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How to Live to the Fullest, Today!

Our world is filled with beauty!

In these times of worry and anxiety due to fears of pandemic and social unrest, the Church comes to bring hope!

In his encyclical, Christus Vivit, Pope Francis exhorts young people and people of all ages to remember that Jesus is alive! He is God and God does not forsake us!

145. Contrary to what many people think, the Lord does not want to stifle these desires for a fulfilling life. We do well to remember the words of an Old Testament sage: “My child, treat yourself well, according to your means, and present your offerings to the Lord; do not deprive yourself of a day’s enjoyment, do not let your share of desired good pass by” (Sirach 14:11.14). The true God, who loves you, wants you to be happy. For this reason, the Bible also contains this piece of advice to young people: “Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth… banish anxiety from your mind” (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10). For God “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).
146. How could God take pleasure in someone incapable of enjoying his small everyday blessings, someone blind to the simple pleasures we find all around us? “No one is worse than one who is grudging to himself” (Sirach 14:6). Far from obsessively seeking new pleasures, which would keep us from making the most of the present moment, we are asked to open our eyes and take a moment to experience fully and with gratitude every one of life’s little gifts.
147. Clearly, God’s word asks you to enjoy the present, not simply to prepare for the future: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own; today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34). But this is not the same as embarking irresponsibly on a life of dissipation that can only leave us empty and perpetually dissatisfied. Rather, it is about living the present to the full, spending our energies on good things, cultivating fraternity, following Jesus and making the most of life’s little joys as gifts of God’s love.
148. Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân, when imprisoned in a concentration camp, refused to do nothing but await the day when he would be set free. He chose “to live the present moment, filling it to the brim with love”. He decided: “I will seize the occasions that present themselves every day; I will accomplish ordinary actions in an extraordinary way”. As you work to achieve your dreams, make the most of each day and do your best to let each moment brim with love. This youthful day may well be your last, and so it is worth the effort to live it as enthusiastically and fully as possible.
149. This can also be applied to times of difficulty, that have to be fully experienced if we are to learn the message they can teach us. In the words of the Swiss Bishops: “God is there where we thought he had abandoned us and there was no further hope of salvation. It is a paradox, but for many Christians, suffering and darkness have become… places of encounter with God”. The desire to live fully and experience new things is also felt by many young people with physical, mental and sensory disabilities. Even though they may not always be able to have the same experiences as others, they possess amazing resources and abilities that are often far above average. The Lord Jesus grants them other gifts, which the community is called to recognize and appreciate, so that they can discover his plan of love for each of them.


Pilgrim Center of Hope invites all women to experience God’s desire for your abundant life by participating in the upcoming Catholic Women’s Conference, which can be experienced both in-person OR live-streaming! Join us October 31, 2020 for a day of fellowship, inspiration, music, prayer and encouragement in our dignity and calling as women and daughters of God. Register at CWCSanAntonio.com.

How to Stay Authentically Yourself Today

Everyone is born as an original, but many people end up dying as photocopies. -Carlo Acutis, who will be Beatified this year

In the apostolic exhortation, Christus VivitPope Francis writes to both young people and the entire people of God about current issues we experience. He brings up the dangers of the digital environment and the opportunities it provides. He speaks about the immigration crisis and how mass movement of people across the globe can bring us in greater unity with one another.Pope Francis gives us hope through this encyclical that the Church is with us here and now. It speaks to those of us trying to navigate our ‘new normal’ of work at home and school online worlds.

He shows how the Church does not fear to go into the dark places of the world and shine the light of the Gospel. The remainder of this blog is from Christus Vivit; the inspiring story of Carlo Acutis, a boy who loved computers and loved Jesus more! He died of leukemia in 2006 at the age of 15 and lived a life that has earned him sainthood. Venerable Carlo will be beautified this October.

104. I remind you of the good news we received as a gift on the morning of the resurrection: that in all the dark or painful situations that we mentioned, there is a way out. For example, it is true that the digital world can expose you to the risk of self-absorption, isolation and empty pleasure. But don’t forget that there are young people even there who show creativity and even genius. That was the case with the Venerable Carlo Acutis.
105. Carlo was well aware that the whole apparatus of communications, advertising and social networking can be used to lull us, to make us addicted to consumerism and buying the latest thing on the market, obsessed with our free time, caught up in negativity. Yet he knew how to use the new communications technology to transmit the Gospel, to communicate values and beauty.
106. Carlo didn’t fall into the trap. He saw that many young people, wanting to be different, really end up being like everyone else, running after whatever the powerful set before them with the mechanisms of consumerism and distraction. In this way they do not bring forth the gifts the Lord has given them; they do not offer the world those unique personal talents that God has given to each of them. As a result, Carlo said, “everyone is born as an original, but many people end up dying as photocopies”. Don’t let that happen to you!
107. Don’t let them rob you of hope and joy, or drug you into becoming a slave to their interests. Dare to be more, because who you are is more important than any possession. What good are possessions or appearances? You can become what God your Creator knows you are, if only you realize that you are called to something greater. Ask the help of the Holy Spirit and confidently aim for the great goal of holiness. In this way, you will not be a photocopy. You will be fully yourself.


Rejoice in Hope! You are invited to a virtual multi-day event to raise hope! Join the journey at PilgrimCenterofHope.org/Rejoice

How Do I Know God Is Real?

He [Jesus] fills your life with his unseen presence; wherever you go, he will be waiting there for you. Because he did not only come in the past, but he comes to you today and every day, inviting you to set out towards ever new horizons.

Here we are at the last of the three truths in Pope Francis,’ “great message for all young people” in his encyclical, Christus Vivit. The first truth, God Loves You, is such an overabundant love He cannot bear to be without you, so he sends His only Son to save you, the second truth. This flows right into the third truth that God is not “[…] simply a fine model from the distant past, as a memory, as someone who saved us two thousand years ago.” Jesus is alive!

The remainder of this blog is paragraphs 124-129 of Christus Vivit. Pope Francis inspires us to enter into a relationship with Jesus:

124. Finally, there is a third truth, inseparable from the second: Christ is alive! We need to keep reminding ourselves of this, because we can risk seeing Jesus Christ simply as a fine model from the distant past, as a memory, as someone who saved us two thousand years ago. But that would be of no use to us: it would leave us unchanged, it would not set us free. The one who fills us with his grace, the one who liberates us, transforms us, heals and consoles us is someone fully alive. He is the Christ, risen from the dead, filled with supernatural life and energy, and robed in boundless light. That is why Saint Paul could say: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile” (1 Corinthians 15:7).

125. Alive, he can be present in your life at every moment, to fill it with light and to take away all sorrow and solitude. Even if all others depart, he will remain, as he promised: “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). He fills your life with his unseen presence; wherever you go, he will be waiting there for you. Because he did not only come in the past, but he comes to you today and every day, inviting you to set out towards ever new horizons.

126. See Jesus as happy, overflowing with joy. Rejoice with him as with a friend who has triumphed. They killed him, the holy one, the just one, the innocent one, but he triumphed in the end. Evil does not have the last word. Nor will it have the last word in your life, for you have a friend who loves you and wants to triumph in you. Your Saviour lives.

127. Because he lives, there can be no doubt that goodness will have the upper hand in your life and that all our struggles will prove worthwhile. If this is the case, we can stop complaining and look to the future, for with him this is always possible. That is the certainty we have. Jesus is eternally alive. If we hold fast to him, we will have life, and be protected from the threats of death and violence that may assail us in life.

128. Every other solution will prove inadequate and temporary. It may be helpful for a time, but once again we will find ourselves exposed and abandoned before the storms of life. With Jesus, on the other hand, our hearts experience a security that is firmly rooted and enduring. Saint Paul says that he wishes to be one with Christ in order “to know him and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). That power will constantly be revealed in your lives too, for he came to give you life, “and life in abundance” (John 10:10).

129. If in your heart you can learn to appreciate the beauty of this message, if you are willing to encounter the Lord, if you are willing to let him love you and save you, if you can make friends with him and start to talk to him, the living Christ, about the realities of your life, then you will have a profound experience capable of sustaining your entire Christian life. You will also be able to share that experience with other young people. For “being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction”.


Rejoice in Hope! You are invited to a virtual multi-day event to raise hope! Join the journey at PilgrimCenterofHope.org/Rejoice

Help In Keeping Faith through Trials

Do you suffer the burden of faith?

You seek to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and the Church even though many others, especially those in our own family, harbor doubts about God’s providence and goodness. You suffer under the burden of what you know is true yet cannot see.

If this is you, I would like to introduce you to someone who may help you. Her name is St. Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist.

There is little written about her life outside the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke. Yet, in what we know about the time she lived, who she lived with and what happened to her, we discover much about St. Elizabeth. We know:

  • She is a first century Jew living in a hill country town of Judah.
  • She is married to a Jewish priest, named Zechariah.
  • She is an ancestor of Aaron, a priest and the brother of Moses.
  • She is considered righteous in God’s eyes, which means faithful to his commandments.
  • She is elderly and childless.
Trials of Faith

Knowing that in Elizabeth’s culture, a barren woman was considered sinful or cursed, we can see that this woman had to have suffered trials of sorrow, embarrassment, and condemnation for most of her adult life. Being from a priestly class and married to a priest, she must have been well versed in Scripture and in the promises God made to her people. Yet for the majority of her years, she did not witness evidence of their fulfillment.

We learn that Zechariah, while performing his priestly service in the Lord’s sanctuary, is visited by the Archangel Gabriel (cf. Luke 1:8). When Gabriel tells him that his wife will bear him a son in answer to his prayer, he does not believe. Zechariah had been praying for a child. An angel tells him his prayer is being answered. Zechariah doubts. Yet, we also know from Luke’s Gospel that he remained faithful to his duty as priest and, along with Elizabeth, is considered righteous in God’s eyes (cf. Luke 1:6).

It seems then, that it was Elizabeth’s faith in trial that upheld the righteousness of this pair. Elizabeth carried the burden of faith for them both.

Faith, as defined in the Letter to the Hebrews 11:1, is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.

When God’s promise of a child is fulfilled despite her husband’s doubts, Elizabeth’s faith meets the hope she has long carried, exclaiming, “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others” (Luke 1:25).

Blessings from Perseverance

We can look at the life of St. Elizabeth and see many blessings that come from perseverance in faith:

  • Elizabeth’s faith is ever ready to proclaim God, as when she is greeted by Mary (cf. Luke 1:43-45).
  • Elizabeth’s faith is ever ready to stand firm, as when she defies her neighbors and relatives; insisting her son be named John as the angel had told her husband (cf. Luke 1:60).
  • Elizabeth’s faith works to heal her husband’s doubts and deafness (cf. Luke 1:63-64).
  • Elizabeth’s faith raises her son “strong in spirit” for God’s mission (cf. Luke 1:80).
  • And, Elizabeth’s faith inspires Mary to proclaim her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-56).
Encouragement In Persevering

I wonder if, when Mary goes in haste to her cousin, it was also in God’s design that Elizabeth help her. I wonder if God entrusted the Mother of God to this woman of steadfast faith to be an encouragement to Mary, who will soon be enduring her own trials of faith.

It is truly difficult to carry the burden of faith for others in our life who doubt God’s goodness. It is very hard when we face trials that tempt us to doubt that God sees us, that he knows our suffering.

Let the witness of St. Elizabeth console you that God does see you! And God is counting on your faith in him to help carry out his plan of salvation in you, and through you, for others.

When the burden of faith becomes too hard to carry, we can find hope through our trials by seeking the companionship of other followers of God; be it our friends in Heaven or those working out our salvation here on earth. Pilgrim Center of Hope is here to accompany you. Our website includes the Port of Hope to help weary wayfarers find spiritual rest, inspiration, and encouragement in Jesus Christ and the Church.

We also invite you to save the date on your calendar for our annual Catholic Women’s Conference (10/30-31/2020) and the Catholic Men’s Conference (2/27/2021). Both events are ideal places to find sources of encouragement in faith as we encounter Christ with our sisters and brothers in fellowship and worship.


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.

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