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Starting New? Spiritual Encouragement | Meet Mary

Lourdes & St. Bernadette

This week Mary Jane Fox will take us on a virtual pilgrimage to Lourdes, in Western France. Visit the site where Mary, the Mother of God, revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception to St. Bernadette. Meet the young visionary, Bernadette Soubirous, and be transported to her home, to the Grotto where the Virgin Mary appeared to her, and to the healing baths that the Lady revealed to Bernadette.

Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes
Oh, ever immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners, Comfortess of the Afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings. Look upon me with mercy. When you appeared in the grotto of Lourdes, you made it a privileged sanctuary where you dispense your favors, and where many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. My loving Mother, obtain my request. I will try to imitate your virtues so that I may one day share your company and bless you in eternity. Amen.

Lourdes Grotto Live Webcam
https://www.directfromlourdes.com/lourdes_live_tv

Jewell For The Journey

The Rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life. It is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings. There is no more excellent way of praying. – Pope Leo XIII

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Holy Family, Help Us Be Holy!

Statue of the Holy Family outside the Church of St. Joseph in Nazareth.

We began the last week of Advent with this verse from O Come, O Come Emmanuel:

“O come, O Wisdom from on high, who orders all things mightily; to us the path of knowledge show, and teach us in her ways to go.”

The universe and all of creation were created by God with a certain order that maintains harmony and peace.  As God gave mankind dominion over his creation, he expected us to maintain the order he established. In yesterday’s first reading, (Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14) we see one aspect of maintaining that order – we are to honor our Father and our Mother.  This is such an important part of God’s plan that the promise is given, whoever honors his father . . . when he prays is heard. Being obedient to our parents helps us to learn to be obedient to God.

In Colossians 3:15, Paul gives us additional insights into what we must do to keep order.  He says:

“Let the peace of Christ control your hearts.”

Fulfilling Our Role

In Christ, we will find the strength we need to maintain order in our relationships as husbands and wives, parents, and children.  There is a right way to fulfill our role, whatever it is.  And, of course, the reality is, even if we try to faithfully do our part, it doesn’t mean that others will be faithful.  I’m sure that there are many parents here who take their relationships with God seriously, and even though they have made every effort to guide their children in the right way, some have rebelled.  Peer pressure is very difficult to overcome.  And maybe there are some children here who have felt called to a religious vocation and have not received support from their parents.

Ordering our life to God is a daily struggle which calls us to perseverance in prayer and the sacramental life.  Our Lord offers us all the grace we need to take one day at a time, and to trust that in the end, everything will be okay if we persevere. It doesn’t mean things will not be difficult; it does mean we will always have hope.

We see in the Gospel of Luke (2:22-40) that the Holy Family faithfully followed the law of Moses. Even though they knew that Jesus was the Messiah that the Jews had been praying for, they didn’t think they should enjoy special privileges. They obeyed immediately and God’s plan continued to unfold, and prophesy was fulfilled when Simeon and Anna saw the baby Jesus in the Temple. Even though they were the holiest, most important family in the history of the world they faithfully followed the religious practices of their time because that is how they maintained their connection with the Heavenly Father and fulfilled His plan. The same is true for us. God wants to make our families holy.

The Crisis of the Family

It is not news that in this country, the most powerful country in the world, the institution of the family is at a point of crisis. Almost every family has experienced some degree of trauma, especially during this pandemic – whether physical, economic, psychological, or spiritual. Almost every family has a relative that is divorced. A statistic states that only one-third of children in this country will live with both biological parents until they reach the age of eighteen. The greatest need of our time is the renewal of the family; the only way it can be renewed is with the help of God’s grace; by being faithful to what God has revealed to us through the Scriptures and the Church, even if others are not.

Our families are God’s plan for the future of the world. The family is intended to be the domestic Church where husband, wife, and children are joined together in prayer and grow together in faith. The family is where vocation should first be discovered.

Even if our family life is not been what it could have been, it is not too late to begin anew. Whether you are married, divorced, or single, it is not too late to ask “Wisdom, to teach us in her ways to go.”

The way people have persevered through the ages is by:

  • Attending mass every weekend (during the week, if possible).
  • Praying daily (privately and with people we love).
  • Reading Scriptures
  • Frequenting the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • Spending time before the Blessed Sacrament.
  • Reading the lives of the saints.
  • Being generous with our time, talent, and treasure.

It is the same plan for everyone for all time.

How Can We Be More Aware of God’s Presence?

The domestic church, like every church, is made up of the people that occupy it. However, there are things we can do to help us be more aware of the presence of God and to help us enter into prayer at home:

  • Every home should have a crucifix and religious art to show that Faith is important to those who live there.
  • There can be a special room or part of a room where you have an altar or shelf on which you place candles, a bible, holy pictures, and favorite prayers that help you enter into prayer.
  • Designate a time when the family prays together, especially the Rosary, or at least part of the Rosary.
  • It is very meaningful for parents to bless their children before bed and before leaving the house by tracing the cross on their foreheads as you say, …may God bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

God has a great plan for each of us if we allow Him to guide us by way of the Scriptures, the Church, the lives of the saints, and His wisdom. It has to begin as a desire in our hearts and continues when we share this desire with others, especially those we love.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph pray for us. Help us to be holy!


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.

Milk Grotto – Bethlehem

This week Deacon Tom & Mary Jane Fox will take a virtual pilgrimage to Milk Grotto, not far from the Church of the Nativity and Manger Square in Bethlehem. Officially called Magharet Sitti Mariam or the Grotto of the Lady Mary, tradition holds that the Holy Family took refuge in this grotto (hollowed out of limestone) on their way to Egypt as they were fleeing the Slaughter of the Innocents.

It is believed that while nursing the infant Jesus a few drops of Mary’s milk fell upon the yellowish-brown stone and turned it to white. During this program, you will learn more about this sacred destination and why it is frequented by new mothers and women who are trying to conceive.

Jewel for the Journey:
Saint Joseph was a just man, a tireless worker, the upright guardian of those entrusted to his care. May he always guard, protect, and enlighten families.   St. Pope John Paul II

Link to Guardian of the Redeemer – St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation on St. Joseph:
http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_15081989_redemptoris-custos.html

Shepherd’s Field – Bethlehem

Join Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox for a virtual pilgrimage to the Holy Land, specifically to an open area outside of Bethlehem referred to Shepherd’s Field. This open area was where the Angel appeared to the Shepherds that Holy Night when Christ was born! During this program, with Deacon Tom and Mary Jane as our guides, we will:

  • Make note of some very interesting historical facts.
  • Discover the Chapel built in honor of the Shepherds.
  • Learn more about the shepherds at the time of Jesus.
  • Much more!

Jewel for the Journey

“The closer we are to the Good Shepherd, the safer we are from those who want to destroy our faith.” – A friend of Pilgrim Center of Hope.

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Immaculate Conception Shrine – Washington, D.C.

Join Mary Jane Fox for a virtual pilgrimage to Immaculate Conception Shrine located in Washington D.C. The United States has long been considered the great melting pot, where people from many diverse lands have come to dwell. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is proud to reflect this rich heritage of America. During this program, Mary Jane will help us learn more about:

  • The first Mass celebrated during its construction.
  • The Basilica’s beautiful architecture, chapel, oratories, and Sacred Art.
  • Which Saints have visited this National Treasure?

JEWEL FOR THE JOURNEY –

Saint Mother Teresa

“Pray especially to Our Blessed Mother Mary, placing all your intentions into her hands. For she loves you as she loves her Son. She will guide you in all your relationships so that peace may fill your life.”

Her Queenship | Meet Mary