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A Journey with St. Joseph, A Man to Embrace

In this week’s spiritual pilgrimage, join Mary Jane Fox as she shines a light on St. Joseph! This is a different kind of journey, we get to know the chaste spouse of Mary the Mother of God, and the foster father of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

This journey will introduce us to St. Joseph:

  • As a man, we can embrace and hold as a companion & and a role model
  • Discover his role as the Guardian of the Redeemer.
  • Learn about the Three virtues of St. Joseph that can help us in our daily lives.
  • Provide some spiritual exercises to help us in our knowledge of St. Joseph and his powerful intercession.

We are so grateful to this month’s sponsor, Patricia Brown, who made this podcast episode possible.

Listen to this program now:

Jewel for the Journey

There are many saints to whom God has given the power to assist us in the necessities of life, but the power given to St. Joseph is unlimited: It extends to all our needs, and all those who invoke him with confidence are sure to be heard. – St. Thomas Aquinas

Click below to learn more about St. Joseph

Rising Above The Temptation To Fear

Everyday we encounter numerous temptations. Things from the flesh, the world, and the devil challenge us to better seek Christ and overcome obstacles. One prevalent temptation in today’s time is the temptation to fear. It is interesting how we were in the middle of Lent in 2020 when the covid outbreak started. And now, in 2022, we start lent during the first major conflict between two countries in recent history. There is also fear of the uncertainty of life, of our country, of the economy. In short, it is easy to fear, and there are a lot of good reasons to tempt us in that direction.

You Are Not Alone

How do we overcome the temptation to fear? Trust and humility.

Do we trust that God is in the midst of our sufferings, that He is in the midst of our troubles? God unites himself with us in our struggles of life, allowing His will to be achieved even in the worst of situations. This is why praying the psalms can offer much comfort in that reality.

“Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me. Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me.” (Psalm 23:4)

God is with us always, and He is in control. The more we reflect on that, the most we can trust that good will always conquer evil – even if things do not appear that way to us now.

Humility Can Be An Eye Opener

Often our fear comes with the feeling of helplessness. What can we do to fix everything that is wrong in the world? The answer can be found in the examples of numerous saints throughout Church history. We do what we can, and we do it with love. Thus, humility is needed to help us recognize our call of service, but to know that we can only do so much and that God will use that and do even more.

Another answer can be found in our Lord’s prayer: our daily bread. No more, no less, we move one day at a time in hope.

“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that he, in his goodness, sends to us day after day.” – St. Gianna Molla.

So when we continue on the journey of Lent and find ourselves tempted to fear, let us seek to trust Christ by growing in prayer, let us do what we are called to do in our almsgiving and fasting, and let us be in peace that God’s will always be done.

Daniel Quintero is a newlywed husband, writer, and avid karaoke singer. He currently attends Prince of Peace Catholic Church where he volunteers in the lector ministry and with faith formation. His favorite motto: Awkwardness does not exist. 

Achieving Holiness through Authenticity

What we say should reveal a great deal about who we are. As stated in Sirach (27:6),

“The fruit of the tree shows the care it has had, so too does one’s speech disclose the bent of one’s mind.”

I am sure we have all said things we wish we would not have. I know I certainly have. I often think about the mistakes I have made during my lifetime and ask God for the grace to be more prudent. At times, I imagine we all have made a spontaneous response to a question or situation before we have given thought to the consequence of our words. Perhaps most of the negativity we see in our culture is the result of casual, irresponsible remarks. It seems to me that language is more crude and more disrespectful than at any time in my memory. I was guilty of some of that until I began to take my faith seriously. I still at times say things that I wish I had not said, but not in the same way I use to say them.

In the Gospel of Luke (6:45) Jesus says,

“A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”

It is very easy to respond in a negative way to a negative experience. It can just happen naturally. When we say negative or evil things it doesn’t necessarily mean we are evil unless it is habitual as a persistent negative attitude which can lead to making bad decisions. When I was in the military, away from people who knew me, I picked up the language of some of the young men around me. I don’t believe I had an evil heart, but I didn’t have a formed conscience and a developed faith that would have helped me overcome the temptation to blend in. Bad language and peer pressure were the doorways to other temptations.

We all give in to temptations at times, but left unchecked they can become a storehouse of bad decisions that can affect how we see ourselves and how other people see us. Christianity calls us to enter the struggle to overcome that which leads to sin. St. Paul describes it well. He says,

“I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.”

The first phase of the battle is to recognize what is good and what is evil. We know that Paul won this battle because he was finally able to say,

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ living in me.”

He is the example of what we must become before entering heaven.

It might seem this is beyond us, but with the help of God’s grace, it is possible. We have the same resources as Paul did. Even more than Paul because of the example and prayers of countless saints who have reached their perfection in heaven and can assist us on our journey. Like them, we have the Scriptures, the authority of the Church, and the sacraments which are the source of the grace that makes it possible for us to become saints, to do what we can only do with God’s help.

Becoming An Authentic Christian

We are all called to holiness even though we fall at times as all the saints did. When it is our desire to become spiritually mature, our faith will have a powerful influence on our lives and the decisions we make. Our faith will not only be a great benefit for us personally, but it will also have a positive impact on our families and on the Body of Christ. We will be able to draw from the goodness of our hearts to produce goodness and reach our goal to become an authentic Christian.

This, God can do in us if we have but the desire. Our Lord will give us the grace to make the changes we need to make if we pray, Jesus, I trust in you. Help me to be the person you created me to be, for my own happiness and the happiness of the people I love.

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.

Receiving Direction from Jesus, Our Constant Companion

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).

That can be a tall order for this day and age.  Every day it seems we are bombarded with difficult situations, people, and news headlines that can make us feel agitated, anxious, confused, and maybe even a little angry.  Through it all though, there is one who can restore hope!  One who shows us a road map on how to be humble and gentle, patient and loving. One who will always help us live out the command given in this scripture, not just with mere words, but through action and example too.  One who constantly points us back to where we belong and will be our constant companion, if we let him.  His name is Jesus. Do you know Him?

Humility and Gentleness Throughout

Christ has taken time to love us in our sins and to teach us His ways.  He called the most unlikely of people to be leaders, to follow Him, and to help share His message. As he handpicked his 12 disciples, he taught each of them how to be gentle toward each other, bearing with one another in love, as they had to look past their own sin and the sin of their brother.  He taught us all about humility as he served lowly and downtrodden and never rebuked those who sought after him for healing.  He even showed his humility and gentle mercy as he prayed for us while he hung on the cross,

“Forgive them Father, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Love Over Fear

Often our struggle with Ephesians (4:2) is because of fear. How do we live up to such an expectation? Fear creeps in and we forget to call upon our savior for help. We often can find ourselves feeling alone or isolated because we just don’t feel good enough when we fail to hit all the points in this scripture and begin to move God out of our equation.  This inner isolation from God can leave an opening for the evil one to tempt us to take credit for our accomplishments, forgetting to give credit and thanksgiving to God, and creating patterns of thought and behavior that alienate us from humility, thus giving us the fear of inadequacy.  This cycle is sometimes described as the God-shaped hole problem that exists in our hearts, and we try to fill it with the things of this world. This can leave us even more empty, ashamed, and fearful. The disciples too, oftentimes felt anxious, confused, and needed to be constantly reminded by Jesus to not fear. I suspect this is a reason “Fear not” is in the Bible 365 times. Jesus knows we are not perfect and that we will fear, but fear should never stop us from doing what is right and trying our best to live out this command, even if it is just small acts of love, to begin with.

Being patient, bearing with one another, can sometimes be done in the smallest of ways, like just waiting a few extra moments before speaking while letting another person finish, or by taking a few moments to pray before forming an opinion about something you have heard or read. Sometimes it may be found in letting someone else have the last word even when we think they are wrong, or in being the first to forgive someone even when you feel you are in the right. It may be found in taking time to consider and pray about someone else’s point of view even when you disagree with them. It’s in these small moments that the spirit of God can whisper wisdom and calming hope in our hearts.

Can Christ Be Your Example for Daily Life?

Let us strive to hold Christ as our model and challenge each other to go forth, striving to be the best Pilgrims of Hope that we can be, by living out Ephesians (4:2) in the smallest of ways. Let us call upon our constant companion Christ for help in all areas, and let us follow His example on how to treat others through humility, gentleness, patience, and love… and if people say, “Jesus, do you know Him?” Our emphatic YES will not only be found in our words, but in our actions as well.

Mandi-bre Watson is a passionate follower of Jesus, a devoted wife, and a mother of 4. Through her writing and speaking, she tries to be a beacon of hope as she points people to the Savior. She owns a small marketing company that helps other small businesses and is also the owner of an online boutique, Veiled in Love, where she sells her handmade veils. She is a certified Spiritual Companion through Oblate School of Theology & an active member of St. Francis of Assisi Church. Mandi-bre is also the Emcee of the 2022 Catholic Women’s Conference and serves as a member of Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Speaker Team.




Becoming Saints by Working from Within

St. Angela Merici, is the founder of the Ursuline Order of religious sisters. The Ursulines were the first order of women religious who served God outside the cloister. Today as they did at their founding in 1534, the Ursulines educate women and girls and tend to the sick around the world. St. Angela is considered instrumental in reforming the Catholic Church during the tragedy of the great Christian division that became known as the Protestant Reformation.

No one argues that the Catholic Church was in need of reform when in 1517 then Catholic priest Martin Luther wrote his 95 Theses; a list of what he condemned as excesses and corruption in the Church. No one argues this because the Church was, is and will always be in need of reform. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

“The Church . . . will receive its perfection only in the glory of heaven,” at the time of Christ’s glorious return. Until that day, “the Church progresses on her pilgrimage amidst this world’s persecutions and God’s consolations.” Here below she knows that she is in exile far from the Lord, and longs for the full coming of the Kingdom, when she will “be united in glory with her king.” The Church, and through her the world, will not be perfected in glory without great trials. Only then will “all the just from the time of Adam, ‘from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect,’ . . . be gathered together in the universal Church in the Father’s presence,” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 769).

Men and women throughout the history of the Catholic Church have achieved sainthood by responding to the call of the Holy Spirit for reform. St. Theresa of Avila, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. John of the Cross, St. Jean Vianney, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. Francis of Assisi just to name a few.

St. Angela Merici, during the time thousands were choosing to leave the Catholic Church and follow Martin Luther and his teachings told her Ursuline sisters,

“Each one of you should first obey the commandments of God . . . Secondly, obey him who governs Mother Church, because He who is truth has said: “Who hears you, hears me, and who despises you, despises me.” And then in descending order, obedience is to be given to priests, the spiritual director, to mother and father, to the laws, statues and civil authorities.”

Today as it was then, the Catholic Church is undergoing great trials. Persecutions from the outside are numerous but more troubling to the unity Jesus Christ commanded of His disciples is the vitriol coming from within the Church. Any scroll through social media gives evidence of the divisions forming among priests, bishops, the religious, and lay faithful. But as the Catechism states, “The Church, and through her the world, will not be perfected in glory without great trials” (CCC, no. 769).

An Opportunity to Step Up and Serve

It is when these trials overburden the Church, the Holy Spirit works to form leader saints; men and women of faith who step up and work from within to reform her. We are witnessing the Holy Spirit’s call now through the Holy Father’s declaration to the Church for the  Synod of Synodality. Pope Francis says,

“Synodality is a style, it is a walk together, and it is what the Lord expects from the Church of the third millennium.”

The Pope gives three reasons why all Catholics should embrace this invitation to participate in the upcoming synodal process:

  1. To grow and thrive in the world we live in, the Catholic Church needs to strengthen cooperation in all areas of her mission, which is why the Church of the third millennium must be a synodal one.
  2. The development of a synodal church will have a great impact in the field of ecumenism. The more we learn to listen and work together — with and under the pope — the better suited we will be to work and collaborate with other Christians
  3. The testimony of a synodal Church will have a positive impact in a world in which small and powerful groups tend to determine the fate of entire peoples.

Simply put, this Synod is to be the Church walking together so that we can all walk together!

The process of this Synod is in three phases. The current phase concluding in April 2022 is the Diocesan Phase when the Church calls on many voices to come to the table. Pastors throughout the world are calling on their parishioners to participate. For lay Catholics, this is our time to step up and respond to the Holy Spirit’s call for reform. When your pastor asks you to participate with the Synod, say yes! If he has not asked yet, ask him. Great saints are made during these times of trials of the Church . . . don’t miss the chance to be one of them!

Much of the information for this blog on Synod can be found at the Archdiocese of San Antonio website.

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.

A Call To Action – A Call To Prayer

I’ll pray for you.

How many times have we typed that on a Facebook post where someone is asking for prayers for a difficult situation?

Thoughts and prayers

How often do we hear this after a tragedy occurs in our country? Almost too much, to the point that it is often ridiculed as separate than action. We don’t need your prayers; we need something done!

But prayer is a form of action, it is a beautiful form of charitable action that unites ourselves to our creator on behalf of our brothers and sisters.

St. John Damascene states that prayer is the

“raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2559)

When we pray, we are actively involving ourselves in being open to petition to God, to hear His voice, to listen in peaceful presence to His command for our lives. When we offer the intentions of others who have asked us to pray for them, we are making a committed effort to unite that person’s intentions with our own intentions, coming together as a Body of Christ.

One way to think of prayer is to understand the difference between sympathy and empathy.

Sympathy is generally defined as the showing of pity or sorrow for another person. Poor you, we might say to someone. Empathy is regarded as being intimately connected with the sufferings of another, to try to be in their shoes and see things from their perspective in order to fully realize their struggles.

To connect these terms to prayer, imagine sympathy as seeing another person struggling and feeling sad for them, and that’s it. Now imagine seeing someone struggling, and putting their struggles into your mind, reflecting on them, understanding the pain it is causing, The Catechism also states that

“Whether prayer is expressed in words or gestures, it is the whole man who prays.” (CCC, no. 2562)

Thus, when we pray for another, we are using our whole being to act on that person’s behalf, to state that their petitions are our petitions. Thus, we are expressing full empathy when we pray for someone else.

Of course, we can also fall into the habit of saying “I’ll pray for you,” as an easy way to get out of an uncomfortable situation, and then not pray. I know I’ve done this too many times. It is at that point that our words will ring hollow. To prevent that, here are some habits I’ve developed:

  • Invite someone to pray then and there at the moment they ask for prayers.
  • Talk to the person about their situation, listen attentively, offer prayers and an open ear.
  • If you pray for that person later in the day, imagine seeing their face, reflecting on their presence. For example, instead of saying “I pray for John Smith,” I instead imagine what John Smith looks like, and pause on his face, then I ask for prayers. This has helped me slow down in my prayers and reflect more on the person.
  • Act. Prayer and action go together since both are forms of charity. Action is living out your prayers.

We pray, we act, and we love.

Daniel Quintero is a newlywed husband, writer, and avid karaoke singer. He currently attends Prince of Peace Catholic Church where he volunteers in the lector ministry and with faith formation. His favorite motto: Awkwardness does not exist. 

Reaching Our Potential for Happiness

What we think we know is often less than the truth and can lead us to a wrong conclusion. In the Gospel of Luke (4:21-30), Jesus has just read from the Scriptures in the synagogue in Nazareth where he grew up. After reading he says,

“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

The Messiah that the Jewish people had been praying for, for centuries is right now in their midst. “They all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” But then they said, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”

In other words, they thought they knew who Jesus was and were confused that he should speak with such authority. So, Jesus tells them that their attitude is just like that of their forefathers who refused to accept the prophets who came to them. Jesus says it is for this reason that miracles were performed for foreigners instead of the Chosen People. Upon hearing this, the people became enraged at Jesus and intended to kill him, but he walked through their midst and went away. He could perform no miracles in his hometown of Nazareth because they had so little faith.

Is Conversion Necessary?

Recently the Church celebrated the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul. Without the conversion, there would have been no St. Paul. Paul, who was previously Saul, was an educated Jewish religious leader and he thought he knew the will of God when he was persecuting Christians and trying to destroy the Church; but he was wrong. It wasn’t until he had an encounter with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus that he was able to see clearly what God’s plan was for him and he spent the rest of his life totally surrendering to the will of God so that he could say,

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ living in me” (Galatians 2:20).

So, what does the conversion of Paul have to do with the Gospel passage of Luke 4:21-30? If we look closely, we will see that all the followers of Christ went through a conversion. Conversion is necessary for us to recognize God’s plan for us. Speaking of those who had not experienced conversion Jesus said,

“…they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven” (Mark 4:12).

In other words, an unconverted heart diminishes our vision, it diminishes our hearing and it diminishes our understanding in regards to the things of God.

Accepting Change in Our Lives

We have all been baptized and we are children of God. In baptism, we received the gifts of faith, hope, and charity, as well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In due time we received the sacraments of Reconciliation, Holy Eucharist, and Confirmation which are sources of the graces we need to be faithful Christians. However, there is no substitute for our personal conversion. At some point in our life, we must all say, Lord, I surrender to you. I want you to be the Lord of my life. Help me to be your faithful witness.

Throughout our lives, God gives us opportunities or encounters that are an invitation to accept change in our lives that will provide spiritual growth. For me, one that stands out is when someone asked me if Jesus was the Lord of my life. I had heard that phrase many times before, but at that moment I was given the grace to truly ponder the question and I realized that my faith had little influence on the decisions I had been making. Those few words caused me to make a deliberate choice to grow in my faith. I began to be open to spiritual things that I had not considered before, such as Bible study, prayer group, and retreat experiences. One thing led to another that has helped me become more aware of the presence of God and the help of his grace. God is patient for our salvation, but the sooner we make a deliberate decision to grow in our faith, the more likely it is that our faith will influence the decisions we make. We will have eyes that are able to perceive and ears that are able to listen and understand the guidance that comes from God, and we will be willing to make changes in our lives that will help us to grow spiritually.

What is the Desire in Your Heart?

On this subject of conversion, we have a quote from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in a document called Go Make Disciples:

“Conversion is the change of our lives that comes about through the power of the Holy Spirit. All who accept the Gospel undergo change as we continually put on the mind of Christ by rejecting sin and becoming more faithful disciples in His Church. Unless we undergo conversion, we have not truly accepted the Gospel.”

The good news is, conversion is primarily the work of God, all He needs is a docile heart. In baptism, we received the Holy Spirit who is the Agent of conversion and if we truly want to draw close to God, we ask the Holy Spirit to help us by way of our fervent prayer, by receiving the sacraments, and by reading the lives of the saints who make this journey with us.

What we think we know is often less than the truth, that’s why we must continually be formed in the truth. Jesus founded the Church, to teach us and guide us in the truth. What we do know without a doubt is that we must love the Lord Our God with all our mind, heart, soul, and strength and we must love our neighbor as ourselves. If there is anything in our lives more important than God, we have not yet experienced conversion and we fail to understand the depths of the love and mercy of Almighty God. We can only reach our potential for happiness in this life and for all eternity by living in a faithful relationship with God. It is not complicated. Our Lord has had faithful followers in every age from one extreme to the other and everyone in between. We all have the capacity to be faithful disciples. It begins with a desire in our hearts and continues with the help of the Holy Spirit. Come Holy Spirit, come!

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.

4 Attitudes to Find God in Prayer

A young woman related her awareness of the importance of adoring God and thanking Him on a daily basis. Before this, she would simply say her favorite memorized prayers, but then, after spending time in silence with God and reading the scriptures, she began to realize the gaze of God upon her. This realization of God’s presence was quite profound and it led her to a deeper desire to love God and to learn more about His gift – the Catholic Church.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta said:

“Fruit of silence is Prayer. Fruit of prayer is Faith. Fruit of Faith is Love.”

In this young woman’s search for a deeper faith – she discovered the Catholic Church offered a treasure – history, lives of extraordinary men and women – the Saints, the Sacraments, and the Teaching Authority of the Church.

As I listened to her story, I remembered reading what St. Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan priest who lived in the 12th century, wrote stating that prayer is made up of 4 indispensable attitudes which are described as follows:

1) Open one’s heart confidently to God
It’s really a lot easier than one thinks. Remember, God knows YOU, He knew you in your mother’s womb. Opening your heart to God is to communicate from the depth of your heart – sincerely and honestly. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, ….” (Isaiah 41:10).*

2) Speak affectionately with him
It begins with a desire to love and know Him. Spend some time in silence thinking about God. Read a scripture passage, or simply think of some of the Bible stories you have heard such as the Birth of Jesus, the Apostles, Jesus teaching and healing by the Sea of Galilee, His Passion and Resurrection. Simply remain in silence for a few moments and speak to Him in confidence as you would a very close friend.

3) Present him your needs
Oh, and He knows our needs! In the Gospel of Matthew (11:28) – He tells us “Come to me all you who labor and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon your and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.”*What a powerful promise God gives us – we will find rest in Him when we go to Him.

4) Praise him and thank him
To praise God is to give Him honor – to adore Him, to recognize He is our Heavenly Father. Authentic prayer includes thanking Him – for everything. When we are aware of His presence, it becomes easier for us to thank Him throughout the day; not only for the blessings or good things, but also for the challenging moments, difficult times. Why? Because He is present in those moments as well and as we read earlier – He wants to help us. “In all circumstances give thanks for his is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).*

The only way to have true happiness and peace is by drawing closer to God in prayer – by being faithful to what He has revealed to us through the Scriptures and the Church.

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.

*New American Bible

Spiritual Battle – Top 3 Qualities of A Good Soldier

[Excerpt of painting] “The Fall of the Rebel Angels” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Public Domain)

We all fight spiritual battles.

Finding himself in the midst of the battlefield, man has to struggle to do what is right, and it is at great cost to himself, and aided by God’s grace, that he succeeds in achieving his own inner integrity. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 409)

Not long ago, I surveyed friends who are current or former members of the armed forces, asking them:

What is the most important quality of a good soldier?

  • Each soldier responded from his or her own experience, without consulting anyone.
  • I received answers from soldiers varying in rank, age, background, gender; experienced in the United States Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force.

Interestingly, all of their answers fit into 3 categories…

1. Commitment to the Mission – Top Response

Other words used to describe this quality: Discipline, Drive, Courage, Fortitude, Determination

One senior officer elaborated: “I always talk to my Soldiers about having a ‘Why’ Factor: That reason(s) that get you up every morning and make you the best person you can be. […] This can be the next rank, spouse, children, family, better finances, education; whatever it is that reminds them of the importance of what they do and why they strive for greatness each day.”

In the spiritual life, we must be focused and committed to our mission: union with God who is Love.

“I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:14-16)

Being lukewarm means that we know enough, but we don’t care enough.
Are you lukewarm in your daily commitment to the mission of Love?
Is it love of God that drives you through trials?
What is your “Why Factor” for living as you do?

  • Examine your conscience to determine the dis-ordered personal desires or other obstacles you must address, in order to remain committed. A soldier who is neither disciplined nor committed to the mission is a danger to himself and his fellow soldiers.

2. Integrity

Other words used to describe this quality: Honor, Honesty

Closely related to the top response, Integrity is defined as “moral uprightness”, or “the state of being whole and undivided”. Soldiers who gave this response consistently answered with one word. That’s because integrity speaks for itself.

Saint JosephLook at Saint Joseph in the Bible; described as “a righteous man”—yet his words are never quoted. Why? The integrity of his character is reflected in his actions, which speak for themselves.

As necessary and powerful as our words and vocal prayers can be, Jesus clearly says that lip service is insufficient for Victory:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church applies this to our daily battles; “The battle of prayer is inseparable from the necessary ‘spiritual battle’ to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ: we pray as we live, because we live as we pray.” (no. 2752)

  • Start today, soldier! Pray for the grace to be a person of integrity.
  • Seek God’s will so that you can accomplish it: Spend a few minutes daily with Scripture and spiritual reading.
  • Consult a spiritual leader to provide direction & structure for your spiritual training.

3. Teamwork

Other words used to describe this quality: Cooperation, Loyalty, Trustworthiness & Trust

A commanding officer elaborated: “I don’t want narcissists that only care about themselves.” Another asserted: “I need this person to foster teamwork, or cooperation. You can be the most patriotic, intelligent, experienced person in the U.S. military and if no one can work with you, or wants to, you’re useless.”

In the spiritual battle, it is not good enough to claim the title “Christian” for oneself and ‘check the boxes’ of expected behavior. Two of Jesus’ closest disciples discovered that we cannot please him if in our heart & mind, we wish ill on others, even those who oppose us.

[Jesus’ messengers] entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him… When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus turned and rebuked them… (Luke 9:52-55)

Mother Angelica once advised, “Don’t say, ‘If it weren’t for that person I could be holy.’ No; you can be holy because of that person.” What bugs you about people? Are there people who drive you up the wall with their weaknesses or habits? Make it your goal to realize that you cannot win the spiritual war without learning to love those people.

When St. Therese of Lisieux found a particular nun in her community completely disagreeable, she employed this tactic: “Not wishing to give in to the natural antipathy I was experiencing, I told myself that charity must not consist in feelings but in works; then I set myself to doing for this Sister what I would do for the person I loved the most.”

Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

3 Keys to Victory

  1. Disciplined and Courageous Commitment: Decide to live for Christ, and use this decision to guide all other decisions.
  2. Integrity: Love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.
  3. Teamwork: Remember that you are not fighting your fellow human, but rather you are fighting against temptation to sin. Practice selfless love, generosity, and kindness to everyone.

Men, Pilgrim Center of Hope invites you to Gear Up & Level Up at the upcoming Catholic Men’s Conference. You are not alone in your battle. Renew your spirit & strength at this annual event for men like you.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.

Angela Sealana is Media Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, having served at the apostolate since 2010. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.

What Is Truth, Today?

Once, Jesus said to one of his Apostles,

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me” (John 14:6).

Then when he stood with Pilate to be judged, this exchange took place:

“So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37).

Pilate said to him,

“What is truth?” (John 18:38)

So what did Jesus mean by what he said to Pilate? He could have said many other things. Instead, he tries to redirect Pilate’s limited perception of Jesus as a self-proclaimed king, to see Jesus himself as THE Truth. Had Pilate just grasped or thought about this, even in the smallest way, he would have placed himself on Jesus’ Way.

What Does This Have To Do With Our Lives, Today?

If we can do what Pilate failed to do—recognize that Jesus IS Truth—this should result in a paradigm shift in our entire way of thinking, of seeing those around us, of looking at creation, and so on. Why? Well, because Truth is unchanging, fixed, non-negotiable. Like God, Truth is, was and always will be the same, like the Church, which is the Body of Christ, who is its Head. If Jesus’ body is the Church, then the Church is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Looking through the lens of truth, we will then start to see people and events in our world in its stark light. We will see that if we are to remain in the light, we must proclaim the truth with courage when we are in a position to do so. If you don’t proclaim the truth, you are not proclaiming Jesus. If you don’t proclaim the truth, you are not being a light to others.

Proclaiming The Truth

We must proclaim the truth when it is not convenient, nor expedient, nor safe, to do so. We must proclaim truth when doing so may cost us in one of many ways. Proclaiming truth IS evangelization. The Gospel is truth and in order to spread the Gospel, we must speak it to others. We must live the truth.

Those that say that up is down, and down is up; that dark is light and light is dark; that you can clone humans; that a person can choose to end his or her own life; that say that a man can be a woman and a woman can choose to be a man; that marriage can be changed; that the embryo is not human and can be expelled from the womb at the whim of its mother—those who are saying these things are not speaking the truth. It then falls to us to speak the truth to all times and places to those who think the truth is changeable and subject to the whims and desires of those in power.

Pilate represented power. Therefore, he had his own truth, which resulted in having his own agenda. That is why he asked the question he did. The truth was a flexible, malleable concept. That is why he could not comprehend what Jesus was trying to tell him. He did not recognize the truth, which was standing right in front of him.

We have many chances throughout our day to speak the truth to others, especially through the use of emails and social media. You can direct those in need to Jesus, to the Blessed Mother, to Scripture, to the Catechism, and a helpful website, or just listen. Brokenness is all around us. A person who is familiar with the truth will recognize need when they see it. Our Lord gives us many opportunities throughout our days to help guide those that are on the Way or those that are searching for the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Those who are familiar with the truth will show love and be kind and gentle to those who are searching for the truth.

If you are searching for the truth, you have to look no further than Jesus Christ. If you already have a relationship with Jesus, then be Christ to others, and in doing so, you will be spreading his message of love, and helping others find the Way and the Life.

If you would like to know more about Jesus-contact Pilgrim Center of Hope at 210-521-3377 or ministry@pilgrimcenterofhope.org.

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.