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Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle – Rio Grande Valley

Come on a journey with Mary Jane Fox & Robert Rodriguez to a sacred site in South Texas that attracts over a million pilgrims each year. Since 1954, Catholics in search of healing and other blessings have been drawn to this shrine with a beloved wooden statue of the Immaculate Conception.

Join us as we explore the massive basilica, the life-size Stations of the Cross, and the history which has led many throughout Texas and Mexico to have a deep devotion to Our Lady of San Juan.

Related

Official Website – Basilica Our Lady of San Juan del Valle

Jewel for the Journey:

Mater Immaculata ora pro nobis – Immaculate Mother pray for us – Banner flying above the statue, held by two angels

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A Fresh Look at the Rosary

Originally printed as San Antonio Express-News “Belief” Column

The Roman Catholic Feast of the Holy Rosary on Oct. 7 offers an opportunity to introduce the rosary, an iconic image to some and a religious symbol to others, to all Christians and people of prayer.

While some people wear it as jewelry, the Catholic faithful see the rosary as the anchor to their prayer life, a revered string of 59 beads that begins and ends with the crucifix, Jesus Christ on the cross of salvation.

Any glossary of Catholic terms will tell you the rosary is a sacramental, a tangible object, which when blessed by a priest, carries with it a power strengthened by one’s faith. Like a talisman believed to have powers, a rosary is considered a special object and is often passed down through generations.

Like other sacramentals such as holy medals and prayer cards depicting saints, the rosary is cherished because it might have been used by a bearer throughout their prayer life. It’s not uncommon to see a Catholic buried with a rosary in hand as proof of their love for Jesus Christ.

One of my most vivid childhood memories is of my dear mother, praying the rosary every night before bed. Her prayers were always for friends and family, most especially her children. She prayed for our protection, success, good health and happiness, if it be God’s will.

That gives me great consolation and has instilled in me a deep interest in the rosary. The more I have learned about it, the more I have relied on it.

The rosary cord contains 59 beads separated into sections of 10 beads called decades. They come in all colors, sizes and styles.

Originally, it contained three sets of five mysteries, or events, in the life of Christ — the joyful ones surrounding his birth; the sorrowful events of his passion, or suffering; and the glorious events about his resurrection.

When first introduced, the rosary was popularized by illiterate Christians unable to read the Bible. The devotion was popularized also by the Dominican order in the 13th century; by the 16th century, it took the form used today.

In an apostolic letter in October 2002, Pope St. John Paul II — known as the pope of the rosary — recommended an additional set of mysteries, called the luminous mysteries, or the “mysteries of light,” that focus on Christ’s public ministry.

John Paul II said the rosary is a gospel prayer in which, with Mary, we contemplate the face of Jesus.

The words of the prayers — the Our Father and the Hail Mary — are scripturally based. The Hail Mary consists largely of Bible verses in the Gospel of Luke 1: 28-45 and reflect major moments in the lives of Jesus and Mary.

Even non-Catholics pray the rosary. “I’m a Methodist,” one said, “but I absolutely adore the rosary, and prayer beads of all kinds. I love that with a simple set of beads I can meditate on the entire life of Christ as seen by the woman through whom he is genetically related to the rest of us. Prayer beads help me focus my mind, something that is difficult at times.”

The rosary is a family prayer and a way to teach children about the life of Christ. It can be prayed in less than half an hour, and the beads enable you to free your mind from the task of counting.

For anyone seeking to grow closer to God through prayer, the rosary offers a path to a relationship with him. The rosary has given hope to many who feel lost or alone and is a source of hope and not superstition.

Robert V. Rodriguez is the public relations and outreach assistant at Pilgrim Center of Hope. He writes about the Catholic faith for TV, radio, blogs, print and social media.

Church of St. Anne – Birthplace of the Virgin Mary

Are you ready to explore the Christian pilgrimage experience in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Apostles and the Saints?

This week’s Journey of Hope takes us to the Church of St. Anne in Jerusalem in the Holy Land. Your tour guides are Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox, both with over 25 years of experience in leading groups of pilgrims.

Travel within the ancient walls of Jerusalem, near the Temple Mount, between the Lions Gate the Antonian Fortress where Jesus was judged by Pontius Pilate. Find out about the history of the current Church. Learn more about Mary’s life and meet her parents Joachim and Anne.

Also discussed will be the architecture of the Church and what makes it so unique….explore the two levels of the Church as well as the area surrounding the Church, which includes the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus cured the paralytic.

Jewel for the Journey:

“Happy is he who lives and dies under the protection of the Blessed Virgin.”  St. John Vianney

 

Spa for A Woman’s Soul

Hear from dynamic speakers who share their messages of hope.

The following served as a preview of  the 2018 annual Catholic Women’s Conference (CWC). Nan Balfour, events coordinator at Pilgrim Center of Hope (PCH) spoke with two of the featured speakers at this year’s conference:

  • Award-winning Catholic author Colleen C. Mitchell, whose speaking topics were When We Were Eve, Uncovering the Woman God Created You to Be and Who Does he Say You Are? Women Transformed by Christ in the Gospels, the titles of her two books. Colleen will speak about how she strives to provide guidance to women who are searching for answers and seeking to find their identity in Christ.
  • Convert and surfer priest Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC – bestselling author of Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon, whose life was changed forever after reading about Our Lady of Medjugorje. He spoke on Mary and the Mystery of Femininity and The Rosary: Spiritual Sword of Mary. Fr. Calloway says women have much to learn from the Virgin Mary. Father’s talk helped women to better understand their femininity with a focus on family-life, the workplace, and all other relationships.

This program will also touch on how CWC as a ‘Spa for the Soul,’ strives to provide women with the spiritual tools that teach, encourage, and challenge women to be exactly who God created them to be.

LISTEN HERE!

 

The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Alphonse Ratisbonne was a French Jew who was miraculously converted while at Rome in the Church of San Andrea della Frate. His brother had previously converted and become a Catholic priest, but Alphonse hated the Catholic church and vowed never to enter.

This is the story of the power of prayer and a miracle of grace. It is a powerful, delightful, and consoling story that every apostolic Catholic should know.

This is how Ratisbonne related his experience in the church that cold day in January of 1842. “All I can say is that the moment when the Blessed Virgin made a sign with her hand, the veil fell from my eyes; not one veil only, but all the veils which were wrapped around me disappeared, just as snow melts beneath the rays of the sun. I am asked how I attained a knowledge of these truths, since it is well known that I never opened a religious book, had never read a page of the Bible, and that the dogma of original sin, which is either denied or utterly forgotten by the modern Jews, had never for a single moment occupied my thoughts indeed, I doubt whether I had ever heard the words which express it. How, then, did I arrive at a knowledge of it? I know not. All that I know is that when I entered that church I was profoundly ignorant of everything, and that when I came out I saw everything clearly and distinctly.”

Baron de Bussieres states, “We have given in this volume a literal translation of the original accounts of the conversion of M. Alphonse Ratisbonne along with many other letters and documents relating to the miraculous conversion.”

(Source)

Purchase this book at your local Catholic bookstore or online. Don’t forget – if you shop on Amazon, make sure to start at Smile.Amazon.com and request that Pilgrim Center of Hope receive a portion of your purchase at no cost to you. Thank you for your much-needed support of this ministry.

Mary’s Gifts from Heaven

How often do we think of receiving a gift directly from Mary, the Mother of God?

Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox share Mary’s gifts from Heaven; how we obtained the Brown Scapular from Mary and about Our Lady of the Pillar. These gifts will remind us of the assurance of Mary’s maternal love for us.

The Miraculous Medal

You’ve probably seen the Miraculous Medal on a necklace or bracelet before, with Mary standing on a cloud, grace-filled light pouring from her hands. But do you know the history behind it?

Deacon Tom and Mary Jane talk about how this popular devotion started and spread throughout the world.

Listen here:

Related: Check out pictures from the Pilgrim Center of Hope’s 2011 Marian Pilgrimage, including the beautiful chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, which holds the incorrupt body St. Catherine Laboure!

MM-ApparitionChapel-Rue-du-Bac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miraculous Medal Pamphlet — a short and informative document on the Miraculous Medal, created by Pilgrim Center of Hope.

The Central Association of the Miraculous Medal — a prayer family and resource hub for those interested in the Miraculous Medal.

 

The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Liguori

This classic devotional work testifies to St. Alphonsus Liguori’s love of Mary and is a treasury of Marian stories and teachings. In a fittingly scholastic style, he develops and extols the many virtues of devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

The Glories of Mary is divided into two parts. In Part I, Saint Alphonsus provides a phrase-by-phrase examination of the Marian hymn “Hail Holy Queen”. Part II contains meditations on various Marian themes, including her major feasts, her seven sorrows, her virtues, and practices of devotion in her honor.

(Source)

Purchase this book at your local Catholic bookstore or online. Don’t forget – if you shop on Amazon, make sure to start at Smile.Amazon.com and request that Pilgrim Center of Hope receive a portion of your purchase at no cost to you. Thank you for your much-needed support of this ministry.

Holy Land Rosary - Meditations on the Gospel Prayer by Deacon Tom Fox

Holy Land Rosary Booklet by Deacon Tom Fox

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Deacon Tom Fox has written a Holy Land Rosary booklet which is available from Pilgrim Center of Hope.  This 80-page booklet includes meditations written by him, photos of the Holy Land, the history and explanation of the Rosary. The Rosary Booklet price is $9.95; all proceeds support this evangelization ministry.  Call us now for your order at 210-521-3377.

Mary Knows the Way

Why do Catholics make such a big deal out of Mary if she’s only mentioned in the Bible a few times?

It may seem like Mary only appears in the Bible a handful of times, but if you go looking for her, you may be surprised to see her all throughout scripture!

But first, there is need to understand how Christians have historically read the Bible, particularly the practical of typology, which in Christian theology is the practice of seeing predictive events, persons or statements in the Old Testament that would be fulfilled in the New Testament.

St. Paul gives us an example when he calls Adam a type of Christ: “But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come,” (Rom. 5:14). Just as sin and death entered into humanity through Adam, so grace and life restored humanity through Christ.

The early Christians also saw a parallel between Eve and Mary. The Church Father, St. Iranaeus (d. 202), explains, “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. The knot of which the virgin Eve tied by her unbelief, the Virgin Mary opened by her belief.”

Want to learn more?

Mary Jane and Deacon Tom Fox discussed Mary – her life, her love for Jesus, and her role in the Church.

Related resource:

Mary Undoer of Knots Website