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Do I See Myself as God’s Good Creation?

Once as I was enjoying the outdoors, I noticed a tree. From what I could tell, no human hands have ever touched this tree; it is just growing as it is created to be. An amazing revelation came to me… this tree looks exactly as God wants it to!

I asked God, “So, Lord, you want this tree to have gray thickly lined bark with knobs growing on the side?” Though I did not hear a response, the answer was obvious for it would not be, if God did not create it.

I wondered, if this is true about a tree, it is true about all of God’s creation. It means God wants trees and plants in many different color greens. He wants both flowers and grasses, and he wants them in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. He wants bunnies with soft ears. He wants dandelions with scratchy pointed leaves. He wants melodious songbirds and he wants buzzing mosquitos. For if he didn’t, they wouldn’t be.

I realize that if it is true about all of God’s creation, it is also true about me, and it is true about you, for we are all his creation.

Uniquely God’s

During a recent frustration, I decided to take our Lord at his words to St. Faustina from her Divine Mercy diary, “My daughter…why do you not tell me about everything that concerns you, even the smallest details?” The small detail is my changing post-menopausal body of which I am none too pleased.

“Lord,” I complained, “Where did this belly come from?  I work out, I eat healthy, I keep portions low and sweets to a minimum and yet it will not go away!”  What I heard astonished me, “Who told you that you are supposed to have a flat stomach?”

This response gave me great pause and caused me to ponder, ‘If God creates trees and plants and animals and insects with such variety, and if everything he makes is good (cf. Genesis 1:31), why are we spending so much effort trying to look differently than how we have been made? Are we not also created good?’

The Word of God testifies to our uniqueness:

How varied are your works, Lord!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures (Psalm 104:24)

Do you see yourself as God’s good creation?

True Diversity

If we are conceived, it is because God has willed us to be. How we come into the world, male or female (cf. Genesis 5:2), is how God wants us to grow. But it is more than that.

He creates not only our physical attributes, but also our personalities, our emotions and our intellect. He made some of us analytical and lovers of numbers and others, like me, quite the opposite. He made some of us to prefer sports to books and some of us to love them both. He creates us extroverts, who are energized through others, and introverts who require solitude instead.

The Church testifies to Truth that humanity is united in God’s good creation:

For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them (Ephesians 2:10).

The world speaks diversity, yet it is often just talk. It wants us all to look the same, act the same, and believe the same based on what the culture determines is beautiful and valuable. It is the culture, through the mass media, that told me my stomach is supposed to be flat!  It is God, who prefers working into infinite combinations from the same earthly matter his creation, both united and unique.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI writes how we can live this life of goodness we are created to be,

And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is.

Pilgrim Center of Hope exists to guide people to God. At our annual Catholic Women’s and Men’s Conferences, we provide speakers who teach, inspire, and challenge us in living out who we are created to be as men and women. We offer opportunities to encounter Jesus Christ through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Sacrament of Reconciliation and Eucharistic Adoration.

God is here… come see!


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.

Do I Know the Holy Spirit?

The Forgotten Person

Other than when you make the sign of the Cross or pray the Apostles’ Creed, how often do you mention or talk to the Holy Spirit?

If you said, not very often… well, you are not alone. The vast majority of Christians do not have an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. For me, that relationship didn’t really take shape until I was in my 40s.

Since that time, I have had more epiphanies or eureka moments, where all of a sudden a light goes on and something or everything makes sense. I have learned to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and also take every major decision in my life to prayer that involves going to the Holy Spirit to discern and discover what God wants me to do. What will be most pleasing to God?

St. Josemaria Escrivá had a special devotion to the Holy Spirit, because according to Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, St. Josemaria felt that the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity was not known, had been forgotten, and was neglected.

Embracing the Spirit

As we prepare to celebrate Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and our Mother Mary (this coming Sunday), now is the perfect time to embrace the Holy Spirit and grow in relationship to him.

Our peace truly lies in the promise of Christ, which is the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us; a gift which as Catholics, we received together with the Father and the Son at our Baptism. Know, too, that the Sacrament of Confirmation intensifies that presence.

It’s not too late to join in a novena to the Holy Spirit (which began on Ascension Thursday this past week), or perhaps you can learn and recite St. Josemaria’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit:

Come, O Holy Spirit: enlighten my understanding to know your commands: strengthen my heart against the wiles of the enemy; inflame my will…

I have heard your voice and I don’t want to Harden my heart by resisting, by saying: later…tomorrow.

Nunc corps! Now! Lest there be no tomorrow for me! O, Spirit of truth and wisdom, Spirit of understanding and counsel, Spirit of joy and peace! I want what you want, I want it because you want it, I want it as you want it, I want it when you want it. Amen 

When we receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts, he will help us and guide us to the truth. It is the Holy Spirit that helps us to know ourselves better, which strengthens our hearts and open our eyes. With the Holy Spirit you can do all things in Christ. Life without the Holy Spirit leaves us wandering in the dessert.

I encourage you to go the Catechism of the Catholic Church and look up numbers:

  • 697 – Symbols of the Holy Spirit
  • 1848 – the Consoler
  • 2671 – Come, Holy Spirit

Stronger with the Spirit

It was only after the Apostles received the Holy Spirit that they were able to leave the sanctuary of the Upper Room and go out into the world to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, without any fear of torture or death. We can rejoice in knowing that at Pentecost, the Paschal Mystery was completed and fulfilled. Pentecost is considered the birth of the Church.

Even if we may enjoy a relationship with Jesus Christ, he is always calling us closer and deeper into intimacy with himself and his Holy Spirit.

I leave you with the words of St. John of Avila, who said about devotion to the Holy Spirit:

However sad a soul may be, he (the Holy Spirit) is sufficient to console it. However worthless, he can make it valuable. However lukewarm, he can put fire into it. However weak, he can strengthen it. However lacking in prayerfulness, he can aflame it with ardent devotion.


Robert V. Rodriguez is Public Relations & Outreach Assistant for Pilgrim Center of Hope. He combines a passion for the Catholic faith together with years of professional experience as a TV news journalist, video producer, and PR/marketing specialist. Robert also serves as Chairman for our annual “Master, I Want to See” Catholic Men’s Conference.

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.

Gethsemane & The Agony in the Garden

Travel along with Mary Jane Fox & Ed Batis to the foot of the Mount of Olives and discover the Garden of Gethsemane. Such a place still exists, the place where Jesus, Son of God spent time.

This program will address these four points:

  • The significance of the Garden of Gethsemane
  • Why was this a place of rest for Jesus and His Apostles?
  • What does it mean to watch and pray?
  • How can we draw strength from our Lord’s suffering?

Jewel for the Journey:
The first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner he wills it; and thirdly to do it because it is his will.
– Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

Listen to this program now:

Visit PilgrimCenterofHope.org for more information.

What Are You Looking For?

Whether we realize it or not, that is a question that stirs in the heart of every one of us. The dilemma is that many people don’t know what they are looking for or how to bring meaning to their life.

Join Mary Jane Fox for steps to direct your search, which involve growing spiritually and in relationship to Jesus.

Message of Hope
When we draw near to Jesus, we too see once more the light which enables us to look to the future with confidence. We find anew the strength and the courage to set out on the way. – Pope Francis, Liturgy at St. Peter’s, 3-5-16

Visit PilgrimCenterofHope.org/Living for more information.

Securing Our Future

Why are so many young Catholics leaving the Faith? Who are the injured, the drifters, and the dissenters?

Join Fr. Ed Hauf, OMI for a thought-provoking discussion on how to best minister to our youth and young adults in today’s society. This topic is of upmost importance  for the Church, both locally and around the world, namely the vital task we all have of helping to secure the future of the Church by making sure we are ministering to and meeting the needs of the next generation.

Special guest will be Daniel Oubre, the Associate Director of the Office for Parish Life in the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

Church leaders have recognized the importance of listening to and meeting the needs of young adults as they grow up in this totally secular culture. Pope Francis has called upon the leaders of those immersed in youth ministry to initiate a true and honest dialogue to bring Christ into the lives of our youth.

Fr. Ed and Mr. Oubre will share some recent data from the Pew Research Center that shows that the number of young Americans who are no longer religiously affiliated has increased dramatically in recent years. Seventy-four-percent of the sample population of this study said they left the faith between the ages of 10 and 20. It seems from the study that this disaffiliation from the Church is largely a thoughtful, conscious, intentional choice made by young people in a secularized society where faith and religious practice are seen as one option among many.

LISTEN HERE!

7 Habits of Highly Effective Catholics

Trying to live our Catholic faith on a daily basis is a challenge in the best of circumstances: to be truly holy, unselfish, loving and forgiving… everything that our culture is not. So, how do we succeed?

Join Father Ed Hauf, OMI, and special guest Dan Duet, lay evangelist and music minister – who will share from experience traveling around the country about the habits of highly effective Catholics. Don’t miss this very practical episode!

Catholicism Live! was a weekly program produced by Pilgrim Center of Hope from the early 2000s until 2019.

Why Be Catholic?

GK Chesterton famously said, “The difficulty of explaining ‘why I am a Catholic’ is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.” Mary Jane and Deacon Tom Fox talk about some of the best reasons for calling the Catholic Church home.

AUDIO

VIDEO

 

Prayer for the Intercession of Saint André

Lord, you have chosen Brother André to spread devotion to Saint Joseph, and to dedicate himself to all those who are poor and afflicted.

Grant through his intercession the favor that we now request (state your intention).

Grant us the grace to imitate his piety and charity, so that, with him, we may share the reward promised to all who care for their neighbors out of love for you. We make this prayer in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.

Having Virtuous Friendships & Relationships

As we countdown to a previous Catholic Women’s Conference, Mary Jane Fox and Jessica Rendon connected with Sarah Swafford, one of the guest speakers.

Listen as they discuss virtuous relationships – both friendship & romantic – in today’s world.

Catholicism Live! was a weekly program produced by Pilgrim Center of Hope from the early 2000s until 2019.

Related

Read the Letter to Women by Pope John Paul II.
Read Mulieris Dignitatem: Apostolic Letter on the Dignity & Vocation of Women by Pope John Paul II.

The Prosperity Gospel and Christian Unity

Are you a victim of popular “Prosperity Gospel” teachings? Does God really bless us financially if we’re obedient? What does our Catholic faith teach about this?

Leticia Adams joins Greg Camacho to talk about the Prosperity Gospel: how it distracts us from knowing Christ and subverts the life that Christ desires for His people.

Leticia Adams is a Catholic woman, wife and mother living in Round Rock, Texas, a self-described “hot mess convert” with a wonderfully unique voice in Catholic media.

Finding God’s Will For You by St. Francis de Sales

If your life seems to make no sense, or if you don’t know which path to take, St. Francis de Sales will console and inform you. In this warm little book, he explains to you what God’s will is and how He reveals it yes, even to you, and even in the seemingly random events of your life.

No matter what you’re going through now (or may have gone through), you’ll see why you should love and trust in God’s will and long for its fulfillment. Best of all, you’ll learn a sure method for discovering God’s will in any situation today!

As you begin to discern God’s loving hand even in seemingly chaotic events, St. Francis de Sales will lead your mind and your heart to the still waters of God’s gentle consolation.

From St. Francis de Sales you’ll learn:

  • Four signs that your heart conforms to God’s will does yours
  • How to accept God’s will even when it seems terrifying and painful
  • Sacred inspirations: not just for the prophets. The many ways God may be knocking on your door — now!
  • Changing your life’s direction: how to spot and avoid all-too-common dangers
  • The simple rule of charity: how it can help you make vital decisions
  • Are you as mature in the virtues as God wills you to be?
  • How to distinguish zeal for God’s will from selfish arrogance
  • Three ways you can recognize a thought or sentiment that comes from God
  • The key ingredient that makes all your actions pleasing to God: can you name it?
  • Making decisions: practical advice to help you distinguish between times when you should move slowly and carefully, and when you should act quickly, without undue time for deliberation

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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.