millennia have left behind everything they had to follow Jesus Christ. It is also why many people who have lost everything, like Alfonso did, can continue to live with joy.

Jesus said: I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly. (cf. John 10:10)

Dare to seek a God who gave everything for you. Dare to ask Jesus: I need hope. Show me the abundant life that you came to give me.

Are you ready to discover a new reason to live?


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 for nearly 10 years. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.

Jesus, What Is Your Plan for Me?

Have you caught yourself asking this question?  Asked by young and old throughout generations, it continues to be a question that causes one to wonder if there is a plan the Lord has for each one of us.

I have asked the Lord for direction, and have prayed, “I would like a stone tablet in the mailbox please!”

Oh, if it would be that easy, one would not need faith and trust in the Divine Savior who knows us more than we know ourselves! It is incredible to ponder that reality; the Divine Savior knows us. So you may think, Well if he knows us, tell me what to do! 

Importance of Our Will

Recently, I read a book titled Finding True Happiness containing excerpts from the many writings of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. One chapter especially struck me because he described the will of every person as the secret to true happiness.  Sheen writes:

There is one thing in the world that is definitely and absolutely your own, and that is your will. Health, power, life and honor can all be snatched from you, but your will is irrevocably your own.

This should strike our minds and hearts! Each person has a will, a freedom to make choices.  Sheen continues:

We always make the fatal mistake of thinking that it is what we do that matters, when really what matters is what we let God do to us.  […] Since God is a better artisan than you, the more you abandon yourself to Him, the happier He can make you.

When we ask Jesus, What is your plan for me? we can think about our own will. Will we chose to know the Divine Savior? I believe two elements are important: prayer and trust.

Prayer

True happiness begins with a relationship with God that develops from our prayer life, which is primarily communication with God.

  • Part of that prayer is encountering God by reading the Scriptures, which contain his general plan for all humanity. The more we read the Scriptures and spend time in prayer, we begin to see that God is a Father who loves us and wants what is best for us.
  • Silence is important. Spend time in silence to hear God speak. Silence is difficult at first, but if you persevere, it will be rewarding. I never heard God’s “voice”, but I have received insights in my quiet prayer that helped me to draw closer to God. It is not possible to have a relationship with God or discover his plan without prayer.

Trust

Trusting is a form of hope. It is believing God will bestow grace when we do what we can.

Men and women through the history of Church who have become canonized saints are great witnesses of trust and hope!  This is why it is so important to read the lives of the saints. They are so inspiring! Some became saints by reading the lives of other saints. We see that they all had their difficulties to bear and yet they lived in great peace and happiness. This is because they learned to trust God with their entire life. They knew that any difficulty they experienced would unite them more closely to God and lead to greater happiness.

When we put our total trust in God, he may take us to places we do not want to go, but he will walk with us through our trial and bring us to a place of great joy and peace. We can only reach our potential for happiness through perseverance in prayer and total trust in God.

John Henry Newman, the 19th-century’s most important English-speaking Roman Catholic theologian, spent the first half of his life as an Anglican and the second half as a Roman Catholic. He was a priest, popular preacher, writer, and eminent theologian in both churches.

I came across one of his meditations offering encouragement and hope.  May it inspire you to ponder God’s presence in your life!

The Mission of My Life
A Spiritual Reflection by St. John Henry Cardinal Newman

God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.


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.

Why Pray?

When it comes to prayer and why we should take every opportunity to utilize this open line of communication to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… I will never forget what Fr. Adolph Koehler, O.M.I. told our fifth-grade class at St. Mary’s School.

He started with a question, “What would you give to possess the key that unlocks all the treasures that God wants to give you?”

The answers ranged from large sums of money to various prized possessions; the boys offered their football card collections, G.I. Joe action figures & vehicles, and even a mini-bike. The girls offered up their Barbies, Easy Bake Ovens, and at least one above ground swimming pool.

And then came Fr. Koehler’s gem of wisdom, “Because God loves us so much, he has placed the key that unlocks all his treasures in our hands. The key to God’s treasures is our prayers!”

Talk about a mind-blowing moment! It was genius. The analogy is so perfect that it has stuck with me for over 40 years.

Keep It Simple

Don’t make yourself crazy trying to figure out what prayer is all about, especially if you are starting out or struggling with praying regularly.

St. Pope John Paul II, in writing about how to pray, said it was simple, “Pray any way you like, so long as you pray.”

St. Jane Frances de Chantal encouraged people not to overthink prayer; otherwise it can be perceived as a burden. “The greatest secret is to go to our prayer in good faith & in all simplicity.”

And then there is this from St. Augustine, a sinful man who was transformed by prayer into a beloved saint: “Our progress in holiness, exactly corresponds to our progress in the spirit of prayer; he who prays well lives well.”

The words of the saints and Fr. Koehler’s great analogy all point to the idea that prayer calls for confidence, familiarity, and humility.

The Benefits

The immediate benefit of prayer is that it leads us away from sin and toward salvation. The more we turn to God, the more we receive direction from the Holy Spirit. Through prayer, we grow in the virtues of faith, hope, and charity; which in turn lead us to grow in our prayer life and relationship with God.

The treasures await; we just have to use our key!

As a way of bookending this reflection on why we should pray, I will leave you with a quote filled with several great analogies. The Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once exclaimed,

Why should we pray? Why breathe? We have to take in fresh air and get rid of bad air; we have to take in new power and get rid of old weaknesses. We pray because we are orchestras and always need to tune-up. Just as a battery sometimes runs down and needs to be charged so we have to be renewed in spiritual vigor. Our blessed Lord said, ‘Without Me you can do nothing.’

If you would like to learn more about prayer, we invite you to visit us at our peaceful place in northwest San Antonio. Spiritual tools and resources are available. Discover our Gethsemane Chapel, outdoor Stations of the Cross, and life-size crucifix & fisherman’s boat. Come and see!


Robert V. Rodriguez is Public Relations & Outreach Assistant for Pilgrim Center of Hope. He combines a passion for the Catholic faith together with years of professional experience as a TV news journalist, video producer, and PR/marketing specialist. Robert also serves as Chairman for our annual “Master, I Want to See” Catholic Men’s Conference.

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.

Teach Me to Pray the Cross!

The young medical assistant saw my olive wood carved, hand-size crucifix lying by my hospital bed. He picked it up with enthusiasm and asked if I would teach him to pray with the Cross.

After a recent accidental fall, I was hospitalized to surgically mend a fractured ankle. The crucifix, from Jerusalem, became a visible sign of hope for me. Jesus died on the Cross for us; it was a reminder of his love and mercy.

He Did Not Know

As the young man picked up the crucifix, he shared with me his observations of Christians who would venerate the Crucifix and wondered why it meant so much to them.

The other medical assistant with him commented, “He is Moslem!”

Nevertheless, he was so interested to learn “the prayer of the Cross,” as he expressed it. I thought, how am I to explain the Sign of the Cross, a prayer passed on from the 4th century to one who isn’t Christian? At the same time, I was so impressed this young man felt comfortable asking me about the Crucifix. After seeing the expression on his face—eager to learn something sacred, I was encouraged to show him.

Sharing My Faith

As I held the Crucifix in my hand, I held it in front of me. Looking upward, I began:

“God, the Father in Heaven—Allah, who is Great, sent his son Jesus to show us his love. Jesus died on the Cross for us; and sent his Holy Spirit, to be with us always.”

As I continued, I placed the crucifix on my forehead, moved it to my heart, and then left to right; finishing with an Amen as I kissed the Cross. I added, “It is a sign of hope! A sign of God’s love!” Again, I repeated the prayer of the Cross: “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen!”

The young man asked for the Crucifix, and repeated the prayer as he repeated the movements himself.

Shortly after, another medical assistant entered the hospital room and the young man told the other assistant, “I just learned to pray with the Cross!” and made the Sign of the Cross over the assistant with the prayers he had just learned!

I did see this young man again during my hospital stay, he remembered the prayer!

A Sign of Hope

I was delighted for this young man.

The olive wood crucifix is one I hold each day when I pray. It is a sign of consolation and hope, reminding me that whatever cross I am experiencing, I can gaze upon the One who laid down his life for me, and remember that I can be united with Him in all things!

Do we have signs of our faith in Christ displayed in our lives? Whether it be at home, workplace, or wearing a crucifix? Would we be ready to give an explanation for our sign of faith?

Think about having one you can hold and pray; a reminder of his mercy, his presence.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386) in his Catechetical Lectures stated,

Let us then not be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Be the cross our seal, made with boldness by our fingers on our brow and in everything; over the bread we eat and the cups we drink, in our comings and in our goings out; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we awake; when we are traveling, and when we are at rest (Catecheses, 13).


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.

Let’s Go!

The Holy Father has named October, Extraordinary Mission Month, with the message: Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World.

What does this mean?

Pope Francis is reminding us Catholics, that we exist as a Church whose very identity is to answer Christ’s call to spread His Gospel; to go out and invite everyone to encounter our Lord Jesus Christ! It is who we are! It is what we do!

If this scares you, then take heart that a Doctor of the Church, who is the co-patron of missions, is a young nun who never left her convent!  St. Therese of Lisieux’s mission in the world was lived out in what she called her little way of offering her given tasks, her received sufferings, and her intentional acts of kindness, for love of Jesus.

Pope Francis encourages us, as well. He explains that this ‘going out’ does not mean hitting people over the head with a Bible but through sharing the gift of the Treasure given to us. He says,

Our filial relationship with God is not something simply private, but always in relation to the Church. Through our communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we, together with so many of our other brothers and sisters, are born to new life. This divine life is not a product for sale – we do not practice proselytism  – but a treasure to be given, communicated and proclaimed: that is the meaning of mission. We received this gift freely and we share it freely (cf. Matthew 10:8), without excluding anyone. God wills that all people be saved by coming to know the truth and experiencing his mercy through the ministry of the Church, the universal sacrament of salvation (cf. 1 Timothy 2:4; Lumen Gentium, no. 48). – Extraordinary Mission Month

What an exciting adventure we are called to! We head out from this proclamation inspired to give God’s Divine Mercy, show our family and friends the beauty of our rich faith, and share the daily journey accompanying others on the path of salvation… that is until we are met with opposition. It is very difficult to keep up the enthusiasm in the face of hostility, lack of interest, and when we find ourselves more annoyed by, than loving of, others.

Is there a way to stay on mission and not grow weary? Yes!

We can not only sustain but actually increase our faith, deepen our love for and trust in God, and grow in heroic virtue by walking daily with the one person who first received God’s Treasure, bore him into the world, and eternally shares him with all: the Virgin Mary, our Blessed Mother.

This daily walk with Mary is the Rosary.

Providentially, October is also the month of the Rosary. Just as Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs, (Luke 10:1), he continues through his Church to do the same. A library of writings and personal stories attest to the power of the Rosary and its ability to convert our hearts, spiritually nourish our souls, and embolden our faith. Our Pilgrim Center of Hope chaplain, Father Pat Martin, says the Rosary is the most powerful weapon because it destroys pride.

During this special month of October dedicated to the Church’s mission and to the Rosary, enter your first conquest! Challenge yourself to offer a daily Rosary.

It may help to imagine yourself walking beside Mary as you accompany Jesus and his disciples as he goes from village to village. Ask her to tell you about her son as you mediate on the mysteries of the Rosary.


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.

Approaching Life Transitions – A Quick Guide for Christians

During this month, many of us are experiencing transitions in our lives – whether related to school, work, home, family, or even the simple changing of the seasons.

Transitions can be exciting as well as difficult. How are we as Christians called & empowered to approach these challenges?

Looking At Jesus

The most obvious and triumphant transition that Jesus Christ experienced was in his passion, death, and resurrection. Consider how the Gospel depicts Jesus after his resurrection; retaining his wounds of crucifixion (cf. John 20: 25, 27). If we had been present at the crucifixion, those wounds would have been difficult to look at. After the Resurrection, Jesus offers those once-ugly wounds to the apostles for examination. Now, they see that these wounds are beautiful signs of God’s love and triumph.

When we enter into a new phase of life, we do not totally leave behind our past, and it may be difficult to see what good can come from this new challenge. However, when we entrust ourselves to God, our past can be redeemed and give God glory. What was once ugly can mysteriously become beautiful.

All things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Freedom In True Humility

A powerful truth is embodied by Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection: Only when we offer ourselves naked—with all defenses stripped away—before God and others; accepting the reality of our frailty, woundedness, and weakness, yet in the light of God’s mighty love, can we experience the Kingdom of God and life in the Holy Spirit.

That is true humility; seeing ourselves as God sees us!

When we outstretch our arms, like Jesus on the cross, to embrace the challenges that lie ahead in our daily pilgrimage of life, and only when we shed all the masks we wear; can we recognize how much God loves us, how highly God thinks of us and how greatly God believes in us!

Striving to Follow Christ In Transition

In his later years, Pope St. John Paul II conveyed his humility through his physical vulnerability. Rather than shying away from the public, he allowed others to see his frailty. Pope Benedict XVI demonstrated his humility by making the unprecedented decision to resign the fullness of religious power to live in seclusion and quiet.

During a General Audience in 2016, Pope Francis remarked, “It is enough to respond to the call with a humble and sincere heart. The Church is not a community of perfect people, but of disciples on a journey, who follow the Lord because they know they are sinners and in need of his pardon.”

Taking the Next Steps

I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

To help you face your next life transition or challenge, here are a few concrete things that can help you approach it with humility:

  1. Make a list of things for which you are grateful. At times, we approach a new challenge as if it depends entirely on our efforts. While we should always strive to serve God and others to the best of our ability, we are not the world’s savior! Spending time to write out a multitude of things God and others have given you, will remind you of the bigger picture.
  2. Spend some quiet time in prayer. Our minds need quieting from time to time, so as to recognize our true selves amidst the noise and demands of the world. A simple start is to pray a Hail Mary and end with: “Blessed Mother Mary, help me to see God’s love for me today.”
  3. Seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The point of this sacrament is not to tear you down, but to build you up. Within this encounter, we can shed all those masks & accumulated layers of pretense. See not only your areas of weakness, but ultimately how precious and what a gift you are in God’s eyes!

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 for nearly 10 years. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.

Peace or Division: Did Jesus Contradict Himself?

The same Jesus who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” also proclaimed this in Sunday’s Gospel reading:

Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division. (Luke 12:51)

Did Jesus contradict himself?

During this month’s Meet the Master session at Pilgrim Center of Hope, I addressed this head-on with our participants. There are many instances in Scripture, even in the Gospel and the words of Jesus, where contradictions seem apparent. As mature Christians on our pilgrim journey, we need to learn how to wrestle with these questions rather than avoid them or write them off using trite statements.

Who Is This Jesus?

To avoid answering our main question from a particular point of view or agenda, we need to look at the entire context: the person of Jesus, his life, his words, his actions. That is why the Gospel is essential reading for us. As St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”

Let’s fine-tune our original question, Did Jesus contradict himself? by looking at these seeming contradictions.

Jesus As A Peacemaker

Did Jesus wish peace upon others?

  • He taught his disciples to wish peace to those they met. “As you enter a house, wish it peace.” (Matthew 10:12)
  • Those whom Jesus healed, he sent away in peace. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” (Mark 5:34)
  • As Jesus appeared to the disciples after his Resurrection, he greeted them with peace. He stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (Luke 24:36)

Let’s look deeper into the meaning of “peacemaker.” For the Hebrews, this was a “pursuer of peace” like Aaron, who during conflicts would sit with each party individually. Aaron would speak with and listen to each individual until all bitterness was removed from each one’s heart. Finally, the parties once-at-odds would embrace and be reconciled. (cf. Rabbi Hillel, Avot) To be a pursuer of peace means to foster reconciliation.

Was Jesus a pursuer of peace?

  • He and his disciples shared meals with those in society who were despised. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. (Matthew 9:10)
  • He accepted invitations from not only the despised, sick, and desperate, but also the leaders & revered members of society. (ex. Luke 7)
  • Jesus forgave people of their sins, and taught his disciples that they should forgive perfectly and without exception. (cf. Matthew 18:22)

By all of the above, it is clear that Jesus did bring peace – and Christians throughout time attest to his continued peacemaking throughout history and in the world today.

Jesus As A Source of Division

However, our original question considers Jesus’ assertion that he came to bring division (symbolized by “the sword” in Matthew 10:34).

Jesus “did not come to establish peace upon the earth” because, contrary to popular hopes at the time, he did not come as the mighty Messiah expected to end all war. Rather, Jesus himself became a cause for division.

  • When Jesus healed and forgave sins, he was often criticized by the religious leaders. (ex. Matthew 9)
  • When Jesus tended to the despised members of society, he received similar criticism. (ex. Luke 15:1-2)
  • For having revealed himself as the Son of God, religious leaders had Jesus condemned to death. (cf. John 5:18)

Jesus’ pursuit of peace and reconciliation thus brought conflict and division among those persons who would not accept it. While he desires God’s peace to be with all, the Prince of Peace causes controversy.

How Can We Truly Be At Peace?

As Jesus’ followers, how can we be truly and sincerely “at peace”, while division takes place all around us? As we strive to reconcile people with each other, with themselves, and with God, we will experience joy tinged with discomfort and desolation. Not everyone is ready to accept the radical message of peace and reconciliation that Jesus brings. We have all been there once; preferring control and security as the Pharisees and scribes did.

Instead, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection shows us that the way to perfection is vulnerability and self-giving love. Jesus did not contradict himself, but he tells us the truth while subverting his listeners’ expectations.

As Pope Francis says, For Christians, (holiness) involves a constant & healthy unease (Gaudete et Exsultate, no. 99). Let’s reflect on this while Our Lord’s words echo in our hearts:

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


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 for nearly 10 years. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.