Posts

Advent: Keep Watch, He Is To Come Again

This wonderful season can so easily escape us as we focus only on Christmas. For this show, Fr. Ed Hauf welcomes Dan Duet. Tune-in as they explore the real value of Advent and help us delve into its richness more fully.

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

A Path to Interior Freedom

What do you think of when you hear the word commandment? Does that bring forth a negative thought? Is it an imposition on your freedom? I’ll bet many of you have had the experience of telling a young child “no”. You probably didn’t get the response you wanted without a little extra persuasion. Of course, your “no” was a gesture of love, wanting to protect the child from some danger.

God’s commandments are like that for us. God created us out of love and wants to protect us from things that threaten our wellbeing and the wellbeing of others. We are inclined to desire things that we believe will provide us with pleasure or selfish comforts that can be harmful to ourselves and others. In addition to this, we have an enemy called Satan who tries to convince us that what we know to be wrong is actually okay. In the beginning, he is not so successful because our conscience is still able to help us avoid doing that which we know is wrong. However, the enemy doesn’t give up. He knows our weaknesses and will tempt us in little things where we think the comprise of our conscience is not so serious. He has set the trap. This compromise will lead to more serious sin. Left unchecked, this pattern can cause us to feel distant from God and lead to a feeling of hopelessness.

He Created Us Out of Love

Of course, God is the solution to this dilemma. He created us out of love, and it is his love that sustains us. He knows our weaknesses and the enemy who wants to destroy us. God commands us to love him because it is only in our love for him and his love for us that we are able to experience true and lasting happiness. God is the source of all love and everything that is good; and the only way we can reach our potential for loving others and ourselves is by loving God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all mind.

Jesus says, “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me, and, whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” John 14:21. It’s not complicated. If we want to know and experience the love and mercy of God, and the happiness, peace, and hope that are part of a relationship with Him; we must keep the commandments.

A Perfect Love

Because God loves us with a perfect love, he has made it possible for us to remain in his love through the Church and her sacraments and by remaining connected to him in our daily prayer. The more we pray and frequent the sacraments, the more aware we are of the nearness of God and his plan for our happiness. This does not mean we will not experience challenges and trials. It does mean that when trials come our way, we will turn to God for strength and direction because of the relationship with him.

One proof of God’s love for us is the Holy Eucharist. Jesus loves us so much that he gives himself to us under the appearance of bread. When we receive Holy Communion, we receive God. This is no casual experience. We should be properly prepared and disposed to receive our Lord. The sacrament of reconciliation is a personal encounter with Jesus who extends his forgiveness and mercy to us through his priest. This sacrament helps us to break free from habitual sin and make progress in our spiritual life.

Live a Life Close to God

As with all the saints through the ages, we have available to us everything we need to live a life close to God that will guarantee our happiness now and forever. We also must expect that we will experience the cross during our journey on earth. Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to be my disciple must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34. It is especially when we undergo trials that we realize we need the help that only God can give us. It doesn’t mean that, just because we pray, things will always be fixed as we hope. It does mean that, when we preserve in prayer, we will come to trust that God is giving us what we need for the benefit of our soul and the souls of the people we are praying for.

When we have total trust in God we will be freed. It’s a process that depends upon our prayer and God’s grace.


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.

Is There a Witness to the Resurrection?

After our Lord rose from the dead, there were certainly witnesses to his resurrection. There was St. Mary Magdalene, the first witness, (Mark 16:9), then two of his disciples on the way to Damascus, (Mark 16:12), his apostles (Mark 16:14), and later to up to 500 (1 Corinthians 15:6) at once.

But not one was with him when he resurrected. Why is that?

The obvious reason is that it happened inside his tomb where only he lay. Yet it remains a wonder; considering how, in all the other ways God revealed Himself through His Son, He ensured there were witnesses:

  • At his conception (Luke 1:31)
  • At his birth (Luke 2:16)
  • At his baptism (Luke 3:21-22)
  • At his transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-2)
  • At the institution of the Eucharist (Luke 22:19-20)
  • At his Passion and death (Luke 23)

One would think that at the very moment our Lord makes good on his promise of his resurrection (John 2:19), he would make sure someone was there to see it!

Why wasn’t there?

Only God can answer that, but it is worth contemplating, since it was Jesus himself who asked,

I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:35-26).

Do you believe this?

Imagine you are there with Jesus in his Tomb. You are kneeling next to his body. He lays motionless, shrouded from head to foot in white linen. You hear a rumbling, and look to see a large stone being moved over the entrance—sealing you alone with Jesus.

The darkness is soon replaced by a small glow—because the tradition of the Church accords a lamp is to be kept alight to indicate and honor the presence of the body of Christ. Where is this light coming from?

You feel warm and realize the light is coming from you. It is your baptismal light; the fire of the Holy Spirit witnessing to the presence of Christ.

The Holy Spirit enlightens your soul with what will one day be proclaimed by the Church. We read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 635) the following, taken from an ancient homily for Holy Saturday:

Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began . . . He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam and his bonds and Eve, captive with him-He who is both their God and the son of Eve . . . “I am your God, who for your sake have become your son . . . I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell, Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.”

Jesus rises, resurrecting before you. His burial cloths replaced by radiant light pouring from the wounds in his hands, his feet, and his side; all his other wounds are healed. He lovingly looks at you and asks, “What is dead in you that needs new life?”

You show the Lord your wounds. You tell him what hurts. As you do, your ugly, painful wounds transform, becoming rivers of light. You are new life in Jesus!

******

Let your imagination bring you into the present… Wonder at the likeness between the white linen-shrouded body of Jesus sealed in the Tomb and the white bread-shrouded Eucharistic Jesus kept in your parish’s tabernacle. Have you ever seen the edifice that has been built over the Tomb of Christ in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem? It resembles a larger brass tabernacle, complete with lighted lamps!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1374) states,

In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist, “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really and substantially contained.”

Do you believe?

Scripture tells us that after his Resurrection, Jesus easily walked through locked doors in his glorified Body (John 20:19 & 26). This means he can easily walk through the locked door of the tabernacle in your local church right into your barricaded, stony, hurting heart! Every time you come into the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, he is there lovingly looking at you and asking, “What is dead in you that needs new life?”

Perhaps God did not will a witness to his Son’s resurrection in the tomb because He has reserved it as an intimate encounter between Jesus Christ and every soul.

Jesus awaits you in the Eucharist. He wants to heal you, transform you and bring you to fullness of life!

Believe!


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.

Renewal of Baptismal Promises

Leader:
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.

Leader:
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.
Amen.


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

Re-Focusing Our Lives

If you had a message of great importance that you wanted the whole world to know about, who would you choose to deliver it? In Scripture, it is clear that God’s ways are not our ways.

How God Confounds Our Logic

God can choose whoever he wants to accomplish the things he wishes to accomplish, as we see when Moses complains to God that the mission of guiding his Chosen People has become too great of a burden for him. So, God shares the spirit that he has given to Moses with 70 others, even those who were not in the prescribed place. Though this confused Joshua, Moses was given the wisdom to recognize that this was the work of God. The Spirit of God is more important than the instrument he chooses.

A more current example is Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes, France. This thirteen year old girl, who lived in poverty with her family, was of poor health, and had difficulty with her studies in school. Yet, she was entrusted with a message from Heaven. When we were in Lourdes a few years ago, a bishop was celebrating Mass near the Grotto, and during his homily he said, “If you wanted to give a message to the whole world who would you choose; someone of great importance from a large city? Our Lord chose Bernadette, a simple girl from a tiny village.” Through the ages, God has chosen people of little significance to be his instruments. His ways our not our ways. There are some who still reject the Blessed Mother as a messenger of God, in spite of the miracles connected to her apparitions – thinking that the works of God are confined to their own understanding. Sometimes, we also can be like that.

In the Gospel; John, the apostle closest to Jesus, has just tried to stop someone from driving out demons in Jesus’ name, because the exorcist was not an apparent follower of Jesus. Jesus chastises him, and tells him, “For whoever is not against us is for us.” What is important is why and how things are done. If they are done out of love of God and neighbor, we should be cautious about rendering judgment. It is not always obvious why people do certain things.

How to Re-Focus

Our focus must be on why we do what we do. God has revealed his plan to us through the Scriptures and the Church…

  • We know that through baptism, we become children of God and receive the gifts of Faith, Hope, and Charity, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • We know that we can encounter Christ in a deep and personal way in the sacraments of the Church, which are the source of the grace that we need to live a life close to God in prayer and to discover his plan for us.
  • We know that God wants us to be holy, and has made it possible for us to be holy if we are faithful to what he has revealed to us, and this faithfulness will help us reach our potential for happiness in this life and for all eternity.
  • We can be certain that this plan is true, because it has been discovered and lived by saints through the ages, who have been heroic witnesses of the love of God.
  • There are consequences for us when we do not live this plan. Jesus said that if we live for our self, we will lose our life; and not only our life, because we will give scandal to others. We must remove everything that is an obstacle to salvation.

There is no one on this earth more blessed than Catholics because we know that God has given us every possible means to live a life close to him! We have his Divine Word, the Scriptures; we have his Church to guide us and strengthen us with the Sacraments. We have the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints to intercede for us. We especially have the Holy Eucharist in which Jesus gives us himself – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity; because he loves us that much. Why would the whole world not want to be Catholic and have what we have?

About 30 years ago, someone asked me why I was Catholic. I was glad to be Catholic, and knew I would never want to be anything but a Catholic. I went to Mass every Sunday and to confession occasionally, but I realized at that time that I never really gave much thought to the importance of my faith. Actually, I hadn’t learned anything about my faith since graduating from a Catholic high school. At that moment, I knew that I wasn’t really sure of what I believed. As I pondered that for a few days, I realized that I had let the importance of my faith fade. I had become a “one-hour-a-week Catholic,” and my decisions were not influenced by my faith at all.

Thank God for the wake-up call. It was not long after that, that I bought my first Bible and joined a prayer group with my wife, Mary Jane. We began to pray together and study our faith, and a new joy came into our lives. I guess you could say that was the beginning of the rest of our life together, and opened up new possibilities. Now, our important decisions are influenced by our relationship with God, and we have great hope.

I challenge you now to pray the Creed, and while doing so, reflect on the words we say. Ask the Holy Spirit to stir our hearts with gratitude for being recipients of Almighty God’s great plan of salvation and the intimacy he offers us in his Church. Let us pray, then, for the grace to be witnesses of what we believe.

If you would like more help and simple tools for re-focusing your life in Christ, we invite you to subscribe to Pilgrim Center of Hope’s monthly newsletter; visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.


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.

Death & Divine Mercy

What happens when I die?

It’s a common question, often frightening or mysterious to think about.

Angela Santana hosted Fr. Moses of Jesus Pillari, formerly of the Mission of Divine Mercy religious community based in New Braunfels, for a candid discussion on ‘the last things,’ God’s mercy, and the visions a certain saint received of heaven, hell, and purgatory.

We pray it will give you faith, courage, and renewed hope.

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

Related

 

 

Freedom from Demonic Influence In Our Lives

During the autumn season, we hear more about – and even see celebrated – witchcraft, the occult, and other dark practices.

Join host Father Ed Hauf, OMI, and his guest, Sandra Rodriguez, a prayer group member who together with Father Ed, have experience praying for persons to be healed from demonic influence. Hear their discussion of these issues, and the importance of freedom in Christ.

 

Prayers from Fr. Ed Hauf, OMI

Spiritual Warfare Prayer 

Heavenly Father, I bow in worship and prayer before You. I worship You, and I give You praise. I recognize that You are worthy to receive all glory and honor and praise. I cover myself with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ as our protection during this time of prayer. I surrender myself completely and unreservedly in every area of my life to You. I take my stand against all the workings of Satan that would hinder me in this time of prayer.

Father, because of the victory won for us on the cross, I declare that all principalities and powers and all evil spirits are subject to me in the powerful name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I command all demonic forces to leave my presence. I am thankful for the armor You have provided, and I choose to put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of peace, and the helmet of salvation. I lift up the shield of faith against all the fiery darts of the Enemy and take in my hand the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and use Your Word against all the forces of evil in my life. I reject out of my life all the insinuations, the accusations, and the temptations of Satan. I put on this armor and live in complete dependence upon You. Heavenly Father, I choose to live in obedience to You and in fellowship with You. Open my eyes and show me the areas of my life that don’t please You. Give me the courage to deal with those areas. Work in my life that there be no ground to give Satan a foothold against me. Show me any area of weakness. By faith and in dependence upon You, I choose to resist my old nature and to submit to my new nature. I stand today in all the victory of the resurrection and the provision You have made for me to live above sin. I resist the old nature with its selfishness, and I submit to the new nature with its love. I resist the old nature with its fear, and I submit to the new nature with its courage. I resist the old nature with its weakness, and I submit to the new nature with its strength. I resist the old nature with its deceitful lusts, and submit to the new nature with its righteousness and purity.

I affirm that You have not given me a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind. I give my emotions to You. I give my will to You, and I choose to make the right decisions of faith. I give my body to You, and I rejoice in Your mercy and goodness.

Father, I pray that You would show me the way Satan is hindering and tempting and lying and counterfeiting and distorting the truth in my life. Enable me to be the kind of person that would please You and to give You Your rightful place in my life. I yield my life to You and I refuse to be discouraged. You are the God of all hope. I claim in every way Your victory over all satanic forces active in my life, and I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

“Soul-Ties”

Here are some examples of situations that could create bad soul-ties:
* Sexual sin: Sex unites people physically, emotionally and spiritually. If we have sex with people other than our spouse in a sacramental marriage, we create soul ties that cause all kinds of problems (spiritual confusion, emotional confusion, sex addiction, compulsive behaviors, habitual masturbation, pornographic addiction/obsession, etc.). This connects us with the demon of lust. Since sexual activity was created by God as the liturgy of the Sacrament of Matrimony, anyone indulging in it with someone other than his or her spouse is living a lie, and therefore is connected with the demon of deceit.
* Looking at sex images, memories, objects and fetishes: These activities can establish a soul tie with an evil spirit. An example of this is found in Hosea 4:17 when Ephraim became joined with his idols. A tie may not be established in every instance, but it is certainly possible. Example objects from sinful sexual relationships: a favorite porn depiction, a garment worn by a former lover, pictures of former lovers, a cherished sinful sexual memory.
* Sexual abuse/molestation: This can result in soul ties between the perpetrator and the victim. If you have been involved in sexual abuse, please seek healing prayer and
Christian counsel as you proceed in your journey to freedom.
* “Unhealthy” relationships: Examples include relationships characterized by manipulation, guilt, emotional abuse, co-dependency, unnatural affection, envy and/or lust, sexual relationships with someone not my spouse.

You may not have had all of these things happen to you but if you have at least had one of these items happen in your life you may need to pray this prayer.

“Father God, I thank you for saving me from destruction. I praise you for sending Jesus to die for my sins. Please forgive me for my sins against you. Specifically, I confess that I have sinned recently or in the past by (details of the sin & names of partners). I repent of that sin and renounce it now. Lord, please purify my heart from this sin, the memory of it, and any associated fantasy I have entertained in my mind regarding it. In the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of his blood shed on the cross, I cut myself free from any soul ties that may have been established with _________(name(s) of partners or specific objects). I now commit him/her/them to the care of Jesus Christ for him to do with as he wills.
Satan, I rebuke you in all your works and ways. I rebuke any evil spirits that have a foothold in me. In the name of Jesus, I command you evil spirits to leave me and go directly to Jesus Christ. Father, please heal my soul of any wounds resulting from these soul ties. Please reintegrate any part of me that may have been fragmented through this/these soul ties and restore me to wholeness. I also ask that you reintegrate all the parts of any person(s) I sinned with that have been fragmented by sinning with me, and restore them to wholeness.
I command every portion of my soul (my thoughts, my will, my emotions, my personality and mind) and heart, all of me: spirit, soul and body, that has been fragmented, torn or broken or cursed, to come back into its proper place…to be healed; every piece of my heart to be returned; my soul to be restored and every bondage and related soul-tie to be completely broken, destroyed and totally de-tached from me, in the name of Jesus! Father God, in the name of Jesus, I ask now, that You heal my heart and guard it by Your Power and Your Love, and keep my heart and mind through Christ Jesus.Make me every which way whole…in every area of my life. I desire to live in a manner that pleases You, and brings glory to Your name. Thank you, Lord, for your healing power and your perfect love for me. May I glorify you with my life from this point forward. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

What Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone Can Do for You

Our comfort zone can mean different things. It could be

  • a specific routine each day
  • minimizing activities in order to manage stress
  • or an overall state of mind in which people are in control of their environment without any anxiety.
  • ‘Comfort zone’ can also have negative aspects such as addictions that may be detrimental to our mental and physical health as well as our souls.

While this pandemic and the situation in the world has caused many people to restrict their movement, staying home more often than we would otherwise choose; this may now cause us to make our comfort zones even more comfortable!

You may be thinking by now: But what is this about? How am I to get out of my comfortable routine? Don’t rock my boat!

A Strong Act of Our Will

In conversations with friends and acquaintances these last few months, I have often heard them say: I am being creative with my time at home, my limited travels outside my home. They continue to list activities they have started to do such as a new hobby, additional prayer time, spiritual reading, researching topics, volunteering for their church during certain events such as funerals, or calling sick parishioners. In the workplace; becoming patient with those around me. These can be good examples of getting out of your comfort zone, because doing so takes an act of will.

Saint Josemaria Escriva, a priest from Spain who died in 1975, spoke extensively about sanctifying all we do, from our home life to work. He said:

As well as having given you abundant and effective grace, the Lord has given you a brain, a pair of hands and intellectual powers so that your talents may yield fruit. God wants to work miracles all the time – to raise the dead, make the deaf hear, restore sight to the blind, enable the lame to walk… through your sanctified professional work, which is both pleasing to God and useful to souls. (The Forge, 984)

The Power of Stepping Out… and of Not Doing So

Our Lord and Savior Jesus, when walking along the shores of Galilee, called out to fishermen to follow him as they were mending their fishing nets. They certainly left their comfort zone to begin a new “career,” one as a disciple to the Son of God! The fruit of stepping out of their comfort zone was not only an incredible new life for them, but for the world; they would become the foundation stones of the Catholic Church.

Stepping out of our comfort zone can do the following for us:

  • Build self-confidence
  • Discover our gifts and talents
  • Give us satisfaction of doing good.

Stepping out of our comfort zone can do the following for others:

  • Build an environment of positive action
  • Encourage others
  • Support an important cause that will bring hope

Not stepping out of comfort zone at times can stunt our intellectual and spiritual growth. It can possibly lead to lack of enthusiasm.

Take the Next Step

Yes, it does take time and effort to step out of our comfort zones. Our Lord knows who you are. Ask him for the grace to do things that you know you should do, but find difficult to do. This not only facilitates our development, it also strengthens our faith and trust in God who is the source of our accomplishments.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1: 7)


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.

Finding Joy, Faith & Hope In Any Situation

Some Context

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a treasure, and to a pearl of great price. When they are discovered, the one who finds them sells all he has to acquire them. The point is not the value of the treasure or of the pearl, but of the kingdom of heaven, which leads us to the last comparison; the net thrown into the sea. At the end of the age, all humanity will be gathered together; some will be invited into the kingdom of heaven and others will not.

As Jesus says in another place, “Where ever your treasure is, so also will your heart be” (Matthew 6:21). Those to whom the kingdom of heaven was of primary importance during their life and who were faithful witnesses of their love for God and neighbor will receive their treasure in heaven.

What To Seek

In the first reading, we see that Solomon answered wisely when God offered to give him whatever he asked for. When he asked for an understanding heart so that he could serve God and His people better, God was pleased. In his heart, Solomon was not far from the kingdom of heaven.

It was as if he was prophesying what Jesus would tell us in the Gospel of Matthew: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:33). These words from Jesus are the light that will guide us into his kingdom. They are the fulfillment of the Two Greatest Commandments; we must love the Lord Our God with all our mind, heart, soul, and strength and our neighbor as ourself. When we order our lives toward God, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

So we must ask ourselves, where is our treasure? What are you willing to give everything you have for? In what are you investing?

How to Find the Treasure

One resource that we all have equally is time. Everyone of us has 24 hours each day, and how we use that time has a great deal to do with our proximity to the kingdom of heaven. All we need to make an eternal investment is our intellect and our free will.

I remember Fr. Bruce Nieli, a Paulist priest who used to live in Austin, telling us that when he was going through a difficult time he would visit a friend who was a quadriplegic. He said, this man, though handicapped was always filled with joy because of his love of God and his great prayer life. Joy does not mean the absence of difficulty; it means having great faith and trust that in the end “… all things work for good for those who love God…” as Paul tells us in the second reading (Romans 8:28).

I have heard people say they do not have time to pray. What is it that you are doing that you can do on your own without God’s help? It is His love that allows us to take our next breath. There is a saying, “No prayer means no faith,” because prayer is our connection to God. Without faith, we have no hope.

Perhaps it could be said that the kingdom of heaven is like the prayer of a faithful person, because it always puts us in the company of God. Jesus said, “Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). When we pray, we are always at least in the company of our Guardian Angel.

Make the Commitment

It is especially our commitment to daily prayer and to the sacraments of reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist that keep us invested into eternal life and help us to reach our greatest happiness on earth. Prayer and the sacraments help us to be better husbands, wives, parents, children, etc. Whatever is most dear to our hearts is best protected by prayer and the sacraments of the Church.

Jesus closes this Gospel by asking, “Do you understand all these things?” Like Solomon, let us pray for the gift of understanding, but also for the greater gift of believing; because by faith we are often called to believe that which we cannot understand. The Scriptures and the Church will guide us into the kingdom of heaven if we believe what has been revealed to us, and then act on what we believe.

If you want to be close to the kingdom of heaven, make a commitment to spend time close to Jesus in his Eucharistic Presence in the Blessed Sacrament chapel. You’ll be glad you did.


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.

How We Can Amaze God

Are you a hero?

A hero is defined as:

  1. A person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character.
  2. A person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal.

In the Gospel of Matthew 8:5-9, we find two heroes . . .

When he [Jesus] entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

Our first hero is the Centurion. This man’s faith that Jesus could heal his servant gave him the courage to risk livelihood, reputation, and life. This military commander of one-hundred soldiers, a Roman citizen; a man expected to worship pagan gods and Caesar, sacrificed everything by humbling himself to Jesus of Nazareth and calling him Lord.

Who is the second hero in this story? I discovered who it was during a recent homily. Father asked us, “What made the Centurion seek out Jesus?” The answer that brought a smile to the priest’s face was, “His love for his servant.” “Yes!” said Father.

There had to be something special in achievement, quality or witness in his servant that would cause the Centurion to risk rank, status, and life in hopes of securing a healing. There had to be a nobility of character in this lowly servant that impressed the Centurion. There had to be goodness, kindness, virtue in this servant that inspired the Centurion to love and to courageously act in this love.

I have to wonder if our Lord was speaking of both the Centurion and his servant that, when Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith” (Matthew 8:10).

We often dismiss ourselves as insignificant. We become discouraged that we are doing nothing of importance in the world. We may have educational degrees and sports trophies from years gone by, but believe we no longer impress or amaze anyone. Our lives seem as nothing but a series of seemingly endless days of household chores, child-rearing duties and work tasks.

Yet this Gospel passage tells a different story.

It is a story of what the Kingdom of God treasures; not power and rank, but rather humility in ourselves and trust in God. We see this in the Centurion’s response to Jesus’ offer to come to his home, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8).

In his amazement at the faith of the Centurion and the one who inspired it, Jesus exclaims, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour [his] servant was healed” (Matthew 8:13).

Following as disciples of Jesus Christ, we must guard against judging the worth of a person based on performance or worldly achievements. The Church lives this way of discipleship. For example, Pope John Paul II wrote in the encyclical, Centesimus Annus, “Human persons are willed by God; they are imprinted with God’s image. Their dignity does not come from the work they do, but from the persons they are.”

So, are you a hero?

If you say no and feel like the Centurion – unworthy for God to visit you, have courage! This is a great place to begin your faith journey. May it inspire you to know that it is the words of the Centurion that begin the prayer offered at every Mass right before we welcome our Lord Jesus Christ into our very being at Communion; Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

A favorite saying at Pilgrim Center of Hope is, “You do not have to be perfect to begin anew in Christ.” Let us journey with you!


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.