Tag Archive for: Church

Venice – Basilica of St. Mark

Join Angela Sealana and Debbie Garza – a pilgrimage group leader for Pilgrim Center of Hope – as they spiritually travel Venice, Italy, and the Basilica of St. Mark. The Basilica today is really considered to be a combination of Roman, Byzantine, and Venetian culture. It is built in the shape of a Greek cross. Angela and Debbie also speak about St. Mark the Evangelist whose feast day is April 25th.

During this program:

  • Learn about St. Mark the Evangelist. Who was he?
  • Discover the religious and historical significance of a city like Venice having a Patron Saint, especially in those times.
  • Take a dive into the various elements of the holy site.

Listen to this program now:

Jewel for the Journey:

“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1).  

A Closer Look at the Basilica of St. Mark:

Where is the Basilica of St. Mark?

Mount of Beatitudes

This week’s virtual pilgrimage with Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox takes us to the Mount of Beatitudes!  During our time together, our Hosts discuss the following:

  • What does the inside of this beautiful church look like?
  • What is symbolic about the area surrounding the church?
  • What did Pope Francis mean when he said called the Beatitudes, the Christian ID Card?
  • Much more!

Jewel for the Journey

“The Sermon on the Mount is addressed to the entire world, the entire present and future and yet it demands discipleship and can be understood and lived out only by following Jesus and accompanying him on his journey.” – Excerpt from  Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI book,  Jesus of Nazareth

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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:

Preparing for Mass: What are You Wearing?

In the Gospel of Matthew, (22:2,9-14) Jesus tells His disciples:

The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. […] Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen,” Mat 22:2, 9-14).

This parable has always concerned me because the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has been understood for centuries to be likened to a wedding feast. I wonder why this man being ill-dressed warranted his being booted from the festivities. Doesn’t God love us the way we are?

More personally, I worry:

“Am I wrong when I wear my workout clothes to Mass since I am going directly to the gym afterward?”

It’s More Than Just Our Attire

In much prayer and pondering, I see that it includes, but goes much deeper than what type of attire is appropriate for Mass participation. It has to do with this understanding of the Mass as a wedding feast . . . . more importantly our wedding feast!

Our Catholic faith professes that when a man and a woman marry, they become one flesh. This is the same as what happens when we participate at Mass and receive the Eucharist. At the Celebration of Mass, Jesus gives us His Life as Bridegroom. We (the Church) receive His Life as Bride.  At Communion, Jesus joins His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity with our body, heart, mind, and soul. We become one flesh.

This awesome reality does not mean we have to dress up in a tuxedo or gown for Mass, nor does it mean that exercise clothes and work uniforms are always inappropriate. What it does mean is that we need to properly dress our bodies, souls, hearts, and minds for the celebration. This is a big deal. It is not okay to just show up unprepared.  Jesus tells us it warrants being spiritually cast out of His Divine Life.

Connecting The Dots

The Book of Revelation (19:7-8) images how we are to come to Mass:

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory. For the wedding day of the Lamb has come, his bride has made herself ready. She was allowed to wear a bright, clean linen garment.

How do we make ourselves ready for Mass?

  • We dress our body in clothes that show respect and reverence for God’s Son, given to us.
  • We come in a soul made clean and in a state of grace, free from mortal sin.
  • We open our heart to receive the Word of God.
  • We focus our mind in attentiveness.
  • We wear an attitude of prayer and gratitude

As we journey to the celebration of Christmas Mass commemorating our Lord’s incarnation, let us make Advent the time of preparation it is supposed to be. Do not rush to the feast without properly preparing yourself for the banquet.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Prepare your heart in daily Scripture reading and prayer. If you don’t know where to begin, start with the daily Mass readings easily accessed on-line or in printed devotionals.
  • Prepare your minds through spiritual formation. Many great teachings can be found on what actually is happening at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Once you understand this awesome reality, it is easy to pay attention and participate.
  • Prepare your soul through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Allow God to clean you from the stain of sin and dress you in the white, bright garment of His Divine Mercy.
  • Wear clothes to Mass (and always) that show respect for a God who chose to become flesh.
  • Live in an attitude of gratitude and joy for soon . . . the bridegroom comes . . . our King is born!

If you need help preparing this Advent, or any time, please contact us at Pilgrim Center of Hope. Let us journey with you!

Even in this time of COVID-19 protocols, many Catholic Churches make Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament available for her faithful. Contact your local parish for days/times.  At Pilgrim Center of Hope, you are welcome to visit our Gethsemane Chapel and spend time with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The chapel is open as the Center is open, usually Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5:30pm. Visit PilgrimCenterofHope.org or contact us at 210-521-3377.

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.

St. Mary’s Cathedral – Sydney, Australia

Take a spiritual journey with us ‘Down Under’ to historic St. Mary’s Cathedral of Sydney, Australia. Located near the city’s beautiful Hyde Park, this grand church—rich in symbolism and spirituality—is where Pope Benedict XVI began the Stations of the Cross during World Youth Day 2008.

Angela Sealana was there, just a few yards from the pope. Join us to hear about that experience, plus…

  • Learn about the Catholic and Australian symbols in the cathedral’s art & architecture
  • Gain encouragement from the courageous story of St. Mary of the Cross MacKillop, who lived in Sydney
  • Find hope & strength for your own daily life

Listen to this program now:

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?


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.”

Renewal of Baptismal Promises

Dear brothers and sisters,
through the paschal mystery
we have been buried with Christ in baptism,
so that we may walk with him in newness of life.
And so, let us renew the promises of Holy Baptism,
by which we once renounced Satan and his works
and promised to serve God in the holy Catholic Church.
And so I ask you:

Do you renounce sin,
so as to live in the freedom of the children of God?

I do.

Do you reject the lure of evil,
so that sin my have no mastery over you?
I do.

Do you reject Satan,
the author and prince of sin?
I do.

Do you believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth?
I do.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ,
his only Son, our Lord,
who was born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered death and was buried,
rose again from the dead,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
I do.

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting?

I do.

And may almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
who has given us new birth
by water and the Holy Spirit,
and bestowed on us forgiveness of our sins,
keep us by his grace,
in Christ Jesus our Lord,
for eternal life.

(C) Text of the Renewal of Baptismal Promises from the New Roman Missal, 3rd Edition.

Making a Journey of Hope to a Cemetery

How can we make our next trip to a cemetery a journey of hope? Join Deacon Tom & Mary Jane Fox for this encouraging & enlightening conversation on this truest sense of “journey of hope.”

During this program, learn:

  • What happens during a Catholic burial?
  • When visiting the grave sites of loved ones, what is good for my family & I do?
  • What is the purpose & origin of All Souls Day?
  • How can we have hope today amidst so much suffering & loss?

Closing Prayer

This is a prayer asking St. Joseph’s intercession for a holy death. He is the patron saint of the dying.

Begin with +Sign of the Cross

O glorious St. Joseph, behold I choose thee today for my special patron in life and at the hour of my death. Preserve and increase in me the spirit of prayer and fervor in the service of God. Remove far from me every kind of sin; obtain for me that my death may not come upon me unawares, but that I may have time to confess my sins sacramentally and to bewail them with a most perfect understanding and a most sincere and perfect contrition, in order that I may breathe forth my soul into the hands of Jesus and Mary. Amen.

Benefits of Morning Prayer | Journey with Jesus

Importance of Tradition | Journey with Jesus