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Staying the Course When Praying

 

In the Book of Wisdom (1:13-15; 2:23-24), we see the great plan that God had in His mind for humanity; creating us in His own image. Everything was good until the devil entered into the world and became the source of death because of his envy. Those who remain close to God continue to experience His goodness even in the midst of trials, but those who give in to the temptations of the devil become confused and unhappy. However, Jesus is the remedy for the mistakes we make.

We read in Second Corinthians (8:7, 9, 13-15), Paul encourages the Corinthians to excel in what he calls this gracious act. He is speaking of generosity. The gracious act of Our Lord was to humble himself and become human. Though he was in the form of God he became man. He did not live on this earth as a king in the ways of the world but made his home among the lowly. He was teaching us that what we have is not as important as who we are in relationship with God. Everything he did was to please his Father in heaven. And then out of generosity he allowed himself to be tortured and gave up his life so that we might be saved from our sins and receive life everlasting. When we are generous with what we have for the sake of others it becomes more possible for us to discover the generosity of God.

In the Gospel of Mark (5:21-43), we see two separate people approaching Jesus for a cure. They both believe he can perform a miracle and they make a great act of faith. Jesus is the generosity of God in human form, wanting to restore humanity to the perfection with which it was created. With one word he could have made all things new, but it was his desire and the will of the Father that each of us individually cooperates with the generous gifts he has given us. In baptism, we received the gifts of Faith, Hope, and Charity. As well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit and we became a new creation. Because he also gave us a free will that often puts us in conflict with his great plan for us, he established his Church and the sacraments so that we can be renewed in his love and his mercy. Of course, this renewal depends upon our faith, it is not automatic. In this country, we have become accustomed to efficiency. We expect things to happen at our convenience. God is not efficient. He does things in His own way and in His own time. We can become impatient with God. This is the reason some people look for answers by going to fortune-tellers or astrology among other things. God has forbidden these things because they undermine our relationship with Him.

Staying the Course When Praying

God answers all prayer that is for our good and the good of his kingdom.  In most cases, he requires us to preserver in prayer which helps us to develop a trusting, personal relationship with him. Our prayer will be answered in one of three ways:

  • It may be answered in the way and time we hoped.
  • It may be answered later, maybe much later as in the case of St. Monica who prayed for many years for the conversion of her son Agustin.
  • As we preserve in prayer and grow in our trust of God, we may come to understand that God is answering our prayer in a way we did not expect; it may cause a change in the direction of our life.
No Prayer is wasted

The way we pray can be a measurement of our faith. There is nothing we do during the day that is more important than the time we spend in prayer because this is how we allow God to influence the decisions we make. Without prayer, we become disconnected from God and lose hope. Pray the Lord’s Prayer slowly and concentrate on every word that Jesus teaches us in that prayer. Praying the name of Jesus with reverence over and over can bring that peace that only he can give.

Prayer is necessary in order to believe the mysteries of our faith as revealed through the Scriptures and the Church. If we do not spend significant time in prayer, it is not likely we will believe the mysteries that unite us with God in an intimate way. Praying with a humble, contrite heart opens up our mind to the things of God.

Next to our salvation, the greatest gift God has given humanity is the Holy Eucharist. Jesus loves us so much that he gives us himself under the appearance of bread and wine. It is not possible to have a greater intimacy with God than we when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, and yet this gift only has an effect in us if we believe and are prepared. A recent statistic states that only about 30 % of Catholics believe that the Holy Eucharist is truly Jesus. Do you believe? If you have doubts, please humble yourself before God and pray with fervor for the faith to believe in this Holy Sacrament which is Jesus’ gift of himself for those who believe.

Jesus Heals

The hemorrhaging woman only wanted to touch Jesus’ cloak so that she could be healed. During this Mass, we have the possibility of touching and receiving the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, the same Jesus Christ that healed that woman. To receive Holy Communion is life-changing because it requires that we be in communion with the Church that Jesus founded and to believe all that she teaches. It requires us to live a life close to God by frequently receiving him in the sacraments, especially confession so that Jesus can free us of sin and give us grace so that we can do what he asks us to do but can only do with his help.

What God created was good, and even though our human nature is fallen, and we are prone to sin God still has a great plan for us. In Christ and in His Church, He has given us everything we need to live close to Him and experience His generous love and mercy. He expects us to believe in what He has revealed to us through the Scriptures and the Church, to trust Him, and to share this Good News with others. Your personal story of how God touched your life may help someone else to become connected to God.


Deacon Tom FoxK.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Deacon Tom is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.

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

Joseph, Foster Father of the Redeemer

Pope Francis has proclaimed a year of St. Joseph, from December 8, 2020, through December 8, 2021. He wrote an Apostolic Letter titled Patris Corde (With A Father’s Heart).
Pope Francis describes Saint Joseph as a tender and loving father, an obedient and accepting father; a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows. In this Letter, he writes about Joseph, his attributes, role and connects it with everyday life.

Find Hope in St. Joseph

Jesus, the Son of God had a father, Joseph who as a foster-father was present to Jesus from the beginning of his life. Joseph, the chaste spouse of Mary, loved, parented, protected, and guided Jesus from birth. To know Joseph can give us inspiration and hope. Joseph inspires us to have faith in God when the going gets tough; because he went through some very tough times and through his faith and trust in God the result was peaceful. Joseph can give us hope because he was confident in his role as a husband, a foster father. He is a role-model of faithfulness, trust, hope, and courage. How many of us look for those qualities in others? When we can trust someone, we feel more confident. We are assured they have the courage and confidence in making the right decisions that are for the good of all.

We can see this in Saint Joseph. We call him a Saint because of these virtues and his heroic life. What makes someone a Saint? To be clear, the Catholic Church doesn’t make someone a saint. The Church recognizes the holiness and heroic faithfulness of certain individuals and honors some with the title of “Saint”. Their cooperation with God’s grace makes them a Saint.

St. Joseph’s Responsibility

St. Joseph, though essential to God’s plan of salvation is relatively unnoticed in the Gospels. He is not quoted as saying one word. Although he knew God called him to fulfill an important role in the lives of Jesus and Mary, he did so without expecting any favors or recognition.

He was given the awesome responsibility of providing for the necessities of life for Mary and Jesus. Next to God, St. Joseph’s priority was his family. He used every means at his disposal to provide for security and the necessities of life for those in his care.  This he did through faithfulness, humility, and obedience, and he received no extraordinary reward during his lifetime except the joy and peace related to his faithfulness. His reward, like that of all the faithful — is everlasting happiness in heaven.

St. Joseph was a man of hope! Hope can be described as an unshakable trust and assurance that the promises of God will be fulfilled. A key to living a life of hope is trusting in God’s plan for us. Most of us would like to have at our disposal all the resources necessary for any crisis that might come our way; it is not possible. No one can prevent every tragedy, illness, or death that will be part of our life experience, but every one of us can be filled with hope when enduring trials if we are intimately connected to God in prayer and in His grace.

Find Inspiration in St. Joseph’s Witness

We see in St. Joseph what every man and woman can do. St. Joseph can be a paternal figure for us – he teaches us to trust in God’s plan for us while remaining in hope.  When children see their parent(s) praying and talking about God, it gives them a great sense of security.

Through his witness, Joseph has been an inspiration for millions of men and women through the centuries. Hundreds of churches have been named after him and thousands of men have chosen the name Joseph in admiration of his faithfulness.

Pope Francis is convinced that Joseph teaches us to set aside all anger and disappointment, and to embrace the way things are, even when they do not turn out as we wish. Not with mere resignation but with hope and courage.  Pope Francis is sure God used Joseph to achieve His purpose, and he is convinced God can use us, too.

Be inspired and learn more about this incredible man – Joseph!

 


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.

Having Faith Even When We Do Not “See”

How do you start your day? Perhaps you are an early riser who goes for a brisk walk and knocks out tasks before the sun rises.  Or maybe you hit the snooze button a “few” times and rely on some brisk coffee to get you going. As for me, I must pray! The minute I wake up, I say good morning to God and thank him for another day.  I also say a morning offering prayer:

Dear Lord, I do not know what will happen to me today. I only know that nothing will happen that was not foreseen by You, and directed to my greater good from all eternity. I adore Your holy and unfathomable plans, and submit to them with all my heart for love of You, the Pope, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Amen.

This helps me start my day with a fresh reminder that things will happen according to God’s will, not mine.  As the day progresses and things happen, I constantly remind myself that I may not understand why something is happening but I must always trust!  This is how I have faith when I don’t see (which, honestly, is most of the time).  Like everyone, I have good days and bad days and I frequently encounter uncertainties and less than ideal situations. But knowing that God loves me, created me, and has a plan for me fills my heart with joy and peace even on the toughest of days.

O you of little faith

Of course, it’s been a journey for me to get to this place in my own faith.  And the journey of my faith is far from over as it will last through my last day in this world.  But there were certainly times in the past when I worried about so many things.  Too often I feared what I couldn’t see or understand.  I can recall worrying about pretty much everything: whether my plans would work out, worrying about whether I would get selected for a certain job, worrying about ailments. I can recall losing sleep and feeling anxious as the worry consumed me.  Reflecting on it, I can totally compare it to the parable The Calming of the Storm at Sea.

“He got into a boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came upon the sea so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, Lord, save us! We are perishing! He said to them, Why are you terrified, O you of little faith? Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. The men were amazed and said, What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey? “(Matthew 8: 23-27)

Other perspectives

This is only my perspective – an adult, a catholic mother, and a wife.  As I pondered on this, I was eager to find out other perspectives.  So, I interviewed my family. I met with them individually and asked:

How do you keep your faith in God even when you do not see?

You can read their responses below:

  • Retirement age: “I know in my heart that there is only one place to go. What’s down the road is something in God’s plan.  He is our only recourse. He is our present help even if we do not see.  You know in your heart.  That’s it.”
  • School-age: “Mostly it’s that you feel God in your heart.  And you could hear him in your ears saying ‘trust me, you’re not alone’ and telling you ‘I am right here beside you.’”
  • Preschool age: “When I pray to God, um, I feel him in my heart pumping.  It pumps like this: pump, pump, pump!”
  • Toddler age: “He comes in your heart and Jesus wants us to share.”

It’s touching how remarkably similar these responses are!

Your perspective

How do you keep your faith in God even when you do not see?

I pray that all brothers and sisters in Christ feel in their hearts the peace and joy of God’s plan!

Trust in him always, especially in the darkest of times.

Leaving you with this perfect excerpt from the Beatitudes:

Blessed are the pure at heart, for they shall see God!


Christina Campos is a blessed Catholic wife and mother. Each day brings adventurous memories and so many reasons to be thankful to God. She enjoys volunteering and contributing to the special mission of the 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 Kingdom as Seed

“This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.” (Mark 4: 26-27)

Only in the Gospel of Mark, is the parable told about the seed that grows in secret. What are we to make of this? Maybe that how the Kingdom of God grows is as mysterious as how a seed grows?  Can we as humans ever wrap our minds around the mystery of how twelve Apostles preaching and teaching and scattering the Good News of Jesus Christ, would have grown to over 1 billion believers today?!

Mysteries of the Seed Growing in Secret

When I reflect on examples of this mystery of the seed growing in secret, I recall the experience of being part of the RCIA team at my parish. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the communal process in which adults become full, participating members of the Catholic Church.

When we gather for the inquiry phase of RCIA, we ask each person:

“Why are you here at this time, this year, at this place? What are you seeking?”

The stories I have heard almost always speak to a seed growing in secret that has led the person to inquire more about the Catholic faith. A few illustrations of these seeds:

  • Memories of a grandparent and their strong Catholic faith, taking them to Mass, praying the Rosary with them, and talking to them about God
  • Engaged to be married to a practicing Catholic, and asked by their future spouse to be open to converting so as to share a lifetime of faith together
  • Witnessing the strong faith of someone fighting a battle with cancer or a life-changing disability and the peace and strength that is present in their life
Sowing the Seeds of the Kingdom

What becomes apparent in these stories is that our words and our actions, while not the cause of God’s Kingdom, do still matter in the coming of the Kingdom.  Our words and actions sow the seeds of the Kingdom.

But the Kingdom arrives not through our efforts but by God’s grace…

Planting and gathering depend upon human work.  Sprouting and growth depend upon God’s design. God takes what we do and puts even the smallest seed to magnificent use.

We ask the RCIA candidates once more as they are closer to being received into the Church at the Easter Vigil, that same question about what brought them here…. and this time their response moves beyond the person who sowed the seed, and they recognize the hand of God and His grace in growing the faith within them. The Holy Spirit has revealed the mystery of the seed sown in secret once again!

Jesus’ parable gives me such great hope and encourages me to be aware of my words and actions, to be persistent in prayer for those who are separated from God’s love, and to trust that God will use my words and actions to reveal His love to others. Jesus’ words are a challenge to ask myself: how is God calling me to plant and water the seeds of faith, and how am I inviting God into my life to help me do so?

This excerpt of a prayer written by Msgr. Kenneth Untener, speaks so well to the mystery of our earthly pilgrimage and our time spent sowing the seeds of God’s Kingdom:

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders;
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future that is not our own.

This beautiful prayer gives me the hope I need when I am discouraged that the seeds of faith I sow in secret may not bear fruit and may not lead souls to God.

Lord God, you have given us the gift of faith. Help us take time to water that seed of faith in our hearts and the hearts of others. Let us always invite you into our hearts to give it growth, and may we remain your steadfast prophets of hope.  Amen.


Debbie Garza is a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Leon Springs, and is an experienced Pilgrimage Group Leader with Pilgrim Center of Hope. She has traveled with Pilgrim Center of Hope to the Holy Land, Italy, and Greece. She says, “On pilgrimage, I know the ears and eyes of my heart have been opened by God’s grace and I’ve experienced the Joy of the Gospel. I am committed to helping other pilgrims experience their personal journey of faith.” Debra is also a member of Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Speaker Team.

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

Joy in Tying the Knot!

What is true joy? Joy is mentioned at least 219 times in the Bible. Fr. Pierre de Chardin, S.J. states:

“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God!”

When we encounter Christ Jesus and accept Him into our lives as our Lord, our Savior, we experience joy and hope. To encounter is to meet and experience; to accept is to acknowledge and believe. Our journey towards the Heavenly Jerusalem begins with this encounter and believing in God’s presence.

As a couple embrace their love for each other in the Sacrament of Matrimony, they begin this new journey with Christ Jesus, inviting him to walk with them for the rest of their lives! Oh sure, there are valleys and perhaps some pits we all experience along the way; for this reason, our Savior instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Let us praise God for this great gift!

Yes, when couples “tie the knot”, it is a sign of their willingness to love and sacrifice for their spouse.  Let’s use this word “knot” as an acronym:

  • K – Knowledge of God
  • N – Now!
  • O – Obedience!
  • T – To live and share the faith.

K – Knowledge: The Apostles Creed is the foundation of our faith! When explaining to family members, friends why you are a Catholic and why you have chosen to be married in the Catholic Church; this Creed gives many reasons! The Apostles’ Creed is divided into what we refer to as 12 articles. It is a solid profession of the fundamental truths of our faith. When we pray the Rosary, we begin with his proclamation of our faith and then add the beautiful Gospel prayers included in the Rosary. There is always joy and fruit when couples pray together.

N – Now! There is no better time to begin anew than now. Simple words such as “I love you” and “I am sorry” can be jump starters towards healing.

O – Obedience: Our free will is the greatest gift God has given us and it is the only thing that can separate us from God’s plan for us. To be obedient to God’s natural and moral laws is to be given freedom and a road map to true happiness. There is always fruit in obedience!

T – To live and share the faith: Living the Sacramental life gives us the grace to live and share our faith. So many people are in need of authentic witnesses and sincere messages of hope. When couples witness their love for each other, their commitment to God; people will perceive there is hope!

What has sustained the Church are people who have encountered the Lord and accepted the Truth of His revelation and trusted in His Divine Providence.

Yes, joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God. No matter what age we are when we marry, no matter how many years we have been married; when God is invited to be a part of that relationship each day; believe you will always have the hope needed to sustain you!


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.

The Fifteen Most Powerful Words

We read in the Gospel of Luke:

“After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, ‘You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.’” (Luke. 3:21-22)

This was the first time that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were witnessed together as distinct persons. This relationship we call the Holy Trinity; One God, yet three divine persons.

Our Belief in the Holy Trinity

St. Francis De Sales said:

“The fifteen most powerful words in the English language are in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

The words themselves are powerful because they are a testimony of our belief in the Holy Trinity, but they also call to mind our salvation through the passion and death of Jesus Christ as we trace the cross over ourselves. As Catholics, all of our prayers, including the Holy Mass, begin and end with the sign of the cross. Those fifteen words, along with the sign of the cross, identify us as Catholic Christians. This formula is the official blessing of the Church by way of Holy Orders for special occasions and designated items and individuals. However, we all should bless ourselves throughout the day, asking God to guide and protect us. It is very meaningful for children to have their parents bless them in the morning before leaving home and in the evening before bed. When faced with an urgency, it is very simple to say,

“God come to my assistance, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

We have been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and have received the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Our purpose for being on this earth is to bring to completion the good work that was begun in us at our baptism. God has a great plan for humanity that can only be realized in a relationship with him. It is for this reason he has given us the Church and the sacraments. We must remember that in our humanity, we inherited a fallen nature, and often we are tempted to want to live for ourselves at the expense of others. God has made it possible for us to overcome these temptations which lead to sadness and even hopelessness. He desires to pour his grace into the hearts of those who believe in him. We need God; he created us to be in a relationship with him.

Equipping the Called

In the Gospel, Matthew tells us that when the Disciples saw the Lord, they worshiped, but they doubted. This would be the last time they would see Jesus before he returned to heaven, and they doubted. For three years they heard his teaching, witnessed his miracles and were present during his apparitions after he rose from the dead, and still, they doubted. It can be difficult to overcome the limitations of our logic. However, Jesus wasn’t disheartened by their lack of faith. He immediately commissioned them and said:

“Go, therefore. And make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age”.

Jesus knew that on their own they would not be able to complete the mission he charged them with. He would send his Holy Spirit so that all he commanded them to do he would accomplish through them. The same is true of us. God expects us to do things we can only do with his help, which he freely offers. Every baptized person has a vocation, whether it be religious, marriage, or single life. As our life unfolds, if we remain close to God, he will help us overcome the challenges that we might give up on if we did not ask for his help.  We all will have to endure things we may now think we cannot endure or to accomplish things that we think we cannot accomplish. But if it is God’s will, he will bring all things to completion in and through us. We must discern what the will of God is by remaining in the state of grace through the sacraments, a discipline of prayer and faith formation. God is as close to us as his name on our lips.

As we remember our veterans this Memorial weekend, I am sure there were moments when many had doubts about the mission ahead.   If they knew exactly what was before them perhaps it would have been more difficult for them to fulfill their duty. These warriors too were in the hand of God and it is they, who with his help completed their mission, even if it was with the sacrifice of their lives. God bless America and the veterans who preserve our freedom.


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.

Fear & Anxiety

I think most will agree that 2020 gets the award for worst year in the 21st Century. One reason would be the worldwide spread of the COVID-19 virus closely following the most contentious Presidential election in memory. The virus and its aftermath of masks, social distancing, isolation, national shutdowns, deaths of close friends and relatives, mental health issues, hospital crowding, etc., compounded by the extreme vitriol, hatred, and divisiveness of the election has driven most sane Christians into a mental cage of sorts closely resembling solitary confinement in San Quentin Prison. We are emotionally sitting on the floor, probably in a fetal position, wringing our hands and enveloped in palpable fear.

Do Not Be Afraid

But wait! Why are we afraid? Why are we anxious? We’re people of faith, and fear is the antithesis of faith, right? And Our Lord told us to expect what we are now seeing, right? So why am I afraid and anxious?

Even people of great faith are not immune to the fear brought on by the upheaval and changes we are seeing. But fear is a hungry monster. It is fed by media hyperbole, the unknown, herd mentality, insecurities, and the list goes on. If fear was visible, it would be a morbidly obese monster. There’s so much food we can give it.

What do we do? Well, first of all, we need to understand that the only way to acquire the peace that only Jesus can give us (John 14:27), we need to get closer to Jesus and try to listen harder than we have been. The closer we get to Jesus, the more Heavenly peace we acquire. Jesus tells us:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Here is a suggestion on how to get on how to put the fear monster on a diet:

  • Consider disconnecting your cable. The provider will fight this and try and keep you. Fight the temptation: lose the cable. Get a digital antenna if you really need to have access to the news and weather when those storm warnings come around. Other than the cost of installation, there are no monthly charges once you install. When you’ve cut the cable, STOP.WATCHING.THE.NEWS! News producers pick the blood and gore and put the icing of hyperbole on the stories that will most alarm, frighten and appeal to our baser senses. A priest once gave me some great advice:

“Don’t watch the news. It will disturb the very peace Our Lord is trying so hard to give us, and will drown out His voice.”

Our Lord never told us that if we believed that we would never suffer. Quite the contrary: He told us to take up our crosses and follow Him every day (ref. Matt. 16:24). That includes the hefty crosses we make for ourselves. If you really think about it, newspapers and cable subscriptions are really crosses meant to create those very monsters we’re afraid of, and make them materialize in our lives, adding to our fears and anxieties.

Let’s not add to our crosses. Every day comes with its own set of crosses, and they’re plenty to deal with, without adding to them.

Find Strength and Peace in Jesus

Pray to the Holy Spirit, then pick up your Bible. It’s like a big telegram from Heaven. Our Lord is trying to talk to us. Read it in a quiet place. Maybe take it to your parish’s Adoration Chapel and read it before Our Eucharistic Jesus for 15 minutes, and then gradually increase the time. Before you know it, you won’t want to leave the refuge of the Sacred Heart, and you will thank yourself for getting rid of the noise and distractions that come with the media you got rid of.

Pray the Rosary. The gift of peace that Our Lady has given us in the Rosary is a treasure waiting to be opened by you.  “The Rosary is the best therapy for these distraught, unhappy, fearful, and frustrated souls, precisely because it involves the simultaneous use of three powers: the physical, the vocal, and the spiritual.” – Archbishop Fulton Sheen

But the bad things haven’t gone away. I know.  Let us remember, Jesus’ peace is not the same kind of peace the world gives: it is more durable and is rooted in your very soul. No matter what comes your way, no matter how bad it may be, Jesus’ peace will stay with you and help you cope with whatever comes.

And once you remove the callous of noise and distraction that encases you, Our Lord can come closer than ever before, and allow you to realize that He is walking right alongside you, whispering “Don’t be afraid. Be at peace. All is well. I am with you.” You are feeding your faith, instead of your fear, and the gift of faith is freedom from fear. Pope Francis says it well:

“Christian hope is rooted not in the attraction of the future but in the certainty of what God has promised and realized in Jesus Christ. If he has guaranteed never to abandon us; if the beginning of every vocation is a ‘Follow Me,’ with which he promised to always go ahead of us, why should we be afraid?”


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.

This blog appears slightly edited from its original publication.

Living Our Call

“Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.”
– Santa Teresa of Avila

Searching in and out

A few months ago, I was listening to a mother of three kids, two of them with special needs sharing how difficult it has been losing her job, keeping piles of unpaid bills, and even worst, looking for a place where to find the next meal for her children. Usually, during difficult times people say: “everything is going to be ok.” Instead, I prefer to share the Psalms 31:25:

“Be strong and take heart, all who hope in the Lord.”

There are many reasons why someone might feel confused or sadden, especially during the past months when many might have felt “left behind”. However, people’s actions might change the course of events. I was amazed about how wonderfully generous hearts get out of their comfort zone to care for others in need by working extra hours giving up their rest, volunteering to either deliver food to the elderly unable to get their own groceries, standing for hours giving food to those who lose their job or calling to their neighbors just to check on them. The list goes on.

God among us

Some have decided not to harden their hearts and become Jesus’ witnesses with their actions by caring for others or strengthening their faith by holding tight to prayer.

“Encourage yourselves daily while it is still “today,” so that none of you grow hardened by the deceit of sin” – Hebrews 3:13

However, others are struggling with their faith. I am sure I am not the only one who has heard people say: “I want to see Jesus.” We need to be attentive and look around with a different lens so we can be able to see God’s hand in our midst or even more, listen to his voice. We need to BELIEVE that it is God who is calling us by name to go out and do his will. (1Samuel 3:7-8)
We need to realize that being a real follower and friend of Jesus means trusting, obeying, and surrendering our self-will to who love us the most, Jesus our Lord. If we want to journey this life with Jesus and be feed by his teachings, we need to get closer to him to know him more, and consequently love him more as well. Some are willing to lend a hand to teach His words and life as Pilgrim Center of Hope through conferences, pilgrimages, and various media productions. I encourage you to come and see and discover what Jesus has in store for you, as I did one day.

Living in love

Knowing Jesus is surrendering our intellect and heart to him by showing the world that he knows us better than we know ourselves and his plan in our life is better than we can imagine. He will guide us in every step and provide what is needed sometimes with unimaginable surprises as we remain in his love and follow his commands.

We should live a faithful life dressed up with Jesus’ love as we fulfill our everyday life, and one of God’s commands, love one another (John 15:17). God is calling us to bear fruit remaining in him, the vine.

It is necessary to shorten the distance between us and  Jesus. If we keep our mind and heart away from him, we could make the mistake of believing that someone or something else is able to meet our needs. However, we need to realize that as long as we remain in Jesus, he will work through us to continue building a community of which we are part of. We cannot prescind from our union with others if we want to fully live our faith. We cannot divert from Jesus who provides to us, the branches, everything to bear fruit. We are called to be instruments of God if we want to fulfill our purpose of knowing him, serve him, and love him. After all, God has written in our hearts the desired to see him and is always drawing us to him because only in him we will fully live the truth and happiness that we are always searching for. (CCC 27)


Veronica is a bilingual wife, mother, lay evangelist, and a member of Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Speaker Team.

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

Viviendo nuestro llamado

 

“Nada te turbe,
nada te espante,
todo se pasa.
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia todo lo alcanza,
quien a Dios tiene nada le falta;
solo Dios basta”.
-Santa Teresa de Avila

Buscando dentro y fuera

Hace unos meses, escuchaba a una madre de tres niños, dos de ellos con necesidades especiales quien compartía lo difícil que ha sido para ella perder su trabajo, acumular facturas por pagar, y lo que es peor, buscar lugares donde encontrar la siguiente comida para sus hijos. Usualmente durante tiempos difíciles las personas dicen: “todo estará bien”. En su lugar, yo prefiero compartir el salmo 31:25, “Fortalezcan su corazón, sean valientes, todos los que esperan en el Señor”.

Hay muchas razones por las cuales alguien se puede sentir confundido o triste, especialmente durante los pasados meses cuando muchos se pudieron haber sentido “ignorados”. Sin embargo, las acciones de las personas pueden cambiar el curso de los eventos. Me sorprendí de que maravillosamente algunos corazones generosos salieron de su zona de comodidad y seguridad para ayudar a otros en necesidad trabajando horas extras renunciando a su descanso, trabajando como voluntarios entregando comida a las personas de la tercera edad incapaces de obtener su propia despensa, de pie durante horas dando comida a aquellos que perdieron su empleo o llamando a sus vecinos para checar como están…la lista es larga.

Dios entre nosotros

Algunos han decidido no endurecer sus corazones y convertirse en testigos de Jesús con sus acciones cuidando a los demás o fortaleciendo su fe a través de la oración. (“Mas bien anímense mutuamente cada día, mientras dura ese hoy; que ninguno de ustedes se deje arrastrar por el pecado y llegue a endurecerse” Hebreos 3:13). Sin embargo, otros caminan luchando en su fe. Estoy segura que no soy la única que ha escuchado a personas decir: “Quiero ver a Jesús”. Necesitamos estar atentos y mirar alrededor nuestro desde una perspectiva diferente para ser capaces de ver las manos de Dios entre nosotros o aún más, escuchar su voz …necesitamos CREER que es Dios quien nos está llamando por nuestro nombre para salir y hacer su voluntad. (1Samuel 3:7-8)

Necesitamos darnos cuenta que ser un verdadero seguidor y amigo de Jesús significa confiar, obedecer y entregar nuestra propia voluntad a quien nos amó más…Jesús nuestro Señor. Si queremos hacer el viaje en esta vida con Jesús y quedar impregnados por sus enseñanzas, necesitamos acercarnos más a él para conocerlo más y consecuentemente amarlo más. Algunos están deseosos de ofrecer una mano para ensenar su palabra y su vida como Pilgrim Center of Hope a través de conferencias, peregrinajes, conociendo a los santos y más. Los animo a “venir a ver” para descubrir lo que Jesús tiene para ustedes como yo lo hice un día.

Viviendo en amor

Jesús es todo acerca de amor incondicional y verdadero. Conocer a Jesús es entregarle nuestro intelecto y corazón mostrando al mundo que él nos conoce mejor que lo que nos conocemos a nosotros mismos y que su plan en nuestra vida es mejor de lo que nos podemos imaginar. Él nos guiará en cada paso y proveerá lo que se necesita algunas veces con sorpresas inimaginables mientras permanecemos en su amor y seguimos sus mandamientos.

Debemos vivir una vida de fe vestidos con el amor de Jesús mientras cumplimos con las obligaciones de nuestra vida diaria, y uno de los mandamientos de Dios, “ámense los unos a los otros” (Juan 15:17). Dios nos llama a dar frutos permaneciendo en él, la vid.

Es necesario acortar la distancia que nos aleja de Jesús. Si mantenemos nuestra mente y corazón alejados de él, podemos cometer el error de creer que alguien o algo más es capaz de satisfacer nuestras necesidades. Sin embargo, necesitamos entender que mientras que permanezcamos en Jesús, el trabajara a través de nosotros para continuar construyendo una comunidad de la que somos parte. No podemos prescindir de nuestra unión con los demás si queremos vivir plenamente nuestra fe, de la misma manera que no podemos prescindir de Jesús quien nos provee, las ramas, todo para dar fruto. Somos llamados a ser instrumento de Dios si queremos cumplir nuestro propósito de conocerlo, servirlo y amarlo. Después de todo, Dios ha plantado en nuestros corazones el deseo de verlo, y siempre nos está atrayendo hacia él porque solamente en el viviremos plenamente la verdad y felicidad que siempre estamos buscando. (CCC 27)


 

Verónica es esposa, madre, evangelista laica y miembro del Equipo de Oradores del Pilgrim Center of Hope.

Respondiendo al llamado de Cristo, Pilgrim Center of Hope guía a las personas al encuentro con Él para vivir en la esperanza, como peregrinos en la vida diaria. Vea lo que está sucediendo y permítanos viajar con usted! Visita PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.

Pruning My Own Branches

The Gospel for the 5th Sunday of Easter concerned the Vine and the Branches. We will only have Life if we are a part of the Vine. However, the Gospel also spoke about a vinedresser needing to prune those branches that do not bear fruit, that they may bear more fruit. See, John 15:1-2. Here’s the problem I have: can I correctly identify those branches IN ME that are either not bearing fruit or are not bearing enough fruit? How do I do that? At this point, we may be thinking, “I already feel like I have pretty good fruits.” But, then, I’m not the vinedresser, am I?

Practical Ways We Can Be Pruned

For starters, those of us who are lucky enough to have a spiritual advisor are already on the right path because if we are candid, that spiritual advisor can help us identify those aspects of what we do, how we think, who we are. But most of us do not have a spiritual advisor. What then?

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a wonderful way to air out those problems that prick our consciences and tell us that we’re going in the wrong direction. Before we go to Confession, though, we can self-examine by reading through an examination of conscience online or in a booklet to start us down the path with a very good flashlight. How about telling a fellow, devout Catholic friend how I feel about certain people or certain things, that can help us find those pesky dark corners of our lives that need cleaning out?

A man was once trying to make his Lent a successful one, so he asked his wife if she would write down those things about him that needed improvement. She replied by saying “There isn’t enough paper.” Some of us may feel that way at times, but we have to remember that Jesus is Mercy itself. He understands our humanity but also wants us to progress along the road to holiness. We are, after all, called to be saints, right?

Still, needing that flashlight? Read Scripture. Study your favorite parables. The parables are the flashlight Jesus uses to shine light upon those parts of our human nature that cause us to succeed or to fail. The parables are often as much about virtue as they are about the weaker sides of our nature.

These examples of virtue can be found in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Do we strive to practice, and therefore strengthen, those gifts? Are we allowing the Holy Spirit to work within us? Those gifts are charity (or love), joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, long-suffering, gentleness, faith, modesty, self-control, and chastity. (Gal. 5:22)

Gifts of the Holy Spirit and Fruits of the Holy Spirit

So what’s the difference between the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the fruits of the Holy Spirit? Well, the gifts are the virtues, or the seeds, which produce the fruits of the Holy Spirit. “Fruits” are another word for “actions”. So, allowing the seeds of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to take root in us will give rise to the actions resulting from those gifts. Our actions will be born out of the seeds, the virtues, that we cultivated.

Other gifts/virtues/seeds of the Holy Spirit:

  • Witnessing Power (Acts 1:8)
  • Mutual Encouragement (Romans 1:11-12)
  • Ministry, Romans 12:7; Teaching, Romans (12:7)
  • Encouraging, Contributing, Leadership, Showing Mercy, and Spirit of Unity (Romans 15:5)
  • Wisdom and Knowledge (I Corinthians 12:8)
  • Healing (I Corinthians 12:9)
  • Prophesying, Miraculous Powers, Discernment, Tongues, Interpretation (I Corinthians 12:10)
  • Administration (I Corinthians 12:28)
  • Revelation (Ephesians 1:17)
One Last Recommendation

Finally, Adoration before the Eucharistic Jesus, with our spiritual or holy reading. When we take this sort of reading as we spend time with Jesus, the Holy Spirit is there to guide and encourage us along the Way. Choose books and themes from a reliable Catholic source, as we can be misled by the many authors who have decided that the Magisterium is theirs to change. There are so many books and videos that help us to meditate on how to get to where Our Lord wants us to go. Our reading can be a wonderful source for our self-examination, helping us to see ourselves as God sees us, and making those changes and adjustments that are needed.

These are just some ways to “prune” ourselves. Our work now will help us to continue pruning with the new tools we have acquired that are right for the job. Choose any one of these, and soon you will see yourself blossoming abundantly like an apple tree in Spring.


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.